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Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Soil Science (SOILS)

SOILS 071 (GN;IL) Environmental Sustainability (3) An introduction to environmental science, exploring sustainable human- environment interactions with examples from environmental soil science.

SOILS 071 Environmental Sustainability (3)

This class provides an introduction to environmental sustainability for students with no background in environmental science or soils. The concept of sustainability provides a framework for understanding environmental problems by balancing the needs of current society with the long-term needs of future societies and the environment. Sustainability also provides a framework for linking international cultures because environmental problems and solutions often cross political and cultural boundaries. The goal of the course is to develop critical thinking skills related to sustainable environmental choices. As we explore the concept of sustainability, we will discover the role of soil in mediating human-environment interactions by determining natural plant and animal abundance, supporting agriculture, and buffering the environment against modern pollution.

The five themes of the class are: 1) The science of nature and the nature of science, which introduces students to the scientific method and value systems that affect environmental choices, 2) Population and consumption, where we consider these challenges to global sustainability, 3) the Malthusian dilemma of how we can feed billions of people in the near future, 4) the conservation dilemma of how we can maintain a healthy environment (while feeding billions of people), and 5) Success stories in sustainable environmental science and policy.

The class will include "soils cases" in which examples from environmental soil science are used to convey principles of sustainability, and "sustainability walks" to see examples of sustainable environmental choices near campus. Students will complete the class with: 1) a survey of the key issues in global environmental sustainability, 2) exposure to current scientific information related to these issues, 3) an enhanced ability to interpret environmental data, 4) an increased knowledge of the role of soils in maintaining environmental quality, 5) an increased understanding of how environmental problems and solutions are global phenomena, requiring cooperation among many international cultures, and 6) a significant depth of knowledge about "what it takes" to feed 6.5 billion people while maintaining a healthy environment.

General Education: GN
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2013

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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