Envirnmntl Sci & Policy (ESP)

ESP 5040  Environmental Consulting  (3 Credits)  

This course is designed to train students on scientific degree tracks in becoming valuable employees in the environmental consulting industry by introducing students to the technical skills, project planning, and business management skills in demand by environmental consulting firms. The course focuses on the technical aspects in areas such as brownfield redevelopment, natural resources and environmental permitting, environmental compliance, sustainable development planning, etc. Course elements stress the use of industry standard procedures and state regulations, data and information management, report preparation, development of findings and opinions, and verbal presentations.

ESP 5060  Ecological Economics: Theory and Application  (3 Credits)  

Ecological Economics (EE) is not a traditional discipline. Often referred to as a "transdiscipline" because it crosses the boundaries of several subjects, many say that ecological economics is the science of sustainability. In this introductory, graduate level course we will explore EE as a young and evolving field of inquiry. Standard and non-standard economic concepts will be explained along with ecological understanding to describe the challenges that arise in coupled natural-human systems. We will use problem and solution based inquiry to test out some of the methods advocated by ecological economists. This will include participatory research on ecosystem services in local communities. Specific topics to be covered may include: Abiotic and biotic resources; supply and demand; market failures; economic growth and human well-being; policy instruments; efficient allocation of resources; pricing and valuation of non-market goods; ecological economics case studies around biodiversity.

ESP 5070  Decision Making in Natural Resource Management  (3 Credits)  

Managing natural resources for multiple objectives, in a sustainable manner, is a challenge that both practitioners and researchers face in today's highly complex socio-political environment. Decision analysis skills are highly valued in the field of environmental science. This course will present current theories and applications related to decision making for natural resource management. Students will have the chance to work through local and regional decision making scenarios and compare different tools and theories on the ground.

ESP 5080  Soils and Environmental Change  (3 Credits)  

The purpose of this course is to introduce soil science to environmental science, geology, geography and biology majors. The course's multidisciplinary topics inform students about the relevance of soil studies across a broad spectrum of modern issues. Students will learn the geologic, geographic and climatologic aspects of soil formation, the structural components of soil that impact diverse aspects of soil fertility, drought, and tendency to landslide or erode, the dynamical aspects of soil hydrology and geochemistry, and the biological aspects of soil nutrient availability, nitrification, carbon cycling and biodiversity. A detailed list of topics, together with a tentative schedule, is included at the end of this document. This class is integrated with a laboratory that allows exploration of soil science topics through field and laboratory exercises.

ESP 5090  Environmental Chemistry  (3 Credits)  

This course covers the chemistry of Earth's environment, including the natural chemical processes as well as anthropogenic contributions. The environment in this context is divided into the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the lithosphere, and the anthrosphere. Particular emphasis is given to human influences in each of these "spheres," including the causes, effects, detection, prevention, and mitigation of pollution. Environmental pollution is a global problem, with many technological and cultural causes, and as such requires an understanding of numerous disciplines in order to solve. This course thus involves the integration of concepts from chemistry, biology, geology, ecology, atmospheric sciences, hydrology, toxicology, political science, and others. Major topics to be covered include stratospheric ozone depletion, global climate change and energy, acid rain, waste disposal, organic and inorganic pollutants, and environmental regulation in the United States. The lab component will focus primarily on detection of pollutants in air and water and will include a class research project.

ESP 5160  Land Conservation Techniques  (3 Credits)  

Conserving land is a goal that many people share. This course explores the many and diverse reasons for conserving land and various mechanisms for achieving land conservation. Students will gain an understanding of the techniques and methods used in land conservation and how conserved land is managed. The region provides numerous case studies in land conservation which will be used to enrich the course.

ESP 5210  Forest Ecosystems  (3 Credits)  

The course will be structured around the advanced methods that have enhanced our understating of forest ecosystems. The course will explore concepts and techniques to address the changes in climatic cycles, the implications of wide-scale pollution, fire and other ecological disturbances that have an effect on forests ecosystems. Topics to be covered include forest water and biogeochemical cycles, forest ecology, forest diversity and global forest ecology. A field trip to the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest or another location in the White Mountain National Forest is included.

Prerequisite(s): demonstration of competency in biogeochemistry, chemistry, ecology and quantitative analysis; or permission of instructor.

ESP 5320  Watershed Hydrology  (3 Credits)  

This course will provide a qualitative and quantitative understanding of concepts and physical principles governing the occurrence, distribution, and circulation of water near the Earth's surface. Emphasis will be on the physical understanding and parameterization of hydrologic processes such as how rainfall and snowmelt become streamflow, evapotranspiration, and groundwater. This course is expected to serve as prerequisite to Watershed Management and Snow Hydrology, and co- or pre-requisite to Field Methods in Water Resources.

ESP 5430  Environmental Law, Policy & Management  (3 Credits)  

This introductory level course will help students understand the key “human” relationships in coupled natural and human systems. This will include understanding how the environment is affected by relationships among legal, political, and management players – including legislatures, administrative agencies, courts, federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit, private, and public stakeholders. We will explore key events and issues in the history of U.S. environmental law and policy and then analyze how those have impacted management practices. With historical perspective in context, we will explore current issues and project what the future landscape of environmental law, policy, and management might look like. Frequent case studies of varying scale (local, regional, international) will be used to examine the major theme and questions.

ESP 5440  Watershed Systems  (3 Credits)  

This course is dedicated to integrated environmental analysis of watersheds, but it is not the study of water, per se, but rather the spatial unit defined by the flow of water, and the dynamics within these environmental systems. Watersheds are a microcosm of global ecosystems, containing the same dynamic relationships between land, water, and air but on a scale more accessible to study. This course provides students with a detailed overview combined with specific, high-impact examples of complex earth systems. It uses the watershed concept as a tool for analyzing water, energy, element, and sediment budgets, including biogeochemical cycles with important feedbacks to larger systems. It includes human impacts and reliance on these budgets and prepares students to see how global-scale ecosystems are integrated with each other and with society. Students should be prepared to read, comprehend and analyze several scientific papers each week, and to discuss them in class.

ESP 5450  Environmental Outreach & Communication  (3 Credits)  

Communicating about environmental science is an important skill and helps in linking environmental science and policy. This course will provide an introduction to environmental science communication concepts, explore historical and theoretical aspects of environmental communication, and develop communication and outreach skills through a variety of activities and projects. Connections will be made to students’ research interests and projects to assist them in conveying their work to multiple audiences.

ESP 5500  Special Topics in Environmental Science and Policy  (1-4 Credits)  

An in-depth study of a particular topic, contemporary issue or concern. The course will be taught by a specialist within the field being studied or, as an alternative methodology, a faculty member will coordinate a series of guest speakers who will meaningfully address the topic. Since topics vary, the course may be repeated with permission of the instructor.

ESP 5510  Analysis of Limnological Systems  (3 Credits)  

This course will examine the structure and function of freshwater ecosystems. Topics to be covered will include the geology, chemistry, physics and biology of such systems. Special emphasis will be given to biogeochemical cycles, energy flow and productivity, and relationships of freshwater systems to human existence. Lab work will include studies of both lotic and lentic systems.

ESP 5530  Science-Based Research Design and Data Visualization  (3 Credits)  

This course will focus on data analysis techniques in environmental science. Topics will include exploratory analysis, research design, univariate and multivariate statistical approaches, a few basic machine learning algorithms, and Monte Carlo propagation of uncertainty. The course is project based, so students will work with a large data set of their choice throughout the semester.

ESP 5540  Master's Thesis Outreach  (1 Credit)  

The Center for the Environment at Plymouth State University includes outreach in its mission. The Center works on applied environmental problems and the engagement of local communities and organizations in its work and through the work of the graduate students in Environmental Science and Policy. In order to prepare students to be better communicators of science, this course will introduce outreach and science communication concepts and help students in developing outreach skills. This course is designed to be taken along with ESP 5900 Master's Thesis Research, and students will be required to complete an outreach project or activity related to their thesis research. Creative methods and activities will be encouraged. Pass/No Pass.

ESP 5560  Independent Environmental Research Outreach  (1 Credit)  

The Center for the Environment at Plymouth State University includes outreach in its mission. The Center works on applied environmental problems and the engagement of local communities and organizations in its work and through the work of the graduate students in Environmental Science and Policy. In order to prepare students to be better communicators of science, this course will introduce outreach and science communication concepts and help students in developing outreach skills. This course is designed to be taken along with ESP 5920 Independent Environmental Research, and students will be required to complete an outreach project or activity related to their independent environmental research project. Creative methods and activities will be encouraged. Pass/No Pass.

ESP 5580  Climate Change  (3 Credits)  

This combined lecture and discussion course examines Earth's climate system and the feedbacks that affect it over annual to millennial (thousands of years) timescales. It is a highly interdisciplinary course that integrates information on climate from atmospheric, oceanographic and geologic sciences, and broadens overall comprehension of natural and human-invoked changes in earth's critical zone systems. Students from meteorology, environmental science and policy, and ecology should find this course highly informative and useful. Topics include past and present records of climate change, the various fields of study that contribute to climate knowledge, the effects of scale and frequency on the quality and reliability of climate records, and the state-of-the-art in climate assessment and prediction. Lecture sessions will provide fundamental information, especially with regard to the scientific basis for our current understanding of climate, and will introduce "hot" topics for discussion. Discussion sessions will focus on the most-recent status of these "hot" topics using recently published scientific papers and also online professional-level discussion forums. The role of science in politics and society will be an integral part of many of these discussions, including the obstacles created by declining public proficiencies in science and math and varying perceptions of risk.

ESP 5620  Environmental Law & Policy  (3 Credits)  

This course reflects the legal and political aspects of major environmental issues as embodied in environmental laws. The course will teach learners about the law and the policies that are the basis for environmental laws. Concurrent examination is proposed in order to provide linkage between policy and law as we will discuss real world events and issues. The course will be presented in a form to convey a robust understanding of the bigger procedural and theoretical picture in the formation, implementation, and facets for each topic. Topics include the legal process, the policy process, ownership and property rights, and how these relate to major environmental issues; water, air, waste, wildlife, and forestry. Emerging new issues will also be discussed.

ESP 5700  Graduate Seminar in Ecology and the Environment  (3 Credits)  

This graduate seminar focuses on how ecological concepts and studies inform scientists, managers, and decision makers about the nature of and solutions to environmental problems. Specific topics, each will clearly demonstrate the central role of ecology in understanding ecosystem function and how ecosystems respond to disturbances at multiple scales. Through readings and discussion, students become knowledgeable and critical of ecological theory and practice. The concepts are fleshed out through case studies taken directly from peer-reviewed literature.

Prerequisite(s): Demonstrated competency in the principles of ecology, including ecosystem ecology, landscape ecology and/or community ecology; or permission of the instructor.

ESP 5710  Science Colloquium Series  (1 Credit)  

This graduate seminar is designed to be a core course in the Environmental Science and Policy program. It will focus on the analysis of contemporary issues in environmental science. Specific topics will vary from year to year and will be tailored to the interests of the students enrolled and faculty interests. The course will create a foundation of knowledge of contemporary issues. It is also expected that it will help students refine their research interests as well as be exposed to new ideas through interaction with others in the course. Pass/No Pass.

ESP 5720  Environmental Planning Seminar  (1-3 Credits)  

Land use planning is a dynamic field that involves the integration of a variety of components to improve communities and places. This graduate seminar will focus on furthering knowledge on specific topics related to environmental planning and explore interrelationships between topics. Topics might include smart growth, low impact design, transportation, energy, sustainable design, watershed planning, and community involvement.

ESP 5780  Applied Environmental GIS  (3 Credits)  

This is an introductory course designed for students with little or no experience using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The course is hands-on and will progressively build on a series of GIS skills in preparation for completing a natural resources project utilizing GIS. The course includes 5 "learning" sessions during the term which will include extensive instruction and repetitive performance of key GIS tasks. The course will meet once a week for the remainder of the term where students will focus on and receive assistance with individual projects.

ESP 5900  Master's Thesis Research  (1-6 Credits)  

Students select a topic in consultation with their advisor and committee. A timeline, proposal, and defense are outlined. A final thesis is prepared in accordance with program thesis guidelines. Pass/No Pass.

ESP 5910  Independent Study in Environmental Science and Policy  (1-3 Credits)  

Independent study provides enrichment of the background of students through the pursuit of a special topic pertinent to their interests and abilities. It is an opportunity for an in-depth study of a problem in environmental science or policy. Consent of a faculty supervisor and the student's advisor is required.

ESP 5920  Individual Environmental Research  (1-3 Credits)  

Students select a topic and project in consultation with their advisor and committee. Collaboration with external organizations and partners is encouraged. A timeline, goals, deliverables, credits and expected outcomes are outlined for each project. Pass/No Pass.