Environmental Chemistry

Concentration Adviser: Tom Wenzel

This concentration is designed to give students sufficient background to undertake scientific investigations of environmental topics that require a basic understanding of chemical principles.  The B-sequence of the introductory Chem 107/108 course has been specifically designed to serve the needs of students majoring in environmental studies, and is strongly recommended for students completing this concentration.  The introductory B-sequence includes an examination of ways in which scientific investigations are influenced by social and cultural forces, and the way in which scientific data is used in environmental decision making.  The importance of chemical properties and reactivity of substances in determining the fate and impact of environmental pollutants is emphasized.

Students get experience with the investigatory nature of chemistry in the laboratory portions of several courses through the use of small-group, semester-long projects.  These projects involve the use of primary scientific literature and, in some cases, the preparation of a proposal, including budget, for completion of the project.  Completion of these projects requires the interpretation and reporting of data and conclusions, and demonstrates the presence of uncertainty that accompanies scientific investigations.

Several of the courses and laboratories involve the use of cooperative learning, which gives students the opportunity to work in teams and develop leadership skills.  Each student’s role in cooperative learning activities is assessed through peer- and self evaluations.  Written and oral communication is threaded throughout the requirements.

Electives in the concentration are designed to broaden students’ backgrounds and introduce other key chemical concepts that are fundamental to understanding environmental chemistry.  The electives also allow students to tailor the concentration to particular sub-disciplinary interests in chemistry.

Courses that count for the fourth course (200- or 300-level) requirement within the core

  • ES/RU 216 Nature in Russian Culture
  • ENVR 227 Catastrophe and Hope
  • EN/ES 237 Books That Changed the World
  • AN/ES 242 Environment, Human Rights, and Indigenous Peoples
  • ENVR 272 Oikos: Rethinking Economy and Ecology
  • ENVR 301 Politics of Nature
  • ENVR 334 The Question of the Animal
  • AN/ES 337 Social Movements, NGOs, and the Environment
  • ENVR 340 Literatures of Agriculture
  • ENVR 348 Nature and the Novel
  • ENVR 350 Environmental Justice in the Americas
  • ECON 222 Environmental Economics

Concentration Requirements:

    1. Chemistry 108 (Prerequisite: Chemistry 107) NOTE: Chemistry 108B section is required unless the student had takenChemistry 108A prior to declaring a major in environmental studies.
    2. Chemistry 212 Separation Science
    3. Chemistry 215 Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry
    4. Chemistry 217 Organic Chemistry (first semester)
    5. One of the following courses: