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Environmental Science


Students in the Environmental Science Program at Carthage focus on the study of the problems that arise when human beings interact with physical/natural environment. The program seeks to train natural scientists who can function in the world of policy, and policy analysts who can shape the natural world.

  • ENV 1000

    Introduction to Environmental Science (LAB SCI)

    This course integrates biology, chemistry, and physical geography, and will provide an introduction to the fundamental natural science foundation necessary to understand and be literate in environmental science. Topics include systems analysis (atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere), matter, energy, ecosystems, biodiversity, environmental risk, ozone, water, soil and air pollution, global warming, food resources, and human health. Science and information literacy, with particular emphasis on the evaluation of sources, are emphasized in the classroom experience. Data analysis is an integral component of the course and is emphasized in laboratory work. The laboratory portion of this course will allow students hands-on experience with scientific and instrumental techniques typically used in environmental science with which data are analyzed at a variety of temporal and spatial scales.

  • ENV 2010

    Environmental Chemistry (LAB SCI)

    An overview of chemical processes in the natural world. The course will include sections on atmospheric chemistry, aquatic chemistry, and soil chemistry and will address both natural phenomena and human impacts. These processes will be used to evaluate the causes and challenges of current environmental issues including ozone depletion, climate change, and water pollution. Laboratory exercises will focus on the analysis of pollutants in environmental samples.
    Prerequisite: CHM 1000 or CHM 1010

  • ENV 2100

    Quantitative Environmental Analysis

    An introduction to the quantitative tools used by environmental scientists to evaluate and address environmental issues. The course will introduce students to a range of such tools, discuss their strengths and weaknesses, and apply them to real-world environmental problems.
    Prerequisite: ENV 1000

  • ENV 2550

    Environmental Pollutants (NLAB)

    An introduction to the range of natural and synthetic chemicals that contribute to environmental pollution. Topics covered include the structure and properties of pollutants, their sources and use patterns, the pathways by which they enter environmental systems, the factors that affect their transport and fate, and their effects on human and ecosystem health. Through the process of investigating selected pollutants students will gain experience compiling and evaluating scientific information from a variety of sources, including newspaper articles, databases, and scientific journals, and communicating their findings clearly and effectively. Informal laboratory activities will give students the opportunity to design experiments and measure environmental pollutants in real-world settings.

  • ENV 2610

    Case Studies in Environmental Science (LAB SCI)

    This course uses case studies and research experiences to build upon the concepts introduced in ENV 1000. There is further development of topics that integrate biology, chemistry, and physical geography. Topics may include invasive species; biodiversity; water, soil, or air pollution; global warming; food resources; and human health. Data analysis is an integral component of the course and is emphasized in class and laboratory work. The laboratory portion of this course will allow students hands-on experience with scientific and instrumental techniques typically used in environmental science with which data are analyzed on a variety of temporal and spatial scales. For Environmental Science majors, this course allows students to generate work that demonstrates their abilities to synthesize and integrate data and information from the biological, chemical, and geographical sciences.
    Prerequisite: ENV 1000 with a grade of C- or higher.

  • ENV 2650

    Photographing Nature: Investigating Biodiversity and Conservation (NLAB)

    This course introduces the student to the use of digital photography to explore plant and animal species and their habitats. The course begins with instruction in digital photography, and then moves outside where students will focus on organisms, learning to photograph them while exploring their biology. Photography will be used to engage students in making detailed observations and beginning the process of scientific discovery. After learning about species, their ecological interactions, and conservation, students will complete a final project that utilizes visual imagery to educate others about the value of biodiversity, ecology, and/or conservation issues.

  • ENV 2750

    Sustainable Agriculture (NLAB)

    This seminar will review the history of agricultural development and evaluate environmental, economic, and social problems that develop from our past and current food production systems. Alternatives to conventional agricultural systems will be discussed and evaluated (including but not limited to organic, biodynamic farming, hydroponics, and vertical farming). We will analyze and discuss these issues from multiple scientific and cultural perspectives, and review the role of food production systems and food choice in promoting or degrading individual, community, and ecosystem health.
    Prerequisite: None

  • ENV 3000

    Research Design

    An introduction to the methods used by environmental scientists to design and complete research projects. Topics covered include research strategies, literature reviews, experimental design, data analysis, and scientific writing and communication. As part of the course, students will design an independent research project and develop a formal proposal to support their work.

  • ENV 3400

    Conservation Science

    The multidisciplinary science of conservation focuses on the preservation of biological species and ecosystems. This course examines several aspects of conservation science, including the documentation and classification of the full breadth of biological diversity on earth; the assessment of the health of species populations; the impact of human activities on species, communities, and ecosystems; and strategies for preserving, protecting, and/or restoring species, habitats, communities, and ecosystem services. The course introduces students to research techniques, including both quantitative and qualitative assessments, while exploring contemporary issues in conservation science. Students will also be exposed to a variety of career options for conservation professionals.
    Prerequisite: BIO 1120 or ENV 1000

  • ENV 4000

    Senior Seminar

    This is the capstone course for Environmental Science majors. During this course seniors complete and present their Senior Thesis work in consultation with faculty in the Environmental Science program.
    Prerequisite: Senior standing

  • ENV 4900

    Research in Environmental Science

    An opportunity to conduct research in environmental science, culminating in a research paper and a formal presentation. Given the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science, students in related disciplines may participate in this course with the permission of the instructor and their departmental advisor. Students may enroll for credit more than once, but no more than 4 credits may be applied to the major.
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

  • ENV 4980

    Applied Experience in the Discipline

    Students must register for Field Experience Completion the term that they plan to complete their field experience.
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

  • ENV 4990

    Senior Thesis Completion

    Students must register for ENV 4990 during the semester that they plan to complete their Senior Thesis. For most students this will be the Spring of their senior year.
    Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …