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Highlighted Courses

Exceptional learning experiences

Within the Watershed Institute, we pride ourselves in providing exceptional learning experiences for our students. Many of our courses integrate a wide array of educational experiences that directly affect the health and sustainability of human and environmental communities. Below are just some of the courses available within our program and what helps set us apart here at UWEC.

Chemistry and Climate, CHEM 127 (Dr. Jim Phillips)

An inquiry into the magnitude and causes of global climate change, and an introduction to the physical and chemical principles that drive the climate system. Assumes no prior experience with chemistry, physics, or earth science.

Earth Resources, GEOL 301 (Dr. Phil Ihinger)

Origin, distribution, use, misuse, and conservation of minerals, water, soil, and fuels. Alternative resources and lifestyles for the future are evaluated.

Ecology, BIOL 321 (Dr. Evan Weiher)

Core concepts and theories in ecology at the individual, population, community, and ecosystems levels and their applications.

Environmental Biology and Conservation, BIOL 180 (Dr. Kelly Murry & Dr. Paula Kleintjes Neff)

An introduction to natural resource conservation. Problems associated with the use and abuse of America's resources are studied in an ecological framework. Resource management methods are explored.

In this course, students will learn about issues related to consumption, conservation and management of natural resources. Decisions and actions related to conservation have significant consequences for the well-being of life on earth. By necessity, these decisions are made in the face of uncertainty and with imperfect information about the consequences of action. In this course, students will be introduced to the knowledge that exists on a variety of environmental issues and then learn to critically evaluate the threats to our environment and to formulate educated responses and actions for the earth’s sustainability. Each week we meet for two lectures and one discussion period. It is a reading and writing intensive course. The discussion is a chance for us to meet in small groups to discuss the weekly assigned readings, current news and lecture topics. It is a time for us to explore and develop a personal understanding of issues and questions at a level not easily attained in a larger lecture setting.

Environmental Economics, ECON 268 (Dr. Eric Jamelske)

Application of economic analysis to national and international environmental issues and policies, highlighting the connections between the economic way of thinking and other disciplines.

This course applies the economic way of thinking to issues relating to the environment.We will briefly cover the basic tools of economic analysis and discuss recent environmental and economic trends. This will include consideration of opportunity cost and marginal analysis as well as the supply and demand and elasticity. In addition, we will define and discuss the concept of externalities as well as examine the role of corporations and government in the decision-making process. We will then use our newfound economic way of thinking to address/analyze a variety of current environmental issues.  Each step of the way, the professor strives to connect this course the real world issues and I will also try my best to highlight the interconnectedness of the economic way of thinking to the thought process of other disciplines in addressing environmental issues.

Environmental Ethics, PHIL 320 (Dr. Sean McAleer)

Introduces major theoretical approaches to ethical and policy questions concerning environmental issues such as population growth, famine, nonhuman animals, atmospheric conditions, hazardous waste, preservation of species, pollution, pesticides, and nuclear power.

Environmental History, ENV/HIST 346 (Dr. David Soll)

Examines interactions between human societies and the natural world in what is now the United States. Through readings and several field trips students will learn the essential elements of American Environmental History.

Environmental Sociology, SOC 301 (Dr. Tarique Niazi)

The course reviews sociological theories that explain environmental changes; it concentrates on sociological causes, consequences, and responses to such environmental challenges as climate change, ozone depletion, acid rain, land-air-water pollution, deforestation, desertification, and interstate and intrastate conflicts.

Geography of Food, GEOG 369 (Dr. Paul Kaldjian)

Explores the geography and spatial dimensions of food, with attention to the cultures and environments from which they emerged, changing nature/society relationships, and the implications of globalization, economic growth, and technological innovations.

Global Environmental Public Health, ENPH 115 (Dr. Laura Suppes)

Explores endemic and emerging health issues affecting global populations. Aims to familiarize students with adverse health outcomes associated with global socio-economic disparities.

International Environmental Problems and Policies, GEOG/ENV378 (Dr. Karen Mumford)

Examination of the threats to the global environment and the response of the international community.

Introduction to Environmental Health, ENPH 110 (Dr. Crispin Pierce & Dr. Laura Suppes)

Health-oriented problems in the environment with attention directed to air and water pollution, solid waste, housing, occupational health and safety, food sanitation, animal zoonoses, ecology of health and disease, radiological health, energy, and global environmental health.

Physics of Renewable Energy, PHYS 205 (Dr. Kim Pierson)

Explores the basic physics principles behind various types of renewable energy sources. Discusses impact renewable energy sources have on mitigating global warming and climate change.

Tracking the Campus Carbon Footprint, HNRS 302 (Dr. Karen Mumford & Dr. James Boulter)

An upper-division course that focuses on topics of the natural and physical world.

US Environmental and Sustainability Policy, ENV/GEOG 377 (Dr. David Soll / Dr. Karen Mumford)

Students will study U.S. environmental and sustainability law and policy to assess the roles of science, key actors, and values in policy making.

General Entomology, BIOL 311/511 (Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff)

The objectives of this course are to gain an appreciation for the fascinating biology and incredible diversity of the insects; to gain an understanding of insect structures, function, ecology, behavior, and integrated pest management; to recognize and identify the insect Orders and the local, commonly found insect families; and to learn the skills, patience, fun of field biology and entomology.

Studies of Tropical Environments, BIOL 320 (Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff)

This is a travel course, designed to allow students to experience and learn about a climate different from that of Wisconsin.  Past locations have included the Bahamas, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, and Belize.

Conservation Biology, BIOL 328 (Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff)

In BIOL 328 students will learn about the threats to biodiversity and the principles of conservation biology. Students will be encouraged to develop the scientific, ethical, and technical understanding of the means for protecting, maintaining and restoring the diversity of life on earth. Students will practice ‘life’ skills such as reading, writing, critical thinking, collaborating and communicating. These are necessary for, yet not limited, to careers in conservation biology, ecology, wildlife biology or natural resource management.

Field Studies in Conservation Biology, BIOL 329/529 (Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff)

An interactive, hands-on class which includes map and compass training, restoration projects, frogging, garlic mustard removal, tree bagging for the county fair, visits to the International Crane Foundation and Aldo Leopold Shack, and bird banding.

Environmental Civic Action, BIOL 491/ENGL 305/GEOG 375 (Dr. Ruth Cronje, Dr. Paula Kleintjes-Neff, Dr. Don Mowry, Dr. Garry Running)

This interdisciplinary course investigates how individuals can make a difference in their environment and community.  In a past year, students attended lectures and did readings, but the class was mainly focused upon developing the Pedal and Paddle Pollution Tour.  This involved canoeing, bicycling, and creating a film to educate others about pollutants in the Chippewa River, which flows through UW-Eau Claire's campus.

The Physical Environment, GEOG 104 (Dr. Douglas Faulkner, Dr. Garry Running, and Ms. Katie Weichelt)

Nothing on Earth is evenly distributed – not ideas, wealth, resources, not anything. Phenomena that make up the physical environment are also unevenly distributed across Earth – warmth, fresh water, fertile soils, vegetation, and everything else. The uneven distribution of these phenomena has profound implications for humans and how humans interact with their environment. However, the distribution of these phenomena is not random – it can be explained. Describing and explaining spatial patterns of these physical phenomena—in a scientific manner—is what physical geographers do.  Upon completion of this course, students will see the Earth, the home of humankind, in a new way—through the lens of physical geography. You will also be able to describe and explain spatial patterns of observable phenomena resulting from the interconnections among Earth systems (atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere), such as weather and climate, plant communities, soils, natural hazards, and landforms. Students will also be able to share their insights with others.

Conservation of the Environment, GEOG 178 (Dr. Garry Running)

In Geography 178 students learn together about issues related to human-environmental interaction, a major theme in geography as an academic discipline. Together students will explore environmental geography, biogeography (environmental biology), and how these and related disciplines converge with respect to conservation and management of natural resources. Decisions and actions related to conservation have significant consequences for the well-being of life on Earth. All human decisions, even deciding to do nothing, come with an environmental price tag. By necessity, our decisions and actions are more often than not made in the face of scientific uncertainty, and with imperfect information (a bewildering array of: ignorance, disinformation, baloney, half-truths, blatantly false or misleading statements coming from ideologically-based bias, political spin, or self-serving commercial entities; media hype, sensationalism, or indifference) about those price tags and consequences. In this course, you will be introduced to the scientific knowledge that exists about a variety of environmental issues and then learn to critically evaluate the threats to our environment and to formulate educated (read: scientific evidence-based) responses and actions for the Earth’s sustainability. This course is rigorous. This course is reading and writing intensive. We won’t spend our 15 weeks together hugging trees, chomping granola, or complaining that there aren’t enough bicycle paths. Each week we will meet for two lectures and one discussion period. Discussion periods provide us with a chance to meet in small groups so that we can delve more deeply and personally into assigned readings or activities, current news, and lecture topics. They provide us the time to explore and develop our personal understanding of environmental issues to a depth not easily attained in a larger lecture setting.

Soils and the Environment, GEOG 350 (Dr. Garry Running)

Soils are unique in the physical environment.  They are the result of bio-geo-chemical processes.  Soil morphology, chemistry, and spatial distributions of soil types reflect and integrate all aspects of physiography and human land-use (geology, slope, climate, vegetation, fauna, time, land-use and agricultural practices).  A strong background in the physical sciences is helpful, especially some basic chemistry or geochemistry but it is not required.  A strong background in the Earth sciences, especially physical geography, geomorphology, and Earth surface processes is helpful but it is not required.  A good background in map reading, GIS, and aerial photographic interpretation is helpful but it is not required.  Those students with strong backgrounds in the ecological sciences and resource management will also be well-prepared to begin.  All that students really need to succeed in this course is:  the ability to work effectively with others, some time management skills, some computer literacy, some graphics capabilities, and an open and inquisitive mind.  This course is primarily a field-oriented course in Pedology.  Pedology is that branch of soil science that concentrates on soil genesis and field relationships.  The lecture and laboratory components are integrated.  The purpose of this course is to provide students with science-based knowledge of the fundamentals of human-environmental interaction, a grasp of how these interactions create problems and how the elements of social, technological, and personal choices combine to overcome them, and an opportunity to develop, practice, and effectively communicate their own environmental values.

Civic Agency and Environmental Stewardship, Building Community Capacity to Steward Pollinator Biodiversity, HNRS 301 (Dr. Ruth Cronje)

This course is an opportunity to engage in a community project to promote biodiversity by actively building a neighbor-to-neighbor network to create and steward pollinator habitat. You'll partner with numerous individual citizens and community organizations to build our community's capacity to steward our environment.   Course objectives include: developing an understanding of civic engagement and civic agency for yourself and for your community; building specific community agency skills for yourself and in your community; understanding why environmental scientists value biodiversity; building your knowledge of pollinator species and their importance to humans and the environment; reflecting upon the relationship(s) among scientific evidence and collective and individual human action; practicing community action by actively enabling a community project to create and promote pollinator habitat.

Environmental Sociology, SOC 491 (Dr. Tarique Niazi)

This course has been designed to gain an understanding of sociological theories and concepts that explain the causal relationship between the environment and society. It will present this relationship as an “Environmental-Sociological Complex,” in which the environment and society are mutually constituted. A set of carefully selected environmental problems will be employed as case studies to help understand the ways in which larger social and material forces drive environmental change. In doing so, the course will explore and evaluate the social causes and consequences of such problems, and society’s responses to them. Last but not least, competing perspectives on envisioning and building an ecologically sustainable society will be assessed.

Eco Feminism, Women and Environmental Justice, WGSS 375 (Ms. Laurel Kieffer)

The course explores the linkages between the oppression of the environment and oppression of women, human and non-human "others".  Diverse resources and learning methods will be included to achieve the following outcomes.  Students will gain a global understanding of the interconnections between humans, non-human animals and the environment.  We will also discuss understanding of the impact of human choices on perpetuating oppressions and insights on current eco-feminist and environmental justice activism, and explore options for personal involvement in local, regional or national efforts.

If you want to find out more about these courses, take a look at the course catalog.

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