Department of Environmental Science and Policy

Course Descriptions

The following is a list of courses offered by the Department of Environmental Science. Consult the two-year rotation list for the tentative schedule of course offerings over the next two years.

ESP 101 Fundamentals of Environmental Science
This Science Exploration course is an examination of the science of environmental problems, processes, and solutions. Students will explore the interrelationships of the natural world, the environment, and impacts from humans. Specific topics will include land, air, and water pollution; biodiversity; global climate change; energy; public health; and sustainability. Prerequisites: successful completion of the University's writing and mathematics proficiency requirements. Corequisite: ESP 102. Cr 3.

ESP 102 Fundamentals of Environmental Science Laboratory
This Science Exploration laboratory course is designed to provide applied experience with some of the tools and techniques used in environmental science. Students will examine a variety of environmental issues using field kits, lab equipment, and computers. Prerequisites: successful completion of the University's writing and mathematics proficiency requirements. Corequisite: ESP 101. Cr 1.

ESP 108/GEO 108 Introduction to ArcGIS
An introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS), stressing the practical applications of popular graphical user interface (GUI) software packages such as ArcView. Topics covered include displaying, downloading, editing, analyzing, and printing public domain and user-created geographical data sets. The main emphasis of the course is on the acquisition of system operations skills. Cr 3.

ESP 125 Introduction to Environmental Ecology
This Science Exploration course is an introduction to the study of interactions between organisms and their environments. Students will explore the basic principles of ecology and systems with  emphasis on forests, wildlife, freshwater, marine, and urban habitats. Environmental physiology and evolution will be a central theme throughout the course. Prerequisites: successful completion of the University's writing and mathematics proficiency requirements; ESP 101/102 or BIO 105/106. Corequisite: ESP 126. Cr 3.

ESP 126 Introduction to Environmental Ecology Laboratory
This Science Exploration laboratory course surveys the identification, measurement, and function of various ecosystems. A focus will be on the impact of human activity on ecosystems. Prerequisites: successful completion of the University's writing and mathematics proficiency requirements. Prerequisites: ESP 101/102 or BIO 105/106. Corequisite: ESP 125. Cr 1.

ESP 150 Environmental Science Field Immersion Session
This field immersion session is designed to teach basic environmental science field skills and build community in a long weekend format. The course includes components on forest, soil, aquatic, wildlife, and human systems. Basic orienteering and map reading, topographical surveying, GPS operation, and dichotomous key use are emphasized. This required course is for all new majors and transfer students. Students must be present for the entire immersion session. Prerequisite: ESP major/minor or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 197 Research Skills Lab
This ten-week, lab-style course is designed to develop students' study and research skills to foster academic success as a major in the Department of Environmental Science.  Topics will include literature searching, website evaluation, peer review process, critical thinking, finding articles and books, plagiarism, proper citation, primary and secondary sources, and the writing process. The final project is a written literature review on a selected environmental topic. Cr. 1.

ESP 200 Environmental Planning
This course introduces the central concepts of environmental planning theory and practice, including components of rural, regional, and community planning. Concepts and issues studied include planning history and regulations, natural resources inventory, spatial patterns and analysis, zoning techniques, growth management, and planning research. The course meets the Ethical Inquiry core requirement and is a prerequisite for ESP 305 Community Planning Workshop. Prerequisite: ESP 101/102 or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 203 Environmental Communication
Students study environmental communication to understand the influence of socio-economic, political, and scientific factors on the social construction of environmental problems. Topics include basic communication theory and its application to the social definition of environmental problems and the perception and communication of risk, how communication is used to persuade/dissuade the public regarding environment problems, and how the environment is used to manipulate consumer behavior. Students also will explore the basics of social science research and its application to environmental communication. Prerequisites: College Writing, ESP 101/102  and sophomore standing. Cr 3.

ESP 207/GEY 207 Atmosphere: Science, Climate, and Change
Students will be introduced to the physical and chemical processes active in the earth's atmosphere. Specific topics include atmospheric circulation, atmospheric chemistry, climate patterns, storms, natural atmospheric change in recent geologic time, human-induced atmospheric change, and atmospheric pollution. Prerequisite: CHY 113. Cr 3.

ESP 210/GEO 210 Planning Maine Communities: Current Issues and Directions
This course will examine the issues facing Maine communities such as providing affordable housing, maintaining and improving the community's physical facilities such as streets, sewers, playgrounds, etc., disposing of solid and hazardous wastes, stimulating jobs and economic development, providing adequate transportation facilities, and preserving Maine's environment and lifestyle in the face of growth. It will also address how these issues can be addressed through the use of the planning process and sound planning techniques. Cr. 3.

ESP 212/PHI 212 Environmental Ethics
This course analyzes the relations between human beings and the environment in terms of the concepts of justice, the good, and human responsibilities. It attempts to provide a new cosmological model for adjudicating between conflicting rights and duties. Issues to be discussed include animal rights, environmental protection, and ecological harmony. Prerequisite: any PHI 100-level course. Cr 3.

ESP 220 Introduction to Environmental Policy
This course is an intensive introduction to the field of applied environmental policy within the framework of the rational policy process. The course will focus on the policy process, including environmental problem identification, root cause analysis, solution analysis, analysis and use of environmental policy tools, decision making, and policy implementation. Particular emphasis is given to air and water pollution and solid waste management. Prerequisites: ESP 203. Cr 3.

ESP 223/REC 223 Nature-based Tourism
This course covers the basics of nature tourism–a fast-growing, broad category that covers ecotourism and adventure tourism. An emphasis is placed on a variety of tourist activities and programs involving the outdoors in Maine and northern New England. This is a required course for a minor in nature tourism. Cr 3.

ESP 250 Soils and Land Use
Study and description of soils as natural materials in the landscape. The course includes an examination of physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils as they affect soil-plant-water relations. Other topics include soil classification and suitability for agriculture, urban development, and contaminant remediation. Laboratory exercises include field examinations of soils and physical and chemical soil analyses. Prerequisites: ESP 101/102 and one semester of chemistry lecture/lab or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 260 Soil and Water Conservation Engineering
A study of the utilization, improvement, and protection of two essential resources–soil and water. Primary focus is on applying scientific and engineering principles to the problem areas of soil erosion and flood control. Students will design practical solutions to remediate these problems. Prerequisite: math proficiency. Cr 3.

ESP 275 Energy Use and Societal Adaptation
This course focuses on the topic of energy, its utility, its use, and its impact on society and the environment. Subjects to be explored include: 1) traditional, modern and future energy resources; 2) energy consumption; 3) energy technologies; 4) energy and the environment and 5) sustainable development. The class will consist of a combination of lectures and seminars using a variety of media, including textbooks, technical articles, print, and video. Prerequisites: ESP 101/102 or permission. Cr 3.

ESP 280 Research and Analytical Methods
A focus on analytical and research techniques for environmental science and policy. The course is centered on the use of instrumentation and investigative research to address a thematic environmental issue. Topics include defining research problems, experiment design, measurement, sampling, and analysis. Students will complete group research projects. Prerequisites: ESP 101/102, ESP 197, and ESP 125/126 or one semester chemistry lecture/lab. Cr 4.

ESP 303 Wetlands Ecology
This lecture course examines wetlands from the perspectives of science and policy. Topics will include basic wetlands ecology and biology, wetland definitions, classification, and regional and national trends in habitat destruction and management. Prerequisites: ESP 125 or BIO 107, and one semester chemistry lecture/lab, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 305 Community Planning Workshop
This course provides a practical approach to local community planning problems. Students will conduct field work to explore community decision-making processes regarding the use of natural, social and economic resources. Basic planning concepts are refined and applied to real-world problems in a collaborative manner. Prerequisites: ESP 101, ESP 102, and GEO 209 or ESP 200, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 308 Global Environmental Problems and Sustainability
This course is a thorough examination of global environmental problems and the need for the principles of sustainability to solve these problems. Topics will include frameworks, tools, and applications of sustainability including sustainability science, life cycle assessment, zero waste, industrial ecology, pollution prevention, natural step, and community-based social marketing. Prerequisites: ESP 101/102 and ESP 203, or permission of instructor. The course meets the Ethical Inquiry and International core requirements. Cr 3.

ESP 311 Energy Efficiency
This course provides students with an understanding of how to identify opportunities for energy savings in all economic sectors, with an emphasis at the residential building level. Laboratories will be modeled primarily after the findings of a typical home energy audit, with an emphasis on weatherization, indoor air quality, and utility use. The course culminates with a Maine-based case study. Prerequisite: ESP 275 or permission of instructor. Cr. 3.

ESP 313 Renewable Energy
This course will equip students with knowledge of renewable energy systems (including solar, wind, water, geothermal, and biomass), their underlying physical and technological principles, their environmental impact, their economics, and how they can be integrated into current energy infrastructures. The course culminates with a renewable energy design project. Prerequisite: ESP 275 or permission of instructor. Cr. 3.

ESP 326/ECO 326 Environmental Economics
This course considers the economic aspects of resource and environmental issues, such as pollution, the use and management of natural resources, environmental justice, and global climate change. In addressing each of these issues we will investigate the implications of various public policy responses such as regulation, marketable permits, and tax incentives. Prerequisite: ECO 102 or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 327/ECO 327 Natural Resource Economics
In this course, we will consider the economic aspects of natural resource management and use, including the economically sustainable management of fisheries, forests, water resources, and biodiversity, with applications to Maine and beyond. We will investigate the implications of public policy responses such as regulations, marketable permits, and tax incentives. Prerequisite: ECO 102 or instructor permission. Cr 3.

ESP 340 Environmental Regulations
This online course is an intensive introduction to the federal and Maine environmental regulatory structure. This course is designed to provide basic competency in the knowledge and application of environmental regulations, including air, surface water, drinking water, spill reporting, and hazardous and solid waste. Cr 3.

ESP 341 Limnology
The study of inland waters with emphasis on the identification and ecology of aquatic organisms. This course meets on Fridays to allow time for extended field trips to local streams and lakes. Students will conduct independent research projects as part of the course. Prerequisites: ESP 125/126 or BIO 107, and one semester chemistry lecture/lab, or permission of instructor. Cr 4.

ESP 360 Water Quality Assessment and Control
A study of water-related legislation, methods for determining compliance with statutes, and control methods used for water quality attainment. Regional topics addressed include: waste-water treatment, drinking water standards, storm water runoff, eutrophication, best management practices, and biomonitoring for water quality assessment. Prerequisites: one semester chemistry lecture/lab or permission of instructor. Cr 4.

ESP 375 Environmental Risk Assessment and Management
The focus of this course is to provide students with a competency in quantitative human health risk assessment–an organized, multidisciplinary approach to evaluating scientific data by studying basic toxicology and fate and transport of contaminants using generally accepted principles and terminology used in the field. Students will study the scientific, political, social, ethical, and economic dimensions of managing risks. Prerequisites: ESP 101/102, ESP 203, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 400 Internship
The internship provides professional experience related to a student's chosen option within the major. The emphasis is on understanding the host organization's structure and function within the environmental area. In addition to satisfactory work experience, an oral presentation and written report are required. Offered as pass/fail only. Intended to be taken between the junior and senior year. Prerequisites: sophomore standing or higher, faculty approval of host organization, work plan, and completed "Internship Approval" Form. Cr 3.

ESP 401 Environmental Impact Assessment and Lab
An overview of methods used to analyze the environmental impact of human decisions. The course will emphasize U.S. requirements for impact assessment as outlined in NEPA. Federal documents (DEIS, EIA, EIS, FONSI, and ROD) filed for past and on-going projects are reviewed. A laboratory session is taken concurrently and is writing-intensive. Focus is a hands-on application of assessment procedures to a thematic environmental issue. This is a capstone course. Prerequisites: Senior standing, ESP 280 or permission of instructor. Cr 4.

ESP 403 Bioremediation and Phytoremediation
A study of the interaction of soils and groundwater with organic and synthetic contaminants, and the role of soils in pollution control. Students investigate the physical, chemical, and microbiological properties of soil and water and compare conventional remediation with bioremediation techniques. Special emphasis is placed on regional pollution problems including agricultural runoff, landfill leachates, and leaking underground storage tanks. Prerequisites: ESP 101/ 102, one semester chemistry lecture/lab, and ESP 250, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 412 Field Ecosystem Ecology
This course provides a fundamental understanding of ecosystem ecology, with an emphasis on forested and aquatic ecosystems and impacts of the physical and chemical environment on ecosystem functioning. The course is writing intensive and includes hypothesis generation, field research, computer analysis, and journal article interpretation and writing. The laboratory is field intensive and includes local field trips, team research exercises, and independent field research projects. Prerequisites: MAT 120 and ESP 125/126, or permission of instructor. Cr 4.

ESP 413 Forest Ecology
This course provides students with an understanding of what constitutes a healthy forest ecosystem and a sustainable forest environment. Special emphasis is placed on the function, spatial variability, evolution of forest ecosystems, and the need for forest ecology as the foundation of forest management. The laboratory session is field intensive. Prerequisites: ESP 125/126 or permission of instructor. Cr 4.

ESP 417 Site Planning and Assessment
An introduction to environmental planning and assessment concepts and skills associated with the development of sites for human use. Emphasis is given to the development of particular tracts or parcels of land in Maine. Prerequisites: ESP/GEO 108 or GEO 308, and GEO 209 or ESP 200, or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 421 Natural Resource Policy
This course focuses on the formulation, analysis, and implementation of natural resource based policies through the framework of the rational policy process. Subject areas will include commercial fisheries, river restoration, wildlife, and recreation. Special focus will be on open access conflicts and stakeholder resolutions. Prerequisite: ESP 220. Cr 3.

ESP 445 Environmental Education and Interpretation
Students explore the basics of classroom and non-formal environmental science education and interpretation using an inquiry-based approach. Topics include teaching ecosystem and environmental science principles, selecting and designing environmental curricula, and applying the Maine Learning Results to environmental education. Prerequisite: 12 credits of science or permission of instructor. Cr 3.

ESP 450 Research Practicum
Organized research experiences in ongoing faculty research projects or a mutually arranged special topic involving substantial skills development. Research will be conducted under the direct supervision of the faculty member. Permission of instructor required in semester prior to registration. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Cr 1-3.

ESP 470 Solid Waste Planning & Policy
An examination of traditional and innovative policy approaches involved in managing municipal solid waste. Includes identifying capacity, siting locations, transportation, and economic needs for management strategies (e.g., recycling, reuse, composting). Students will work a local solid waste planning project to identify cost-effective approaches to reducing disposal. Prerequisites: College Writing and Quantitative Reasoning. Cr. 3.

ESP 475 Topics in Environmental Science/Senior Seminar
Topics in environmental science not regularly covered in other courses. The content will vary based on current local and regional environmental issues. The course also includes resume and cover letter writing and practice of interview skills. The course may, with permission of the Department, be taken more than once. Prerequisite: Senior Status. Cr 3.

ESP 489 Grant Writing Seminar
This course is for juniors and seniors in all disciplines who plan on entering professional careers requiring knowledge of grant writing to successfully submit competitive corporate and foundation proposals, and state and federal grant applications. Developing effective grant writing skills offers a competitive edge for job-seekers across many disciplines and is essential to acquiring competitive funding from government agencies and private foundations. Writing a successful grant proposal is a blend of art and science. It requires basic knowhow, content knowledge, writing proficiency, strong research skills, creativity, organizational ability, patience, and a great deal of luck. This course will provide students with the background necessary to develop a competitive funding proposal.  Prerequisite: junior standing or higher. Cr. 2.