Individualized Contract


Career preparation starts your first year at Western. Visit Career Services in Library 120 and online at to discover your interests, define your goals and land your dream job.

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For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

 BIOL 130 - Environmental Biology (3 cred.)

An introduction to basic biological principles as they apply to interactions between organisms and their environment. Consideration is given to biotic and abiotic interactions, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, population growth, biodiversity, basic cell biology, genetics, and evolution with a special emphasis on human impacts on these biological systems. This course establishes a strong foundation in applied biology from a scientific perspective.

 BIOL 135 - Environmental Biology Laboratory (1 cred.)

An experimental approach in both the field and laboratory to explore fundamental biological principles including biotic and abiotic interactions, energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, population growth, biodiversity, basic cell biology, genetics and evolution. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 130.

 BUAD 410 - Water and Environmental Law (3 cred.)

A comprehensive case law study of water and environmental law, addressing the historical development of the riparian, prior appropriation, Federal and Indian water rights doctrines, and the emergence of Federal and State environmental law and policy, specifically addressing how water law and environmental law interface with and impact each other. This course will develop a knowledge base fundamental to the preparation of a student in the PLRM emphasis. Prerequisite: completion of Base Curriculum; or instructor permission. BUAD 210 recommended.

 ECON 215 - Environmental Economics (3 cred.)

A presentation of the analytical tools and approaches used by economists to examine and assess environmental issues, conflicts, and policies. Students are asked to use market analysis, externality analysis, cost-benefit analysis, instrument choice models, and market and non-market valuation techniques to investigate issues such as air and water quality, global warming, toxic substances, wilderness designation, and sustainable development plans. Prerequisites: MATH 105, MATH 113, MATH 140, MATH 141, or MATH 151 with a minimum grade of C-.

 ECON 216 - Statistics for Business and Economics (3 cred.)

An introduction to descriptive statistics and statistical inference, with application in business, including hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, and simple regression analysis. Prerequisite: MATH 140, MATH 141, or MATH 151 with a minimum grade of ÒC-.Ó

 ENVS 100 - Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (3 cred.)

An interdisciplinary, historical analysis of the development of environmental problems, movements, and philosophies. Students apply historical lessons to critically examine sustainable solutions locally and globally.

 ENVS 200 - Writing the Environment (3 cred.)

Students develop communication skills through presentations and writing on a variety of environmental issues appropriate to a wide variety of audiences. Through environmental essays, writing for nonprofit websites, grant proposals, and other forms of environmental writing, students are introduced to a broad range of skills needed for effective communication. Focus throughout the course on the analysis of arguments and texts further develops students' analytical and communication skills. Prerequisite: ENVS 100; COM 202 is recommended.

 ENVS 301 - Science of Sustainability and Resilience (3 cred.)

A holistic inquiry into how humans might live the next chapter of our history, guided by the ecological principles of sustainability and resilience. Environmental problems and their possible solutions are analyzed critically and quantitatively; field experiences on campus and in the community involve students directly in the application of these principles. Themes include sustainable agriculture, green building, renewable energy, and conservation and restoration. Prerequisites: BIOL 130, BIOL 135, PHYS 125

 ENVS 350 - U.S. and Western Environmental Politics (3 cred.)

An historical and contemporary investigation of U.S. environmental policies with an applied focus on the impact of national policy on the ecosystems and cultures of the American West. Reciprocally, this course traces how pubic lands agencies, social movements, historical land uses, and diverse cultures in the West shape U.S. environmental policy. Students combine analysis and discussion of major U.S. policies, prominent theories and issues, and student-led environmental service projects to better understand environmental challenges. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ENVS 200 or COM 202; and ECON 370.

 ENVS 360 - Global Environmental Policy (3 cred.)

A critical examination of key perspectives, economic and political processes, policy actors, and institutions involved in global environmental issues. Students analyze ecological, cultural, and social dimensions of international environmental concerns and governance as they have emerged in response to increased recognition of global environmental threats, globalization, and international contributions to understanding of these issues. The focus of the course encourages students to engage and evaluate texts within the broad policy discourse on globalization, justice, and the environment. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ECON 201, ENVS 200 or SCI 202; junior standing or instructor approval.

 ENVS 370 - Water Policy and Politics (3 cred.)

Study of the history, politics and institutions related to water policy and administration with comparative reference to different regions of the United States and internationally. Attention is given to the industrial development of the East and the created water resources of the arid West as a way to understand changing social sentiments toward water and water policy. The course also examines water pollution laws and water management. Prerequisites: ENVS 100; ECON 201 or ENVS 200 or SCI 202; junior standing or instructor approval.

 ENVS 375 - Seminar in Water Topics (3 cred.)

An occasional offering that may include water topics in politics and policy, ethics and philosophy, or science. Prerequisite: ENVS 200 and ENVS 301, or instructor permission.

 ENVS 390 - Environmental Monitoring (4 cred.)

A field-work based study of local (Gunnison Basin) environmental problems. Numerous monitoring techniques are implemented based on principles of biology, chemistry, and geology. The emphasis is on collaborative and integrative group projects dealing directly with real-world environmental problems. Prerequisites: ENVS 301 and one of the following: ECON 216, MATH 213, or SOC 211.

 ENVS 400 - Applied Sustainability (3 cred.)

A field-based, collaborative, problem-solving experience that addresses a current issue in environmental sustainability. Implementing frameworks such as resilient and systems thinking, students collect information, analyze results, write a report, publicly present their findings, and begin to implement solutions informed by their analysis. Students learn basic skills for transforming their ENVS education into compelling environmental professional career possibilities. Prerequisites: ENVS 350 and ENVS 390.

 HWTR 200 - Introduction to the Headwaters (1 cred.)

A fall offering that gives students a broad cross-disciplinary overview of the Headwaters Region surrounding the College, with some field trips out into the region and an opportunity to look into some of the issues impacting the region.

 HWTR 398 - Headwaters Conference (1 cred.)

An annual two-day gathering on campus each fall, bringing together writers and scholars, local community leaders and activists, artists, government officials, and other interested citizens from the colleges and communities of the Headwaters Region to consider challenges and opportunities confronting the region. Students attend and participate in the conference and write a paper about the experience in the context of their own lives and future plans. Students attend and participate in the conference, complete applied research projects throughout the month following the conference, and write a paper about the experience in the context of their own lives and future plans. Student may take the course four times for additional credit. Prerequisite: junior standing or instructor permission.

 MATH 113 - Statistical Thinking (3 cred.)

A course introducing the ideas of statistical analysis. Topics include data visualization and summarization, parameter estimation, and hypothesis testing. This course emphasizes practical aspects of data analysis and makes extensive use of spreadsheets and real data. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 21 or above; SAT math score of 540 or above; MATH 099; or Accuplacer Elementary Algebra test score of 106 or above; or co-requisite MATH 103 (SAI). GT-MA1

 MATH 213 - Probability and Statistics (3 cred.)

A course in the use of statistical techniques to draw knowledge from data. Topics include exploratory data analysis, descriptive statistics, t-procedures, ANOVA, chi squared procedures, regression, and non-parametric tests. Statistical software is used extensively to analyze real data sets. Prerequisite: MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-, or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test score of 85 or above; or instructor permission. GT-MA1

 PHYS 125 - Energy and the Environment (3 cred.)

A practical study of energy generation and its environmental impact, including the physics of energy fundamentals, fossil fuel use, alternative energy uses, and energy conservation. Primarily for non-science majors, this course will qualitatively detail basic physical principles behind the use of energy, including mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and thermodynamics. This course is designed to provide the student with a physicist's perspective on energy use and environmental issues. Prerequisite: completion of the general education essential skills mathematics requirement.

 SOC 211 - Quantitative Research Methods (3 cred.)

An introduction for students of the social sciences to the fundamentals of quantitative research analysis. Students design and administer surveys, code data, and analyze results. Students become familiar with descriptive statistics (frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, and dispersion), inferential statistics (sampling theory, hypothesis testing, normal binomial distributions, confidence intervals, and types of error), as well as techniques for computing correlation. Prerequisites: SOC 101 with a minimum grade of C; and MATH 113 or MATH 140.

Faculty & Staff


Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Phone: 970.943.3405
Office Location: Taylor Hall 322
Melanie  Armstrong, Ph.D.  headshot
Assistant Professor & Public Lands Coordinator
Office Location: Kelley Hall 145
Kate Clark, Ph.D. headshot
Director of Undergraduate Environment & Sustainability Program; Graduate Faculty in Master in Environmental Management programs, Environment & Sustainability and Sociology programs
Office Location: Kelley Hall 146
Jonathan Coop, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Professor
Phone: 970.943.2565
Office Location: Kelley Hall 105
Luke  Danielson, J.D. headshot
Clark Chair in Environment and Sustainability
Phone: 970.641.4605
Office Location: 116 N. Taylor St., Gunnison, CO 81230
Jennie DeMarco, Ph.D. headshot
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.2013
Office Location: Kelley Hall 144
Dave Ellerbroek, Ph.D. headshot
Graduate Faculty for Sustainability Transitions
Office Location: Kelley Hall 108
Karen Hausdoerffer, MFA headshot
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.3450
Office Location: Kelley Hall 142
John C. Hausdoerffer, Ph.D.  headshot
Dean, School of Environment & Sustainability
Phone: 970.943.3450
Office Location: Kelley Hall 142
Salif P. Mahamane, M.S. headshot
Assistant Professor of Psychology; Graduate Faculty, MEM
Phone: 970.943.7037
Office Location: Kelley Hall 206
Taryn Mead, Ph.D. headshot
Graduate Faculty for the School of Environment & Sustainability and Outdoor Industry MBA
Phone: 970.943.3954
Office Location: Kelley Hall 106
Brooke Moran, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Recreation & Outdoor Education for MEM Graduate Program, Graduate Faculty for Outdoor Industry MBA
Phone: 970.943.2118
Office Location: Wright Gym 223
Jeff Sellen, Ph.D.  headshot
Professor of Environment & Sustainability, Director of Colorado Water Workshop
Phone: 970.943.3162
Office Location: Kelley Hall 107
Lynn Sikkink, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Anthropology
Phone: 970.943.2062
Office Location: Hurst Hall 31C
Sally Thode, M.S. headshot
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
Office Location: Kelley Hall 143
Jessica Young, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Environment & Sustainability, Master in Environmental Management and Master of Science in Ecology
Phone: 970.765.8488
Office Location: Kelley Hall 143


Institutional Scholarships

Common Scholarships

Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit our scholarships page.

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit

Neighboring States Program

Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Presidential Promise

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Tuition Discount Programs

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Western Merit Scholarship

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Clubs & Organizations: Join the Organics Guild, Sustainability Coalition or Wildlife Society. 
  • Coldharbour Institute: Experiment with sustainable building design, resilient food systems or community organizing in the Gunnison Valley.
  • Conferences: Attend the Headwaters Conference, the Colorado Water Workshop and Sage Grouse Spring Symposium.
  • Earthship Academy: Learn how to construct a self-sustaining building capable of producing food and saving energy.
  • High Country News: Check out the independent news source's new satellite office located in Kelley Hall.
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Find a research assistantship at one of the premier biological research stations in the world. 
  • Solar Energy International: Engage in the local, regional or global conversation about the renewable energy era.

Environment & Sustainability (ENVS) students have the exclusive opportunity to design their own Individualized Contract, complementing their major with a custom-tailored experience. If ENVS students want to reach beyond the bounds of traditional minors or emphases, they may opt for the Individualized Contract emphasis in which they build their own emphasis by drawing from courses all across campus. This option helps students interested in the interdisciplinary ENVS experience to dive deeper into the perspectives, disciplines and fields that will serve them best.

Learn More

Reach out for more information about the program.

Kate Clark
Director of Undergraduate Environment & Sustainability Program; Graduate Faculty in Master in Environmental Management programs, Environment & Sustainability and Sociology programs
Office Location: 
Kelley Hall 146

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