Environmental Science

Careers

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

Courses

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.

 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.

 BIOL 150 - Biological Principles (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

An introduction to the central unifying concepts of biology including the biochemical foundations of life, cell structure and function, cell metabolism, genetics, and evolution. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry are highly recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: University Entry-Level Expectations met for mathematics and English.

 BIOL 151 - Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

An overview of organismal diversity and evolution. Through a taxonomic survey, students are introduced to prokaryotic and eukaryotic diversity and evolution including microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals. Fundamentals of evolution including the history of life, evidence for common ancestry, mechanisms of evolutionary change, and speciation are covered. Organismic structure, function, and ecology are also explored. Laboratories introduce students to the process and methods of science through investigative experiences. This course is designed for the science major. A year of high school biology and a year of high school chemistry are highly recommended. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: University Entry-Level Expectations met for mathematics and English.

 BIOL 301 - General Ecology (3 cred.)

An introduction to basic ecological principles and their relationships to natural systems. Human impact on the natural systems is assessed. Prerequisites: BIOL 150 and BIOL 151. Prerequisite or corequisite: COM 202.

 BIOL 302 - Ecology Laboratory and Recitation (2 cred.)

An experimental approach in both field and laboratory to explore fundamental ecological principles. Students gather and analyze data to address ecological hypotheses, learn practical ecological skills (performing field techniques, using statistical and graphical tools, and interpreting ecological software), and develop oral and written communication skills. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: BIOL 150, BIOL 151, and CHEM 113. Prerequisite or corequisite: BIOL 301.

 BIOL 440 - Conservation Biology (3 cred.)

This course addresses the reduction in biological diversity of the planet and suggested solutions to prevent further reduction. Integrating themes are drawn from scientific disciplines such as population genetics, ecology, evolutionary biology, botany, zoology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and wildlife management. Prerequisites: BIOL 312; or ENVS 350, ENVS 370, ENVS 390, and either BIOL 151 or both BIOL 130 and BIOL 135; or instructor permission.

 CHEM 111 - General Chemistry I (3 cred.)

An introductory course designed for science majors focusing on principles and applications of chemistry. Topics covered in this course are stoichiometry, bonding models, intermolecular forces, and periodic trends. Prerequisite or corequisite: MATH 140 or Accuplacer college-level mathematics test score of 85 or above, ACT math score of 24 or above, or instructor permission.

 CHEM 112 - General Chemistry Laboratory I (1 cred.)

An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 111. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory note bookkeeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Additional course fee applies. Co-requisite: CHEM 111.

 CHEM 113 - General Chemistry II (3 cred.)

A continuation of CHEM 111. Topics covered are thermodynamics, kinetics, equilibrium, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite: CHEM 111 with a minimum grade of C-.

 CHEM 114 - General Chemistry Laboratory II (1 cred.)

A continuation of CHEM 112. An introduction to basic laboratory techniques of inorganic chemistry correlating with CHEM 113. Experiments emphasize techniques, instrumentation, and solution chemistry. Laboratory notebook keeping and the safe handling and disposal of laboratory chemicals are also stressed. Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Corequisite: CHEM 113.

 CHEM 231 - Introduction to Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (3 cred.)

A descriptive survey course which introduces the essential topics and applications of organic chemistry and biochemistry. The course is designed for non-majors who need the second semester of a one-year chemistry core that includes general, organic, and biochemistry. This course may not be counted for credit toward the Chemistry Major or Minor. Prerequisite: CHEM 101 or CHEM 113.

 CHEM 234 - Introductory Organic and Biochemistry Laboratory (1 cred.)

An introductory laboratory to accompany CHEM 231. Experiments focus on reactions of organic functional groups, organic synthesis, and the chemistry of biological molecules. This course may not be counted for credit toward the Chemistry Major or Minor. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or co-requisite: CHEM 231.

 CHEM 306 - Analytical Chemistry (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

A lecture/laboratory course involving principles, techniques and calculations involved with quantitative analysis of substances. Includes solution chemistry, gravimetric, volumetric, redox, and pH determinations. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: CHEM 113 and CHEM 114.

 ENVS 373 - The Water Planet (3 cred.)

An advanced water science course specifically designed for students interested in water related environmental science and policy. Topics include the physical and chemical properties of natural fesh waters and the movement and reserviors of fresh water within the water cycle. The course includes several hands-on exercises and field experiences where students investigate and analyze natural waters in the Gunnison Basin. Prerequisites: GEOL 101; GEOL 105 and one of the following: CHEM 101 or CHEM 111

 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.

 GEOL 101 - Physical Geology (3 cred.)

An introductory class that emphasizes the environmental aspects of geology. The course covers the basic principles of physical geology, such as minerals, rocks, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, and origin of landscapes by mass wasting, rivers, glaciers, ground water, and nearshore processes. Throughout this course, focus is on the effect of geology on human society through the study of geologic hazards, energy resources, and mineral resources.

 GEOL 105 - Physical Geology Laboratory (1 cred.)

An introduction to identification of minerals and rocks and a discussion of their genesis followed by a study of landscapes formed by mass wasting, rivers, glaciers, ground water, and nearshore processes. Many of these principles are observed on local field trips. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisite or corequisite: GEOL 101.

 GEOL 240 - Introduction to Petroleum and Mining Geology (3 cred.)

A survey of the physical and chemical processes responsible for the distribution of hydrocarbon and mineral resources in the Earth's crust and techniques for hydrocarbon and mineral resource exploration, assessment, and development. Includes field trips to oil and gas and mining operations in Colorado and Utah. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105.

 GEOL 320 - Geomorphology (with laboratory) (4 cred.)

A study of the processes that create the land forms we see at the Earth's surface. In particular, processes associated with modern and ice-age climate are studied including erosion and weathering, soil formation, flooding, glaciation, and mass wasting. The laboratory emphasizes field-observation and data-collection techniques, and the interpretation of aerial photographs. Additional course fee applies. Prerequisites: GEOL 101 and GEOL 105; CHEM 101 or CHEM 111.

 MATH 151 - Calculus I (4 cred.)

A study of differential calculus, including limits, continuous functions, Intermediate Value Theorem, tangents, linear approximation, inverse functions, implicit differentiation, extreme values and the Mean Value Theorem. This course also introduces Integral calculus including anti-derivatives, definite integrals, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Prerequisite: ACT math score of 27 or above; SAT math score of 630 or above; MATH 141 with a minimum grade of C-; or Accuplacer university-level mathematics test with a score of 95 or above. 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 120 - Meteorology (3 cred.)

A summary of the structure of the Earth's atmosphere, worldwide weather disturbances, weather forecasting, and snow avalanches. This course may not be taken for credit toward the Physics Minor.

 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.

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Biology, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Phone: 970.943.3405
Office Location: Taylor Hall 322
Robert Fillmore headshot
Professor of Geology
Phone: 970.943.2650
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16B
Patrick Magee, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor of Wildlife & Conservation Biology
Phone: 970.943.7121
Office Location: Hurst Hall 143A
David W. Marchetti, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Geology
Phone: 970.943.2367
Office Location: Hurst Hall 224
John Mason, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Physics
Phone: 970.943.2142
Office Location: Hurst Hall 116
Jason E. Mullins, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Chemistry
Phone: 970.943.3152
Office Location: Hurst Hall 204
Elizabeth Petrie, Ph.D. headshot
Moncrief Chair in Petroleum Geology
Phone: 970.943.2117
Office Location: Hurst Hall 16D
Suzanne Taylor, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Professor of Physics
Phone: 970.943.2155
Office Location: Hurst Hall 118

Scholarships

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 western.edu/scholarships.

Early Action Credit

If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

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 western.edu/mars.

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 western.edu/scholarships.

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 western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit western.edu/scholarships.

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.

  • Chemistry Club: Members share their love of chemistry with the community in an annual demonstration that draws hundreds.
     
  • Geology Club: The Geology Club is active in fundraising for student experiences, including field trips and attending professional conferences. 
     
  • Gunnison Valley Observatory: Faculty and students use this sophisticated facility for research and teaching.
     
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Western biologists and students collaborate with the world-renowned research station seven miles north of Crested Butte.
     
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Students collaborate with faculty (and can receive funding) on original research. 
     
  • Tri Beta and the Wildlife Society: Student-run clubs that provide professional development, training, networking, internships and field experiences. 

The Environmental Science minor is a great way for students to round out their degree with a stronger, more diverse scientific emphasis in biology, chemistry, geology, physics, math and environmental management. With Western’s connections to natural resource agencies, professionals frequently interact with students during classes, on field trips and in internships and paid, local jobs. Graduates enter their careers or graduate school with technical research skills and an enhanced understanding of environmental issues.

Learn More

Reach out for more information about the program.

Kevin_Alexander
Professor of Biology, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Phone: 
Office Location: 
Taylor Hall 322

Related Programs

Biology

Read more

Chemistry

Read more

Environment & Sustainability

Read more

Geology

Read more

Mathematics

Read more

Physics

Read more
Read more

Master in Environmental Management (MEM)

Read more

M.S. in Ecology 3+2

Read more

M.S. in Ecology

Read more