Introduction to Environmental Sciences (IES)

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Course Description: 

Course consists of two parts. First part is devoted to the general introduction to environmental science, its basic ideas and principles: flows of energy, matter, biogeochemical cycles of major elements and their role in biosphere. Course will also present some basics of meteorology and climate science, geology, soil science, hydrology, foundations of species population and biodiversity, as well as introduction of concepts of ecological systems, (how they develop and function), ecological biomes, ecosystem services. All these ideas and concepts are crucial for understanding current environmental policy debates.
Second part of the course is devoted to understanding of how humans are changing nature of our planet in a variety of ways and how these transformations can be managed. Extraction and use of mineral and organic resources, which was essential for human survival from the very beginning, nowadays reaching the scale comparable to major geophysical transformations. Human activities not only interfere with biogeochemical cycles of many elements and compounds, destroy biodiversity and accelerate climate change, they also create huge amounts of pollution and wastes which are transforming natural habitats and living conditions for all creatures, including humans all around the world. That is why now environmental agenda becomes as important as economic and even political one, and the course will discuss how it happens in various fields in EU and across the world.
This course will give you knowledge necessary to address the environmental issues humans are facing today by examining scientific principles and applications of those principles to natural and anthropogenic systems. This course will present a broad survey of the environmental science topics at an introductory level, focusing on problems related to sustainability of human activities on our planet.

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Learn the main concepts and principles of ecology and environmental science,
  • Understand basic principles of pollution prevention and remediation,
  • Understand and discuss current environmetal policy debates and existing options on global and regional levels

The course will have 2 exam sessions: mid-term exam upon completion of the first part and end of the term exam after the completion of the second part. Each exam will consist of one- hour in-class writing session. During this session students should answer 2 questions selected from the offered choice of 6 questions (roughly spending 1/2 hour per question).