Featured Courses

ESI is proud to feature environmental science courses that help both undergraduate and graduate students at The University of Texas at Austin gain a better understanding into their environment. Below are just a few of the environmental courses that are offered or have recently been offered at UT-Austin.  For a complete listing of courses being offered each semester, please consult the UT Course Schedule. Consult the UT Course Catalog or the UT Sustainability Directory for comprehensive information on courses.

Undergraduate Courses

BIO 301M: Evolution, Ecology & Society with Dr. Franklin Bronson and Dr. Jose Panero is designed for nonscience majors. Introduction to environmental adaptations, diversity of organisms, species interactions, organization and processes of communities, population growth and limitations, evolution and population genetics, origin of life, and human impact on the environment.
BIO 321L: Aquatic Entomology with Dr. John Abbott, Section of Integrative Biology – Studies taxonomy of aquatic insects and the use of aquatic insects in biomonitoring.
BIO 326: Microbial Ecology Dr. Christine Hawkes share the ability of microbes to adapt to and change their environment.
BIO 347: Evolutionary Ecology This course with Dr. Eric Pianka focuses on the principles of modern ecology, particularly as they relate to natural selection and evolutionary theory.  Beginning with the hierarchical structure of biology, scientific methodology, and natural selection, the course progresses through (1) principles of population ecology, (2) interactions between populations, including parasitism, predation, and niche theory, (3) the role of phylogenetics in ecology, and (5) community ecollogy, including evolutionary convergence and ecological equivalents, and (6) biogeography and conservation biology.
CHE 341: Design for Environment Dr. David Allen provides an overview of environmental assessment tools for chemical processes and products, including life cycle and risk assessments. Overview of design tools for improving environmental performance of chemical processes, including unit operations and flowsheet analysis methods.
CE 397: Sustainable Planning Dr. Mike Blackhurst describes how sustainability increasingly drives the decisions of consumers, producers, institutions, and governments.  Thus, appropriate decision paradigms and improved analytical techniques are needed.  Drawing on a broad array of disciplines, this course reviews sustainability decision paradigms and analytical approaches, integrating fundamental environmental, economic, and social dimensions. Techniques for sustainability analysis are then presented and assessed for strengths and limitations. The influences of technology, infrastructure, and economic behavior on sustainability are emphasized. The latter third of the course will cover applications, such as resource efficiency, renewable energy sources, and urbanization.
 GEO 327G: GIS and GPS Applications in Earth Science This course with Dr. Mark Helper explores the theory and practice of geographic information system (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies, and their applications to problems in earth sciences. Laboratories and field trips provide hands-on experience with the collection, mapping, and analysis of geologic and other field data using GPS equipment and GIS software. Topics include map projections; datums and reference frames; cartographic principles; remotely sensed data (satellite and aerial photos, image radar); vector- and raster-based image formats; geospatial data resources; GIS software applications; surveying principles; GPS constellation and data structure; differential GPS; data logging schemes; GPS postprocessing software; integration of GPS and GIS in mapmaking; extant GIS applications in geology and hydrogeology.
GEO 330K: Energy Exploration Dr. Peter Flemings covers the fundamental elements of the petroleum system, including the origin of source rocks and reservoirs, rock properties, migration of hydrocarbons, and correlation methods for rock formations. During the final weeks of the course, students form exploration teams and work up real subsurface data from the Gulf of Mexico in order to participate in a simulated lease sale.
GEO 346C: Introduction to Physical & Chemical Hydrogeology – One of the three required geology courses in the EVS Program, this undergraduate course presents basic concepts of fluid flow, surface and subsurface hydrology, aqueous geochemistry, and fluid-rock interaction. Additional topics include isotope hydrogeology, evolution of seawater, and mineral-solution equilibrium.
GEO 347G: Climate System Modeling with Dr. Edward K. Vizy, Institute for Geophysics – Climate models are a powerful tool for studying climate and climate change. They are used extensively to study paleoclimate, and are our primary means of predicting future climate due to greenhouse gas increases. This course will instruct on the basic theory of climate system modeling, and provide students with an opportunity to run a state-of-the-art regional climate model in an application to support scientific research.
GEO 371C/GEO 391C: Applied Karst Hydrogeology An introduction to karst groundwater theory with a special emphasis relating theory to practical application in the field, and will include six weekend field trips.
GEO 391: Spatial Data Analysis in Climate Research Dr. Charles Jackson provides concepts in statistical analysis appropriate for assessing the reliability of interpretations of phenomena that evolve in time and space common to the atmosphere, ocean, ice and solid earth systems. The ability to interpret physical relationships, sensitivities, and feedbacks that characterize these systems can be limited by sparse observations and obscured by natural variability.
GEO 476K: Groundwater Hydrology Dr. John Sharp provides an introduction to subsurface hydrology, emphasizing geological controls on groundwater flow; quantitative methods of analyzing aquifer systems; regional hydrology; water quality and pollution.
GRG 301C: The Natural Environment Dr. Edgardo Latrubesse discusses the geomorphic processes that shape the earth’s surface; origin and evolution of landforms. Groundwater and water resources. Pedogenesis and soil properties.  A one-day field trip to be arranged.
GRG 304E: Environmental Science: A Changing World with Dr. Kelley Crews, Department of Geography and the Environment – This course will survey the major global environmental concerns affecting the Earth and its residents from the perspectives of the environmental sciences. As such, it also provides an introduction to how scientists monitor, evaluate, and predict changes in ecosystems and ecosystem services, in the availability and sustainability of water and energy sources, in environmental contamination, and in the equity issues that divide and unite the planet.
GRG 334C: Environmental Hazards Earth science processes that affect human activities: soil, erosion, flooding, slope stability, earthquakes, volcanism, and water resources and quality.
GRG 335N: Landscape Ecology Dr. Lars Pomara takes us through the study of spatial patterns in the earth’s biosphere found within landscapes, typically areas measured in square kilometers. Examines the processes that create those patterns, drawing from ecology, biogeography, and many other disciplines. Also explores the practical applications of landscape ecology to the study of natural environments and those managed or altered by human activities.
GRG 342C: Sustainable Development This course with Dr. Rebecca Torres explores the historical and contemporary analysis of international development with a focus on the prospects for environmental sustainability. Why are some world regions classified as “developed” or part of the First World, while others are asserted to be developing or members of the Third World? What do we mean by these ideas, and where do they come from? What is sustainable development and what does it mean for the existing geopolitical system? Can development occur in conjunction with environmental sustainability? This course provides a summary of contemporary dilemmas in development studies by tracing both influential theoretical perspectives on development and the ways they play out throughout the world. Through lectures, readings and discussions, students will be asked to identify similarities and differences in various regions’ development histories. After the course explores key historical and conceptual dimensions of development, we will revisit these dilemmas through discussion and critique. Finally, we will utilize case studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America to suggest how geography broadly informs the political, economic, social and environmental changes occurring in the 21st century.
MNS 320: Marine Ecology Dr. Deana Erdner shares the study of ecological processes at different levels of integration in marine ecosystems.
MNS 354Q: Marine Environmental Science Dr. Zhanfei Liu guides students in the application of the principles of marine science to the study of environmental issues: toxicology, biogeochemical cycles, and biological and ecological impacts of zenobiotic materials in the coastal zone.  The class will also make two weekend field trips to UT’s Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, with pre- and post-field trip lab hours required on four weekends during the semester.
MNS 367K: Human Exploration & Exploitation of the Sea A review of the history of ocean exploration with Dr. Tracy Villareal, including major oceanographic expeditions. Discussion of current topics in ocean exploration and exploitation of marine resources, the impact of resource exploitation on biological systems, and the development of marine policy.
PHL 325C: Environmental Ethics with Dr. Sahota Sakar, Section of Integrative Biology – Environmental ethics – two simple words and a world of questions. This course delves into the moral issues concerning the relation of human beings to the environment, including biodiversity, resource depletion, and animal rights. For more on Dr. Sarkar and his research, at the UT website feature Philosopher Brings Human Values to Environmental Decisions.

Graduate Courses

CRP 387C: Water Resource Planning In this course, Stefan Schuster provides an active opportunity to study and understand general planning principles in water resource management as it is applied to meeting contemporary water needs, with a focus on Texas.  The course emphasizes real world challenges and current water resource planning projects through lectures, readings, class discussions, presentations, and experiences from outside the classroom.
GRG 392M: Seminar in Biodiversity Conservation Dr. Kenneth Young discusses a world where species in all groups with known trends are, on average, being driven closer to extinction (UN Convention on Biodiversity, Biodiversity Outlook 2010), this course examines issues that involve the conservation and sustainable use of plants, animals, and ecosystems.
GRG 396T: The Physical Geography of the Global Tropics with Dr. Edgardo Latrubesse, Dept. of Geography and the Environment – The tropics are fundamental at a global scale in terms of water, mineral, biological resources and biodiversity and are unique in terms of landscape evolution. Because they have acted as a sort of last environmental frontier, the tropics have been suffering most dramatically with recent environmental human impacts in Earth. This course provides a fundamental but advanced understanding on the Physical Geography of the Global Tropics. The framework of the geotectonic, climatic, organization through the geologic times of the tropical landscapes across the world will be provided.
MKT 382: Business and the Environment /Environmental Issues in Marketing (MKT 382) Dr. Garrett Sonnier explores how environmental issues affect firms and cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines, such as economics, marketing, engineering and law. The course focuses on the design and implementation of marketing strategies where environmental considerations are of primary importance. The course integrates knowledge from industrial organization theory, environmental and resource economics, and marketing to study topics in the political economy of the environment and the environment and marketing strategy.
MNS 393: Coastal Watersheds with Dr. Jim McClelland, Department of Marine Sciences – This graduate course fosters an integrated understanding of topics such as water use, land use/land cover change, and climate change as they relate to biological, physical, and geochemical processes in watersheds. Impacts of changing watershed export on coastal ocean ecosystems will also be addressed.