During the first two years of the EVS program, students take a field seminar (EVS 311) and research methods course (EVS 121) taught by top UT faculty, along with a signature course that provides an introduction to the academic and hands-on study of sustainability (Sustaining a Planet UGS 303). Through these three courses, students gain practical, hands-on experience in field-work studying aquifers, ecosystems, estuaries, and sustainable development.
Introductory Field Seminar in Environmental Science and Sustainability (EVS 311)
Taken in the spring of students’ first year at UT, this Introductory Field Seminar in Environmental Sicence and Sustainability introduces students to observation and analysis of environmental processes and sustainability issues. Central and South Texas watersheds, ecosystems, estuaries, caves, outcrops, urban developments and the UT campus provide the natural laboratories for analysis. Field Seminar students visit a variety of sites, including:
- Barton Springs;
- Waller Creek and Bull Creek;
- Boggy Creek Farms and Urban Roots Farm;
- Mueller Community Sustainable Development;
- Inner Space Cavern;
- Brackenridge Field Laboratory (UT-Austin);
- Port Aransas (UT Marine Science Institute).
Through this hands-on experience, students gain an understanding of human impacts on the environment, the interdisciplinary nature of environmental analysis, and the range of environmental science and sustainability research at UT Austin.
Research Methods for Environmental Scientists (EVS 121)
The primary aim of EVS 121 is to provide students with a better understanding of research methods by introducing them to a number of topics and issues pertaining to the research process. This course is specifically designed to help prepare students for the EVS Capstone Research Experience by introducing them to faculty and facilities across the university. EVS 121 provides an overview of common methods in research projects and helps students improve in the following skills:
- Writing. The focus is on writing formal English to convey information in an accurate, clear, and concise fashion (rather that writing to entertain or to persuade). This is the type of writing used in almost all scientific contexts, and it is also the primary type of writing required in almost all jobs in all fields.
- Data analysis, statistics. A brief introduction to a few useful methods in data analysis and statistics. These will be directly useful, and give a taste of what this aspect of science is like.
- Location and identification of documents on environmental topics. An introduction to the process of evaluating the reliability of documents and extracting information from them. Documents will include scientific research papers, government reports, and others.
- Outreach. A taste of what outreach to non-scientists is like and how to do it successfully.
- Networking. Identifying labs (or other situations) in which to pursue the EVS Capstone Research Experience and opportunities to meet UT environmental scientists while becoming more familiar with environmental science at UT.