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Early Hands-On Experience

During the first two years of the program, students take both a field seminar and research methods course taught by top UT faculty, along with a signature course that provides an introduction to the academic and hands-on study of sustainability.  In all classes, 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:

Through this hands-on experience, students gain an understanding of human impact 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.  It is specifically designed to help prepare students independent research projects or internships (EVS 271 & EVS 371), but the contents and skills learned will be useful in many other courses, graduate school, and employment. The course is also designed to introduce students to faculty and facilities across the university by having guest speakers discuss these topics with the students. Through regular written assignments and timely feedback on those assignments, students will also be able to improve their technical and non-technical writing skills.

EVS 121 provides overview of many of the methods involved in almost all research projects, and will improve skills in many different areas, including:

  • Writing skills. 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 is part of this course. These will be directly useful, and also will give you 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 these 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.
  • Identifying labs (or other situations) in which you might do your independent research project; approaching scientists at UT and elsewhere.


In EVS 121 students also have the opportunity to identify labs (or other situations) in which they may want to pursue their senior research project and to meet UT environmental scientists while becoming more familiar with environmental science at UT.






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Environmental Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin