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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 331)

Research Methods gives students experience solving difficult environmental problems within a multidisciplinary working group. Through lecture, students learn the steps to develop, conduct, analyze and present your own research. The class also discusses environmental reports and oral presentations to help you format your final reports.  In lab sessions, students are organized into working groups, which act as an environmental consultants as they work through an environmental issue or question over the course of the semester. Each working group then assigns each member a specific problem so that each group member focuses on an independent research project that addresses some aspect of the issue that the working group is “hired” to solve.  Working group discussions critically discuss and evaluate individual progress and research.  Individual projects culminate in scientific research papers that are be submitted as chapters in a final report from the working group.  This final group report includes a summary of the findings, a conclusion relevant to the goals of the group, recommendations for action on the issues being studied, and a scientific paper written by each member on their independent research (as chapters of the report). Each of the papers is  peer reviewed before being incorporated into the final report.

The class will also host an oral symposium at the end of the semester, at which each student  presents his/her findings within the context of the overall group, and the groups collectively discuss their major findings and each student will report their individual research findings within the context of the overall group goal.

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Environmental Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin