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 for comprehensive information on courses.

Undergraduate Courses

BIO 301M: Evolution, Ecology & Society with Dr. Eric Pianka 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 375: Conservation Biology Dr. Norma Fowler encourages students to explore the applications of population ecology to protecting endangered species and the applications of community ecology to understanding the impacts of non-native invasive species.
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.
GEO 327G: GIS and GPS Applications in Earth Science This course with Dr. Miriam Barquero-Molina 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 476K: Groundwater Hydrology Dr. Bayani Cardenas 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. Thoralf Meyer, 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 335N: Landscape Ecology Dr. Mary Polk 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. Brenda Boonabaana 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. Dong-Ha Min shares the study of ecological processes at different levels of integration in marine ecosystems.
MNS 354Q: Marine Environmental Science Dr. Kristin Neilsen 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. Dong-Ha Min, 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 363L: Biology and Society with Dr. Sahota Sakar. This course aims to situate, both historically and geographically, some of the critical issues in which biological knowledge and practices deeply interact with individual and group lives, livelihoods, security, health, and related concerns. These issues include the role of genetics in human behavior and disease, race and intelligence, the teaching of evolution in schools, climate change, and biodiversity. For more on Dr. Sarkar and his research, at the UT website feature Philosopher Brings Human Values to Environmental Decisions.

Graduate Courses

GRG 396T: GIS Applications in Social and Environmental Science Dr. Jennifer Miller explores issue relevant to environmental and social sciences that can be addressed using GIS analysis and spatial statistics.
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.