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Dean - Sabine O'Hara

CAUSES Calendar of Events

Course Descriptions - Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences (ENSC/WTRM)

ENSC-105: Environment and Sustainability (3)

This course focuses on the development of essential skills necessary to prepare high school seniors or 1st year college students for college success in science and engineering curriculum. The purpose of the course is to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills for science and engineering majors through hands-on experiential activities. The curriculum includes environmental sciences, sustainability, water quality, climate change, data analysis, computer application and engineering design modules. Students will gradually build core skills and knowledge and demonstrate competences   in environmental processes and applying basic scientific principles to solve problems. At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to demonstrate foundational understanding of physical, chemical and biological processes affecting water quality, analyze environmental data and articulate how engineering solutions play an important role in environmental protection and sustainability.

ENSC-145: Introduction to Environmental Science Lecture (3)

Co-requisite: ENSC-146. A course in which students will investigate the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and the natural cycles which influence man. Students will be engaged on the impact of humans on these spheres through water and air pollution, solid waste disposal and noise. The course examines urban sustainability, environmental, social and economic development and policies, politics and practices as well as the role of cities in global environmental change.

ENSC-146: Introduction to Environmental Science Lab (1)

Co-requisite: ENSC-145. A course which provides students with a hands-on experience on what was covered in the lecture of ENSC-145.  Topics include measurement, density, moisture and dry matter content of leafy vegetables, seed germination, respiration, cell structure, acids and bases,  soils, and the student's own environment.

ENSC-221: Wastewater Technology Lecture (3)

Co-requisite: ENSC-223. This course details the fundamental principles of wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal. It emphasizes advanced treatment methods for producing effluents and solid matter of the quality required for disposal or reuse in agricultural and urban settings.  The course also provides discussions of problems encountered in wastewater distribution as well as environmental and human health issues related to disposal and reuse of treatment products.  The laboratory session will focus on the principles of wastewater collection and wastewater aeration as well as the calculations required for water plant operations.

ENSC-223: Wastewater Technology Lab (1)

Co-requisite: ENSC-221. This course details the fundamental principles of wastewater collection, treatment, and disposal. It emphasizes advanced treatment methods for producing effluents and solid matter of the quality required for disposal or reuse in agricultural and urban settings.  The course also provides discussions of problems encountered in wastewater distribution as well as environmental and human health issues related to disposal and reuse of treatment products.  The laboratory session will focus on the principles of wastewater collection and wastewater aeration as well as the calculations required for water plant operations. Students will have opportunities to go on field trips to local water treatment facilities.

ENSC-225: Environmental Studies and Sustainability (3)

The introduction to environmental science and sustainability course is an interdisciplinary course designed for non-majors. It introduces students to how the wellbeing of humans is integrally linked to the wellbeing of the other species with which we share the planet. The course focuses upon the fundamental principles of environment and sustainability concepts. The course content includes environmental impact, water quality, energy and water use efficiency, transportation, built environment, ecosystem services, biodiversity, climate change and green business. It will enable students to make an informed decision on their day-to-day activities to protect the environment.

ENSC-250: General Ecology Lecture (3)

Co-requisite: ENSC-251. A study and survey of those concepts which define and explain the interrelationships between organisms and the ecosystem. Students will be able to examine the campus ecology. With a focus on the human impact on environmental processes, the class will consider the living (biotic), non-living (a biotic), and the interdisciplinary nature of ecological problems and their resolutions. While considering sustainability and stewardship, the course topic will include water resources, energy, forests, and biodiversity. The course will also discuss the relationships between human society and natural ecosystems as they relate to the sustainability of both. Relevant scientific, socio-economic, and ethical issues will be addressed in connection to current events such as climate change, energy policy, and land use change/urban planning. The course examines the effect of human populations and socio-cultural variables on contemporary environmental changes at global and local scales with an emphasis on sustainable use, management, and conservation of natural resources, biodiversity, and ecosystem services.

ENSC-251: General Ecology Lab (1)

Co-requisite: ENSC-250. The course is an interactive learning course in which the students conduct and participate in processes designed to enhance skill and knowledge development. Students will examine and describe their own ecology as well as the Van Ness campus ecology.

ENSC-324: General Soils Lecture/Lab (4)

Prerequisite: ENSC-145. This course will instill awareness of soils as a basic natural resource, the use or abuse of which has a considerable influence on human society and life in general.  Students are made aware of the concept that we grow with soil. It is an introductory course that presents basic concepts of all aspects of soil science including: soil genesis and classification; physical, chemical, and biological properties; soil – water relationship; soil fertility and productivity, soil conservation and soil management.  It also discusses soil's role in environmental science and non-agricultural land uses.

ENSC-352: Sustainable Agriculture Lecture (3)

Prerequisite: ENSC-145; co-requisite: ENSC-353. This course is designed to teach students the principles of sustainable agriculture and the use of these principles to replace today's agricultural practices that are dominated by high inputs of inorganic synthetic chemical fertilizers and toxins in attempts to control disease and insects, which at the same time pollute our air and water resources. This course will instruct students how to implement the sustainable agricultural approach of environmental, economical, societal and intergenerational sustainability by adopting an integrated system of agricultural production that lessens the dependence upon synthetic chemicals such as inorganic fertilizers and toxic pesticides.

ENSC-353:  Sustainable Agriculture Lab (1)

Prerequisite: ENSC-146; co-requisite: ENSC-352. This course is designed to give students hands-on knowledge on how soil-plant relationships are affected by environmental factors such as air, water and light. It is also designed to show students how agricultural practices such as soil and soil components, adding soil amendments for maintaining soil fertility and comparing the sustainable agricultural principles of growing plants with organic composted materials in lieu of inorganic commercial nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

ENSC-354: Environmental Toxicology Lecture (3)

Prerequisite: CHEM-111; co-requisite: ENSC-355. Students learn how toxic materials can impact their health and the health of plants and animals around them. We can be exposed to toxic materials through many routes and they can affect us in a variety of ways such as acute and chronic diseases, reproductive failure, or low survival in animal and plant populations. There are a wide range of materials that can be toxic to humans, from industrial chemicals, lead in water, radioactivity, pesticides, and pollutants in our air, food or water.  By contrast fish can find changes or levels of salinity changes to be toxic. We will examine these impacts and the various ways that our society seeks to reduce these risks, including work with the District (of Columbia) Department of Health.

ENSC-355: Environmental Toxicology Lab (1)

Pre-requisite: CHEM-113; co-requisite: ENSC-354. The Environmental Toxicology Lab engages students on the modes of action of toxic materials and ways to test for the toxicity of materials.  Students are exposed to a range of techniques from computer models, testing protocols in environmental chemistry labs, as well as procedures used in the District (of Columbia) Department of the Environment and the District Department of Health; there will be field trips to these facilities. Topics include water quality, lead in the human diet, and pesticides in our homes and gardens.

ENSC-357: Urban Sustainability Lecture (3)

Rapid urbanization has resulted in environmental problems such as air and water pollution.  In addition it can also create a problem of economic and social justice.  This course will explore the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability in cities. The course will analyze the contemporary urban environmental crisis in the context of global population growth, global climate change, and critically evaluate government policies, and economic development. The course will examine programs that address the challenges of sustainability in both developed and developing countries. Relevant issues such as environmental justice will be discussed.

ENSC-359: Urban Water Quality Management (3)

This course is a team-oriented, experiential and problem based interdisciplinary course open to majors and non-majors alike. This course is designed to enhance student's competence in theoretical and practical application of urban water quality sciences and related technologies to address the urban water quality problems and management. The course content includes environmental regulation, water quality, urban runoff, data mining, information technology, dynamic interactive online course delivery, and sustainable development of interest to students from all majors. This course will be team-taught by faculty mainly from school of engineering and applied sciences and CAUSES.

ENSC-448: Environmental Field Problems (4)

An internship course with the District (of Columbia) Department of the Environment. Students are engaged in the daily activities of the District of Columbia Department of the Environment. The course is open to Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science Degree Program students with junior or senior standing.

ENSC-450: Environmental Health Lecture (3)

Prerequisite CHEM-111; co-requisite: ENSC-451. A course which examines the effect of gaseous and particulate pollutants on human health.  The epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and etiologic agents of diseases are discussed.  Students will analyze environmental toxic chemicals and discuss their effect on human health. Other topics include hazardous wastes, pests, pest control, food additives, and air-, water-, and soil-borne organisms. The course will introduce students to a full continuum of analytical perspectives on global climate change and its documented and projected implications for human health. The course will also examine the relationships between the health of populations and health determinants in the context of environmental sustainability. Sustainability necessitates balance between natural capital and uses of natural capital for human and non-human ends.

ENSC-451: Environmental Health Lab (1)

Prerequisite: CHEM-113; co-requisite: ENSC-450. The Environmental Health laboratory examines various pollutants and their association with human health risk. Students will collect and analyze toxins in the environment and examine their effect on human health.  Lead, indoor air quality problems, stratospheric ozone depletion, and chemical contamination are examined by using computer modules. Etiologic agents of diseases are examined in the laboratory.

ENSC-452: Air Pollution Lecture (3)

Prerequisite: CHEM-111; co-requisite: ENSC-453. The students in this course will be prepared to examine complex interactions between society and industry. An example of that is electricity where humans cannot sustain their present state of civilization without it. Particulate and gaseous emissions are the by-product of such endeavor. This course involves geopolitical aspects of technology and economy and will provide information about the human impact on the environment. In this course students will be taking samples and analyzing them. The course generates awareness about available natural resources and propels students toward future studies in environmental science and engineering.

ENSC-453: Air Pollution Lab (1)

Prerequisite: CHEM-113; co-requisite: ENSC-452. The course provides information of man's impact on the environment. The course generates awareness of the subject of sustainability and propels the student toward future studies in environmental science and engineering. The student shall understand the specific nature of pollution sources and their effects on atmospheric pollution. The student shall analyze particulates, gaseous pollutants, plume dispersion and the global effect of air pollution. There will be an introduction to the thermodynamics as it relates to air pollution.  At the end of this course the student must demonstrate dispersion modeling of Gaussian distribution up to 4 dimensions.

ENSC-456: Research Methodology (1)

This is an introductory course to study the application of research methods appropriate to professional studies.  The course will provide a general introduction to research methods, as well as providing practical exposure to problem statements, literature reviews, writing the research proposal, and organization of the research report. Quantitative and qualitative research methodologies will be briefly covered in preparation for the later courses in these areas.

ENSC-457: Aquatic Ecology Lecture (3)

Prerequisite ENSC-145; Co-requisite: ENSC-458. This course will acquaint the student with the fundamental principles of marine and fresh water ecology. Emphasis will be placed upon the biological, physical and chemical processes affecting marine and fresh water life in the inter-tidal waters, rivers, streams, the open ocean, and the benthic habitats.  The taxonomy and characteristics of aquatic creatures will be investigated. The course will also discuss features of aquatic habitats the dynamic interactions between organisms and their environment.

ENSC-458: Aquatic Ecology Lab (1)

Pre-requisite: ENSC-146; co-requisite: ENSC-457. The lab portion is designed to complement and expand on topics discussed in lectures while providing students with hands-on experience in sampling, analyzing, and interpreting features of fresh water and marine ecosystems.

ENSC-459: Hydrodynamics and Water Quality Lecture (3)

This course explores a quantitative approach to describing physical, chemical, and biological processes in the environment. It focuses on development of the fundamental equations of fluid mechanics and their simplifications for several areas of surface water hydrodynamics and the application of these principles to the solution of environmental or water quality problems. Topics include water quality regulations, mathematical modeling of hydraulics and water quality in stream, rivers, and wastewater treatment plants, fate and transport of toxic organic contaminants. This course links engineering aspects with theoretical analysis of environmental science and water quality.

ENSC-460: Climate Change and Carbon Reduction Lecture (3)

An introductory course presents and explores the impact of anthropogenic activities on the global climate change and mitigation measures. Course topics include the climate system, greenhouse effect, assessing carbon foot print, carbon reduction, and science and politics of global warming and climate change impacts on the environment.  The course will focus on the cause and effect of global climate change, and ways to reduce the greenhouse gas emission.

ENSC-461: Environmental Policy Lecture (3)

Students work with environmental science and environmental regulations in order to understand how these are used to translate environmental policy into action. It builds on knowledge of science, as well as major development and pollution issues to analyze what laws and regulations have worked well and where changes are needed in both behavior and the rules of society. Comparisons are made at the local District of Columbia level, as well as for States, National and International levels.  Thus, the course provides a basis for understanding the relationships between politics and science.  It allows the student participant an opportunity to become versed in the policy view as a whole while becoming skilled in an environmental area of choice.

ENSC-470: Senior Project (3)

Students undertake a project in which they explain five major environmental problems, their cause, and their environmental impact.

ENSC-471:  Internship (3)

Students undertake an internship with local or national environmental agencies in which they are engaged in the daily activities of these agencies.

WTRM-500: Water Quality Assessment, Monitoring & Treatment (3)

This course is designed to introduce students to the principle and practical aspect of water and wastewater quality assessment, monitoring and treatment. Students will be able to analyze the definite (water quantity) and indefinite (water quality) characteristics of water, including water quality standards, water quality monitoring, water quality assessment tools, regulations and the basics of water and wastewater treatment processes and their limitations in the context of integrated river water resources management requirements. Students will be engaged in rigorous field studies, site tour of water and wastewater treatment plants, laboratory analysis using state-of-the art lab technologies ranging from DR2800 Spectrophotometer through Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrophotometer and Inductive Couple Plasma Mass Spectrophotometer. 

WTRM-501: Surface & Ground Water Hydrology (3)

This course concentrates on the analysis and quantification of surface and groundwater hydrological processes, such as rainfall, evapotranspiration, runoff, groundwater recharge, groundwater storage, groundwater movement and management of the water environment. The course provides a conceptual and quantitative understanding of hydrology and the basic principles of hydraulics as a basis for later applied studies of water quality assessment, water resources engineering and management. Hydrology laboratory exercises, field study and term project are included.

WTRM-503: Environmental Impact Assessment: Integrated project (3)

This course is designed to provide a critical overview of the theory and practice of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Students will learn basic principles of environmental impact assessment and environmental impact reports in class. Students will practice how to conduct environmental impact assessments and write environmental impact statements and reports.

WTRM-504: Ethics, Responsible Conduct of Research and Professional Responsibility (3)

This course is designed to explore ethical rules and constraints, to provide students with an understanding of the standards of professional responsibility. Through a case-based approach, students will consider various ethical issues within the often competing demands imposed by the operation of the "rule of law" and concerns for public safety and security.

WTRM-505: GIS for Water Resource Management (3)

This course equips the student with a set of spatial data management and analysis tools, which can be applied to different water resources problems. The course focuses on the principle and application of the Geographical Information System to water resource management.

WTRM-600: Stream Restoration (3)

This course is designed to provide a technical understanding of the theoretical and practical principles of stream restoration used to return an impaired or degraded river corridor ecosystem to a close approximation of its remaining natural potential. The course explores the scientific basis of stream restoration programs through interdisciplinary theories and practice and presents principles of hydrology, sedimentation engineering, geomorphology, and ecology relevant to the design and evaluation of stream restoration projects. Students will be exposed to a variety of stream restoration concepts through lectures, seminars, field trips, and independent project assessments.

WTRM-601: Water Quality Modeling (3)

This course is designed to give graduate level students an overview of water quantity and quality aspects of surface water characteristics and the analytical methods used in the development of water quality models and the application of these models to stream and river systems, lakes and reservoir systems and estuaries. Students will develop and apply mathematical conceptualization and formulation of physical, chemical, biological processes to predict hydrological, water quality constituent transport and fate in the bodies of water. Student will be able to assess and predict current and future water quality status for both conventional pollutants and toxic organic contaminants.  Water quality modeling and simulation tools include SWMM, WEST, QUAL2K and AQUATOX.

WTRM-690: Internship (3)

Students will be engaged in supervised work-and-learning experiences in water resources management under the direction of a University faculty members and employees of participating firms.  Students are expected to dedicate ten (10) to twenty (20) hours a week to their internships during the academic year and twenty (20) to forty (40) hours a week during a five-week summer term. The internship program will have students involved in data collection, analysis and interpretation, field and/or laboratory experiences and writing reports.

WTRM-699: Capstone Seminar (1)

This course is designed for senior level graduate students to gain coherence in their comprehension of previous course studies and professional development. Students will practice and be able to critically review and analyze the latest research findings, write technical reports, and prepare a grant proposal in the area of their concentration.



College of Urban Agriculture and Environmental Studies (CAUSES)

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PSM in Water Resources Management - Dr. Tolessa Deksissa, Director
Health Education - John Slack, Program Director

CAUSES Land-grant Programs

Center for Urban Agriculture & Gardening Education – Che' Axum, Director
Center for Sustainable Development – Dr. Dwane Jones, Director
Water Resources Research Institute – Dr. Tolessa Deksissa, Director
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Institute of Gerontology - Claudia John, Director
Center for 4-H and Youth Development – Rebecca Bankhead, Director
Architectural Research Institute - Clarence Pearson, Director

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