Environmental Science

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science provides students with a strong background in areas of science related to environmental concerns and with an opportunity to study environmental problems from a scientific point of view that integrates biology, chemistry, Earth science, and physics. The major leads to a Bachelor of Science degree and prepares students for careers in waste management, environmental consultation, teaching, environmental health and resource management.

In addition to the major requirements, students must complete all CASL Degree Requirements.

Prerequisites to the Major

BIOL 130Intro Org and Environ Biology4
CHEM 134General Chemistry IA4
or CHEM 144 Gen Chemistry IB
CHEM 136General Chemistry IIA4
or CHEM 146 General Chemistry IIB
GEOG 203Weather and Climate3
GEOL 118Physical Geology4
MATH 113Calc I for Biology & Life Sci4
or MATH 115 Calculus I
MATH 114Calc II for Biology & Life Sci4
or MATH 116 Calculus II
Select one of the following:3-4
Perspectives in Physics 1
Introductory Physics I 1
General Physics I 1
Total Credit Hours30-31

Major Requirements

Environmental Science Core
CHEM 344Quantitative Analysis4
ENST/STS 301Concepts of Environmentalism3
ESCI 301Environmental Science 14
ESCI/BIOL 304Ecology4
ESCI/ENST 395Sem on Environmental Issues1
Select at least three upper-level credit hours in Geology (GEOL) 23
Select at least three upper- level credit hours in Environmental Science (ESCI) 23
Select 3 credit hours from the following:3
At least three credit hours in ESCI 498 and/or ESCI 499 culminating in a public seminar presentation of research results
Environmental Internship
and Seminar in Environ Topics
Capstone Research Experience
Total Credit Hours25

Note: LIBS 395 may be substituted by Petition for ENST 385 if the cooperative education work assignment is environmentally oriented.

Concentration (16-24 hrs)

Must select one of the following concentrations:

Environmental Biology Concentration

BIOL 140Intro Molec & Cellular Biology4
Select twelve credit hours in upper-level (300+) Biological Sciences (BIOL) courses (other than BIOL 304) including at least seven credit hours selected from:12
Aquatic Ecosystems
Field Biology
Plant Ecology
Population Genetics & Evolutn
Population Genetics & Evol Lab
Advanced Field Ecology
BIOL 390, BIOL 490, BIOL 497 by Petition only 1
Total Credit Hours16

Environmental Chemistry Concentration

Select one of the following:4
Intro Molec & Cellular Biology
Introductory Physics II
General Physics II
All of the following courses are required:
CHEM 225Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 226Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 227Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
ESCI/CHEM 348Environmental Chemistry3
ESCI/CHEM 349Environmental Chemistry Lab1
At least eight additional credit hours selected from:8
Introduction to Toxicology
Physical Chemistry I
Principles of Biochemistry 2
Current Topics in Chemistry 1
Instrumental Methods of Analys
Physical Chemistry II
Biochemistry I 2
Biochemistry II 2
Biochemistry Laboratory I
Biochemistry Laboratory II
Topics in Chemistry 1
Seminar in Chemistry 1
Readings in Chemistry 1
Laboratory Research in Chem 1
Total Credit Hours24

Earth Science Concentration

Select one of the following:4
Intro Molec & Cellular Biology
Introductory Physics II
General Physics II
GEOL 377Field Methods ( This course is required for the concentration.)1
At least eleven additional credit hours in upper- level (300+) Geology (GEOL) and Physical Geography (GEOG) courses. 111
Total Credit Hours16

Individualized Concentration

This concentration is a highly selective program for qualified students with well-conceived academic goals.

Select one of the following:4
Intro Molec & Cellular Biology
Introductory Physics II
General Physics II
A minimum of 12 upper-level (300+) credit hours in natural sciences courses that address a common theme. 112
Total Credit Hours16


  1. A maximum of 72 credit hours in courses offered by the Department of Natural Sciences (ASTR, BCHM, BIOL, CHEM, ESCI, ENST, GEOL, MICR, NSCI, PHYS) may count in the 120 hrs. required for graduation.
  2. At least 12 of the 41 upper level hours in the major must be elected at UM-D.
  3. Students cannot take both CHEM 370 andCHEM 470 and/or CHEM 471 for any combination of major or minor requirements.
  4. A maximum of 6 hrs. of independent study/research in any Dept. of Natural Sciences discipline may count towards the 120 hours required to graduate.

Minor or Integrative Studies Concentration Requirements

A minor or concentration consists of 12 credit hours of upper- level courses in Environmental Science (ESCI).

  • A minimum GPA of 2.0 is required for the minor/concentration. The GPA is based on all coursework required within the minor (excluding prerequisites).
  • A minimum of 9 credits must be completed at UM-Dearborn for a 12 credit minor/concentration.
  • A minimum of 12 credits must be completed at UM-Dearborn for a 15 or more credit minor/concentration.
  • Courses within a minor/concentration cannot be taken as Pass/Fail (P/F)
  • Only 3 credit hours of independent study or internship may be used to fulfill the requirements for a 12 credit hour minor/concentration.  Only 6 credit hours of such credit may be used in a 15 or more credit hour minor/concentration.
  • Minors requiring 12 credits may share one course with a major. Minors requiring 15 credits or more may share two courses with a major. This does not apply to concentrations for the Integrative Studies major.

Learning Goals

  1. Have a strong background in areas of science which are relevant to environmental problems
  2. Have sufficient scientific skills, knowledge, and intellectual abilities to approach future--as well as current--environmental issues
  3. Have strong professional ethics
  4. Be able to synthesize information obtained from different sources
  5. Be able to read, understand, interpret, and critically evaluate scientific literature
  6. Be able to extract useful information from oral presentations
  7. Be able to write technical reports (using appropriate scientific language and concepts)
  8. Be able to make oral presentations of technical information
  9. Use the methodologies and models of science to select, define, solve, and evaluate problems independently and collaboratively
  10. Be able to design and carry out data-collection or sampling protocols, using appropriate (and safe) laboratory and field techniques
  11. Be able to design and conduct meaningful experiments
  12. Be able to critically evaluate experimental data (including statistical analysis of experimental results)
  13. Ask meaningful questions about real-world scientific issues
  14. Make scientifically based decisions and solve problems drawing on concepts and experiences from relevant areas
  15. Be able to describe phenomena with algebraic formulas, interpret graphs, and think quantitatively
  16. Be able to use computers to simulate environmental processes
  17. Be able to use existing information bases (library resources, computer databases, government documents, etc.)
  18. Have a basic understanding of the biological and physical environment (including knowledge of physical geology, atmospheric science, and biogeography).
  19. Be familiar with basic ecological concepts and ecological field methods
  20. Be familiar with the techniques (and underlying theory) of analytical chemistry
  21. Be familiar with geological concepts and field methods
  22. Be familiar with a variety of current environmental problems and with remediation and restoration techniques that can be applied to those problems
  23. Have in-depth knowledge in one of the fields of science developed in the Environmental Science Program (biology, chemistry, or earth science)

ESCI 275     Intro to Environmental Science     3 Credit Hours

A distribution course which surveys major environmental problems. Concepts discussed are ecology, environmental chemistry, methods of investigating the environment, and possible solutions to environmental problems. Three hours lecture. (YR).

ESCI 301     Environmental Science     4 Credit Hours

A survey of historical and current environmental problems, with emphasis on understanding causes, consequences, and control. Topics include human population growth, air pollution, water pollution, and waste disposal. Laboratory emphasizes an experimental approach to environmental problems, including data collection, analysis, and interpretation. Lecture and laboratory/recitation.

Prerequisite(s): (CHEM 124 or CHEM 134 or CHEM 144) and GEOL 118 and BIOL 130

ESCI 304     Ecology     4 Credit Hours

Relationships between organisms and their environments. Patterns in the physical environment, physiological and behavioral adaptations, population dynamics, energy flow, nutrient cycling; succession. Three hours lecture, four hours laboratory (with field trips). (F).

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 130 and (MATH 104 or MATH 105 or MATH 113 or MATH 115 or Mathematics Placement with a score of 116)

Corequisite(s): ESCI 304L

ESCI 305     Intro to GIS     4 Credit Hours

An introductory course that examines the digital representation, manipulation, and analysis of geographic data, with the emphasis on the analytical capabilities that GIS brings solutions to geographic problems. Students will explore and learn GIS principles using ESRI's mapping software, as well as complete a major GIS project.

Corequisite(s): ESCI 305L

ESCI 315     Aquatic Ecosystems     4 Credit Hours

An introduction to the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of lakes, rivers, and wetlands emphasizing a comparison of ecosystem structure and function. Laboratory emphasizes data collection and analysis to characterize a representative lake, river, and wetland. Lecture and laboratory. (AY,F).

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 130 and (CHEM 134 or GEOL 118 or ESCI 118)

ESCI 320     Field Biology     4 Credit Hours

Adaptations, taxonomy, systematics, ecology, and behavior of southeastern Michigan flora and fauna. Techniques of field observation and recording are emphasized. Skills in the use of identification keys and guides are developed. The campus Environmental Study Area is used intensively. Three hours lecture, four hours laboratory (with field trips). (S).

Prerequisite(s): NSCI 120 or NSCI 233 or BIOL 130

ESCI 330     Land Use Planning and Mgmt     4 Credit Hours

Environmental aspects of land use planning, park planning, and site planning. Consideration of soils, groundwater, topography, and sensitive natural features and their role in determining land-use suitability. Examination of the mechanics and effectiveness of the planning process. Lecture and recitation. (AY,W).

Prerequisite(s): (BIOL 130 and GEOL 118) or ESCI 275

ESCI 332     Hazardous Waste Management     3 Credit Hours

Environmental problems associated with solid and hazardous waste. Regulations governing the generation, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste. Waste management techniques, including reduction, reuse, recycling, treatment, incineration, and land disposal. Three hours lecture. (AY,W).

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 118 or ESCI 275

ESCI 337     Plant Ecology     4 Credit Hours

This course focuses on different aspects of the relationship between plants and their environment. Topics include: a) interactions of plants with the physical environment; b) ways in which the environment acts to shape plant populations through evolution; c) intra- and interspecific interactions among individuals; and d) large-scale patterns and processes at the landscape-level. Four hours lecture. (W, AY).

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 130

ESCI 348     Environmental Chemistry     3 Credit Hours

Description of the concepts, principles, practices, and current problems in the chemistry of natural waters, the soil, and the atmosphere. Three hours lecture. (AY,W).

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 344 and (CHEM 225 or CHEM 325)

ESCI 349     Environmental Chemistry Lab     1 Credit Hour

Collection and analysis of air, water, soil, and organisms for pollutants such as noxious gases, heavy metals, and trace organics. EPA-approved methods are emphasized. Four hours laboratory. (AY,W).

Prerequisite(s): ESCI 348* or CHEM 348*

ESCI 350     Geomorphology     4 Credit Hours

This introductory course is designed to familiarize students with the fundamentals of river behavior and the general principles in fluvial morphology, sedimentation, and hydraulics and stream bank erosion. Applications of these principles are shown utilizing a stream classification system. Problem solving techniques for watershed management, stream restoration, non-point source pollution and integration of ecosystem concepts in watershed management are presented. A combination of both lecture and field applications are provided. (W, AY).

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 118 or ESCI 118

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

ESCI 352     Introduction to Toxicology     3 Credit Hours

An introduction to the principles of toxicology with an emphasis on environmental toxicology. Major topics include toxic agents, toxicological mechanisms, and use of toxicological reference literature. Discussion of chemical carcinogenesis, genetic toxicology, immunotoxicology, teratology, and toxic responses of the skin, eyes and nervous system. Three hours lecture. (AY,W).

Prerequisite(s): CHEM 225

ESCI 370     Environmental Geology     3 Credit Hours

Interactions between people and the physical environment. Geological hazards and natural processes, such as earthquakes, volcanism, floods, landslides, and coastal processes. Relationships between geology and environmental health, including chronic disease, water use and pollution, waste disposal, mineral resources, and energy use. Three hours lecture. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 118

ESCI 372     Energy Resources     3 Credit Hours

Origin and development of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas) and of radioactive ores used in nuclear power. Renewable and alternative energy sources, including hydro, solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal power. Environmental impacts of energy use. Three hours lecture. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 118 or ESCI 275 or ESCI 301

ESCI 375     Groundwater Hydrology     4 Credit Hours

Sources, occurrence, and movement of groundwater. Surface and subsurface investigations. Principles of hydrogeology. Groundwater pollution and management. Three hours lecture. (AY).

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 118

ESCI 377     Environmental Field Methods     1 Credit Hour

An intensive, off-campus field course that provides students an opportunity to observe and critically study different natural and human environments. Students learn how to collect data in a systematic way and formulate scientific inferences about environmental processes, products, and problems. Students also learn preparation techniques for conducting long days in the field under varying weather conditions and in challenging terrains. The course may be repeated for credit when destination varies. There is a mandatory pre-departure meeting and trip length is typically one to two weeks in length. (YR). (YR).

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 118 or ESCI 118

ESCI 385     Environmental Internship     1 to 9 Credit Hours

A field assignment relating to the student's environmental interests. The student will work in an off-campus government or private business for a prescribed number of hours each week to be arranged by the advisor and employer. May be repeated up to three times. Written permission of instructor. (F, W, S, YR).

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior or Graduate

ESCI 390     Topics in Environmental Sci     1 to 3 Credit Hours

A course in special topics current to environmental science. Topics and format may vary. See current Schedule of Classes.

ESCI 395     Sem on Environmental Issues     1 Credit Hour

Readings, discussions, and presentations which examine current environmental issues. One hour seminar. Permission of instructor. (F,W).

ESCI 420     Advanced Field Ecology     4 Credit Hours

An intense study of behavioral ecology and field-oriented research at an advanced level, utilizing ecological habitats on campus and in surrounding urban areas. Focus will be on plant/animal interactions and will include pollination ecology, reproduction and distribution ecology, optimal foraging theory, as well as hypothesis testing of animal migration and distribution of species in extreme urban environments. Three hours lecture, four hours laboratory. (OC).

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 304 or BIOL 320 or ESCI 320

Can enroll if Class is Senior

ESCI 422     Conservation Biology     3 Credit Hours

This course is a study of the historical and current preservation of global biodiversity. The value of biodiversity, extinction, threats to biodiversity, and both ex situ and in situ conservation strategies are considered. (F, AY)

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 304 or ESCI 304

Can enroll if Class is Senior
Can enroll if Level is Undergraduate

ESCI 485     Spatial Analysis     3 Credit Hours

Full Title: Spatial Analysis and the Environment The statistical methods behind analyzing spatial datasets is covered in detail, with a strong emphasis on environmental sciences and human populations. This course complements courses in remote sensing, geographic information systems, and geographic principles and is designed to quantitatively evaluate the relationships between objects and their surroundings. (S)

Prerequisite(s): GEOL 305 or ESCI 305 or GEOL 340 or ENST 340 or GEOG 302 or GEOG 202 or GEOG 305

Can enroll if College is Engineering and Computer Science or Education, Health, and Human Services or Business or Arts, Sciences, and Letters

ESCI 486     Environmental Interpretation     2 to 3 Credit Hours

Course deals with the interpretation of the environment, its characteristics, and its presentation to school groups as well as to the general public. Intended to acquaint students with a variety of skills and techniques necessary for interpreting the environment to others. Extensive use is made of the UM-Dearborn Environmental Study Area. (AY).

ESCI 490     Topics in Environmental Sci     1 to 3 Credit Hours

A course in special topics of current interest in environmental science. Topics and course format may vary; see curent Schedule of Classes for availability. (OC)

ESCI 490A     Topics in Environmental Sci     3 Credit Hours

Topic: Conservation Biology. A scientific study of the concept of conservation biology, including its ecological, economic, ethical, and cultural components. Lectures, assigned readings, and class discussions will explore the major threats to biodiversity, the complexities of conservation issues, and the tools, strategies, and techniques conservation biologists use to implement policies for the protection and preservation of ecosystems from local to global and short-to long-term scales.

Prerequisite(s): BIOL 130

Can enroll if Class is Junior or Senior

ESCI 490B     Sustainable Cities     3 Credit Hours

Topic Title: Sustainable Cities: In 2007, for the first time in human history, the world became an urban one with more than 50 percent of its population living in cities. The unseen influx of people into cities socio-ecological challenges of increasing scale. This course is a discussion of sustainability and resilience efforts (solution-focused) in cities around the world and follows a multi-disciplinary approach by integrating urban-focused concepts from history, sociology, ecology, geography, and architecture and planning., Topics include, for example, air pollution and climate change, sprawl and smart growth, alternative energy, public transportation, waste management, water management, green architecture, environmental and social (in)justice, cultural diversity, and forestry and farming. (OC).

ESCI 492     Capstone Research Experience     3 Credit Hours

An approved research experience with a full-time Environmental Science faculty member. Research results are reported in a seminar presentation and in a poster, thesis, or a manuscript submitted for publication. (F, W, S)

Cannot enroll if Class is Freshman or Sophomore or Junior

ESCI 497     Seminar in Environmental Sci.     1 Credit Hour

Readings, discussion, and presentation of research in selected areas of study. One hour seminar. Permission of instructor. (OC).

ESCI 498     Indep Study in Environ Sci     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Library research and independent study performed under the guidance of a faculty member. Four to twelve hours readings. Permission of instructor. (F,W,S).

ESCI 499     Lab Research in Environ Sci     1 to 3 Credit Hours

Directed laboratory or field research performed under the guidance of a faculty member. Four to twelve hours laboratory. Permission of instructor. (F,W,S).

*An asterisk denotes that a course may be taken concurrently.

Frequency of Offering

The following abbreviations are used to denote the frequency of offering: (F) fall term; (W) winter term; (S) summer term; (F, W) fall and winter terms; (YR) once a year; (AY) alternating years; (OC) offered occasionally