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For a complete and most updated list of all ESM courses, please check PSU Bulletin

Note: Advising suggestions/comments indicated in italics. The information given below is for advising purposes only; please refer to the PSU Bulletin for the official version of courses and requirements.

ESM 101

Environmental Science I (4)
Introduction to the study of the environment and sustainability with a focus on natural processes. Topics will include physical processes and concepts related to air, water, and land as well as ecological processes and concepts including ecosystems, communities, biodiversity, population dynamics, agriculture, and conservation ecology. One two-hour laboratory. The laboratory projects will focus on urban streams, ecosystems of the Portland metropolitan region, and environmental impacts of land use.

ESM 102
Environmental Science II (4)

Introduction to the analytical study of the interaction between humans and the environment. This term will focus on issues of environmental degradation. Topics will include human population growth, pollution of the air and water, energy resource use, and social and economic basis for sustainability. One 2-hour laboratory. The laboratory projects will focus on impact of population growth, pollution, and resource conservation.
ESM 101 & 102 recommended for non-majors.

For students who are just entering the program may want to take this instead of 220 depending on background in science.  Please consult an advisor.

ESM 101 & 102 can substitute for ESM 220.

ESM 220
Introduction to Environmental Systems (4)
Introduction to the structure and function of terrestrial, aquatic, and atmospheric systems, including the human actions that affect them. Includes a lab section that introduces basic quantitative techniques for collecting and analyzing data from environmental systems; 2 lecture periods, one 3-hour lab. Recommended prerequisite:

Course intended for EVST and EVSC majors. 

ESM 101 recommended for non-majors.

ESM 221
Applied Environmental Studies: Problem Solving (4)

Environmental sampling, Sampling design, and measurement. Recommended prerequisites: ESM 220; Stat 243.

Prerequisite is ESM 220 or both ESM 101 and 102.

Algebra skills recommended to the level of proficiency of Math 111, 112.

ESM 222
Applied Environmental Studies: Policy Considerations (4)

Introduction to environmental laws and the regulations promulgated under them. Includes an examination of the genesis of these laws (e.g., NEPA, Clean Air and Water Acts, RCRA, Endangered Species Act) and their history of compliance and violation. Recommended prerequisite: ESR 220 and 221.

ESM 230
Introduction to Environmental Chemistry I (4)

Basic concepts and principles of chemistry as it applies to environmental problems. This will include, the nature of matter and chemical reactions, water chemistry, water pollution, atmospheric chemistry, soil chemistry, toxicological chemistry and industrial ecology. Examples will be used that illustrate the social and economic importance of environmental chemistry.

ESM 231
Introduction to Environmental Chemistry II (4)

Recommended prerequisite: ESM 230

ESM 320
Analysis of Environmental Systems I (4)

Structure and function of environmental systems, with an emphasis on physical processes and environmental system dynamics. Mth 241 or 251, and four credits each in biology, chemistry, and physics or geology.  Concurrent enrollment in ESM 323 is required for majors and recommended for non-majors.

ESM 321
Analysis of Environmental Systems II (4)

Introduction to the structure and function of environmental systems with an emphasis on ecological processes and human impacts. Recommended prerequisite: ESM 320. Concurrent enrollment in ESM 324 is required for majors and recommended for non-majors.

ESM 322
Environmental Risk Assessment (4)

Overview of risk assessment applied to environmental problems, including the impact assessment process, application of cost-benefit analysis, hazard identification, risk characterization, risk assessment, and risk management. Recommended prerequisites: ESM 321, 323, and 324. Concurrent enrollment in ESM 325 is required for majors and recommended for non-majors.

ESM 323
Environmental Systems Laboratory I (2)

Laboratory work to accompany Environmental Systems I (ESM 320). One 4-hour laboratory period. Requires concurrent enrollment in ESM320.

ESM 324
Environmental Systems Laboratory II (2)

Laboratory work to accompany Environmental Systems II (ESM 321). One 4-hour laboratory period. Requires concurrent enrollment in ESM 321.

ESM 325
Environmental Risk Assessment Lab (2)

Provides an overview of the main techniques used for environmental risk assessment. Emphasis is on laboratory acute and chronic toxicity tests and field biological stream assessment. Recommended prerequisites: ESM 320, 321, 323,  & 324. Concurrent enrollment in ESM 322 is required for majors and recommended for non-majors.

ESM 330
Environmental and Ecological Literacy (4)

Introduces a broad range of thought about ecology and the environment, including supporters and critics such as Aldo Leopold, David Orr, Bjorn Lomborg, E.O. Wilson and Thomas Berry. Address the idea of ecological literacy as a key aspect in education and understanding the environment.

ESM 335
Introduction to Environmental Management (4)

Course will focus on environmental project management. Survey of agencies and entities that currently do management and under what authority. Introduction to general theory of environmental management and strategies that are being used. Case studies of local management project and issues.

ESM 340
Research Methods in Environmental Science (4)

Integrates quantitative skills into environmental research. This course introduces research methods commonly used in environmental studies with emphasis on environmental study designs, data analyses, and data interpretations.

ESM 342
Field Methods (2)

Presents crucial safety, field and research skills for environmental research. Presents different skill sets for different types of fieldwork for example in lakes, wetlands, forests or marine environments. Students may count two sections of this class towards the Methods requirement of the Environmental Studies degree.

ESM 355
Understanding Environmental Sustainability I (4)

Emphasizing sustainability, study of the scientific and ecological principles that govern human interactions with the physical and biological systems of the earth. Topics will include ecosystem properties, earth system properties, human population dynamics, and the roles of technological and ethical decisions. Not intended for science majors.

ESM 356
Understanding Environmental Sustainability II (4)

Introduction to the concepts and principles necessary to understand the complex relationship between humans and environmental sustainability. Topics will include energy and pollution as well as biodiversity and land use. Not intended for science majors.

ESM 399
Special Studies
(Credit to be arranged.)

ESM 401
(Credit to be arranged.)
Consent of instructor and program director.

ESM 404
Cooperative Education/Internship
(Credit to be arranged.)

This requires a prior approval of a faculty advisor.  For info review the Guidelines for Internships.

ESM 405
Reading and Conference
(Credit to be arranged.)

ESM 407
Environmental Seminar: Speaker Series
Weekly seminar series with guest speakers addressing current topical environmental issues. May be repeated for up to 3 credits.

Required for 1 term only, however the department encourages students to attend as often as possible.

ESM 410
Selected Topics
(Credit to be arranged.)
Consent of instructor.

ESM 450
Case Studies in Environmental Problem Solving (6)

Evaluation of selected cases of environmental problems, including field studies and project work with government and private agencies. Recommended preparation: ESM 320, 321, 322.

Case Studies in ESM: Urban Backyard Restoration (6)

This class will involve students in monitoring the ecological impacts of backyard habitats that are near Portland parks. Students will work in teams in particular targeted neighborhoods. They will monitor some of the following: native and non-native plants, birds, and insects. They will learn about the ecology behind backyard restoration, the procedure for establishing backyard habitats, and assist as residents implement new habitats. They will develop presentations about benefits of restoration and promote the results of this work at neighborhood association meetings, at tables in Farmer’s markets and other venues to disseminate the information about the value of these habitats.

This course may be cross-listed with UNST as a UNST Capstone.

This course can count as one of the four 400-Level ESM required courses.

Graduate/Undergraduate Level Courses:


ESM 418/518
Landscape Ecology (4)

Landscape ecology provides a multi-disciplinary perspective that provides a theoretical and applied linkage to underlying themes shared by the synthetic aspects of ecology, geography, biology, and geology. The landscape perspective includes planning, environmental studies, spatial analysis and modeling, as well as applied disciplines such as forestry and range management.  This course:  1) synthesizes the dominant themes of landscape ecology; 2) familiarizes students with current research trends in the field; and 3) explores applications of

the landscape approach.  The course will be useful to graduate students and advanced undergraduates in natural resources, ecology, conservation biology, landscape architecture, geography, land use
planning, and other fields.


ESM 420/520
Ecological Toxicology (4)

Effects of environmental contaminants at the individual, population, and ecosystem level. Topics will include toxicity test methods, environmental fate of contaminants, and the physiological and ecological effects of selected heavy metals, chlorinated organics, and pesticides.

ESM 424/524
Wetland Ecology (4)

Structure and function of wetland ecosystems, with an emphasis on the diversity of regional wetland systems. Topics also include wetland soils, plants, hydrology and wetlands regulations, permitting and mitigation.

ESM 425/525
Watershed Hydrology (4)
Study of the movement and stor
age of water in watersheds, emphasizing physical processes.  Includes systems analysis of watersheds, precipitation, snowmelt, infiltration, evapotranspiration, groundwater flow, streamflow generation, open channel flow, hydrograph analysis and an introduction to watershed hydrologic modeling. Recommended prerequisites: Mth 252, Ph 201, Stat 244; ESM 320.

ESM 426/526
Ecology of Streams and Rivers (4)

Evaluation of streams and rivers from an ecosystem perspective, including stream development, biological communities, ecological processes, and methods of assessment as applied to evaluation of common environmental problems.

ESM 427/527
Watershed Biogeochemistry (4)

Study of the chemistry of watershed-based eco-systems, emphasizing physical and biological processes. Mechanisms of atmospheric input; rock weathering and soil development; physical and biological controls on the storage and flux of minerals, carbon, and nutrients in terrestrial ecosystems; and impacts of management on bio-geochemical processes in watershed-based eco-systems.
Recommended prerequisites: Bi 253, Ch 223, ESM 320, Mth 252.

ESM 428/528
Urban Ecology (4)

Study of ecological processes in urban environments. Emphasis on responses of flora and fauna to changes in climate, hydrology, geomorphology, geochemistry, soils and available habitat in urban areas. Includes issues of species conservation, ecosystem management and sustainability in urban systems. Recommended prerequisite: an undergraduate biology course or permission of instructor.

ESM 429/529
Environmental Impact Assessment (4)

Environmental assessments and impact assessment techniques; regulatory and technical requirements of impact assessment. The National Environmental Policy Act, its implementation, implications and uses.

ESM 433/533
Natural Resource Economics (4)

ESM 434/534
Business Environmental Management Economics (4)

Examines the economic costs and benefits that affect the decisions of business firms to develop integrated environmental management systems. Analysis of policy options to foster business environmental management for public goods. Case studies of selected firms. Recommended prerequisite: Ec 201. This course is the same as Ec 434/534; course may be taken only once for credit.

ESM 443/543
Global Environmental Economics (4)

An examination of the economic forces and theories to understand the causes of global environ-mental problems, and to evaluate policy options to remedy serious problems. Analyses of the economic effects of global environmental agreements and the environmental effects of trade and global commerce in developed and developing countries. This course is the same as Ec 443/543; course may be taken only once for credit.

ESM 445/545
Old-growth Forest Ecology (4)

Exploration of the ecological characteristics of west-side old-growth forests, including their outstanding biodiversity. Landscape level aspects of forest ecosystems, including the role of fire; plus the use of basic forestry measurements to contrast old-growth, second-growth, and plantation stands of trees. Emphasizing field study, this eight-day course is based at an off-campus location for easy access to forest ecosystems. Field site costs in addition to tuition. Recommended prerequisite: upper-division or graduate standing required and an undergraduate sequence in biology.

ESM 460/560
Air Quality (4)

An overview of urban air quality issues facing cities in the US and globally. Examine effects of air pollution on public health and environment, as well as technologies and regulatory practices. Review pollution measurement and modeling techniques.

ESM 465/565

Investigating Ecological and Social issues in Urban Parks (4)
Examines ecological and social aspects of urban forests. Emphasizes response of native plants to physical and introduced species impacts from urbanization. Students will collect ecological and visitor impact data in local parks, study issues pertaining to sustainability and management based on an understanding of short term and longer-term disturbances. The role of urban parks in recreation will be investigated. Lower division biology recommended. 

ESM 471/571
Atmospheric Physics (4)

Cycles of trace gases in the Earth's atmosphere and their role in the environment. Emission, dispersal, and removal of natural and man-made trace constituents in the atmosphere that determine the Earth's climate and stratospheric ozone layer. Prerequisites: one year each of calculus and calculus-based physics. Recommended: introductory course in differential equations. This course is the same as Ph 471/571, may only be taken once for credit.

ESM 473/573
Phytoplankton Ecology (4)

Examination of photosynthesis, nutrient uptake, regulation and cell growth processes in the con-text of algal growth in natural waters. Recommended prerequisites: Bi 251; ESR 321 or Bi 357.

ESM 475/575
Limnology and Aquatic Ecology (4)

Kinds, origins, and ecological features and dynamics of freshwater environments. Recommended prerequisite: Ch 223.

ESM 477/577
Limnology Laboratory (2)

Techniques in field and laboratory analysis of freshwater systems. Recommended pre- or co-requisite: ESR 475/575.

ESM 478/578
Aquatic Vascular Plants (4)

Classification, biology, ecology, and management of aquatic vascular plants. Course will focus on freshwater systems and include a laboratory featuring field identification and laboratory experimentation. Recommended prerequisite: Bi 357.

ESM 479/579
Fate and Transport of Toxics in the Environment (4)

Chemical, physical, and biological principles that govern the behavior of toxic materials such as heavy metals and synthetic organic com-pounds in the environment. Course emphasizes practical ways to represent chemical processes in models of pollutant behavior. Topics include: adsorption of pollutants on soils and sediments; transport across sediment-water and air-water interfaces; bioamplification of pollutants; multiphase fugacity models of organics; case studies of contaminated surface water, sediment and groundwater. Recommended prerequisite: senior or graduate standing. This course is the same as CE 479/579; course may be taken only once for credit.

ESM 480/580
Coastal Marine Ecology (4)

Introduces the relationships between marine species and their environment, intra- and inter-specific interactions, and factors structuring marine communities. Community structure and distribution presented in the context of both oceanography and coastal zone ecology. Marine conservation issues, including fisheries, addressed. A field trip is required.

ESM 483/583
Marine Conservation and Management (4)

This course will be divided into three sections. We will begin by discussing the state of the oceans, and ecological differences between marine and terrestrial/aquatic systems. The second part of the course will discuss the major threats to ocean systems. The third part of the course will focus on solutions in terms of protected areas, management and policy strategies, and various aspects of the human dimension.

ESM 485/585
Ecology and Management of Bio-Invasions (4)

Invasive, or nonindigenous, species present us with global ecological and economic problems and have been ranked as second only to habitat destruction as a threat to our natural areas and native species. These invasive species are a concern because they restructure ecosystems, affect the evolutionary trajectory of native species, lead to the extinction of species, and impact local industries.

ESM 501 

Research (Credit to be arranged.)

Consent of instructor and program director.

ESM 503
(Credit to be arranged.)
All aspects of research and thesis writing for master's students.

ESM 504
Cooperative Education/Internship
(Credit to be arranged.)

ESM 505
Reading and Conference
(Credit to be arranged.)

ESM 506
Special Projects
(Credit to be arranged.)

ESM 507
Seminar: Speaker Series 
Weekly seminar series on topical environmental issues. May be repeated for up to 3 credits.

ESM 509
(Credit to be arranged.)

ESM 510
Selected Topics
(Credit to be arranged.)
Consent of instructor.

ESM 566
Environmental Data Analysis I (4)

Application of probabilistic and statistical models to the description of environmental data with a focus on hydrology and water quality. Graphical and quantitative techniques of exploratory data analysis, selection and fitting of appropriate probability distributions, simple and multiple and multivariate regression and their applications to analysis and modeling, and detection of changes and trends in environmental time series.


ESM 567 (formerly ESR 550)
Multivariate Analysis of Environmental Data (4)

Biological and environmental data are usually complex, consisting of many observations and variables. This course provides an overview of the main techniques of multivariate data analysis that are relevant and useful in ecology and environmental sciences. Emphasis is on ordination and cluster analysis. Prerequisite: one college-level statistics course or ESR 566.

ESM 570
Environmental Education (3)

Overview of the purpose and scope of environmental education. Provides an educational framework and examples of the variety of sites where environmental education is practiced. Specific examples of teaching strategies, materials, and methods will be presented. Students will be expected to carry out a site-based project utilizing some of the materials developed in class.

ESM 588
Environmental Sustainability (4)

Sustainability in natural and human-influenced ecosystems, with a focus on processes of regeneration, maturity, collapse and renewal. Topic areas include natural provisioning of ecosystem services, processes of change in ecological systems, interactions among ecological and social systems, economic valuation of ecosystem services, and ecosystem management.

An examination of the economic concepts and theories for analyzing natural resource use and related environmental pollution, including the economics of sustainability. Discussion of renewable and nonrenewable natural resource issues in the Pacific Northwest and policy alternatives. Recommended prerequisite: Ec 201. This course is the same as Ec 433/533; course may be taken only once for credit.