Master of Environmental Studies
In a February 5, 2007 press release President Amy Gutmann stated that Penn will develope a "comprehensive sustainability plan by 2009.This includes completing a comprehensive inventory of all its greenhouse gas emissions; purchasing at least 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources; adopting an energy efficient appliance purchasing program; committing to a policy that new construction be built to the US Green Building Council LEED Silver standards, or equivalent; and providing access to public transit for faculty, students, and staff." This course will examine Penn's "environmental footprint," what is being done to reduce this footprint, and present ideas for further improvements. The students will build on the work of others, document existing efforts, and benchmark against other universities. The course will explore the issues mentioned above and will also address issues such as stormwater management, the greening of campus, and leadership in the nearby community. The students will establish baseline data and measurement strategies so that success can be measured, and then will develop strategies to collect and analyze additional data. Included in the course will be the concepts of environmental management systems, secondary impacts [e.g., commuting habits of Penn employees], pollution prevention, and life-cycle analysis. Each student or group of students, will select sn area of focus for their research exercise (e.g., energy, recycling, green buildings) and develop a report that can be used by the Penn administration to advance Penn's efforts toward sustainability. The students will also develop a cumulative class report summarizing their ideas for improvement.This report will be delivered the President's Office.
The course focuses on the natural history of different wetland types including climate, geology, and hydrology factors that influence wetland development. Associated soil, vegetation, and wildlife characteristics and key ecological processes will be covered as well. Lectures will be supplemented with weekend wetland trips, ranging from tidal salt marshes to non-tidal marshes, swamps, and glacial bogs in order to provide field experience in wetland identification, characterization, and functional assessment. Outside speakers will discuss issues in wetland seed bank ecology, federal regulation, and mitigation. Students will present a short paper on the ecology of a wetland animal and a longer term paper on a selected wetland topic. Readings from the text, assorted journal papers, government technical documents, and book excerpts will provide a broad overview of the multifaceted field of wetland study.
This course is designed to prepare Master of Environmental Studies students to undertake their Capstone exercises. In this course, we discuss how to identify an appropriate research project, how to design a research plan, and how to prepare a detailed proposal. Each student should enter the course with a preliminary research plan and should have identified an advisor. By the end of the course, each student is expected to have a completed Capstone proposal that has been reviewed and approved by his/her advisor.
This course offers a broad and practical introduction to the acquisition, storage, retrieval, maintenance, use, and presentation of digital cartographic data with both image and drawing based geographic information systems (GIS) for a variety of environmental science, planning, and management applications. Its major objectives are to provide the training necessary to make productive use of at least two well known software packages, and to establish the conceptual foundation on which to build further skills and knowledge in late practice.
A detailed, comprehensive investigation of selected environmental problems. This is the first course taken by students entering the Master of Environmental Studies Program.
This course uses patterns in local surficial and bedrock geology (and resultant soils) to understand opportunities for land management. The patterns and related environmental processes can be a result of natural forces or human intervention. We will concentrate on intervention, where resulting ecosystems are less predictable.
The Philadelphia Region is a great natural laboratory for studying native and degraded ecosystems. Study areas will range from semi-toxic and fire facilitated Serpentine Barrens to diverse mature forests and from shallow-to-bedrock Triassic Basin rocks to diabase glades. We will also focus on highly modified areas of urban soils to rich soils on floodplains and limestone. The course will expose you to how to read the landscape, understand the potentials for the site (given various possible interventions), and write prescriptions for site management.
Class will meet Tuesday evenings in the Fall semester and these classes will alternate between lecture and field trip in the first half of the semester. Field trips later in the semester will be held on Saturdays. The text is Natural Lands Trust’s[i] Stewardship Handbook, available for free online at www.natlands.org.
[i] Naural Lands Trust, Inc., is a private non-profit land conservation organization based in Media, PA with a strong focus on land protection through fee simple acquisition and land stewardship. The Trust owns and stewards over 60 nature preserves in eastern Pennsylvania and south Jersey. Of its 60 employees, over 20 are full time land stewards.
This course will provide an introduction to environmental law and the legal process by which environmental laws are implemented and enforced. The course will examine the common law roots of environmental regulation in tort principles such as nuisance, negligence and trespass. We will examine important Constitutional principles in substantive and procedural law as well as significant environmental laws and approaches. Finally, we will examine emerging theories of citizen's rights and the government's role in environmental law and regulation. Students will learn how to read and analyze course decisions and apply some of the elements of legal thinking to actual cases and current problems.
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to basic economic tools and methods, as they are applied to environmental issues -- including pollution control, resource depletion, the global commons, inter-generational equity, and policy decision-making. The course is designed for those with little or no prior economics background; disciplined skeptics are welcome.
This course is designed to survey the various sustainability tools currently available to evaluate business performance. We will concentrate on the triple bottom line views of sustainability. Emphasis will be on data-driven approaches to life cycle assessment, environmental product declarations, ISO standards, and green construction. Special sessions will review the business drivers and market pull for sustainable products and practices. We will focus on U.S. Green Building Council LEED requirements as well as the expectations of retailers for environmental information with regard to consumer packaged goods.
The goal of the course is to provide students with an introduction to the role of enforcement in federal, state and local environmental regulatory programs. Emphasis will be placed on federal enforcement actions initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Justice. The course will provide students with an introduction to the American legal system and legal concepts, like standing, jurisdiction, and burden of proof. A number of case studies and classroom exercises will be utilized as part of the discussion of civil and criminal enforcement actions. For example, a detailed case study will be presented concerning a successful prosecution by the federal government of a wastewater treatment plant operator (from the receipt of the initial tip through the sentencing of the defendant). A theme of all classes, presentations and assignments will be the role of the environmental professional in the enforcement context (e.g., the environmental professional who testifies as an expert in a judicial proceeding, or performs an audit that becomes the subject of a self-disclosure to EPA).
This course explores the history of the federal statute that is the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementation through the regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality. It describes the circumstances that trigger NEPA compliance and provides an overview of the environmental process, including the integration of social, environmental, and economic factors within the framework of existing laws, regulations, policies, and guidance for project decisions. It examines the components of the NEPA process, including purpose and need, scoping, alternatives development and analysis, impact analysis, public involvement, interagency coordination, mitigation, and documentation. The course will touch on practical processes that are involved in preparing and reviewing NEPA documents, cumulative effects assessments, and technical issues such as impacts on threatened or endangered species, wetlands, national historic preservation activities, environmental justice communities, etc. Case studies involving multiple governmental entities and nongovernmental stakeholders will be examined to highlight the essential steps and components needed to design, implement, and participate effectively in a collaborative NEPA process.
The regulatory approach to environmental protection has been responsible for much of the environmental progress made to date in the US during the past 35 years. It continues to be the foundation of environmental protection in the US. This process of environmental laws, regulations, permits, inspections, and enforcement requires an understanding of the political and legal framework in which we operate, the application of good science, and the art of creative environmental management. The course will provide an overview of the principles governing the regulatory approaches used by EPA, state, and local governments. It will be taught mainly from the perspective of the federal government and be supplemented by viewpoints of other stakeholders [eg, the regulated community, state/local government, civic/environmental groups]. Using real-life examples from programs such as air, water, and hazardous waste, this course will provide an understanding of environmental legislation and regulations, considerations in writing permits that will ensure results, the processes used by agencies when taking enforcement actions, and how these agencies balance regulatory and non-regulatory approaches. It will discuss the evolution of environmental protection and how the government sets priorities, ensures high- quality data, practices good science, promotes environmental justice, conducts criminal investigations, and utilizes various approaches to ensure optimal results. Government officials and other stakeholders will present their perspectives. Included in the discussions will be some of the USA’s more intractable environmental problems [eg, impacts from coal mining, non-point source runoff, urban ozone, climate change] and how regulatory approaches may be able to address these issues]. Students will be expected to assume the role of a government regulatory official. As such they will evaluate an actual environmental problem/program and will make proposals for improving the program using the concepts learned.
This seminar will focus on how physical design can improve sustainability. It will be broken down into 3 parts: Green Buildings, Green Urbanism, and Smart Growth Planning. Starting small, we will begin by looking at which types of construction actually constitute Green Buildings and which of these are the most effective. Our look at Green Urbanism will focus on existing cities and towns. They will be examined in terms of how urban design and transportation can promote sustainability. Finally, Smart Growth planning concepts for new developments will be discussed. This will include a survey of New Urbanism. Both these closely allied approaches are recent attempts to guide new growth in a more sensitive manner. We will also take advantage of local resources within our region, and include visits to nearby sites, along with talks by local experts.
Project proposal and Form 100 required for course registration. See MES office and "Guide to the Capstone" on the Earth & Environmental Science Online Community for more information.
Study of the genesis and properties of earth materials (minerals,rocks,soil, water); consideration of volcanic,erosional, glacial, and earthquake processes along with the characterization of the earth's deep interior crustal and near-surface structure.Classroom study of minerals, crystals, fossils, and rocks as time permits.