Master of Science in Applied Geosciences - Secondary Program
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 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.
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.
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.
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.