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Water and the Environment Minor

Water is one of the simplest molecules on Earth, yet the simple structure of the water molecule yields unique and complex physical properties.  Known as a “universal solvent,” water can dissolve a greater range of substances than any other liquid, making it one of the most efficient means of transport for both natural and human-created chemicals around the planet. Just as water brings together and transports a wide range of chemicals, the topic of water also acts as a medium and vehicle for ideas from disparate fields.  Virtually all academic disciplines connect to water in some way.  

Requirements for Water and the Environment Minor

The Water and the Environment Minor consists of a minimum of 6 classes and 18 credits: 2 introductory courses, 3 topics courses, at least two of the three must be 300 level or above, with content related to water, and 1 practical experience or independent study project.

1. Introductory Course – Choose one from the following list:

  • ENVIRON 204 (Fall term)

2. Second Water-Centered Course – Choose one from the following list:

  • ENVIRON 110 Introduction to Global Change: Physical Processes
  • ENVIRON 111 Global Change: The Sustainability Challenge 
  • BIOLOGY 109 Ecological Knowledge and Environmental Problem Solving 
  • EARTH 110 Evolving Oceans 
  • EARTH/ENVIRON 206 How the Earth Works: The Water Cycle and Environment
  • EARTH 222/ENVIRON 232 Introduction to Oceanography
  • EARTH 277 Water in the 21st Century
  • HISTORY 240 The World Since 1492: Oceans in World History

3. Three Topics Courses – Choose three from the following topic areas. At least two course must be from different topic areas and 300 level or above. 


  • ASIAN 371 Natural Disasters in East Asia
  • CLCIV 277 Environmental History of Ancient Mediterranean
  • ENGLISH 317 Water topics only
  • ENGLISH 320/ENVIRON 304 Water topics only
  • ENGLISH 398 Water topics only
  • ENVIRON 407/CEE 307 Sustainable Cities
  • ENVIRON 410 American Environmentalism and the Frontier West
  • HISTORY 240 The World Since 1492: Oceans in World History
  • SPANISH 470 Fluid Conquests: Liquids and the Literary Imagination of the New World
  • WRITING 410 Water topics only

Economics, Policy & Planning

  • ECON/ENVIRON 375 Environmental and Resource Economics
  • ENVIRON 235 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
  • ENVIRON 306 Global Water
  • ENVIRON 324 Intro to Water Law & Policy
  • ENVIRON 365 International Environmental Policy
  • ENVIRON 408 Land Use Policy, Law & the Environment
  • ENVIRON 412 Environmental Values in Public Policy
  • ENVIRON 475 Environmental Law
  • ORGSTUDY/ENVIRON 208 Business and the Natural Environment
  • UP 357 Architecture, Sustainability and the City

Natural Sciences & Resource Management

  • AOSS 350 Atmospheric Thermodynamics 
  • AOSS 411 Cloud and Precipitation Processes 
  • AOSS 420 Environmental Ocean Dynamics
  • AOSS 421/ENVIRON 426 Introduction of Physical Oceanography
  • AOSS/ENVIRON 467/EARTH 465 Biogeochemical Cycles
  • EARTH 222/ENVIRON 232 Introductory Oceanography
  • EARTH 223/ENVIRON 233 Introductory Oceanography, Laboratory
  • EARTH/ENVIRON 333 The Inexhaustible Seas
  • EARTH 417 Geology of the Great Lakes
  • EARTH 449 Marine Geology
  • EARTH 452 Paleoceanography
  • EARTH 474/AOSS 474 Ice Sheets, Glaciers, and Climate Change
  • EARTH 478 Aquatic Geochemistry
  • EEB 380 Oceanography: Marine Ecology
  • EEB 450 Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles
  • EEB 455 Ethnobotany (UMBS)
  • EEB 457 Algae in Freshwater Ecosystems (UMBS)
  • EEB 476/ENVIRON 476 Ecosystem Ecology
  • EEB 483 Freshwater Ecosystems: Limnology
  • EEB 486 Biology/Ecology of Fish (UMBS)
  • ENVIRON 201 Ecological Issues
  • ENVIRON 311 Rivers, Lakes, & Wetlands
  • ENVIRON 409 Ecology of Fishes
  • ENVIRON 422 Biology of Fishes
  • ENVIRON 421 Restoration Ecology
  • ENVIRON 430 Soil Ecology
  • ENVIRON 463 Water Topics only
  • PHYSICS 210 Energy for our Future

Public Health

  • AAS 458 Business and Politics in Developing Countries
  • ANTHRCUL 408/AAS 409 Maternal/Child Health & Environmental Pollution in Africa
  • PUBHLTH 305 The Environment and Human Health
  • PUBHLTH 350 Global Public Health: Challenges and Transformation
  • ENVIRON 310 Toxicology


  • ARTDES 250 Art/Design Water topics only
  • CEE 265 Sustainable Engineering Principles
  • CEE 365 Environmental Engineering Principles
  • CEE 460 Design of Environmental Engineering Systems
  • CEE 481 Aquatic Chemistry 
  • EARTH/ENVIRON 479 Hydrogeology
  • ENVIRON 321 Climate Change and Adaptation
  • ENVIRON 407 Sustainable Cities
  • UP 425 Urban Systems

4. Synthetic or Capstone Experience

As a “conclusion” to the minor, students will choose a practical experience synthesizing approaches and knowledge bases relevant to the issue. The practical experience can take the form of an independent study course, internship, field-oriented course or study abroad course. Students will either work with a faculty advisor to complete an independent study course or internship, or they will consult with a PitE Advisor or faculty to choose a field-oriented course or study abroad experience synthesizing approaches and knowledge bases relevant to the student’s interest in water.


Previous Course Offerings by Term


Ready to Declare the Minor?

Students can declare a minor in environment by attending a general information session.