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Water 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.

Check out the Course Guides below for up-to-date course lists

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. 


Economics, Policy & Planning

Natural Sciences & Resource Management

Public Health


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.

Current PitE Course Guides

Previous Course Offerings by Term