Course Descriptions

Environmental Studies

EVSS 611 Graduate Core Seminar (3): This seminar course on environmental studies topics will offer an introductory review of the environmental studies discipline. Students will review recent scholarship, including primary sources, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary, providing them an environmental studies overview.


EVSS 659 Environmental Statistics (3): This course provides an introduction to environmental statistics and risk assessment. Topics include probability, correlation, regression, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, model testing, residual analysis, and nonparametric models. Environmental applications will be provided throughout the course. Prerequisite(s): Math 250: Statistical Methods I (or an equivalent college-level statistics course).

EVSS 624 Biometry (4): A broad treatment of statistics concentrating on specific statistical techniques used in biological research. Topics covered include sampling procedures and analysis of distributions (binomial, poison, and normal), hypothesis testing and estimation with emphasis on analysis of frequencies, regression and correlation. Several nonparametric and multivariate methods are also discussed. Emphasis is on application of statistical techniques and not theory; therefore knowledge of mathematics through calculus is expected.

Policy and Social Science

EVSS 601 Economic Theory for Policy Analysis (3): This course covers the application of microeconomic theories to the analysis of contemporary public sector issues, with an emphasis on environmental problems. Attention is given to the conceptual and practical problems associated with resource allocation decisions when there is conflict among efficiency, equity and limited information in policy making. The foundations of welfare economics and applications of cost-benefit analysis as they relate to specific environmental policies and programs are examined as well.

EVSS 602 Public Policy (3): This course seeks to develop a firm understanding of the public policy-making process in the United States. Students study policy making through various perspectives on implementation. The roles of major institutions including the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, the bureaucracy and interest groups in this process are addressed. Includes various perspectives and interpretations of policymaking, including incrementalism, rationalism, pluralism and elitism. Selected areas of public policy, including transportation, poverty, energy and the environment are used to illustrate both the process and the different perspectives.

EVSS 632 Social Science Methods in Environmental Studies (3): This course will introduce students to social science methodologies used to understand humans’ relationships to the environment. The course will provide a basic understanding of the practice of collecting both quantitative and qualitative social science data, developing mixed-methods or interdisciplinary projects, and train students on how to interpret such data.

Natural Science (select one)

EVSS 610 Environmental Biology (3): This course emphasizes the application of fundamental toxicological and microbiological concepts to problems which exist in the real world. The course should prepare the student interested in environmental problems with the necessary practical information to make sound judgments in assessing meaningful solutions to existing environmental problems.

EVSS 541 Pollution in the Environment (4): Course focuses on theoretical and quantitative skills required to assess how natural and anthropogenic factors influence pollutant behavior in Earth’s near- surface environments, including fresh water and soils. Laboratory focuses on assessing pollutants in various environmental media using appropriate analytical techniques.

EVSS 640 Earth Systems Science (3): This course investigates the interactions among the atmosphere, ocean, ice, solid-Earth, and biological systems. Students study the evolution of solid Earth, the formation of the atmosphere and oceans, and the origin of life. Rate and scale of changes of the Earth’s environment are examined through an analysis of changing climates. Finally, the course examines human evolution and technological development to gain an understanding of human impacts on the global environment.

EVSS 650 Energy Production and Resource Management (3): A study of the nature of energy and scientific issues relating to its production, storage, distribution, and use from a physics perspective. Production methods to be studied include: hydroelectric, fossil fuel, fission, fusion, wind, photovoltaic, biomass and solar-dynamic. Scientific issues will be related to the cultural and philosophical framework surrounding energy infrastructure and policy.


EVSS 690 Internship (6)

EVSS 691 Thesis (6)

Electives (14 Credit Hours)

BIOL 612 Conservation Genetics (4): This course will introduce students to genetic tools and analyses and how they have been applied to habitat conservation, harvesting, captive breeding programs, invasive species, and forensics. The laboratory provides hands-on training of analysis of publically-available genetic data using open-source software. Lectures three hours per week, laboratory three hours per week. 

BIOL 650 Seminar in Marine Biology (1): A seminar covering topics in marine biology, fisheries and aquaculture, marine biomedical science or coastal ecology. Total credit hours in BIOL 650 is normally limited to three. Does not satisfy elective unit requirement.

EVSS 506 Conservation Biology (3): A course exploring the origin, maintenance, and preservation of biodiversity at all levels: genetic, population, community, ecosystem, and biosphere. The focus will be on applying ecological, genetic and evolutionary principles to problems in conservation. Optional field trips will make use of the rich biota of the Charleston area.

EVSS 538 Introduction to Hydrogeology (4): Introduction to quantitative nature of water flow within geologic media. Discuss the significance of water flow theory and the dynamics of many natural flow systems in geologic settings. Quantitative analysis of water resources in a decision-making format. Lectures three hours per week; laboratory three hours per week. Prerequisite(s): MATH 120 or 220 or equivalent; or permission of the instructor.

EVSS 542 Fundamentals of Remote Sensing (4): Course includes fundamentals of remote sensing and digital image processing for applications in earth and environmental sciences, including concepts of electromagnetic radiation, satellite image data collection, reduction and application, software tools, data acquisition, and ground truthing. Lectures: three hours per week; laboratory: three hours per week.

EVSS 544 Plant Ecology (4): Plant ecology will explore the population ecology of plants covering the genetic, spatial, age, and size structure of plant populations. The focus will be on understanding the origin of these different kinds of structures, understanding how they influence each other, and understanding why they change with time. Prerequisite(s): General Ecology (BIOL 341) or permission of the instructor.

EVSS 549 Geographic Information Systems (4): This course will cover spatial types and quality, data input operations, database management, data analysis, and software design concerns. We will also examine institutional and political concerns for using GIS. Computer-based GIS software (Unix, PC, and Mac) will be used throughout the course.

EVSS 557 Satellite Meteorology (3): Satellite meteorology is the measurement of weather by sensors aboard Earth-orbiting satellites. Topics include satellite orbits and navigation; electromagnetic radiation; instrumentation; image interpretation; atmospheric temperature; winds, clouds, precipitation and radiation.

EVSS 569 Advanced GIS: Environmental and Hazards Models (4): Advanced GIS: Environmental and Hazards Modeling is designed to enhance student’s knowledge of and skills in the science and applications of Geographic Information Systems. Topics include: Cloud GIS, model building, processing automation, LIDAR and image processing and FEMA’s HAZUS. Prerequisite(s): EVSS 549

EVSS 605 Environmental Law and Regulatory Policy (3): This course examines the development of environmental law and regulatory policy in the United States. It provides an overview of the scope and substance of environmental law and the various regulatory techniques they employ. Both criminal and civil litigation surrounding the implementation of environmental law are examined.

EVSS 606 Wildlife Law (3): An introduction to state, federal and international wildlife law, including state fish and game laws, federal statues (for example Marine Mammal Protection, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act), wildlife management on federal public lands and international wildlife treaties such as International Whaling Convention.

EVSS 607 Administrative Law (3): A study of the legislative, adjudicatory, and general policy-making powers of administrative agencies and regulatory commissions, and the scope of judicial review of administrative action. The course is directed primarily toward an analysis of the political nature of the bureaucracy, and secondarily toward the procedural requirements for administrative policy making.

EVSS 608 Perspectives on Public Administration (3): The study and practice of public administration in the United States in the 20th Century. This course examines the historical development of the field of public administration and current approaches to the study and practice of public administration.

EVSS 609 Administrative Ethics and Accountability (3): A critical examination of the legal, political, professional, and organizational accountability demands made on administrators and their relationship to ethical decision making and ethical integrity.

EVSS 519 Biology of Coral Reefs (3): An introduction to the biology and ecology of reef-building corals and coral reefs. Topics to be covered include coral ecology (nutrition, reproduction, population structure, and distribution), taxonomy and systematics, biogeography and reef-building processes. The course will also cover natural and human induced disturbances on coral reefs and discuss exploitation and coral reef management options.

EVSS 620 Physiology and Cell Biology of Marine Organisms (4): A study of the regulatory mechanisms found in marine organisms especially as they relate to interactions between the organism and the environment. Mechanisms will be discussed at the organismal, organ-system, tissue and cellular levels.

EVSS 622 Ecology of Marine Organisms (4): The study of living organisms in the marine environment population and community ecology, reproduction and life histories, productivity, evolution and biogeography. A broad overview of these elements is followed by detailed consideration of major coastal and oceanic ecosystems around the world.

EVSS 623 Physical Oceanography (4): A study of the physics and chemistry of ocean and estuarine water, circulation, waves, and tides. Lecture and laboratory work will emphasize the interrelationships of physical, chemical geological and biological processes in the sea.

EVSS 627 Marine Tetrapod Biology (4): This lecture, laboratory, and field course emphasizes both the diversity and common themes of the physiological, behavioral, and anatomical adaptations that characterize certain lineages of reptiles, birds and mammals that exploit a wide array of marine habitats. Highlighting the faunas of South Carolina, we will evaluate marine tetrapods as models for advanced studies in evolution, physiology, behavior, ecology and conservation. Prerequisite(s): Ecology (BIOL 341) or its equivalent and at least one additional advanced biology course such as Genetics or Vertebrate Zoology.

EVSS 630 Natural Resources Law and Policy (3): This course examines the laws and policy that regulate and affect the use of natural resources. The course includes an introduction to the administrative law of federal agencies that regulate the use of public lands and resources.

EVSS 633 History and Theory of American Urban Planning (3): This course addresses the historical and theoretical underpinnings of urban and regional planning in the United States as it has evolved since the mid-nineteenth century. This course serves as a vehicle to examine the changing nature of the relationship between planning and urban economic development and public policy.

EVSS 635 Land Use Law (3): This course examines zoning and land use control in the United States and incorporates illustrations and cases from South Carolina in particular. It focuses on enabling legislation for local governments, regulation, the process of development, eminent domain, contract and conditional zoning and enforcement and violation of land use regulations.

EVSS 637 Wetlands Policy (3): This course is intended to provide the student with a broad understanding of the social origins, philosophies and political, economic and cultural impacts of wetlands protection in the United States. Topics address the goals of and policymakers’ approaches to wetlands protection.

EVSS 639 Wetlands and Watersheds (3): Introduction to water flow and biogeochemical processes in wetland systems. Discuss the significance of hydrology in wetlands and importance of biogeochemical cycles on water quality in wetlands. Quantitative analysis of water budgets and biochemical processes in soils and water. Lectures and student-led seminars: three hours per week.

EVSS 641 Aqueous Geochemistry (4): A quantitative study of equilibrium inorganic and organic geochemical reactions that control surface and groundwater composition. Geochemical modeling methods will be used to better understand the complex interactions between rock, sediment, and water. Lecture three hours per week; laboratory three hours per week.

EVSS 645 Coastal Issues and Processes (3): This course provides an in-depth understanding of the coastal environment, including coastal policies and environmental issues that result from the activity of humans. Subjects include: origin of coastlines, physical processes, coastal hazards and coastal zone management.

EVSS 656 Atmospheric Science (4): An introduction to the study of the Earth’s atmosphere. Topics include composition and distribution of the components of the atmosphere, atmospheric thermodynamics, synoptic meteorology, atmospheric aerosol, nucleation processes, microphysics of warm and cold clouds, cloud morphology, violent storms and artificial modification of clouds and precipitation.

EVSS 658 Climate Change (4): An introduction to the study of the physics of the Earth’s climate. Topics include climatic classification, the spectrum of radiation, absorption, scattering, transmission, radiation, the tropospheric balance, the energy balance at the Earth’s surface, time variations in the energy balance, the atmospheric transport of energy, the atmosphere as a heat engine, CFCs and stratospheric ozone, the carbon cycle, other greenhouse gases, climate heating, integrated assessment of models and human activities affecting climate change. In addition, some of the policy issues associated with such human activities will be addressed.

EVSS 680 Case Studies in Environmental Issues (4): This course investigates specific case studies. Case studies impart a unique opportunity to explore basic principles of biology, chemistry, geology and physics through practical applications. This approach to problems will be a similar to that used by the practitioners of science and public policy.

EVSS 693 Independent Study (1-4): An individual, directed study of an environmental issue in the area of risk assessment, policy, or science. Topic and project outline must be approved by the Program of Study Committee. Prerequisite(s): Permission of the instructor.

EVSS 695 Special Topics in Environmental Studies (1-4): An intensive study of an approved special topic in the field of environmental studies. These course are designed by the faculty to serve current and emerging interests while adhering to the mission of the program.

EVSS 721 Aquaculture (3): Principles and techniques of aquaculture, with emphasis on warm-water species that spend all or part of their lives in salt water. Status and potential of aquaculture, including discussions of established and candidate species. Design and management of aquaculture systems. Importance of water quality, feeding, and nutrition; diseases and predators; genetics and breeding; and economic considerations in aquaculture.

EVSS 722 Marine Invertebrate Zoology (4): A study of the functional morphology, life history, systematics, evolution and other selected aspects of the biology of marine invertebrates.

EVSS 724 Ichthyology (4): A study of fishes, emphasizing diversity and evolution, morphology, physiology, ecology, life histories, behavior, systematics and biogeography. Laboratory work will focus on groups important in the local fauna.

EVSS 725 Marine Botany (4): Introduction to taxonomy, morphology, phylogeny and ecology of marine plants. Major groups of planktonic and benthic algae and vascular plants from the coast of South Carolina are studied.

EVSS 726 Fisheries Science (4): A general introduction to methods of harvesting aquatic resources and collection and evaluation of biological data to effectively manage these resources. Topics include age and growth analysis; mortality, recruitment, and yield; production and early life history; stock assessment techniques; and a detailed study of certain important fisheries.

EVSS 746 Aquatic Toxicology (3): An introduction to assessing the effects of toxic substances on aquatic organisms and ecosystems. Topics include general principles of toxicology, fate and transport models, quantitative structure-activity relationships, single-species and community-level toxicity measures, regulatory issues, and career opportunities. Examples will be drawn from marine, freshwater and brackish-water systems.

Program Contact

EVSS Program
The College of Charleston
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424

Phone: (843) 953-2000
Fax: (843) 953-2001

E-mail: EVSS Program