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Undergraduate Course Catalog 2015-2016

College of Life Sciences and Agriculture


Environmental Conservation and Sustainability


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Professor: John E. Carroll, Russell G. Congalton, Mark J. Ducey, Paul C. Johnson, Marianne Klauser Litvaitis, James T. Taylor
Associate Professor: Heidi Asbjornsen, Thomas D. Lee
Assistant Professor: Catherine M. Ashcraft
Senior Lecturer: Debra Straussfogel
Lecturer: Clayton R. Mitchell, Jennifer L. Purrenhage

The environmental conservation and sustainability (ECS) major gives students a broad, interdisciplinary background for developing their understanding of environmental and resource problems and what sustainable solutions are needed to solve them. It also provides a solid foundation for the development of critical thinking skills. The program is designed to ensure that graduates possess broad-based, integrated knowledge of how local and global ecological systems work as well as an understanding of the interdependency between people and the environment. Building on a solid natural science base, students discover how political, institutional, and economic systems relate to environmental quality and learn ways to sustainably manage human activities within the constraints of the Earth’s ecological systems. Students acquire a set of basic skills and problem-solving tools that enable them to tackle complex environmental conservation problems. Graduates will have gained hands-on practical experience integrating and applying their accumulated knowledge and skills in real-world situations.

International education to support ECS students’ educational goals is encouraged as a means to broaden their perspectives and knowledge, particularly through the UNH-EcoQuest New Zealand field studies program. ECS students may also take advantage of a wide range of undergraduate research opportunities.

ECS students meet a set of 19 core requirements, through which they develop a foundation in natural resources, biology, ecology, chemistry, water quality management, soils, natural resources and environmental policy, sustainability, economics, environmental ethics, and environmental law. They also acquire basic statistics, oral communication, writing, and geographic information skills. Students develop abilities to apply knowledge and skills professionally through a practicum (internship) and a capstone course.

In addition to the core, each student chooses a 36-credit-hour specialization, which may be selected from a range of natural resources and environmental policy and management course sequences that provide a specific focus as each student develops an area of academic competency and the skill sets to help meet her or his career goals. For example, students can choose specializations in the following subject areas: land and water resource policy and management; international environmental and natural resource policy and sustainable development; or environmental education, communication, public participation, and leadership. A student may also design a specialization in consultation with his or her adviser.

Students with strong interests in field-based natural resource management careers can choose a focus on a particular land or water natural resource system, such as forest resources, marine and coastal resources, watersheds or wetlands, or food production to build their expertise. Students with interests in environmental policy, politics, law and administration, or sustainable community development may want to gain additional background through selected courses in the social sciences. Those with interests in environmental education may want to obtain a teaching certificate or develop expertise in outdoor education or leadership. Others may want to pursue interests in environmental communication through courses in journalism or the visual or theater arts. Many undergraduates in ECS participate in faculty research or gain experience through UNH’s undergraduate research opportunities programs. Students with particular interests in international environmental studies may want to participate in the dual major in international affairs.

Students graduating with a B.S. degree in ECS with excellent academic records are qualified for graduate work in environmental studies, environmental sciences, natural resources and environmental policy, resource management, conservation biology, environmental law, or environmental education and communication. ECS graduates work with private or nongovernmental conservation organizations; local, state or federal natural resources or planning agencies; land trusts; industrial firms (e.g., waste management, compliance, land protection, watershed management, community planning, energy conservation, etc.); in primary and secondary education; field studies programs; journalism; and specialized environmental consulting firms. A number of graduates also choose to serve in the Peace Corps or with AmeriCorps prior to making more specific career path commitments.  

In addition to the degree core requirements (below), students must complete the Discovery Program and the University Writing Requirements.  

Degree Core Requirements
NR 400, Professional Perspectives in Natural Resources
NR 401, Introduction to Natural Resources (Inquiry Course for major)
NR 4XX, Environmental Biology
BIOL 412, Principles of Biology
NR 437, Principles of Sustainability
NR 501, Studio Soils
NR 504, Freshwater Resources
NR 602, Natural Resources and Environmental Policy
NR 637, Practicum in Environmental Conservation (Internship)
NR 658, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
NR 718, Law of Natural Resources and Environment
EREC 411, Environmental and Resource Economics Perspectives, or ECON 402, Principles of Economics (Micro)
Capstone: NR 786, Leadership for Sustainability or 2, 2-credit seminars in (NR7XX) Critical Issues in Sustainability or NR 663, EcoQuest directed research 

One ecology elective
BIOL 541, General Ecology
NR 527, Forest Ecology
NR 660, Ecology and Biogeography of New Zealand (only for UNH-EcoQuest NZ program students)
ZOOL 503, Introduction to Marine Biology

One physical science (relevant to specialization)
CHEM 403, General Chemistry
ESCI 409, Geology and the Environment
PHYS 401, Introduction to Physics I
ENE 520, Environmental Pollution and Protection
CHE 410, Energy and Environment
NR 458, The Science of Where

One course in environmental ethics and values
NR 701, Ecological Sustainability and Values
NR 784, Sustainable Living
HIST 618, American Environmental History
SOC 565, Environmental Sociology

One statistical skills course
BIOL 528, PSYC 402, SOC 502, or equivalent

One communication skills course
CMN 500, Public Speaking
THDA 520, Creative Drama (Children’s Theater)
THDA 583, Introduction to Puppetry
THDA 622, Storytelling, Story Theater and Involvement Dramatics
THDA 624, Theater for Young Audiences

One writing skills course (beyond ENGL 401)
ENG 502, 503, 521, 621, or 623

Specialization (36 credits required)
Students select one from the following listed specialization areas to develop their expertise in an area of interest. Alternatively, a student may, in consultation with his or her adviser, design a specialization area.

A. Land and Water Resource Policy and Management; International Environmental and Natural Resource Policy and Sustainable Development
B. Environmental Education, Communication, Public Participation, and Leadership

For each area of specialization students are required to select one listed course from each of five specified categories:

Category 1:  Ecology (a listed 600 or higher level course)
Category 2:  Economics (a listed 600 or higher level course)
Category 3:  Theory (from identified courses relevant to the specialization)
Category 4:  Problem-Solving Skills (from identified courses relevant to the specialization)
Category 5:  Professional and/or Field Skills (from identified courses relevant to the specialization)

Students select four additional courses in their specialization to complete their 36-hour specialization. These four courses may be selected from any of the five categories. The majority of courses selected for the student’s specialization should be at the 600 or 700 level. Special permission will be required to apply a 400- or 500-level course to fulfill a specialization requirement. Students must achieve a grade of C- or better for all courses they wish to be counted for their environmental conservation studies major. Students work closely with a faculty adviser to plan their program of study.

Students interested in the environmental conservation studies program may consult with program coordinator Thomas Lee, (603) 862-3791,

Environmental Conservation and Sustainability Minor
A minor in environmental conservation studies (five courses totaling at least 20 credits) is available to students outside of the environmental conservation studies major.

Required Courses
Students select one course from each of the following five categories. Twenty credits must be completed with grades of C- or better, and if a 3-credit course is used, a sixth course will be required. Pass/fail courses may not be used, and no more than 8 credits used to satisfy major requirements may be used for the minor.

  1. Natural Science Foundations: BIOL 411, BIOL 412, PBIO 412, ZOOL 412      
  2. Conservation and Sustainability: NR 401, NR 437, NR 435
  3. Ecology: NR 425, NR 433, NR 527, NR 660, BIOL 541, NR 502
  4. Professional Focus/Skills: NR 662, NR 718, NR 720, NR 724, NR 731, NR 786, NR 507, EREC 606, EREC 627      
  5. Advanced Topics in Conservation and Sustainability: NR 501, NR 504, NR 661, NR 785, NR 787

Students interested in the ECS minor should contact Debra Straussfogel, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, (603) 862-3923,

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