The introductory course to the Earth and Environmental Science major, ENVS 200, will be revamped and relisted this coming semester. | Courtesy of Pixabay

Earth and Environmental Science 200, the introductory earth science and environmental studies course, will be updated with a new and more specialized curriculum and listed as Earth and Environmental Science 100.

The course, popular among non-majors for counting for two general education requirements — Quantitative Data Analysis and Physical World — is becoming more distinct from other earth science courses and aimed at introducing the field of environmental science. The new course will also be offered in the spring, whereas Earth and Environmental Science 200 was offered only in the fall.

Alain Plante, the course’s instructor and undergraduate chair of the Earth and Environmental Science Department, is responsible for the recently announced change. He began teaching the course in 2007.

On the motivation to change Earth and Environmental Science 200 to Earth and Environmental Science 100 Plante said, “As student demand and interest evolved, I felt it was time to create an actual environmental science course.”

The action aims both to increase accessibility for non-majors drawn towards environmental science and to provide a course more relevant to environmental science concentrations.

Plante expressed fears that students drawn to the environmental science of the course were being turned off by the earth sciences and geology aspects of the curriculum.

Referring to the the overlap with the geology curriculum, Plante said, “it’s not geology 100, but when I first started teaching this course I had to learn a lot of geology.”

Penn Course Review rates the class as a 2.4 and the description describes specific disinterest about topics such as soil processes. College sophomore John Holmes, who took the class last year, found that his non-major peers had difficulty pulling something substantial out of the class.

“Dr. Plante will probably not do as much of those topics in an environmental science class as an earth science, so the change will probably be good in that regard,” Holmes said.

Earth and Environmental Science 100 is one of several other classes, mostly geology courses, that double-count for Quantitative Data Analysis and Physical World requirements. The majority of students take the class with this in mind.

“Out of [150 students] there might be a dozen who become majors. Most people take it for the general ed requirements,” Plante said.

Students specifically chose Earth and Environmental Science 200 from other double-counting courses, such as Geology 130 “Oceanography,” because of the attention environmentalism has given the field. College freshman Luca Chiaperotti, an economics major taking “Oceanography” to meet requirements, said that the new design of Earth and Environmental Science 100, with a greater emphasis on human interaction with the environment, would attract him.

“The curriculum would inform me on things important to understand as I carry out the rest of my life, even if I never take another class regarding the environment” he said.

Earth and Environmental Science 100 will be the new introductory course for environmental studies and the environmental science concentration. The new design aims to provide an accessible and in-depth introduction of environmental science and human interaction to those with a specific interest or those just passing through.

Plante believes the new course will be a better introduction to environmental science.

“The new course will better reflect the progression of the major,” Plante said.

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