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   Course Title    Introduction to Environmental Studies
Lecturer    Zurab Jintcharadze
Institution    American University of Hawaii
Country    Georgia

  2. The main goal of the course is to provide an up-to-date introduction to the general concepts of environmental study. After completing this course student should be able to develop the ability of critical thinking and understand those basic environmental problems that affect our living conditions locally or worldwide.

  4. The department where the course is expected to be taught is mainly specialised in law and diplomacy. However, as recent practise shows, basic knowledge about environmental problems and competence to solve them legally is very crucial for any politician or decision-maker.

  6. Environmental Science is a broad field covering many scientific disciplines. It is clear that not all students (or non-of them) from Law & Diplomacy have a background in natural or earth sciences. Therefore, a wide spread of different methods like simplified text, graphics and diagrams overhead and slide-show presentations, case studies, closer looks, weekly quiz, monthly papers, class discussions, video films and Internet resources are very important to use.

  8. One semester of 14 weeks, with two lectures per week

    Week 1. Introduction to the Course: Environment as an Idea

    Lecture 1. Basic issues of environment sciences: human population problem; sustainability and carrying capacity; a global perspective; an urban world.

    Lecture 2. Understanding environmental science: scientific methods; observation of the natural world; science and technology; critical thinking skills; science and decision making.

    Week 2. Earth as a Living Planet

    Lecture 3. Origin of the Earth: location in the universe; formation of the universe; formation of galaxies and stars; the solar system; influence of stars and planets on the Earth; size and shape of the Earth.

    Lecture 4. Earth and Sun Interactions: the geographic grid; movements of the Earth; telling and standard time; The International Date Line; the annual march of the seasons; solar radiation; spatial and seasonal variations in heating.


    Week 3. Principles of Ecology, the Biogeochemical Cycles

    Lecture 5. How is the Living World Organised: the biosphere; biomes; aquatic life zones; ecosystems; abiotic and biotic factors; habitat and niche; the community effect.

    Lecture 6. How do Ecosystems Work: food chains and food webs; energy flow through ecosystems; how chemical elements cycle; biogeochemical cycles and life; some major global chemical cycles: the carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, the phosphorus cycle.


    Week 4. Biological Diversity

    Lecture 7. Understanding Biological Diversity: biological evolution; basic concepts of diversity: species richness, species evenness, and dominance; the number of species on earth; environmental factors that influence diversity.

    Lecture 8. Preserving Biological Diversity: the goals of conservation; the vanishing species; what causes extinction; why save endangered species; how can we save endangered species; wildlife management.


    Week 5. Terrestrial Flora and Fauna, Major Biomes

    Lecture 9. Flora and Fauna: floristic characteristics: environmental adaptations, competition, floristic terminology, the major floristic associations, vertical zonation, local variations; characteristics of fauna: environmental adaptations, competition, kinds of animals, zoogeographic regions.

    Lecture 10. Earth’s Major Biomes: tropical rainforest; tropical deciduous forest; tropical scrub; tropical savannah; desert; Mediterranean woodland and shrub; midlatitude grassland; midlatitude deciduous forest; boreal forest; tundra; wetlands; coastal biomes.


    Week 6. The Atmosphere, Climate and Climate change

    Lecture 11. The Atmosphere and Climate: constituents of the atmosphere; major factors that control Earth’s climate; how global winds and ocean currents act in climatic formation; climatic classification; climatic zones of the Earth.

    Lecture 12. Climate Change: climate change in Earth history; measuring climate change; global worming: the greenhouse effect; changes in greenhouse gases; the global worming controversy: negative and positive feedback; potential effects of global worming; climate change resulting from natural processes; astronomical causes of climate change.


    Week 7. Environmental Health and Toxicology

    Lecture 13. Basic Concepts of Environmental Health: some terminology; categories of pollutants: toxic heavy metals, organic compounds, radiation, thermal pollution, particulates, asbestos, electromagnetic fields, noise pollution, voluntary exposures.

    Lecture 14. General Effects of Pollutants: concept of dose and response; ecological gradients: tolerance, acute and chronic effects; risk assessment.


    Week 8. Air Pollution

    Lecture 15. Pollution of the Atmosphere: general effects of air pollution; sources of air pollution; air pollutants; urban areas and air pollution; acid rain: causes and effects; depletion of the ozone layer; ozone depletion and CFCs; the Antarctic ozone hole and other critical areas; control of air pollution: clean air act amendments, air quality standards.

    Lecture 16. Indoor Air Pollution: sources of indoor air pollution; heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems; pathways, processes, driving forces; building occupants: sick building syndrome, radon gas; control of indoor air pollution.


    Week 9. Water Resources: Use and Pollution

    Lecture 17. Water Supply, Use and Management: global perspective of water resources; water supply and demand; water diversion; water use and conservation; sustainable water management.

    Lecture 18. Water Pollution and Treatment: water pollution; water pollutants: BOD, waterborne disease, nutrients, oil spills, sediment; surface-water pollution; eutrophication of freshwaters; groundwater pollution; wastewater treatment; land application and wastewater; water reuse.


    Week 10. Waste Management

    Lecture 19. Waste Production and Disposal: early concepts of waste disposal; modern trends: reduce, reuse, recycle; solid-waste management: on-site disposal, composting, incineration, open dumps, sanitary landfills.

    Lecture 20. Hazardous Chemical Waste Management: uncontrolled sites; responsible management; secure landfill; land application; surface impoundment; deep-well disposal; alternatives to land disposal; ocean dumping.


    Week 11. Energy and Environment

    Lecture 21. Energy Generation and Use: energy sources and consumption; energy conservation, increased efficiency and co-generation; energy policy; fossil fuels and the environment; nuclear energy and the environment; nuclear power plant accidents.

    Lecture 22. Alternative Energy: alternative energy sources; geothermal energy; renewable alternative energy sources; direct solar energy; hydrogen; water power; wind power; energy from biomass.


    Week 12. Environment and Society

    Lecture 23. Environmental Economics: importance of environmental economics; the concept of the commons; externalities; how is the future valued; calculating the cost of pollution risks; economics of global environmental problems; policy instruments.

    Lecture 24. Urban Environments: city life; the city as a system; site and location; city planning and the environment; city design; bringing nature to the city


    Week 13. Human Population

    Lecture 25. Population Growth and its Impact: dimension of the population crisis; the population explosion; exponential growth; measuring population growth: growth rate, birth and death rates, fertility and zero population growth, doubling time, migration, population histograms.

    Lecture 26. Controlling Population Growth: demographic transition; family planning: birth control, voluntary programs, forced family planning programs; small-scale economic development; ethics of population control; the status of population control.


    Week 14. Managing the Environment

    Lecture 27. Analysing Environmental Impact: sustainable development: the key to environmental management; national and international resource policies; international institutions to manage the environment: UNEP, UNCED, NGOs; international conventions and legislation.

    Lecture 28. Monitoring Environmental Change: aircraft and satellite remote sensing to monitor environment; Geographic Information Systems (GIS); global change, research and information systems; state of the environment reporting on the Internet; Global Environmental Outlooks (GEO).



    1. D. Botkin & E. Keller. 1998. Environmental Science, Earth As a Living Planet. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    2. G. Thompson & J. Turk. 1999. Earth Science and the Environment. Sounders College Publishing.
    3. W. Marsh & J. Grossa, Jr. 1996. Environmental Geography: Science, Land Use, and Earth Systems. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    4. Tom L. McKnight. 1990. Physical Geography, a Landscape Appreciation. Prentice Hall, Inc.
    5. Daniel D. Chiras. 1991. Environmental Science, Action for a Sustainable Future. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, Inc.


    1. David Kemp. 1998. Environmental Dictionary. Routledge.
    2. Prithvish Nag. 1997. Geography & Environment. Sounders College Publishing.
    3. Frances Wosmek. 1998. The ABC of Ecology. Davenport, May Publishers.
    4. E. Wilson. 1992. The Diversity of Life. W.W.Norton, New York.
    5. M. Brower. 1992. Cool Energy. Renewable Solutions to Environmental Problems. MIT Press.
    6. Julian Simon. 1990. Population Maters: People, Resources, Environment and Imigration. Transaction Publishers.
    7. F. Arnold. 1995. Economic Analysis of Environmental Policy and Regulation. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    8. P. Longley, M. Goodchild, M. Maguire, D. Rhind. 1999. Geographic Information Systems. Adams Business Media.

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