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David Barnhill, Director
Environmental Studies Program

3451 Sage Hall
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd., Oshkosh, WI 54901
Phone: (920) 424-0746
Fax: (920) 424-0768

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ES 490: Senior Seminar

by Barnhill, David L. last modified Feb 02, 2015 01:31 PM

ES 490: Senior Seminar is the capstone course for ES majors and minors. This version of the seminar is geared to your interests and goals by having students write a senior thesis on a subject of their choice related to climate change. The course challenges you in thinking, writing, and speaking to help you to as effective as you can be.

Earth in hands pd.JPG

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.
--Preamble to the Earth Charter

“Climate change is not ‘a story,’ but a background condition for all future stories. . . . The pressing, nay existential imperative to divert from the status quo and radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions is necessarily enmeshed in all major human decisions.”
--David Roberts, Grist, 21 August 2013

Course Description and Objectives
This course is designed as the capstone in Environmental Studies. Capstone courses are often Janus-faced, looking two ways at once, both back at your training in Environmental Studies and forward to your work after graduation. As a result, the course will provide two different opportunities. The first, drawing on your studies, is to apply with considerable depth your interdisciplinary background to an environmental issue. A second, looking ahead, is to develop career skills that will enable you to enter the type of work that will be fulfilling to you and beneficial to the environment.

Senior Seminar is a special course in which you will complete a long, sophisticated research project. The organizing theme of the course is climate change, a topic you’ve learned about in previous courses. But in this course you will go far beyond that knowledge to engage the remarkable complexity of the issues. You can choose what topic and approach you want – there are many of them, giving you the flexibility to shape the project to fit your interests and goals.

Bringing it all together and applying it to the real world
At this point you should understand why Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary endeavor: the relationships between humans and nature are complex, and to understand them, one must understand their ecological, socio-cultural, and moral dimensions. You have learned how to evaluate scientific data (both natural and social scientific) and to analyze the social and ethical aspects involved. You are acquainted with many perspectives that have been advanced to explain environmental deterioration and prescribe remedies to it. In short, you have received a good overview of the critical perspectives that make up Environmental Studies.

Looking ahead: developing career skills
This seminar also will be a time to build specific skills such as writing a resume and interviewing. They skills are a form of empowerment that will help you be able to be effective in whatever you do after graduation.

Learning outcomes
UW Oshkosh is primarily focused on our students. So what do our students learn? Click on the links below to find out what they are:
Learning outcomes for all UWO students

Learning outcomes of the Environmental Studies Program

Learning outcomes of ES 490: Senior Seminar

Click on links below to get detailed information about the course.



Readings in global warming and climate change

Discussion questions on reading assignments

Critical thinking in Environmental Studies

On excellence in writing

Research in environmental studies



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by Barnhill, David L. last modified Feb 02, 2015 01:31 PM