Pre College Academy

Pre-College Online Courses


E&ES 101P: Global Environmental Challenges:
Confronting Problems / Finding Solutions

Helen Poulos, postdoctoral teaching fellow, Mellon Environmental Studies Program


Image of Helen Poulos
Helen Poulos in the field, Guadalupe
Mountains National Park, Texas

This online course will be designed to provide students with knowledge of the physical, ecological, social, and political principles of environmental studies. The course will demonstrate how ecological realities and the material desires of humans often clash, leading to environmental degradation and pollution. The course covers the following topics: Earth's Systems, Human Population Dynamics, Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, Global Change, and Environment and Society.

Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary field that investigates how humans interact with the natural world.  The goal of this course will be to provide students with the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to understand the interrelationships of the natural world, to identify and analyze environmental problems, both natural and human-made, to evaluate the relative risks associated with these problems, and to examine alternative solutions for resolving and/or

preventing them.  Students will be presented with a wide variety of topics including ecology, human population dynamics, water-soil-air chemistry, geology, biology, sociology, political science and geography.

The course will consist of online labs, data collection and analysis, research projects, topic discussion, lecture discussion, video presentation, text reading assignments, and individual field activities. Each week, students will be required to complete readings and power point presentations, watch video clips, complete a reaction essay and lab assignment, and participate in online discussion forums. Students will also complete a final project essay that will provide the opportunity for students to delve deeper into an environmental issue of their choice. Since this course will be truly interdisciplinary, students will be faced with the task of thinking and problem solving using multiple lenses of inquiry.

By the end of the course students should:

  Know and understand the levels of the ecological hierarchy

1.  Appreciate the integration of natural processes that govern the natural world
2.  Acknowledge the importance of maintaining a sustaining biosphere for the continued presence of human and non-human populations on the earth
3.  Understand the pragmatic and realistic difficulties of integrating human societal needs without further compromising ecological processes
4.  Become familiar with the ecological background to global environmental problems
5.  Realize the consequences of our individual and joint actions upon the biosphere

This course will run asynchronously from September 30 through November 22, with students completing weekly assignments on their own schedule.  Students should expect to spend approximately 5 - 8 hours per week on this course.

To maintain the small seminar experience, enrollment is limited to a maximum of 20 students.

Click here to view the Course Syllabus.



Helen Poulos
(B.A., B.S., Pepperdine University; M.S., Penn State; Ph.D., Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies) is a postdoctoral teaching fellow, Mellon Environmental Studies Program.  She has taught courses spanning a range of topics at Wesleyan's College of the Environment including forest ecosystems, invasive species management, landscape ecology, and research methods in environmental studies. She has published over 25 popular and peer-reviewed articles on forest ecology, invasion biology, water management, and human-environment interactions.