Jan 20, 2020  
2010-2011 General Catalog 
2010-2011 General Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG Please see current catalog at https://catalog.usu.edu/]

Environment and Society

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Interim Department Head: Mark W. Brunson
Location: Natural Resources 201
Phone: (435) 797-1790
FAX: (435) 797-4048
WWW: http://www.cnr.usu.edu/envs

Undergraduate Advisor:

Brian Shirley, Natural Resources 120, (435) 797-2448, brian.shirley@usu.edu

Degrees offered: Bachelor of Science (BS) in Environmental Studies; BS, Master of Science (MS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Recreation Resource Management; BS in Geography (offered jointly with Department of Watershed Sciences); MS in Geography; MS in Bioregional Planning (offered jointly with Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning); MS and PhD in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management; MS and PhD in Ecology

Undergraduate emphases: Environmental Studies BS—Human Impacts on the Environment, Communications, Business and Economics, Environmental Policy, International, Planning and Analysis, Environmental Stewardship; Geography BS—Human-Environment Geography, Geographical Analysis and Bioregional Planning, Physical Geography

Undergraduate Programs


The department offers the following undergraduate degree programs: Environmental Studies, Geography, and Recreation Resource Management. Each of these programs offers a balanced exposure to key ideas and principles of the social, biological, and physical sciences, placing special emphasis on the human dimensions of natural resources and environmental management. The department’s goal is to train professionals who can lead the way toward finding and keeping a sustainable balance between protecting the environment and enhancing human societies.

Departmental programs offer learning experiences in the classroom and in the field, as well as frequent individual contacts with faculty as teachers and advisors. Seasonal employment, internships, and other activities promoting hands-on experience in natural resource and geographic professions are strongly encouraged.

The Environmental Studies curriculum is designed for students who wish to acquire a broad understanding of natural resources and human-environment relationships, together with the technical background needed to understand environmental issues. It provides an opportunity for  students to select from several areas of emphasis, depending upon their career goals.

The Geography degree is designed to provide a broad education built around new tools and new knowledge in geography that will be critical or a student’s future success. Students choose one of three areas of  emphasis: Human-Environment Geography, Geographical Analysis and Bioregional Planning, and Physical Geography. These emphases represent three important directions of geography in the twenty-first century.

The Geography Teaching curriculum offers students an opportunity to prepare for a career in secondary education with a geography emphasis.

The Recreation Resource Management curriculum prepares students for careers in planning and management of visitor use in wildland  recreation settings, such as state and national parks, forests, monuments, and wilderness areas. Because such jobs require an understanding of the landscape, its natural resources, and the people who visit, the major offers courses in both the bio-physical and social sciences, along with an emphasis on communication and collaboration skills.

Environment and Society Minors

The department offers minors in Environmental Studies, Geography, Geography Teaching, and Recreation Resources.


Admission Requirements

Admission requirements for the Department of Environment and Society are the same as those described for the College of Natural Resources  

Graduation Requirements

All courses listed as major subject courses must be taken on an A-B-C-D-F basis. Students must achieve a grade of C- or better in all ENVS and GEOG courses used to satisfy the requirements for a major in the Department of Environment and Society. The grade point average for all courses taught by the College of Natural Resources must be 2.5 or higher.

All students in the Environmental Studies and Recreation Resource Management majors must complete a series of basic lower-division courses providing the disciplinary foundation for natural resource professions before moving on to professional coursework. Equivalents of these foundation courses may be taken at many two- and four-year colleges. Some foundation and core courses may also be used toward the University Studies requirements, as shown by the University Studies designations listed in parentheses following the course numbers. Students should consult their academic advisor if they have questions about University graduation requirements.

Recommended Four-year Plans

Recommended semester-by-semester four-year plans for students working toward a bachelor’s degree within the Environment and Society Department can be found at: http://www.usu.edu/degreeplans/

Students should consult with their advisor to develop a plan of study tailored to their individual needs and interests.

Financial Assistance

The main opportunities for undergraduates to find financial support through grants, work-study, and loans in the Financial Aid and Scholarship Information  section. Some students may be able to find paid internships with private or governmental organizations, or work for a faculty member on a research project. Interested persons should contact the College of Natural Resources  Academic Service Center for more information on scholarships for undergraduate students.

Departmental Honors

Students who would like to experience greater academic depth within their major are encouraged to enroll in departmental honors. Through original, independent work, Honors students enjoy the benefits of close supervision and mentoring, as they work one-on-one with faculty in select upper-division departmental courses. Honors students also complete a senior project, which provides another opportunity to collaborate with faculty on a problem that is significant, both personally and in the student’s discipline. Participating in departmental honors enhances students’ chances for obtaining fellowships and admission to graduate school. The minimum GPA requirement for admission into departmental honors in any department within the College of Natural Resources is 3.30. Students may enter the Honors Program at almost any stage in their academic career, including at the junior (and sometimes senior) level.

For information about the campus-wide Honors Program .

Additional Information

For additional information about the Bachelor of Science requirements,course sequencing, and departmental emphasis areas and their related coursework, as well as updated information describing current programs and courses offered by the Department of Environment and Society, visit the Environment and Society main office, Natural Resources 201, or visit: http://www.cnr.usu.edu/envs

Major requirement sheets, which outline career opportunities and required courses for departmental majors, can be obtained from the department, or online at: http://www.usu.edu/majorsheets/

Graduate Programs

Admission Requirements

See general admission requirements . Applicants for graduate study in the Department of Environment and Society should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (out of 4.0), and GRE scores (quantitative and verbal) above the 40th percentile. Foreign students should submit a TOEFL score of at least 550. Exceptions to these standards will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Written statements of interest help match applicants with faculty advisors. A faculty member must agree to  serve as the major professor in order for an applicant to be accepted. Prospective students are encouraged to contact faculty members early in the application process to investigate mutual interests, projects, and prospects for financial support.

The department’s graduate programs focus on providing students with a broad foundation in the social and natural sciences as they relate to the study, planning, and management of natural resources and the environment. The curriculum is designed to enhance interdisciplinary integration by emphasizing current and future environmental issues facing humanity. Coursework and research are focused on problem solving through application of social research methods, case studies, computer mapping, and other analytical techniques.

The department values intellectual, academic, and social diversity in the applicants for graduate study. Mature professionals seeking education to augment life experiences, or practical training to pursue new career paths, are also encouraged to apply. Knowledge gaps will e identified early in a student’s program and addressed on a case-by-case basis through agreements between students and their graduate advisory committees.

Natural Resources (MNR)

The MNR  is a nonthesis master’s degree program designed for students and practicing professionals seeking advanced training in natural resource management, with an emphasis on collaboration and interdisciplinary teamwork. Employment is available in both the private and public sectors, in positions where management skills are of paramount importance.

Graduate Certificates

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) program  offers training at the graduate level related to the National Environmental Policy Act, including how to manage the NEPA process and write effective NEPA documents, reviewing NEPA documents, environmental risk communication, environmental compliance, interdisciplinary team-building, environmental contracting, cumulative impact analysis and documentation, conflict management, and socio-economic impact analysis. The certificate leads to careers in federal natural resource agencies, typically as a member of planning teams, where NEPA expertise is critical to decision-making regarding alternative uses of the land.

The Natural Resource and Environmental Education (NREE) program  provides graduate students with a comprehensive education for understanding and communicating natural resources and environmental information, and for developing the analytical skills needed to effectively implement appropriate environmental education and communication techniques for varying audiences. Careers are available with land management agencies; in formal (K-12 school based) and nonformal (youth, community, and outdoor) education; in nonprofit organizations; and in the for-profit commercial sector.


Students are encouraged to undertake one or more internships with various agencies and organizations as a means of exploring various career possibilities.


The generation of new knowledge through research is one of the key contributions that an academic department makes to professions and society at large. Research is also a major venue for the interaction of graduate students and faculty in the Department of Environment and Society. Although faculty and students work on many different issues, the research strives to be interdisciplinary and focuses on merging the relevant social and natural sciences. Work is undertaken in Utah, elsewhere in the United States, and internationally. Funding comes from a variety of public and private sources.

Financial Assistance

General aspects of financial support for graduate students at Utah State University are listed in the Graduate Financial Assistance  section. This includes important information on the University-wide policies and terms of reference for research and teaching assistantships, graduate tuition obligations and benefits, Western Regional Graduate Programs, and competitive University wide fellowships and scholarships.

The Department of Environment and Society intends that all graduate students be financially supported. Graduate research assistantships are available through major professors having contracts, grants, or other awards. Internships may also be created on a case-by-case basis. A student may want to author or co-author a proposal with a faculty member to fund a new initiative. There are also open competitions for graduate scholarships and fellowships through the College of Natural Resources. The department also has a few graduate teaching assistantships where graduate students typically help instructors with teaching, grading, or recitation in large courses. Interested persons should contact the department early in the application process for more information on financial assistance for graduate students. Prospective students may also visit: http://www.cnr.usu.edu/envs

Environment and Society Faculty

Mark W. Brunson, environmental attitudes and behavior, coupled natural-human systems
Steven E. Daniels, natural resource policy and sociology
Richard S. Krannich, natural resource sociology and policy
H. Charles Romesburg, environmental decision-making, natural resource research methods and survey sampling, bioethics
Joseph A. Tainter, sustainability, social conflict in environmental issues, human responses to climate change and environmental degradation, human use of energy and resources
Richard E. Toth, bioregional planning and water resources management

Adjunct Professors
Nat B. Frazer, natural resources leadership and administration, population ecology
R. Douglas Ramsey, remote sensing, geographic information systems, landscapes
Terry L. Sharik, academic administration and leadership, teaching and learning pedagogy, forest ecology

Professors Emeritus
Clifford B. Craig, human geography, geographic education, rural/urban planning and development, geography of Utah, GIS education
Leona K. Hawks, green consumerism, resource conservation and efficiency, human impacts on the environment
James J. Kennedy, organizational behavior, forest economics
Derrick J. Thom, cultural geography, international rural development, land use planning, Africa

Associate Professors
Steven W. Burr, outdoor recreation, nature-based tourism
Christopher A. Conte, African, environmental history
D. Layne Coppock, range ecology and management, international development, systems analysis
Joanna L. Endter-Wada, natural resource and environmental policy, interdisciplinary social sciences, water management and planning
Robert H. Schmidt, wildlife policy and human dimensions, wildlifedamage management

Adjunct Associate Professors
Barry Baker, The Nature Conservancy, bioclimatology, response of terrestrial ecosystems to global climate change, ecosystem modeling
Dale J. Blahna, natural resource/community social science, outdoor recreation, policy
Christopher Call, vegetation manipulation/management
Robert J. Lilieholm, natural resource economics and management, international protected areas
Peggy Petrzelka, environmental sociology, rural sociology, social change and development

Associate Professor Emeritus
Ted J. Alsop, physical geography, university pedagogy, photogrammetry

Assistant Professors
Michael Dietz, sustainable living, water resource management
Ann Laudati, human-environmental interactions, community conservation and development, political ecology, natural resources and violent conflict, Sub-Saharan Africa
Zhao Ma, environmental/natural resource policy
Christopher Monz, recreation ecology, outdoor recreation, wilderness management
Claudia A. Radel, human-environment geography, cultural/political ecology, feminist geography

Adjunct Assistant Professors
Benny Bobowski, wildlife biology, rangeland ecology, ecosystem management
Larry Freeman, environmental writing, NEPA specialist
Dale Gentry, Teton Science Schools, ecology, natural resources management
Kim Langmaid, environmental education theory and practice, human dimensions of conservation and climate change
Nicole L. McCoy, natural resource economics and policy
Paul Rogers, aspen ecology, lichenology, large-scale monitoring, Forest Service policy
Michael Smith, NEPA specialist
Samuel Lee Sturman, Associate Director of Southeastern Utah Center,Regional Campuses and Distance Education

Benjamin D. Baldwin, Tehabi Project Leader, internship development, leadership and teamwork
Judith A. Kurtzman, natural resource policy

Adjunct Instructors
Marcus Blood, natural resource public laws, NEPA specialist
Brian Boose, NEPA specialist, natural and cultural resource assessment
Dana E. Dolsen, Wildlife Planning Manager, State of Utah, Department of Natural Resources
Rhey M. Solomon, environmental analyst, NEPA trainer/ instructor/facilitator
Catherine A. “Kate” Stephens, Program Coordinator of Utah Conservation Corps, environmental education

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