Environmental Studies

Field Courses

BIOL215: Field Botany of the Smokies - Field botany is a non-traditional course that involves 12 days of hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Every day in the mountains is spent identifying and discussing plants, while hiking some of the most scenic trails in the United States. This non-traditional course focuses on students learning to identify species in the major groups of plants (including mosses, ferns, conifers, and flowering plants—trees, shrubs, and wildflowers), while developing a more complete understanding of ecological concepts.

BIOL360: Summer Field Station Study - This course examines the comparative morphology and biology of marine invertebrates from the Mississippi Gulf, with emphasis on field and laboratory studies. During a 10-day trip to a marine field station, students collect representatives of most animal phyla, studying them in detail.

BIOL323: Tropical Ecology of Costa Rica - This course explores the natural history and ecology of Costa Rica. After a semester-long seminar, where students and instructors discuss ecology and organismal diversity, the course travels to Costa Rica. While in Costa Rica, the knowledge gained during the semester is applied through two weeks of travel to a rich diversity of habitats including tropical rain forests, a tropical dry forest, a cloud forest, a mangrove forest, and riverine habitat. Where available, conservation experiences are incorporated into the course.

BIOL423: Ecology - While exploring the major principles and concepts of ecological theory through lectures and discussions, students develop semester-long research projects in order to experience the entire research process - from formulating hypotheses after reviewing the scientific literature to develop experimental protocols and gathering data to analyzing their results and presenting their findings. The research takes place in an outdoor setting, most commonly at Vectren Conservation Park, but research can take place across a broad range of other natural habitats in the region.

BIOL414: Plant Diversity - This course introduces students to the vascular plant diversity found in Eastern North America. It provides students with the tools and skills used to identify and classify local flowering plants in the field and from herbarium specimens. Students also learn how to collect and document botanical specimens. As part of the course, students spend time identifying, photographing, and collecting plants from many locations in southern Indiana and northwestern Kentucky.