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CCOG for ESR 201 Fall 2022

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Course Number:
ESR 201
Course Title:
Applied Environmental Studies: Science/Policy Consideration
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Covers environmental laws and the regulations promulgated under them. Introduces the legal system of the United States as well as the genesis of important federal environmental laws and the history of compliance and violation. Prerequisites: ESR 200. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

To clarify the teaching of evolution and its place in the classroom, the Portland Community College Science Departments stand by the following statements about what is science and how the theory of evolution is the major organizing theory in the discipline of the biological sciences.

  1. Science is a fundamentally nondogmatic and self-correcting investigatory process. In science, a theory is neither a guess, dogma, nor myth. The theories developed through scientific investigation are not decided in advance, but can be and often are modified and revised through observation and experimentation.
  2. The theory of evolution meets the criteria of a scientific theory. In contrast, creation "science" is neither self-examining nor investigatory. Creation "science" is not considered a legitimate science, but a form of religious advocacy. This position is established by legal precedence (Webster v. New Lenox School District #122, 917 F. 2d 1004).

Science (ESR) instructors of Portland Community College will teach the theory of evolution not as absolute truth but as the most widely accepted scientific theory on the diversity of life. We, the Biology Subject Area Curriculum Committee at Portland Community College, therefore stand with such organizations as the National Association of Biology Teachers in opposing the inclusion of pseudo-sciences in our science curricula.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Evaluate approaches for addressing the environmental and human health impacts of society's actions on ecosystems and people.
  • Identify and analyze divergent positions of stakeholders involved in environmental policy issues.
  • Describe the role played by the legislative, executive and judicial branches in the creation, interpretation and enforcement of environmental laws.
  • Describe the key components of major federal environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
  • Apply an understanding of environmental laws and regulations to current events using effective written and oral communication.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment Tasks:

  1. Exams with a variety of types of questions such as short answer, essay, analytical (e.g. case study analysis) and definitional (e.g., matching or true/false).
  2. Research paper on a current environmental issue and associated law or policy.
  3. Oral presentation on a current environmental issue and associated law or policy.
  4. Analysis of specific case studies on a range of issues using a combination of individual and group assignments.

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Concepts and Themes:

  1. Tragedy of the commons
  2. Fundamentals of the American legal system
  3. Clean Air Act
  4. Climate Change Policy
  5. Clean Water Act
  6. National Environmental Policy Act
  7. Regulation of hazardous materials (RCRA, CERCLA)
  8. Endangered Species Act
  9. Environmental justice
  10. Enforcement of environmental laws


  1. Read, discuss and interpret a variety of documents related to environmental law and policy.
  2. Locate and access reliable information on current environmental issues and associated laws.
  3. Describe and analyze the various stakeholders, problems, and potential legal or policy solutions involved in environmental issues.
  4. Communicate effectively using writing and oral communication.
  5. Collaborate with peers and work effectively in groups.