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Course Listing

Undergraduates who are interested in environmental sciences may also wish to take courses in:

For a snapshot of courses being offered by Harvard School of Engineering over the next four years, visit our multi-year course planning tool.

The Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) has compiled a list of Harvard courses most relevant to environmental studies. Visit the HUCE Course Guide for details.

 

Introduction to Environmental Science and Engineering

ESE 6
2021 Spring

Elsie Sunderland, Steven Wofsy

This course will provide students with an introduction to current topics in environmental science and engineering by providing: an overview of current environmental issues, critically evaluating their underlying science and knowledge limitations, and exploring the best-available engineering solutions to some of our most pressing environmental problems. The course will emphasize the interconnected biological, geological, and chemical cycles of the earth system (biogeochemical cycles) and how human activity affects these natural cycles within each of the major environmental compartments (atmospheric, aquatic, and terrestrial).

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Global Warming Science 101

ESE 101
2021 Spring

Eli Tziperman

An introduction to the science of global warming/ climate change, meant to assist students to process issues that often appear in the news and public debates. Topics include: the greenhouse effect, and consequences of the rise of greenhouse gasses including sea level rise, ocean acidification, heat waves, droughts, glacier melting, hurricanes and more. Throughout, an ability to critically evaluate observations, predictions and risk will be emphasized. The students will be involved in in-class quantitative analysis of climate observations, feedbacks and models via python Jupyter notebooks that will be provided.

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Earth Resources and the Environment

ESE 109
2021 Spring

John Shaw

An overview of the Earth's energy and material resources, including conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons, nuclear fuels, alternative/renewable energy resources, metals, and other industrial materials. The course emphasizes the geologic and environmental factors that dictate the availability of these resources, the methods used to identify and exploit them, and the environmental impacts of these operations. Topics include: coal and acid rain; petroleum exploration, drilling, and production, shale gas/oil, photochemical smog, and oil spills; nuclear power and radioactive hazards; alternative energies (solar, hydroelectric, tidal, geothermal power), metals and mining.

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Climate and Atmospheric Physics Laboratory

ESE 129
2020 Fall

Marianna Linz
Thursday
03:00pm to 05:45pm

This course will take a hands-on approach to learning climate and atmospheric physics. Topics covered will include global scale atmospheric dynamics, synoptic meteorology and weather forecasting, and climate modeling. Some fundamental fluid dynamics will be covered along the way. Half of the weeks will involve experiments using water and food coloring with lab kits that will be provided to each student, and half of the weeks will involve working with observed and/or modeled climate data or running a climate model. Each week will have three components: one 1.5 hour lab session to perform laboratory experiments, run models, and analyze data over zoom; one peer-to-peer feedback/problem solving session; and one 1.5 hour class session. In this flipped-classroom environment, knowledge transfer will occur outside of class through readings, videos, and lab prep in advance of each lab session. Peer-to-peer sessions will be focused on writing up the labs and providing feedback. Class sessions will include a lab discussion, a wrap-up activity, and an introduction to the next week's subject.

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Introduction to Meteorology and Climate

ESE 132
2020 Fall

Brian Farrell
Tuesday, Thursday
10:30am to 11:45am

Physical concepts necessary to understand atmospheric structure and motion. Phenomena studied include the formation of clouds and precipitation, solar and terrestrial radiation, dynamical balance of the large-scale wind, and the origin of cyclones. Concepts developed for understanding today's atmosphere are applied to understanding the record of past climate change and the prospects for climate change in the future.

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Atmospheric Chemistry

ESE 133
2021 Spring

Daniel Jacob

Physical and chemical processes determining the composition of the atmosphere and its implications for climate, ecosystems, and human welfare. Construction of atmospheric composition models. Atmospheric transport. Nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon cycles. Climate forcing by greenhouse gases and aerosols. Stratospheric ozone. Oxidizing power of the atmosphere. Surface air pollution: aerosols and ozone. Deposition to ecosystems: acid rain, nitrogen, mercury.

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Space Science and Engineering: Theory and Applications

ESE 160
2020 Fall

Robin Wordsworth
Monday, Wednesday
10:30am to 11:45am

This course is an introduction to the challenges involved in designing spacecraft for observation of Earth and exploration of other planets. Topics covered include basic atmospheric and planetary science, key principles of remote sensing, telemetry, orbital transfer theory, propulsion and launch system design, and thermal and power management.

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Hydrology

ESE 162
2020 Fall

Kaighin McColl

This course provides an introduction to the global hydrologic cycle and relevant terrestrial and atmospheric processes. It covers the concepts of water and energy balance; atmospheric radiation, composition and circulation; precipitation formation; evaporation; vegetation transpiration; infiltration, storm runoff, and flood processes; groundwater flow and unsaturated zone processes; and snow processes.

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Environmental Chemistry

ESE 164
2020 Fall

Scot Martin
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
12:00pm to 01:15pm

Concepts and applications of chemical kinetics and thermodynamics for environmental science and engineering.

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Human Environmental Data Science: Agriculture, Conflict, and Health

ESE 168
2020 Fall

Peter Huybers
Monday, Wednesday
03:00pm to 04:15pm

The purpose of this course is to develop understanding and guide student research of human and environmental systems. In class we will explore agriculture, conflict, and transmissible disease. Study of each topic will involve introduction data, mathematical models, and analysis techniques that build toward addressing a major question at each interface: Have agricultural systems been adapted to climate change? Has drought caused conflict? And does the environment influence the spread of COVID-19? These questions are diverse, but are addressed using common analytical frameworks. Analytical approaches include simple mathematical models of feedback systems, crop development, and population disease dynamics; frequentist statistical techniques including linear, multiple linear, and panel regression models; and Bayesian methods including empirical, full, and hierarchical approaches. You will be provided with sufficient data, example code, and context to come to your own informed conclusions regarding each of these questions. Furthermore, topics covered in class will pro-vide a template for undertaking independent research projects in small teams. Research will either extend on topics presented in class or address other human-environmental questions. Historically, such student projects have sometimes led to senior theses or publication in professional journals.

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Seminar on Global Pollution Issues: Case Study of Lead Biogeochemistry

ESE 169
2021 Spring

Elsie Sunderland

This course provides a cross-disciplinary overview of environmental science and how research contributes to public policy and human health risk assessment through a case study of a global pollution issue: lead biogeochemistry. The scientific foundations of environmental research methods are discussed (i.e., analytical chemistry, ecology, use of environmental archives, environmental modeling). Experience conducting multidisciplinary environmental research and data analysis will be provided. Course Activities: Lectures, discussions, case studies, field/lab visits.

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