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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
2023 Spring

Frank Keutsch, Bryan Yoon
Tuesday, Thursday
10:30am to 11:45am

This course will provide students with an introduction to environmental science and engineering by providing an overview of current environmental issues, including climate change, air pollution, and water pollution. Students critically evaluate underlying science and knowledge limitations, and explore the nexus between scientific knowledge, regulatory frameworks, and engineering solutions to some of the world's most pressing environmental problems. The course will emphasize the interconnected biological, geological, and chemical cycles of the earth system including the multi-dimensional impacts of human activity.

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The Fluid Earth: Oceans, Atmosphere, Climate, and Environment

ESE 50
2022 Fall

Marianna Linz
Tuesday, Thursday
1:30pm to 2:45pm

This course introduces students to the fluid Earth, emphasizing Earth's weather and climate, the carbon cycle, and global environmental change. The physical concepts necessary for understanding the structure, motion and energy balance of the atmosphere, ocean, and cryosphere are covered first, and then these concepts are applied in exploring major earth processes. Examples from Earth's past history, on-going changes in the climate, and implications for the future are highlighted.

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Global Warming Science 101

ESE 101
2023 Spring

Eli Tziperman
Wednesday
3:00pm to 5:45pm

An introduction to the science of global warming/ climate change, meant to assist students to understand issues that often appear in the news and public debates. The course is meant for any STEM student with a basic math preparation, not assuming prior science courses. 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, forest fires 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
2023 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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Ecosystem Patterns and Processes: Parallels in Natural and Built Environments

ESE 115
2022 Fall

Bryan Yoon
Monday, Wednesday
2:15pm to 3:30pm

This course will examine the fundamental ecosystem and anthropogenic processes that govern the flow of carbon and nutrients in our environment. With five hands-on lab sessions covering topics such as carbon sequestration/mineralization, warming effect, methanogenesis, and nutrient removal, students will gain a holistic understanding and appreciation of physical, biological, chemical, and anthropogenic processes that shape our environment. The final lab will also serve as the final project where students design their own experiment and quantify/model the effect of global warming on an ecosystem process.

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Climate and Atmospheric Physics Laboratory

ESE 129
2022 Fall

Marianna Linz

This course will take a hands-on approach to learning climate and atmospheric physics. Some of the topics covered will include the Greenhouse effect, hurricanes, climate variability, the jet stream, and global climate modeling. Students will learn to create effective data visualizations and read scientific literature. Each week will have one 165-minute session to perform laboratory experiments, run models, or analyze data. In this flipped-classroom environment, knowledge transfer will occur primarily outside of class through readings and pre-class assignments in preparation for each session. 

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Introduction to Meteorology and Climate

ESE 132
2022 Fall

Brian Farrell
Monday, Wednesday
1:30pm to 2:45pm

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
2023 Spring

Daniel Jacob
Wednesday, Friday
1:30pm to 2:45pm

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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Energy within Environmental Constraints

ESE 137
2022 Fall

David Keith
Tuesday, Thursday
12:00pm to 1:15pm

This course provides a systematic introduction to the energy system for students in engineering and applied sciences. Students should gain a working understanding of the some of the most important energy technologies, from prime movers--gas turbines, steam cycles, and reciprocating engines--to secondary energies including fuel production and refining technologies and the electricity transmission and distribution system. The course aims at a systematic understanding of the energy system's environmental footprint as a tool to help students who will work to reduce it. Energy is a commodity. One cannot hope to re-shape the energy system to meet environmental constrains without a rough working understanding of energy markets--costs, prices and elasticities of supply and demand. So the course will integrate engineering economics and other applied social sciences into the treatment of energy technologies to enable a system's view of energy.

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Hydrology

ESE 162
2023 Spring

Kaighin McColl
Tuesday, Thursday
4:30pm to 5:45pm

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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Pollution Control in Aquatic Ecosystems

ESE 163
2023 Spring

Patrick Ulrich
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
11:15am to 12:30pm

This course is focused on aspects of environmental engineering related to the fate, transport, and control of pollution in surface water ecosystems. Course modules will cover ecological impacts of environmental contaminants; fundamental chemistry of natural waters; surface water aspects of engineering hydrology, including rainfall-runoff relationships; quantitative models of pollutant fate and transport in rivers, lakes, estuaries, and wetlands; best management practices for the prevention and control of aquatic pollution; and sustainable natural treatment systems for water quality improvement.

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Environmental Chemistry

ESE 164
2022 Fall

Scot Martin
Monday, Wednesday
12:00pm to 1:15pm

The course covers concepts and applications of chemical kinetics and chemical thermodynamics for environmental science and engineering. Topics include air pollution, ozone hole, indoor air quality, energy use, greenhouse gases, water quality and pollution, water purification, and toxic metals.

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Human Environmental Data Science: Agriculture, Conflict, and Health

ESE 168
2022 Fall

Peter Huybers
Tuesday, Thursday
10:30am to 11:45am

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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