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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
2022 Spring

Steven Wofsy, Bryan Yoon
Tuesday, Thursday
10:30am to 11:45am

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

ESE 50
2021 Fall

Ann Pearson, 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
2022 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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Data Analysis and Statistical Inference in the Earth and Environmental Sciences

ESE 102
2022 Spring

Roger Fu
Monday, Wednesday
3:00pm to 4:15pm

Statistical inference, deterministic and stochastic models of data, denoising and filtering, data, visualization, time series analysis, image processing, Monte Carlo methods. The course emphasizes hands-on learning using real data drawn from atmospheric and environmental observations, applied by students in projects and presentations.

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Introduction to Physical Oceanography and Climate

ESE 131
2022 Spring

Eli Tziperman
Tuesday, Thursday
10:30am to 11:45am

Observations and fundamentals of ocean dynamics, from the role of the oceans in global climate and climate change to beach waves. Topics include the greenhouse effect, oceans and global warming; El Niño events in the equatorial Pacific Ocean; currents: the wind driven ocean circulation and the Gulf stream; coastal upwelling and fisheries; temperature, salinity, the overturning circulation and its effect on global climate stability and variability; wave motions: surface ocean waves, internal waves, tsunamis and tides; ocean observations by ships, satellites, moorings, floats and more.

A field trip to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod will be held during the course, which will be an opportunity to learn about sea-going oceanography. Software for scientific computation and graphics will be introduced (students may choose either Matlab or python), which will be used for some homework assignments.

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Atmospheric Chemistry

ESE 133
2022 Spring

Daniel Jacob
Tuesday, Thursday
12:00pm to 1:15pm

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
2021 Fall

David Keith
Monday, Wednesday
10:30am to 11:45am

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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Mysteries of Climate Dynamics

ESE 138
2021 Fall

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

We will study the evidence in the climate record for dramatic changes in the climate system and delve into how these challenge our understanding of climate dynamics.  Case studies will include the dim early sun paradox, the Snowball Earth, Equable Climates, Glacial/Interglacial and Stadial/Interstadial transitions and ENSO.

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Space Science and Engineering: Theory and Applications

ESE 160
2021 Fall

Robin Wordsworth
Monday, Wednesday
9:00am to 10:15am

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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Applied Environmental Toxicology

ESE 161
2022 Spring

Elsie Sunderland
Tuesday, Thursday
1:30pm to 2:45pm

This course will examine the theory and practical application of environmental chemistry and toxicology for assessing the behavior, toxicity and human health risks of chemical contaminants in the environment. The goals of the course are to: (a) illustrate how various sub-disciplines in environmental toxicology are integrated to understand the behavior of pollutants; (b) demonstrate how scientific information is applied to inform environmental management decisions and public policy through several case studies; and (c) provide an introduction to the legislative framework in which environmental toxicology is conducted. This course will be directed toward undergraduate students with a basic understanding of chemistry and calculus and an interest in applied science and engineering to address environmental management problems.

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Pollution Control in Aquatic Ecosystems

ESE 163
2022 Spring

Patrick Ulrich
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
12:45pm to 2:00pm

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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State-of-the-art Instrumentation in Environmental Sciences

ESE 166
2022 Spring

Frank Keutsch
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
9:45am to 11:00am

This course will showcase how novel technologies have allowed fascinating new insights into key aspects of our environment that are of high societal importance. Students will gain both an understanding of topics such as climate change and air pollution as well as detailed knowledge of the design and underlying principles of environmental instrumentation, especially via the hands-on laboratory sessions.

The development of novel instrumentation, driven by technological advances, is transforming observations and revolutionizing the environmental sciences. For example, they introduce new observables and extend the spatial and temporal coverage and resolution of (Earth) observations. This course will highlight how state-of-the-art instrument design has enabled these fascinating advances by focusing on the engineering as well as physics and chemistry principles that are central to this success. A central component of the course consists of laboratory sessions that provide hands-on experience on important aspects of instrumentation, ranging from data acquisition, instrument control software, basic electronic filtering all the way to learning design concepts and operation of spectroscopic, mass-spectrometric and separations instrumentation. There will also be a tour of some of the laboratories using state-of-the-art environmental instrumentation at Harvard. The course and especially the laboratory experiments contain aspects from various engineering disciplines including environmental, electronic and mechanical engineering.

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Human Environmental Data Science: Agriculture, Conflict, and Health

ESE 168
2021 Fall

Peter Huybers
Tuesday
3:45pm to 5:45pm

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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