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Environmental Studies: Landscape Natural History

ENVS 173 Z1 (CRN: 61869)

3 Credit Hours—Seats Available!

About ENVS 173 Z1

This field-based course examines patterns and processes on local landscapes from an interdisciplinary perspective, with an emphasis on geology, soil science, plant ecology, and ecosystem geography. Prerequisite: ENVS 001 or NR 001.



Dates: July 19 - August 13, 2021; Modality: INPR; This is a field-based course: August 2 - August 13, 2021; Pre-work required

More Information

Section Description

Welcome! This field course is designed to acquaint you with a variety of Vermont landscapes and provide you with an integrative framework for “reading” the land. Although we will be focusing on Chittenden County, you will be able to take what you learn here and use it in other landscapes that are important to you. This framework involves an understanding of the pieces, patterns, and processes that shape the natural world. We will spend time on each site reviewing the geology, soils, plants, animals, human land use history, and signs of processes like wind, fire, or deer browse. When we put it all together we will have a good understanding of why each site looks the way it does. While this process will involve learning to find and examine evidence, I also invite you to enter each of the places we will go with an open heart, enjoying the beauty and connection to nature that have drawn us together. This course will help you deepen your sense of place, wherever you land, for the rest of your life. NOTE: This intensive course only meets from August 2-13, 9-1:30 M-F. Learning Outcomes include:1. Understand the basics of the geology, geomorphology, soils, plants, and wildlife of the Champlain Valley. 2. Learn to identify patterns created by human and natural disturbance, including logging, agriculture, wind, fire, and disease, and by environmental gradients, such as those associated with elevation, soil moisture, pH, substrate particle size, and age. 3. Discuss the processes that shape a landscape and learn the timescale for the major events that have created the landscapes we see in New England today. Discuss implications for the future. 4. Practice synthesizing these pieces, patterns, and processes by interpreting landscapes in the Champlain Valley using tools of the trade, historical and current maps and records, observation, site reviews, journal practice, and presentations for fellow students and elementary students. 5. Explore your experiences of sense of place thus far and develop your awareness of landscape-based skills and practices that you can use to deepen your sense of place wherever you are. Use your increasing knowledge and observation skills to practice asking and answering questions about what you see.

Section Expectation

We will meet mostly outside, at various field sites around the Burlington area. This intensive course only meets from August 2-13, 9-1:30 M-F, so you will pretty busy with the course for those two weeks, with a few extra days at the end to write up the field final. I will advise you to read one of our texts before we meet, but I expect it to be short and engaging. Our other text will be a tree guide. If you would like more information, please feel free to email me at or text me at 802-391-0163.


You'll keep a field journal, apply our readings to new sites, and participate in student-led discussions. You'll synthesize what you've learned by writing up a short field final about a site you choose.




Location In Vt Or Out Of State (View Campus Map)


to on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Important Dates

Courses may be cancelled due to low enrollment. Show your interest by enrolling.

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