This "outstanding," award-winning course (selected by the Pennsylvania Alliance for Environmental Education, 2002) has been designed to provide students with a balanced approach to the diverse study of the environment. It treats environmental science as an interdisciplinary study, combining ideas and information from natural sciences (such as biology, chemistry, physics, and geology) and social sciences (such as economics, politics, and ethics) to present a general idea of how nature works and how things are interconnected. Students will have the opportunity to study the components of ecological systems and their interrelationship with social systems and technologies involving the disciplines of resource management, agricultural and biodiversity, government and the impact of human actions on natural systems. They will get the chance to see how these interactions lead to the study of watersheds, the understanding of the atmosphere, threatened and endangered species, pest management and the development of environmental laws and regulations. Perhaps it is this diverse context and its clear application that makes environmental science inherently interesting to students. The ultimate goal is to provide students with the educational background they will need to analyze, for themselves, many of the issues concerning the environment.
Being extraordinarily complex, environmental problems often defy easy answers and quick solutions. Using present knowledge and technology, we are only marginally successful at predicting the weather. It is not hard to understand how difficult it is to predict with any accuracy the outcomes of human actions that affect habitats and whole ecosystems. Although a great deal is known about the environment, there is still much to discover, particularly about how species interact with one another within complex ecosystems.