Skip to main content

Course Descriptions

The following are descriptions of courses in Earth & Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt.  Not all courses are offered every semester.

EES 1001 - Commons iSeminar

Topics vary. General Elective credit only. [1] (No AXLE credit)

EES 1030 – Oceanography

An introduction to the geology, biology, chemistry, and physics of the marine environment. [3] (MNS)

EES 1030L - Oceanography Laboratory

Laboratory to accompany 1030. Corequisite: 1030. One three-hour laboratory per week. Satisfies the AXLE lab course requirement when completed with 1030. [1] (No AXLE credit)

EES 1070 - Volcanoes: Impacts on Earth and Society

How magmas form and volcanoes erupt; eruption processes and their hazards to society. Volcanic influence on human history and the evolution of the Earth. Not open to students who have earned credit for EES 1111-03 without permission. Total credit for this course and EES 1111-03 will not exceed 3 hours. Credit hours reduced from second course taken (or from test or transfer credit) as appropriate. [3] (MNS)

EES 1080 - Earth and Atmosphere

The science of the atmosphere: principles of weather and climate; the atmosphere as part of the Earth system; weather forecasting; hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe storms; human impacts, such as air pollution and climate change. [3] (P)

EES 1111 - First-Year Writing Seminar

Independent learning and inquiry in an environment in which students can express knowledge and defend opinions through intensive class discussion, oral presentations, and written expression. May be repeated for credit once if there is no duplication of topic, but students may earn only up to 3 credits in any 1111 course per semester of enrollment. [3; maximum of 6 credits total for all semesters of 1111] (AXLE credit category varies by section)

EES 1140 - Ecology, Evolution, and Climates through Time

Biological responses to global climate and environmental change through geologic time. Causes of climate change and its impact on biodiversity, including extinction implications. Interactions between climate, environments, and the evolution of organisms, emphasizing vertebrates during the past 65 million years. [3] (MNS)

EES 1400 - Iceland's Geology

Processes that shape Icelandic landscapes. Volcanoes, glaciers, rivers, ocean, climate. History of interaction between the environment and Icelanders. Introduction at Vanderbilt, two weeks Icelandic field experience; laboratory includes both classroom and field work. Prerequisite: 1510+1510L, 1070, or 1111. [4] (MNS)

EES 1510 - The Dynamic Earth: Introduction to Geological Sciences

Processes that have changed the earth. Relation between these processes and their products (e.g., earthquakes, minerals and rocks, mountains, oceanic features); interactions between processes affecting the solid, liquid, and gaseous components of earth; impact on humans. [3] (MNS)

EES 1510L - Dynamic Earth Laboratory

Laboratory to accompany 1510. Corequisite: 1510. One three-hour laboratory per week. Satisfies the AXLE lab course requirement when completed with 1510. [1] (No AXLE credit)

EES 2114 - Above and Below the Surface: The Caribbean between Climate Change and Tourism

Caribbean islands, history, tourism, and ecology. Human-environment interactions. Under water and above water ecologies; Scuba diving and environmental research. Development of interdisciplinary critical thought. Applied research. [3] (INT)

EES 2150 - Science, Risk, and Policy

Assessment and management of deadly risks: comparison of markets, regulatory agencies, and courts for managing risks; cultural and scientific construction of risk; psychology of risk perception; case studies such as Hurricane Katrina, mad cow disease, and air pollution. [3] (P)

EES 2510 - Earth Systems through Time

Effects of feedbacks between the geologic cycles on the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere at diverse intervals in the Earth's history. Present and future implications. Interpretations of evidence recorded in Earth materials. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Repeat credit for students who have completed 1020. Prerequisite: 1510+1510L, or 1030+ 1030L. [4] (MNS)

EES 2550 - Earth Materials

Solid materials that make up the earth: rock, soil, and sediment, with emphasis on the minerals that are their major constituents. Hand specimen, optical, and X-ray methods of description and identification. Physical and chemical processes that form and modify earth materials and the use of these materials in interpreting earth processes of the past and present. Field trips. Three lectures and one laboratory per week. Prerequisite: 1030+ 1030L, or 1510+1510L. [4] (MNS)

EES 2580 - Earth System Dynamics

Transport and motion in Earth's systems. Conservation of mass, energy, and momentum over space and time. Earth's processes that lead to and regulate the transport of these quantities. Quantifying Earth's dynamical behavior and describing it with models. Prerequisite: 1030+1030L, 1080, or 1510+1510L. [3] (MNS)

EES 3220 - Life Through Time

Ecology, classification, and evolution of important groups of fossils, emphasizing invertebrates. Change in marine ecosystems through geologic time. Causes and effects of rapid evolution events and mass extinctions. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory period per week. Prerequisite 2510, 2550, 2580, BSCI 1100, or BSCI 1511. [4] (MNS)

EES 3260 – Petrology

Nature, distribution, and theories of origin of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Mineralogy as a function of rock-forming conditions. Laboratory emphasis on description and interpretation of rocks, using hand sample and microscope techniques. Field trips. Three lectures and one laboratory period per week. Prerequisite: 2550. [4] (MNS)

EES 3280 - Environmental Geochemistry

Chemistry of Earth's surface including the interaction of solids, liquids, and gases. Earth's biogeochemical cycles. Natural and anthropogenic transformations in the Critical Zone. Collection and analysis of environmental samples in the field. Prerequisite 2150, 2550, or 2580. [4] (MNS)

EES 3310 - Global Climate Change

Scientific principles and policy applications. Earth's past; evidence of human impact; future climate change; and economic, social, and ecological consequences. Economic, technological, and public policy responses. Serves as repeat credit for EES 2110. Prerequisite: one of 1030+1030L, 1080, 1510+1510L, BSCI 1510, CHEM 1601, ECON 1010, ES 1401 or PHYS 1501, 1601, 1901. [4] (MNS)

EES 3330 – Sedimentology

The origin and composition of sedimentary particles, their transportation to the site of deposition, actual deposition, and the processes involved in lithifying sediments into solid rock. Emphasis on interpretation of ancient source areas and depositional environments. Terrigenous, carbonate, and other rock types will be studied. Field trips. Three lectures and one laboratory period. Prerequisite 2510, 2550, or 2580. [4] (MNS)

EES 3333 - Climate and Society: Drowning Cities

Description pending. [3] Typically Offered Alternate Years

EES 3340 - Structural Geology and Rock Mechanics

Principles of rock deformation from microscopic to mountain range scales. Stress and strain; mechanisms of deformation; geometries of faulting and folding. Interpreting geologic maps and constructing cross sections. Applications to tectonics, natural resources, and earthquakes. Prerequisite: 2510, 2550, or 2580. [4] (MNS)

EES 3480 - Mass Extinctions

Synthesizing causes, consequences, and dynamics of past mass extinction events. Using fossil records to interpret current and future trends in biodiversity loss. No credit for students who have earned credit for 3891-02 offered spring 2017 or spring 2018. [3] (MNS)

EES 3841 - Directed Study

Readings in related fields and/or laboratory research in pursuit of a scholarly project conceived and executed under the supervision of a faculty member. Open to senior majors and graduate students or by consent of the department chair. Does not count toward minimum requirements for the major. May be repeated for credit more than once if there is no duplication in topic, but students may earn only up to 2 credits per semester of enrollment. [1-2] (No AXLE credit)

EES 3842 - Directed Study

Readings in related fields and/or laboratory research in pursuit of a scholarly project conceived and executed under the supervision of a faculty member. Open to senior majors and graduate students or by consent of the department chair. Does not count toward minimum requirements for the major. May be repeated for credit more than once if there is no duplication in topic, but students may earn only up to 2 credits per semester of enrollment. [1-2] (No AXLE credit)

EES 3851 - Independent Study

Readings with related field and/or laboratory research in pursuit of a scholarly project conceived and executed under the supervision of a faculty member. Open to senior majors and graduate students. Other students must have consent of department chair. Does not count toward minimum requirements for the major. May be repeated for credit more than once if there is no duplication in topic, but students may earn only up to 3 credits per semester of enrollment. [1-3] (No AXLE credit)

EES 3852 - Independent Study

Readings with related field and/or laboratory research in pursuit of a scholarly project conceived and executed under the supervision of a faculty member. Open to senior majors and graduate students. Other students must have consent of department chair. Does not count toward minimum requirements for the major. May be repeated for credit more than once if there is no duplication in topic, but students may earn only up to 3 credits per semester of enrollment. [1-3] (No AXLE credit)

EES 3865 - Field Investigations

Content varies according to location and disciplinary focus. May be repeated for credit more than once if there is no duplication in topic. Students may enroll in more than one section of this course each semester. [3] (MNS)

EES 3880 - Internship Training in EES

Under faculty supervision, students from any discipline can gain experience in a broad range of public and private organizations focused on work in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Credit hours earned are based upon actual work performed at the internship site. A minimum of 3 credit hours in background readings and research must be completed in 3881 concurrently with and regardless of the number of hours earned in 3880. A thorough/substantial research paper or report must be submitted at the end of the semester during which the internship is completed. These credit hours may NOT count for the EES major or minor. Normally, a 2.7 grade point average, 6 hours of prior work in EES, and prior approval of a specific plan of work by the director of undergraduate studies in EES are required. Offered on a Pass/Fail basis only and must be taken concurrently with 3881. Co-requisite: 3881. [1-9] (No AXLE credit)

EES 3881 - Internship Readings and Research in EES

Under faculty supervision, students from any discipline can gain experience in a broad range of public and private organizations focused on work in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Credit hours earned are based upon readings or research supervised by EES faculty to lend some intellectual foundation to the internship experience. A minimum of 3 credit hours in background readings and research must be completed in 3881 concurrently with and regardless of the number of hours earned in 3880. A thorough/substantial research paper or report must be submitted at the end of the semester during which the internship training is completed. These credit hours may not count for the EES major or minor. Normally, a 2.7 grade point average, 6 hours of prior work in EES, and prior approval of a specific plan of work by the director of undergraduate studies in EES are required. [3-6]

EES 4233 - Conservation Biology

Ecological, evolutionary, social, and economic aspects of biodiversity loss and ecosystem disruption due to human activities. Climate change, habitat fragmentation, species overexploitation, and invasive species. Sustainable development, habitat restoration, and species reintroduction. Prerequisite: 1511. [3] (MNS)

EES 4238 – Ecology

Population biology, evolutionary ecology, community structure, with emphasis on species interactions, including competition, predation, and symbiosis. Prerequisite: BSCI 1511. [3] (MNS)

EES 4420 – Geomorphology

Analysis of the Earth's landforms, their morphology, history, and the processes that form them. The building of relief and its subsequent transformation by geologic processes on hillslopes, rivers, coasts, wetlands, and glaciers. The natural history and human impacts on landforms. Field trips. Familiarity with basic physics (mechanics) is expected. Prerequisite: 1030+1030L or 1510+1510L. [3] (MNS)

EES 4440 - Glacial Geology

Metamorphism of snow and ice; mass balance at snow and ice surfaces; and rheology of ice. Destruction and creation of landscapes by glacial movement and debris. Response of ice bodies to changes in climate; physical, chemical, and biological evidence of climate change; and methods of paleoclimate reconstruction. Glacial impacts on societies through sea-level, hazards, coastlines, and water supplies. Prerequisite: 1030+1030L or 1080 or 1510+1510L. [3] (MNS)

EES 4550 - Transport Processes in Earth and Environmental Systems

Principles of conservation and constitutive transport laws; classic and emerging styles of modeling natural systems. Prior study of basic calculus (functions, derivatives, integrals) and physics (mechanics) is expected. Prerequisite: senior or graduate standing with a major in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, or the School of Engineering. [3] (MNS)

EES 4600 – Geochemistry

Application of chemistry to study the distribution and cycling of elements in the crust of the earth. Includes chemical bonding and crystallization, phase rules and phase diagrams, chemical equilibria, theories on the origin of elements, earth, ocean, atmosphere, and crust. Prerequisite: 2550 and CHEM 1602. [3] (MNS)

EES 4650 - Physics of the Climate System

Physical processes affecting the climate system. Global energy balance of Earth and planets. Surface temperature and how it is regulated. Electromagnetic radiation and its interaction with atmospheric gases, clouds, and aerosols. Ocean heat storage, cloud and precipitation processes, and the impact of sea and inland ice on temperature. Processes that govern the water and carbon cycle. [3] (MNS)

EES 4680 – Paleoclimates

Fluctuations in Earth's climate with an emphasis on the past 700 million years. Forcings and feedback that influence climate and drive change. Techniques used to reconstruct past climate change using marine and terrestrial geologic deposits and geochronologic methods. Prerequisite: 1510+1510L and 2510. [3] (MNS)

EES 4750 - Sustainability: An Environmental Science Perspective

Principles, problems, and solutions of environmental sustainability, with a focus on the links among the environment, society, and economy. Prerequisite: junior standing. [3] (MNS)

EES 4760 - Agent- and Individual-Based Computational Modeling

Applications in natural, social, and behavioral sciences and engineering. Designing, programming, and documenting models. Using models for experiments. Examples from environmental science, ecology, economics, urban planning, and medicine. Familiarity with basic statistics and proficiency in algebra are expected. [3] (MNS)

EES 4820 - Paleoecological Methods

Tools used to interpret past environments and climates, including plant microfossils, pollen and phytoliths, vertebrate morphology, and dental microwear and mesowear. Geochemical tools such as stable isotopes and rare earth elements. Integrating methods for paleontological and anthropological studies, including the use of databases and meta-analyses. Readings from primary sources. Prerequisite: 1030+1030L or 1510+1510L. [3] (MNS)

EES 4830 - Volcanic Processes

Nature, behavior, and origin of volcanoes. Magmatic processes that lead to eruptions. Eruptive processes and volcano construction. Impacts of volcanism on Earth's surface environment. Prerequisite: 3260. [3] (MNS)

EES 4891 - Special Topics

Topics vary. May be repeated for credit more than once by permission of the director of undergraduate studies. Students may enroll in more than one section of this course each semester. Prerequisite: 1030+1030L or 1510. [3] (No AXLE credit)

EES 4961 - Senior Seminar

Integrating concepts and information from diverse fields. Offered on a graded basis only. Limited to seniors in the final semester of the major. [1] (No AXLE credit)

EES 4996 - Senior Honors Seminar I

Research methods and scientific writing and communication, including work towards senior honors project, thesis, and oral presentation. Open only to senior departmental honors candidates. Does not count toward minimum requirements for major. Corequisite: 4998 [1] (No Axle Credit)

EES 4997 - Senior Honors Seminar II

Research methods and scientific writing and communication, including work towards senior honors project, thesis, and oral presentation. Open only to senior departmental honors candidates. Does not count toward minimum requirements for major. Prerequisite: 4996, Corequisite: 4999 [1] (No AXLE Credit)

EES 4998 - Senior Honors Research

Independent research under faculty supervision that culminates in an oral presentation and written thesis submitted to the faculty. Open only to departmental honors candidates. Does not count toward minimum requirements for the major. [2] (No AXLE credit)

EES 4999 - Senior Honors Research

Independent research under faculty supervision that culminates in an oral presentation and written thesis submitted to the faculty. Open only to departmental honors candidates. Does not count toward minimum requirements for the major. [2] (No AXLE credit)