Capstone Courses

The environmental studies capstone course (Envir St 600) is a required component for students completing our major. Priority is given to students declared in the environmental studies major.


Section 001: Last Child in the Park: How Kids and Birds Can Save the Planet
Anke Keuser
Mondays, 2:30-4:30 p.m. and Wednesdays, 2:15-5:15 p.m.
To enroll, please contact Anke Keuser (

We will be working hand in hand with staff at Madison's Sherman Middle School to provide a nature study program to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. A high percentage of Sherman ethnically diverse students live in poverty. The school is making herculean efforts to meet student needs by providing after-school programming. Our class helps the school meet those needs by pairing UW students as after-school mentors with a Sherman student.

Every Monday afternoon from 2:30-4:30pm, our UW class meets for an introduction to basic field ornithology in the Lakeshore Preserve. No experience is necessary. Bird identification is a satisfying skill to acquire and birds are a beautiful portal to better understanding and appreciation of the biophysical world. You will learn how to identify Wisconsin's most common birds by sight and sound, then you will teach that skill to your middle school student "co-explorer." Every Wednesday afternoon from 2:15-5:15pm, we meet as a class at Sherman Middle School on Madison's Northside (free transportation provided by the university). Together with Sherman's Nature Explorers Club, we walk as a group to Warner Park. We spend the afternoon exploring to learn what the park and its landscape and wild creatures have to teach us, and what we all have to teach each other. We do some group activities like planting prairie seeds, birdwatching and fort-building. At the same time you will be paired with a Sherman middleschooler as "co-explorers"; in a nature-mentoring relationship. You will help your Sherman co-explorer develop academic and social skills while building an awareness of and appreciation for the natural resources of Warner Park. And your co-explorer will teach you what he or she already knows about their wonderful park and its furred, finned and feathered residents. For a press account of this work, see this article in the Capital Times.

Here is an opportunity to be the change you want to see in the world.

It is critical that you are able to attend both sessions consistently. Establishing a solid relationship with the Sherman students is extremely important, and you must be there for that relationship to develop. Attendance is 50% of your grade.

Section 002: Ecology and Conservation with Native Nations in Wisconsin
Jessie Conaway
Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m.

To enroll, please contact Jessie Conaway ( with a few sentences describing your interest in the class. Include your major(s) and year in school. Weekend field trip(s) and course fee may be required.

Be the Change! Work with Native Nations in Wisconsin on issues such as water conservation, climate change adaptation, cultural landscape preservation, and environmental health. Learn about how conservation and stewardship in Tribal communities are guided by Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and western science.

Students in this capstone will visit Native Nations in Wisconsin to learn first-hand about indigenous environmental philosophy and practice. Integrating ecology, water resource management, environmental health, mapping, and science communications, we will work directly with Tribal members on products that will be useful to them as they shape environmental policies that protect their cultures and their homelands.

Section 003: Urban Food Systems and the Environment
Professor Monica White
Tuesdays, 2:25-4:55 p.m.

This course will examine the relationship between food systems and the environment and allow students to identify a project of interest that they will develop from a research question to data collection and analysis. We will pay particular attention to the social, political and environmental impacts of local food movements. In an effort to examine community responses to food insecurity, students will explore the food landscape from production (i.e. agriculture) to distribution and participate in community service activities, like work at a community gardening project. Students will also meet with and interview local residents and stakeholders in the urban agricultural movement in Madison.

Section 004: Environmental Justice: Land, Water and Food
Professor Monica White
Wednesdays, 2:25-4:55 p.m.

This course will explore several environmental justice movements for land, water and food. Students will select a specific organization of their own interest and apply social movement theories, for example, resource mobilization, political process model, and others, in order to examine the conditions under which a community responds to environmental concerns that impact access to and quality of land, water and food.

Section 005: Creating Sustainability in an Unsustainable World
Tom Eggert
Mondays, 5:30-8:15 p.m.

This course will look at ways to impact the behavior of institutions (businesses, non-profits and others) to make them more sustainable. Our focus will be on the private sector, because it is clearer than ever that business plays a central role in our progress (or our lack of progress) toward sustainability. As one of, if not THE, dominant social institutions of our time, businesses have the financial resources, the technology, the know-how, and the global reach to lead on sustainability. This class will provide insights into how sustainable development can be a part of most decisions that are made, whether at the individual lifestyle level or at the organizational level.