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.

Fall 2024 Capstone Courses

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Envir St 600 Section 001: Building Resilience to Heat

Becky Rose
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1–2:15 p.m.

Extreme heat is a problem that people are increasingly having to cope with. Here, we aim to understand the issue from multiple perspectives: how and why high temperatures occur where they do, effects on people, infrastructure, and society, and different approaches to addressing it. Particular attention will be paid to interrogating mainstream understandings of what it means to be resilient to heat and critical responses or alternatives to this.

Over the course of the semester, students will develop their capstone project in which they will collectively work with the City of Madison to help it become more prepared for heat, understanding and addressing the needs of its most vulnerable residents.

Envir St 600 Section 002: Invasive Species Monitoring and Management

Cooper Rosin
Thursdays, 2:25–4:55 p.m.

A central goal of the UW-Madison Arboretum is to conserve and restore native species and ecosystems. One of the major challenges to achieving this goal is the persistent and widespread presence of non-native invasive species. Understanding the long-term effectiveness of invasive species management is critical for the Arboretum to develop realistic restoration targets and use resources efficiently. Monitoring the occurrence and abundance of key species is a straightforward way to understand if management is having its intended impact.

In this course, we will work with the Arboretum to advance the scientific monitoring of invasive species impacts, and assist land care staff in developing appropriate management strategies.

Envir St 600 Section 003: Soils and the Environment

Professor Nick Balster
Tuesdays/Thursdays, 9:30–10:45 a.m.
Meets with Soil Sci 499

A capstone applying independent and team problem solving, critical thinking and oral and written communication skills to issues in soil and environmental sciences.

Envir St 600 Section 004: Storytelling Beyond the Human: Multispecies Narratives in the Anthropocene

Allyson Mills
Wednesdays, 1:20–3:15 p.m.

In this capstone course, we will research and investigate various ways humans have told stories about, for, and with the nonhuman. Through a humanistic lens, we will explore various mediums through which these narratives emerge (in prose, film, poetry, and art), integrating creative practice to think beyond the human. How have different cultures approached stories about humans and animals? How does narrative and media portrayals of animals influence how humans value different species? What does this mean for local human relationships with wildlife?

We will frequently spend time outside to explore how questions on human-animal relationships and nonhuman worlds are expressed through narratives in Madison’s surrounding areas. Potential site visits include Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Henry Vilas Zoo, the UW Zoological Museum, the UW Archives, and the Chazen Art museum.

Team projects will be decided at the beginning of the semester. Some possible project ideas to explore may include using various mediums to promote new ways of viewing human-animal relationships in Madison, and/or developing resources for different demographics regarding human-animal relationships in a particular Madison location.

Envir St 600 Section 005: Environmental and Sustainability Education

Kim Wahl
Mondays, 2:25–4:55 p.m.

In this capstone course, we will partner with the UW-Madison Arboretum and their education team to support environmental and sustainability education curriculum design and development. Through a sustainability and systems lens, we will research and develop experiential education activities that foster a sense of belonging while connecting to the outdoors. Outdoor and indoor place-based learning will be core to this work.

Team projects will be decided with our partners at the beginning of the semester. Some possible project ideas to explore may include improving current outdoor/indoor lesson plans for staff naturalists and/or developing resources connected to existing curricula for preK-12 teachers.

Note: Students should be prepared to meet at the UW-Arboretum and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve several times throughout the semester to research, design, and share lesson plan ideas.

Envir St 600 Section 006: Environmental Justice and Indigenous Communities

Professor Grace Bulltail
Tuesdays, 2:25–4:55 p.m.

Indigenous communities often contain vast natural resources and members have little authority to act as effective land stewards. As a result of resource extraction, these communities experience environmental degradation and are disproportionately impacted by climate change, environmental injustice, and health disparities. This environmental capstone course will center on the interactions of land use and natural resource management impacting tribal communities.

We will consider regulatory and policy considerations governing environmental management regimes in tribal communities. We will also explore interventions to address environmental impacts and inequities. Students will focus on areas of interest as possible interventions that may include food sovereignty, improved tribal natural resource authority, data sovereignty, capacity building and equity.

Envir St 600 Section 007: Sustainability in Practice

Instructor TBD
Tuesdays/Thursdays, 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

An integrative capstone experience involving interdisciplinary teams applying the triple bottom line principals of sustainability to campus-based challenges.