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 2023 Capstone Courses

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Envir St 600 Section 001: 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 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: Food, Power, and Social Change: A Community-Based Approach

Ana Fochesatto
Mondays, 2:25–4:55 p.m.

In this capstone course students will interrogate power structures within the food system while engaging in community-based projects with farmers and community organizations working to support a just food system across the Upper Midwest. We will partner with BIPOC farmers raising animals in regenerative silvopasture systems to develop group projects that directly support on-farm efforts and organizing across the supply chain.

Students will engage in interdisciplinary learning, exploring debates in food justice, ecological impacts, social stratification, and community-based research methods. We will engage in praxis by applying the concepts we learned in class within group projects and centering reflection exercises to better understand power structures and our positionality within them.

Envir St 600 Section 005: Food Excess to Access: Empowering Regional Resource Distribution

Delaney Gobster
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.

From farm to fork, around 40 percent of all food grown for human consumption in the U.S. is wasted. Yet over one in 10 Americans face systemic issues to accessing adequate nutritional resources on a regular basis. This capstone course will examine how stakeholders within the Madison and Dane County food system coordinate food excess (re)distribution and food waste prevention efforts. The course will further interrogate the landscape of food accessibility and equitable resources distribution, focusing on the Southern Wisconsin region.

Over the course of the semester, students will engage with regional collaborations to take a deeper look at grassroots efforts to enhance food sovereignty and promote the agroecological development of circular food economies. During class guest discussions, students will gain perspective from professionals and community leaders within the food industry. The class will then culminate in a hands-on group project, aimed at supporting the work of a community partner of the course.

Envir St 600 Section 006: The “Last Child in the Park” Problem

Anke Hawker-Keuser
Wednesdays, 7:30–9:30 a.m. and 2:15–5:15 p.m.

The book “The Last Child in the Woods” discussed a systemic problem: kids growing up today seem to be spending less and less time outside. Environmental education and outdoor experiences offer many more benefits than simply learning about processes of the physical world. In recent years, getting kids into nature has been a big part of the environmental education discussion here in Madison. This effort, however, faces significant challenges.

In this capstone we will explore informal environmental teaching techniques, and research about why this form is education is so important and develop environmental education curricula. We will also conduct environmental community-based research to gain an understanding of the importance of outdoor education research. Depending on community partner availability, we may also volunteer with nature outings for children or other nature outreach activities (subject to community partner availability).

Note: we will usually meet for two hours in the morning, of which some of our time will be spent outside and class will often be held at Picnic Point.