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Introduction to Environmental Science

A scientific study of the natural world and how it is influenced by people. Major topics include: food, energy, human population, biodiversity and global change.

Cost: Free


Introduction to Environmental Science's Full Profile



About this Course Environmental science is the study of patterns and processes in the natural world and their modification by human activity. To understand current environmental problems, we need to consider physical, biological and chemical processes that are often the basis of those problems. This course will give you the skills necessary to address the environmental issues we are facing today by examining scientific principles and the application of those principles to natural systems. This course will survey some of the many environmental science topics at an introductory level, ultimately considering the sustainability of human activities on the planet. Environmental impacts on Earth come from the number of people and the amount and types of resources that they use. By applying scientific principles and considering real-world examples, we will examine: The field of environmental science and how to think like an environmental scientist. The human population and the ways in which changes in the population affect the environment. Agriculture, soils and the environmental implications of eating meat, vegetables, local, organic, sustainable, industrial and other types of food. Non-renewable fossil fuels with a focus on coal, petroleum and natural gas and the benefits and consequences of using each. Renewable fuels such as wind and solar and identify that even renewable “green” energy sources have impacts as well as benefits. Biodiversity and global change, which are the integrating units of environmental science. Education method The course will utilize video lectures, interviews with experts, readings, real-world problem sets, discussions, multiple choice and free response self-assessments and one graded exam per week. Completion of self-assessments, contributions to discussion and exam scores will determine the final grade.


  • Days of the Week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner
  • Size: Massive Open Online Course
  • Instructors: Barbara DeFelice, R. Michael Murray, Jacob Ebersole, Chelsea Petrenko, Emily Lacroix, Justin Richardson, Michael Goudzwaard, Andrew J. Friedland
  • Cost: Free
  • Institution: EdX

Provider Overview

About EdX: EdX offers interactive online classes and MOOCs from the world’s best universities. Topics include biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, finance, electronics, engineering, food and nutrition, history, humanities, law, literature, math, medicine, music, philosophy, physics, science, statistics and more. EdX is a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT.

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