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Field Methods for Environmental Sustainability




Admission Requirements

No strict course prerequisites, but students would be best served by having an interest in the natural sciences.

This is a field course. You will get wet and dirty. In addition to being exposed to computer based methods, the course involves “real” work, including installation and handling of field equipment and sensors within local environments around Den Haag for monitoring environmental processes.


While much is discussed about the topic of environmental sustainability there are few courses that actually provide training and practical experiences. This course is designed provides a deeper understanding of the subject of environmental sustainability by providing instruction in how to actually assess sustainability in the field. This requires learning about how different types of environments are impacted and managed, which necessitates an understanding of procedures to monitor and sample different environmental processes. The content of the course is designed around several practical procedures within the area of Den Haag, and will include monitoring and sampling different types of sediment and vegetation as well as installation of equipment and sensors for environmental monitoring.

Course Objectives

  • An understanding of different approaches to study environmental sustainability,

  • Employ basic quantitative procedures to calculate indices to assess sustainability,

  • Through independent investigation and teamwork the student is able explore a specific topic by completion of a final report,

  • Understands the role of Earth sciences to the broader subject of sustainability.


Students will be assessed in several ways, including individual and group work. Modes of assessment include two exams, four laboratory assignments, and a final report.

Exams (20%): two exams @ 10% each
Final Report (30%): 30%
Labs (50%): four at 12.5% each


No assigned text,
A reading “packet” will be made available on the class Blackboard site,
Reading material and assignments on Internet sites.

Contact Information


Weekly Overview

Week 1:
Introduction: importance of field data to assessing sustainability
Theory and conceptual framework

Week 2:
Landscapes and environmental processes

Week 3
Field Mapping

Installation of sensors (Lab 1)
Exam I

Week 4:
Lake environments (Lab 2)

Week 5:
Vegetation sampling (Lab 3)

Week 6:
Soil sampling for monitoring pollution (Lab 4)
Land degradation: Erosion monitoring and sediment sampling

Week 7:
Integration of data and synthesis of topics
Field Exam

Week 8:
Final Report

Preparation for first session

Students will receive reading for the first meeting via blackboard after enrolling and should contact the instructor if they have not received an email prior to the first class.