Course Endorsements

Welcome to the ENVS Student Course Endorsements page!

The ENVS Student Course Endorsements page is a source of collective information and knowledge from students who have taken ENVS courses. They are here for you to learn more about courses you might be interested in taking!

Have you taken an ENVS course? We’d love to see your course endorsement here! You can submit your course endorsement(s) using this formIf you submit a course endorsement, you will be entered for a chance to win a $25 gift card. The more endorsements you submit, the greater your chances of winning! 

**Before you submit a course endorsement, please make sure to read the guidelines listed below to make sure your course endorsement(s) get posted.**

Guidelines for Course Endorsements:

1) Provide helpful information, and make sure to be clear and concise. Your course endorsement might answer: “How can I prepare for the course?” “What kinds of course background would be helpful to engage in the course?” “What are some things you learned that you found interesting?”

2) The course endorsements are to inform and prepare students about courses not instructors. This is a platform provided to foster positivity, encouragement, and academic motivation. Please be respectful and thoughtful about the feedback you provide.

3) Your course endorsement is available to all students, so please make sure to review your comments for any typos or incomplete sentences before you submit. Course endorsements may be edited to conform to the expectations and limits of the guidelines.

4) You can submit as many course endorsements as you like! Just make sure to follow the guidelines in each course endorsement.


We appreciate your help!



Sample course endorsement (copied from Anthropology Department):

ANTH 101: Human Evolution

Study of human evolution covering the last five million years. Examines the fossil evidence and emphasizes the reconstruction of behavior from the paleontological and anatomical evidence.

“I took Anth 101 my sophomore year with Jay Reti. Human Evolution is a course that goes back six million years to analyze many species that evolved into Homo sapiens sapiens. This rigorous course covers a wide range of material having to do with human evolution such as taxonomy, dating techniques, and learning about each individual species that lived before us. I left this course with a deep understanding of what species before us looked like, ate, and how they behaved. It was extremely interesting and eye opening to make so many connections between why we are the way we are today to how our ancestors were millions of years ago.”

–S., 3rd Year Anth Student, Fall ‘17


 Not sure what course to take? Check out what past students had to say!

ENVS Course Number:

ENVS 25: Environmental Policy and Economics

We learned about basic policy and economic principles that go into human interaction with the environment. Articles on policies - how they worked out, how they didn't, new ideas/solutions dealing with environmental issues. There was a midterm and final exam - both were very doable. I loved Professor Adam Millard-Ball's enthusiasm and engagement with the subject and for the students. It made all the topics seem worth learning about and relevant to potential future careers and interests.

-1st year ENVS student, Winter 2017


ENVS 25: Environmental Policy and Economics

This class is mainly an introduction course to environmental economics and policy. You learn a lot about economic theories like malthusians, cornucopians, tragedy of the commons, and more.This course mostly consists of readings, a few quizzes, and attending weekly sections, either online or in person. There were a lot of iclicker questions about the readings

This was my first class to not provide a study guide to our midterm or final, so it was my first real challenge to require me to think critically about what I thought was important and to study based on that. It was because of this that I did much better on the tests when they happened, since the information was more deeply rooted in my brain rather than just briefly memorized.

-1st year ENVS student, Winter 2018


ENVS 106A: Natural History of Birds

We learned how to identify birds using identification guides. We also learned about the natural history of birds i.e. their bill shapes and how that relates to feeding methods. We learned their wing shapes and how that relates to the way they are able to fly. We learned reproductive behaviors and other life history traits that can help one understand the role that birds play in the environment and how they interact with it. Lastly, the class covered bird management and the ways that people interact with birds. This class had the incredible ability to motivate students to continue learning about birds even after the course ended.

The main assignment was a quarter long journal documenting observations from either a single species that you were supposed to follow and from a sit-spot that should have been consistently visited. The class also consisted of many visits to the Norris Center where we could look at real specimens and understand how their morphology allows them to utilize the environments each bird lives in. I was a very casual birder before this class. I had a crappy bird guide and would go birding for fun every once in a while. I could identify the larger charismatic birds and some of the smaller, but more colorful, birds. After this course, I was able to identify practically every bird in the Santa Cruz area and now I can identify every bird in California and many of them based on sounds. This class also inspired me to take Natural History Field Quarter and I have already done a bird-banding internship and I'm going to do my senior internship with the Younger Lagoon Bird-banding Station this summer and fall. I particularly enjoyed that this class gives you the tools to give yourself a much stronger understanding of birds and many of my classmates have also gone to do bird-related experiences and many more have continued with Natural History courses. 

-4th year ENVS student, Fall 2018


ENVS 130B: Justice and Sustainability in Agriculture

I learned so much about the institutional and sociological implications of our food system. The identity politics behind farmworker rights, global markets, and rhetoric of the agrarian ideal. There were assignments that evoked my creativity and asked me to think critically for myself. I was given great direction but also freedom to follow what interested me. All the exams (short essay questions and term matching) were very straightforward and I was sufficiently prepared for them. Madeleine is an amazing teacher. She is so excited and engaging and really values our time. She picks readings that are actually interesting and combines the perfect amount of discussion and lecturing in class.

-3rd year ENVS student, Winter 2019


ENVS 130B: Justice and Sustainability in Agriculture

We learned the history of food movements in the United States, who have been affected, and sustainable agricultural practices moving forward. My favorite assignment was unpacking race in the land movement in one of the short assignments. Five short assignments, readings with quizzes, a midterm and final with essay components. Madeleine has vibrant energy and made this class worth attending each day. The content helped me realize my passion for food justice by acknowledging the social systems that have shaped the food landscape through time.

-2nd year ENVS student, Winter 2019


ENVS 130B: Justice and Sustainability in Agriculture

Covered issues surrounding farmworker justice, injustices within our food system, the structure of the current food system in the US. I learned a lot about structural failures of the food system and about different agricultural and social movement solutions that are being posed to these issues. There were 6 reading quizzes throughout the quarter, reading for every class day, and 4 short assignments. Homework and classwork was very manageable, made it easier to focus on class and in class learning. Most of the readings were extremely interesting.I loved Madeleine Fairbairn and thought the class was extremely relevant and something that every student should take. Really important information for anyone who eats.

-3rd year ENVS student, Winter 2019


ENVS 130B: Justice and Sustainability in Agriculture

The socio-political dimensions of agriculture including institutional racism,  and structural inequality in the food systems. Readings, essays and a short answer/written final. This course discussed critical topics the ENVS department as a whole avoids; namely white privilege, institutional racism and systemic inequality. These facets are crucial to an ENVS department and must be implemented into core courses for all majors, not elective courses or courses just for specific concentrations.  Also Professor Fairbairn is an incredible, kind, thoughtful, and hardworking teacher and really made the class a wonderful learning experience.

-2nd year ENVS student, Fall 2016


ENVS 130C: Field Experiences in Agroecology and Sustainable Food

Agroecology and Food Systems. The interplay between human society, industry, and environment that leads to the food on your table. I remember we specifically focused on certain foods of interest, such as strawberries and coffee. But each food covered a wide breadth of issues. The field trips to real farms, gardens, and companies were awesome! I surprisingly really enjoyed making my own research project. Stacy Philpott was amazing in that she personally gave each student specific feedback on their project in the process of several drafts (upload onto google drive, then you can highlight and comment on specific parts :)). It helped build up my confidence and realize that these projects could really be real and didn't have to be too complicated. The readings were great. Stacy didn't assign too many or those that were too long and unaccessible. I liked making my own research project and of course the field trips! It made the research feel real. I would go ahead and say, beside hopefully the field quarter I'm finally taking this year, this was my favorite upper-division envs class! (and I took several amazing ones, so that's saying a lot)

-3rd year ENVS student, Spring 2018


ENVS 140: National Environmental Policy

This course covered the Environmental policy in the US, as well as how policies are made. It kept up with current events, and made policy easy to understand and interesting, while encouraging students to try their own hand at creating policy through the final project. This class consisted of 2 major projects, 3 student written quizzes, and 3 reading assignments. Professor Press is incredibly passionate about this subject, and enthusiastic about helping and talking to students not only about the course but about anything ENVS or life in general. He is a wonderful teacher, and taught policy through stories about how policies came to be instead of just listing facts. He gives students every chance to succeed, often allowing rewrites of major projects to get the grades you want.

-2nd year ENVS student, Spring 2019


ENVS 140: National Environmental Policy

This course focuses on environmental policy on a national level, but also relating it sometimes to state policy. It goes in a broad range of different types of policy as well as practical applications of the policy.

Throughout the quarter, you work on one main project which is a policy brief to make a certain industry more environmentally friendly. While it is a big project, it is completely manageable. Most of the information you will need is easily accessible and there are ungraded check in assignments to keep you on time. There are also a few quizzes for which the class comes up with the questions, which can be made from either the lectures or weekly readings.

I have really enjoyed how interesting the lectures are. They go right in line with the readings and go into further detail on how they relate to everyday life.

-3rd year ENVS student, Spring 2019


ENVS 147: Environmental Inequality/Environmental Justice

For this class, we learned about the different environmental justice/environmental inequalities, such as environmental conservation, labor movements, civil movements, and more. I enjoyed learning about all the topics, because they are so relevant to our daily lives. This class made me more aware of things, such as the negative impacts of building a manufacturer. Prior before, I just thought of it as a development. Now I consider the different factors and impact it has on the community the manufacturer is in. I highly recommend this class.

We had weekly readings, two midterms, a research paper, and a final. The research paper is what made this class interesting. We got to write about anything we wanted that involved environmental justice in the hometown we grew up in.

The professor, Andrew Szasz, and TA, Chris Lang, were the two people that made this class enjoyable to me!

-4th year ENVS student, Winter 2019


ENVS 154: Amazonian Cultures and Conservation

Rights of indigenous populations in the protection of natural resources, amazonian peoples, capitalist initiatives in the amazon, geographies of hope, and the good life for people in the amazon - buen vivir

Critical responses to academic literature on indigenous populations, culture, life, and conservation, midterm and final essays on topics covered in class and the different lenses through which we see the world, map quiz

Interviews with indigenous populations given by Juli Hazelwood, as well as interviews with other people involved in case studies we read about in the class, class discussions were led by classmates and became critical to how we viewed the topic and created a mutual respect among classmates as well as a respectful/accepting classroom conversation.

-3rd year ENVS student, Winter 2019


ENVS 160: Restoration Ecology

The course covered the entire process and theoretical consideration regarding environmental restorations across a variety of habitats and ecosystems, and how to make those decisions, as well as policies that relate to environmental restoration. Consistent readings, in-depth exams, reflections on restoration projects, and two essays I believe. I enjoyed how diverse the course and its attached enrichment learning opportunities were. Not only did we hear about, read, and talk about restoration and debates about restoration, we took field trips, volunteered in projects, and participated in restoration events with people in the field and heard from them as well. There is a wide variety of learning conduits and all of them coalesce very well in coordinating with one another.

-3rd year ENVS student, Winter 2018


ENVS 167: Freshwater and Wetland Ecology

The course was on freshwater ecology. We learned a lot about freshwater systems. I felt that we really went into detail about processes and organisms associated with freshwater bodies, estuaries/sloughs, and California, in general. It was definitely one of the most information heavy classes I have taken in the department! One case study, one presentation, 2 midterm exams, one final Dr. Monsen is such a passionate and knowledgeable professor. This class taught me so much about freshwater systems and about terrestrial systems as well, and how the two interacted!

-4th year ENVS student, Fall 2018


ENVS 177: Teaching Environmental Education

The course covered ways that environmental education can be incorporated into K-12 classrooms, teaching pedagogies and techniques for environmental education, how to align lessons with NGSS/Common Core standards, and why environmental education is important.

The course consisted of 3 in class open -notes quizzes based off of readings, an assignment where you had to create and present a persuasive speech on a topic relating to environmental education that you are passionate about, creating and presenting a lesson plan aligned with the NGSS standard for your grade with a group of other students, interning 3 hours a week in a classroom or environmental ed. program, and the final was writing a letter to a school principal about a hypothetical environmental ed program that you come up with. The class was very interactive and incorporated a lot of different ways of learning including games, discussions, presentation, videos, etc. When we learned about teaching techniques, we got to try them ourselves. Creativity was highly encouraged. Whitney was super supportive and compassionate and created a safe environment for learning and growth.

-4th year ENVS student, Fall 2018