Study Environmental Science with our Oxford Summer School 2017 | Students aged 13-15

Also available for students aged 16-18.

Class Summary

This Environmental Science course is designed to introduce students to a broad-ranging and hugely topical subject area – never more relevant than in today’s rapidly changing world. The central theme of the class is the relationship between people and the natural world, and it is aimed at any student with an interest in the future of our global environment.

Week 1 is used to explore some of the most significant issues for contemporary environmental scientists: climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental disasters. Week 2 introduces a more theoretical context to the topical issues covered previously. Students will learn about the different approaches to managing the environment, and also how Environmental Science is very much bound up with politics, ethics, and culture – what might the repercussions be if a country’s government decided to implement nuclear power plants, for instance?

By the end of the course, students will understand the key issues facing environmental scientists today. They will have gained a working knowledge of both the scientific processes at play and the sociopolitical aspects of many environmental issues, as well as familiarity with the main theoretical approaches to managing environmental issues. The way environmental problems are viewed and framed can be as important in determining solutions and responses as the empirical science involved, so students will leave this course having developed valuable transferable skills. Both in Environmental Science and beyond, the ability to present, analyse, and work as part of a team are essential to success.

Environmental Science is a multidisciplinary field, with elements of geography, history, politics, economics, ecology, biology, chemistry, physics and social sciences. Students will be encouraged to draw on their existing knowledge of these areas and explore how they relate to one another in the context of Environmental Science. The interrelation between Environmental Science and contemporary politics is a particular focus of this course, given the pressing issues that face our world today.

Students will be assessed on the basis of two exercises, contributing towards a final grade (A*-E). As a homework assignment at the end of Week 1 they will complete a short essay related to both the scientific and political aspects of Environmental Science; a variety of essay titles will be given, but students can also suggest their own title if there is an area that they would particularly like to explore. Students will also give short group presentations, in which they will explore different perspectives on climate change and sustainability in order to better understand the divergent viewpoints held by people around the world on this contentious subject.

Expectations/Prerequisites

This course does not require you to have any prior knowledge of Environmental Science – just an interest in the future of our global environment.