Environmental Management & Policy

The environmental management and policy program (EMP) provides students with rigorous, problem-oriented training in the theories and practical skills they will need to contribute meaningfully to ongoing efforts to craft a sustainable, just world. Through interdisciplinary coursework, unique fieldwork, internship, and service-learning opportunities in the Yellowstone River watershed (and beyond), EMP students learn to think, speak, and write critically and pragmatically about the links between environmental science, human development, and decision-making. Rocky Mountain College's location along the Yellowstone River and proximity to the both the Beartooth Mountains and Yellowstone National Park provide EMP students with unique opportunities to explore first-hand the human-environment-dynamics and development patterns that drive resource management policies.

Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a major in environmental management and policy will be able to:

  1. Apply fundamental theories from the disciplines of business, the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities to environmental issues;
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of political, legal, and economic processes associated with environmental management and policy;
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the ethical implications of environmental management and policy decisions;
  4. Demonstrate a capacity to think critically and communicate effectively about the relationships between global processes and regional- and sub-regional scale environmental management and policy issues.

Major in Environmental Management & Policy

A minimum of 50 semester hours is required, including:
ACC 210: Principles of Accounting
BSA 101: Introduction to Business
BSA 303: Principles of Management
ECO 205: Principles of Economics
ECO 354: Environmental Economics
EMP 102: Regional Geography of Landscape Change
EMP 302: Sustainable Development Policy and Practice
EMP 411: Science Policy and the Environment
ESC 105: Environmental Science: Sustainable Communities
ESC 321: Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
EST 101: Introduction to Environmental Studies
EST 102: Introduction to Environmental Studies Lab
EST 226: Energy and Society
PHR 304: Environmental Ethics

Choose three of the following:
BSA 331: Business Law
BSA 412: Business Ethics
BSA 418: Entrepreneurship I
ENG 244: Literature and the Environment
ESC 209: Field Survey Techniques in Zoology
ESC 314: Range Ecology
ESC 330: Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
ESC 436: Yellowstone Winter Ecology
GEO 101: Fundamentals of Geology
GEO 331: Oil and Gas Geology
HST 365: American Environmental History
POL 301: International Relations
POL 313: Environmental Politics

ACC 210 - Foundations of Accounting
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course is designed to give students a basic understanding of the uses and limitations of accounting information, particularly from financial statements. Students will understand how to take information from the financial statements and make informed business decisions.
Prerequisite: BSA 101
BSA 101 - Introduction to Business
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 3
A beginning business course designed to introduce students to the areas of business study, including historical foundations of America's free enterprise system, ethics and social responsibility in the business setting, entrepreneurship, the legal structures of business, marketing, and general management.
BSA 303 - Principles of Management
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 3
Students examine the management functions and basic concepts and principles of management, including planning, organization, coordination, control, job design, and human resource management. Topics in human resource management include recruitment, selection, administration of personnel policies, and dismissals. This course is often required as a prerequisite for master’s level business programs.
Prerequisite: ACC 210, ECO 205
BSA 331 - Business Law
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
A course that explores the legal principles relating to business transactions: contracts, sales, commercial paper, intellectual property, and e-commerce. A study of the legal environment of business is emphasized. This course is often required as a prerequisite for master's level business programs.
Prerequisite: ACC 210, ECO 205
BSA 412 - Business Ethics
Semester: Fall; Alternate years
Semester hours: 3
A study of the ethical problems that evolve in the modern business world, including a brief history of ethics and the practical ethical problems associated with running a business. Knowledge of ethical concepts as they apply to business management is explored through case studies and student class presentations. Emphasis is on the role of management as it affects stockholders, employees, customers, and competitors. Issues such as product safety, plant closures, advertising, doing business in other countries, and the overall role of business and society are discussed.
Prerequisite: BSA 401
BSA 418 - Entrepreneurship I
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
Students will learn the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, how to seek and evaluate opportunities for new ventures, how to prepare a complete business plan, and how to plan strategies and gather resources to create business opportunities.
Prerequisite: BSA 401
ECO 205 - Principles of Economics
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
This course will introduce the principles of firm-level decision making, consumer choices and their rationale, differing forms of industry competition, and how market-clearing prices and quantities are determined in a market environment. Additionally, the students will gain an understanding of how the major participants in the economy interact and what drives economic growth, interest rates, and inflation. The possible impacts of a variety of fiscal and monetary policy choices will be presented to assist the student in understanding how those policies will impact incomes, employment, and trade for a country. At the completion of this course, the student should have a basic understanding of both the microeconomic and macroeconomic environments and their impacts on businesses and the general population.
ECO 354 - Environmental Economics
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
Students examine the application of microeconomics to problems of the environment. This course is offered both for the major and for those interested in environmental problems.
Prerequisite: ECO 205
EMP 102 - Regional Geography of Landscape Change
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course is an integrative course in environmental science, environmental studies, and environmental management and policy. The course is intended to provide students with tools and knowledge from the social and physical sciences that will help them to think critically about how global systems work and how they connect and transform social activity and bio-geographical landscapes around the world. The course focuses on three main topics:
1. The cultural, political-economic, and bio-geophysical characteristics that distinguish the world's diverse regions.
2. How these place-specific characteristics shape and are shaped by global processes.
3. The role of policy in shaping global flows and their local expressions.
EMP 224 - Environment & Society
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
This course introduces students to the scholarly context, core ideas, terminology, major controversies, and complexities that surround contemporary socio-environmental problems. The readings, discussions, videos, art, music, first-hand experiences, and assignments are drawn from social sciences, the humanities, and, to a lesser degree, the natural sciences. Students walk away with an interdisciplinary set of tools and concepts that will help them to examine environmental problems from ethical, scientific, political-economic, risk and vulnerability, and policy perspectives.
EMP 299 - Independent Study
Semester: On Demand
Semester hours: 1-3
This course allows a superior student to devise and pursue independent study in an area agreed upon in consultation with, and supervised by, a faculty member. Students should be either a major or minor and have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or greater.
EMP 302 - Sustainable Development Policy and Practice
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
This course is intended to help students better understand key themes of sustainable development policy and practice. More importantly, perhaps, the goal of the readings is to raise questions about and inspire students to critically examine the "taken-for-granted" assumptions that many of us have regarding sustainable development and, more broadly, out relationships with it. During this class we will constantly return to the following questions:
1. What spatial processes and linkages lead to particular development outcomes?
2. Whose needs do orthodox approaches to sustainable development best meet?
3. What is development success, and how can it be achieved through policy and practice?
The readings, lectures, and assignments for this course track the theory and practice of development as it has evolved since the colonial period of human history, when development policies were focused almost exclusively on empire-building, to the present era of "sustainable development," when the focus is, in theory, on meeting the needs of the current generation without jeopardizing the ability of future generations their own needs.
Prerequisite: EMP 102
EMP 411 - Science Policy and the Environment
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
This is a seminar-style "capstone" course for environmental management and policy majors in their second-to-last semester at RMC. This corse focuses on three interrelated themes: 1) the production and contestation of environmental knowledge; 2) the use of environmental knowledge in policy-making; and 3) understanding the historical, scientific, and policy contexts that shape responses to local and global environmental problems.
Prerequisite: EMP 102
EMP 499 - Independent Study
Semester: On Demand
Semester hours: 1-3
This course allows a superior student to devise and pursue independent study in an area agreed upon in consultation with, and supervised by, a faculty member. Students should be either a major or minor and have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or greater.
Prerequisite: junior or senior standing
ENG 244 - Literature and the Environment
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course is a comparative study of the environmental imagination as expressed in literature. By reading and discussing a wide range of literary texts, students investigate timeless and more urgent questions, such as “What is nature?”; “What is our responsibility to the environment?”; “How do various cultures express their relation to the natural world?”.
ESC 105 - Environmental Science: Sustainable Communities
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 4
An introductory course designed for students entering the environmental sciences and studies program and for other students who would like to take an ecology lab course. Topics address the central concepts of ecology including the physical environment in which life exists. Students will explore the properties and processes of populations and communities, ecosystem dynamics, biogeography and biodiversity, as well as issues in conservation and restoration ecology. In the laboratory, students will apply these concepts to ecological studies in the natural environment and learn how to present their results in a scientific report. Three hours of lecture and one two-hour laboratory session per week.
ESC 209 - Field Survey Techniques in Zoology
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 4
A field and laboratory course covering basic field techniques to survey and inventory areas to assess biodiversity, with an emphasis on Montana mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and fish fauna. Topics include species identification, survey and trapping, experimental design, data analysis, and report completion. Once identification and survey skills are learned, field teams will be formed and assigned to survey and inventory local habitats of concern with the goal of helping guide local management and restoration of these habitats. An additional fee is required.
Prerequisite: ESC 105 and/or BIO 120
ESC 314 - Range Ecology
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 4
This course is the study of mixed grass prairies of the West and an introduction to ecological concepts applicable to that area. Topics include historical and current land use, ecosystem responses to change, methods for maintaining natural prairie habitats, the use of prairies as rangelands, and determinations of ecological conditions and trends on rangelands. The laboratory focuses on identification of common prairie plant species and their importance for both wildlife and domestic animals. Three hours of lecture and one two-hour laboratory session per week.
Prerequisite: BIO 120, CHM 101, and CHM 102
ESC 321 - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Semester: On Demand
Semester hours: 4
This course introduces students to the theory and practical application of geographic information systems (GIS). Topics include fundamentals of cartography, GIS data types, data input, GIS database structure and management, analysis of spatially distributed data, and report preparations using GIS.
Prerequisite: MAT 100 and a previous science course
ESC 330 - Wildlife Management and Conservation
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 4
A multidisciplinary approach to conservation and management issues encompassing genetics to ethics. Topics include population genetics, evolutionary mechanisms, biodiversity, reserve design, and re-introduction strategies. Written reports and oral presentations are required. An additional fee is required.
Prerequisite: BIO 120 and ESC 105
ESC 436 - Yellowstone Winter Ecology
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 4
This course focuses on the ecology of Yellowstone National Park, particularly emphasizing the complex interactions of large mammals with the forest and range plant communities. Students explore the methods used by the National Park Service to establish natural resource policies and examine the Park’s scientific research priorities. Two extended weekend laboratories provide research opportunities that include topics in winter ecology and aspects of the role of large mammals in the Yellowstone ecosystem. An additional fee is required.
Prerequisite: ENG 119, ENG 120, and BIO 120
EST 101 - Introduction to Environmental Studies
Semester: Fall
Semester hours: 3
This course explores the complexity of environmental issues as approached from the perspectives of the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Since environmental issues are inherently complex, attention is focused on how human beings perceive, understand, and respond to environmental change. Emphasis is placed on developing students’ abilities to investigate matters critically and to respond in original, thoughtful, and imaginative ways.
EST 102 - Introduction to Environmental Studies Lab
Semester: Fall; 1
Semester hours:
This course introduces students through field experience to some of the landscape and environmental issues in our region. Depending on the instructor, students will be involved in some combination of various activities, including backpacks, a river cleanup, a film festival, among other outdoor activities. They will be expected to keep journals, write papers, or learn basic photography and watercolor techniques.
Corequesite: EST 101
EST 226 - Energy and Society
Semester: Spring; Alternate years
Semester hours: 3
This course is designed to introduce students to baseline knowledge, theories, and analytical techniques that will help them better understand and communicate effectively about the scientific, technical, economic, social, political, and environmental dimensions of Earth-Energy-Society interactions. While other energy sources will be discussed, the course focuses primarily on human use of energy from hydrocarbons (fossil fuels). In this class, students will examine patterns in Earth-Energy-Society interactions from a historical-geographic perspective. Particular attention will be given to policy tools and technical options for addressing problematic/unsustainable patterns of energy production.
GEO 101 - Fundamentals of Geology
Semester: Fall and Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course provides an introduction to the science of earth materials, earth systems, and earth history, including the study of minerals, rocks, volcanoes, earthquakes, rock deformation and metamorphism, weathering, and erosion within the modern paradigm of plate tectonics. Special emphasis is placed on interpreting the geologic landscape and history of the Rocky Mountains through an understanding of Earth processes. Three hours of lecture and one recommended two-hour laboratory per week, plus field trips. This course fulfills a natural lab science core curriculum requirement if taken concurrently with GEO 104.
GEO 331 - Oil and Gas Geology
Semester: Spring; Alternating years
Semester hours: 3
This course provides an introduction to oil and gas geology, illustrating the various processes that take place from petroleum source to sink. Lectures will focus on the generation of oil and gas, the nature of source rocks and reservoirs, exploration of petroleum traps, as well as drilling and production. Special consideration will be given to regional oil and gas fields in Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota. Take-home exercises will include basic rock description (hand sample and thin section), as well as geologic map and seismic interpretation, and structural analysis. Assignments will focus on weekly reading and take-home assignments, as well as several day-long field trips. Students will be assessed via reading quizzes, field reports, and a final project presented in written and oral form, as well as one midterm and final exam.
Prerequisite: GEO 101, GEO 104, GEO 204, and GEO 218
HST 365 - American Environmental History
Semester: Fall; Alternate years.
Semester hours: 3
This course examines the interrelationship of human society and nature in American history. Topics will include ecology as it relates to European conquest of the Americas, Native American peoples, public lands policies, American national character, technological society, conservation, and the modern environmental movement.
PHR 304 - Environmental Ethics
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course will address issues such as whether natural beings and the natural world have rights or whether only humans have rights. Students will determine what is ethically appropriate for humans in their relationship with the environment as well as what environmental ethics must take account of to be consequential in the world today.
POL 301 - International Relations
Semester: On Demand
Semester hours: 3
Students examine an analysis of the way nations interact with one another and how the necessities of power and the desire to regulate the use of power in the international arena have influenced 20th century world politics.
Prerequisite: a lower-division history or political science course
POL 313 - Environmental Politics
Semester: Spring
Semester hours: 3
This course explores the political problems associated with the human impact on the natural environment: pollution, natural resources, public lands, land use, energy, cultural/social justice, and population.