Roanoke College

INQ Courses with Environmental Topics



Some of the courses listed here are offered in alternate years. For a listing of courses currently offered, please consult courses offered list and the academic catalog.

Intellectual Inquiry (INQ) courses satisfy General Education requirements.  They do not satisfy requirements in the Environmental Studies programs but these environmentally-related topics may be of interest to students.


Intellectual Inquiry (INQ)

INQ 110: Intellectual Inquiry - People and the Planet. How have we changed the Earth and our environment? How has the environment influenced us? In this course, we will explore both directions of impact: humans on the environment and the environment on humans. Global warming will be considered in detail, but we will also explore the interactions between humans and their environment more generally, drawing examples from long ago and today. Students will learn some basic science related to environmental issues and also examine the economic, political, social, and ethical considerations involved.

INQ 110: Intellectual Inquiry - The World of Tomorrow. The course examines the presentation of societal concerns, debates, and aspirations in the literary genres of science fiction and fantasy. A social scientific lens is employed to critically analyze the characterization of the ideal society in literature. While exploring dystopic descriptions in fiction, the course examines potential remedies or solutions to contemporary social problems. A purposeful exploration of both literary and scholarly works will allow students the opportunity to reflect on their own assumptions about human nature and think about the direction of society.

INQ 110: Reading the Landscape: Exploring "Sense of Place". We have lifelong interaction with the landscape-we conduct our daily lives in it, we seek both the familiar and the exotic in it, and it holds our memories and reveals our values-yet these relationships often go unexamined. What does it means to know a place? How can we study or "read" it? Does place shape us or do we shape it? How does place change over time? This course will focus on an inherently interdisciplinary topic, "sense of place," using a variety of methods (verbal, physical, visual, etc.) and approaches (literature, history, geography, visual art, etc.) in an effort to comprehend a difficult but powerful subject. Our critical investigation of place/landscape may include the dynamics of insider/outsider, subjectivity/objectivity, and real/ideal-themes that are both personal and universal. By learning to read the landscape, we will better understand our place in it. Use your eyes, be curious, seek answers.

INQ 120 Sustainability and the Land Ethic.  Sustainable management of the earth's natural resources requires finding a balance between the often competing goals of environmental integrity, economic prosperity, and social equity. Our priorities, and the trade-offs that we must necessarily make (both individually and as a society), ultimately influence our ability to live the "good life" -- however you may choose to define it. This course will explore different conceptions of the relationship between human society and the natural world to address the question of whether a "good life" can also be sustainable.

INQ 250CH: Chemistry, the Environment, and Society. Natural World Perspective. We only have one earth and we have a responsibility to protect it. The ecosystem of our planet is threatened by environmental issues such as global warming, air and water quality, acid rain, depletion of our energy reserves, and the thinning of the ozone layer. How humans contribute to many of these problems is well understood. So why not just halt the activities that damage our planet? Neither the environment nor our society is that simple. This course presents an introduction to important environmental topics from a chemical perspective. Fundamental chemical concepts will be used to explain causes and possible solutions to the major threats that result from man's activities. The risks to the earth and the costs of protecting it will also be investigated from the perspective of the individual and society as a whole. (1) Lecture: 3 hrs/wk Lab: 3 hrs/wk

INQ 250 Biology on a Changing Planet.  This inquiry course addresses the complex question of how technological advances are changing the conditions for living organisms across the planet-including human and non-human life. The course first focuses on how environmental changes are affecting biological diversity. The course then shifts its focus to effects on the human species, including what we can do to prevent the worst impacts. Understanding these issues is important for all participants in societies who are contributing to or being affected by these global changes. The course activities include student-led discussions of a diversity of readings, background lectures, and field/laboratory exercises. Students will gain biological literacy in topics ranging from genetics to ecosystem ecology. Students will be equipped to critically assess claims made by scientists, politicians, and bloggers. Through the lab portion of the course, students will gain hands-on experience with the scientific method and environmental-biology research. (1) Lecture: 3 hrs/wk, Laboratory: 3 hrs/wk.

INQ 251: Resources and Risks: Humans and the Physical Environment. We live on a finite planet.  Many of the environmental problems that we currently face arise from the interaction between two complex but interdependent systems:  the human ecosystem and the physical resources that sustain it.  This course draws upon the earth and biological sciences to explore interactions between humans and the physical environment, with an emphasis on the natural and human forces that shape features and processes at the earth's surface.  Students will use spatial and aspatial datasets (e.g., digital maps, Google Earth, computer simulations, and the Internet) to critically evaluate (1) how the physical environment both supports and constrains human activity, (2) how these human activities, in turn, impact natural processes occurring at the earth's surface, and (3) how we might begin to manage the earth's systems to meet our own needs without compromising those of future generations. (1) Lecture: 3hr/wk. Prerequisite: INQ 250

INQ 270: Myth, Philosophy, and Nature.  This course will look at different ways in which people have approached the natural world, ranging from mythological accounts of the world and its origins to rationalistic attempts to understand natural processes in early Greek philosophy and in the tradition of thought it inspired.  We will consider what mythological approaches to the world have in common with more rationalistic approaches developed in the western world, and how they differ, as well as ways in which contemporary understandings of the world differ from views articulated in earlier modes of thought. (1) 3hr/wk.