Environmental Science / Chemistry | Duke Kunshan University

Environmental Science/Chemistry

The pressing needs for sustainable development and acceptable environmental quality are placing increasing demands upon governments and industries locally, nationally, and worldwide. To help meet those demands, the Environmental Science major is designed to provide training for students intending to enter environmental professions or to pursue graduate study in environmental science and related fields such as chemistry, public health, law, and policy. The Environmental Science major offers an interdisciplinary course of study that combines elements of the natural and social sciences relevant to understanding the biosphere and its interaction with human society. In order to appreciate and explore more deeply the effects of natural and human-induced processes, and the interactions of the physical components of the planet on the environment, students will take courses that lay the foundations for them to engage in careers that will allow them to influence environmental science and policy and to improve human and environmental health.

The Environmental Science major includes both coursework and experiential learning about the underlying science, and the social, political, legal and economic factors that both encourage and hinder environmental cooperation and competition around the world. All students pursuing this major must complete a set required Divisional Foundational courses that provide the required background and fundamentals in the discipline essential to advanced work in the major. The major includes a set of five required interdisciplinary courses (four set courses plus one to choose from a list of two courses) which provide a well-rounded, in-depth examination of environmental science and policy issues. In addition to the foundational and interdisciplinary and disciplinary requirements, students also have the choice of a number of elective courses that provide flexibility to add depth in their specific field of study, and/or explore other subject matters as they see fit.

The Chemistry track within the Environmental Science major is designed for students interested in a scientific perspective on environmental issues, in particular chemistry, toxicology, and pollutant fate and transport. The track is designed to encourage breadth in the physical and life sciences but also allows students to acquire depth in a chosen area of scientific concentration through the choice of electives, as is encouraged for students who desire to pursue graduate studies or intend to pursue a career in research.

This major also has a track in Public Policy. Please see details on the public policy track under Environmental Science/Public Policy.

Major Requirements

(Not every course listed is offered every semester, and the course list will be updated periodically. Please refer to the online Course Catalog for Courses offered in 2019-2020.)

Divisional Foundation Courses

Option 1: only applicable to Class of 2022 who have taken INTGSCI 101 & 102

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
MATH 101 Calculus (was Mathematical Foundations 1) 4
MATH 201 Multivariable Calculus (was Mathematical Foundations 2) 4
INTGSCI 101 Integrated Science 1 4
INTGSCI 102 Integrated Science 2 4

Option 2: only applicable to Class of 2022 who have taken INTGSCI 101

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
MATH 101 Calculus (was Mathematical Foundations 1) 4
MATH 201 Multivariable Calculus (was Mathematical Foundations 2) 4
INTGSCI 101 Integrated Science 1 4
CHEM 110 * Integrated Science – Chemistry 4
CHEM 120 * Core Concepts in Chemistry: An Environmental Perspective 4
PHYS 121 Integrated Science - Physics 4
* Students can choose one from CHEM 110 and CHEM 120 but not both.

Option 3: Applicable to Class of 2023 and any student who has not taken INTGSCI 101

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
MATH 101 Calculus (was Mathematical Foundations 1) 4
MATH 201 Multivariable Calculus (was Mathematical Foundations 2) 4
BIOL 110 Integrated Science – Biology 4
CHEM 110 Integrated Science – Chemistry 4
PHYS 121 Integrated Science - Physics 4

Interdisciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
ENVIR 101 Introduction to Environmental Sciences 4
ENVIR 102 Dynamic Earth and Oceans: Physical and Biological Sciences for the Environment 4
ENVIR 201 Applied Environmental Science and Policy 4
ENVIR 301 International Environmental Policy 4
And choose one course from the following three courses
ENVIR 202 Biodiversity and Conservation 4
ENVIR 302/ECON 302 Environmental Economics 4
ENVIR 404/ECON 404 Environmental Justice: The Economics of Race, Place and Pollution 4

Disciplinary Courses

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
PHYS 122 General Physics II 4
CHEM 201 Organic Chemistry I 4
CHEM 202 Organic Chemistry II 4
CHEM 210 General Chemistry II 4
CHEM 301 Elements of Physical Chemistry 4
CHEM 401 Analytical Chemistry 4
CHEM 402 Inorganic Chemistry 4

Electives

Courses listed in the table below are recommended electives for the major and the course list will be updated periodically. The course list will be updated periodically.

Course Code Course Name Course Credit
CHEM 130 Science of Cooking 4
ENVIR 203 The Theory and Practice of Sustainability 4
ENVIR 303 Climate Change and Society in China 4
ENVIR 304 Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology 4
ENVIR 311/BIOL 311 Biogeochemistry 4
ENVIR 313/BIOL 313 Ecosystem Service 4
ENVIR 315/CHEM 315 Aqueous Geochemistry 4
ENVIR 402 Chemical Transformation of Environmental Contaminants 4
CHEM 403 Advanced Topics in Physical Chemistry 4

Career Path

Graduates will be prepared for careers with organizations including environmental protection agencies, research institutes, private companies, consulting firms and others. Graduates will also be well positioned for graduate studies in environmental science, chemistry, public policy and other areas.

Mathematical Foundations 1

The fundamental concepts and tools of calculus, probability, and linear algebra are essential to modern sciences, from the theories of physics and chemistry that have long been tightly coupled to mathematical ideas, to the collection and analysis of data on complex biological systems. Given the emerging technologies for collecting and sharing large data sets, some familiarity with computational and statistical methods is now also essential for modeling biological and physical systems and interpreting experimental results. MF1 is an introduction to differential and integral calculus that focuses on the concepts necessary for understanding the meaning of differential equations and their solutions. It includes an introduction to a software package for numerical solution of ordinary differential equations.

Integrated Science 1

This course focuses on the concept of energy and its relevance for explaining the behavior of natural systems. The conservation of energy and the transformations of energy from one form to another are crucial to the function of all systems, including familiar mechanical devices, molecular structures and reactions, and living organisms and ecosystems. By integrating perspectives from physics, chemistry, and biology, this course helps students see both the elegant simplicity of universal laws governing all physical systems and the intricate mechanisms at play in the biosphere. Topics include kinetic energy, potential energy, quantization of energy, energy conservation, cosmological and ecological processes.

Mathematical Foundations 2

The fundamental concepts and tools of calculus, probability, and linear algebra are essential to modern sciences, from the theories of physics and chemistry that have long been tightly coupled to mathematical ideas, to the collection and analysis of data on complex biological systems. Given the emerging technologies for collecting and sharing large data sets, some familiarity with computational and statistical methods is now also essential for modeling biological and physical systems and interpreting experimental results. MF2 is an introduction to probability and statistics with an emphasis on concepts relevant for the analysis of complex data sets. It includes an introduction to the fundamental concepts of matrices, eigenvectors, and eigenvalues.

Integrated Science 2

This course focuses on the collective behavior of systems composed of many interacting components. The phenomena of interest range from the simple relaxation of a gas into an equilibrium state of well-defined pressure and temperature to the emergence of ever increasing complexity in living organisms and the biosphere. The course provides an overview of some fundamental differences between traditional disciplines as well as indications of how they complement each other some important contexts. Topics include thermodynamic (statistical mechanical) equilibrium, fundamental concepts of temperature, entropy, free energy, and chemical equilibrium, driven systems, fundamentals of biological and ecological systems.

Integrated Science 3

Integrated Science 3 emphasizes the physics and chemistry concepts of oscillating systems, waves, and fields, and includes applications to human perception. In addition to their fundamental importance to physics and chemistry proper, these ideas are essential for developing an awareness of the principles employed by engineers in the construction of the electrical and optical devices that are ubiquitous in modern civilization. Topics include harmonic oscillators, sound waves, light, and reaction-diffusion patterns.

Integrated Science 4

Integrated Science 4 has more of a chemistry/biology emphasis, with physics brought to bear as needed. It treats topics relevant to understanding organisms, biochemical engineering, and the environment. Topics include evolution, modern biology, ecosystems, hydrology, and climate.

Scientific Writing and Presentations I

Scientific Writing and Presentations cover some of the areas of scientific communication that a scientist needs to know and to master in order to successfully promote his or her research and career. Students will learn to recognize and construct logical arguments and become familiar with the structure of common publication formats. It will help students to advance their skills in communicating findings in textual, visual and verbal formats for a variety of audiences.

Scientific Writing and Presentations II

Scientific Writing and Presentations cover some of the areas of scientific communication that a scientist needs to know and to master in order to successfully promote his or her research and career. Students will learn to recognize and construct logical arguments and become familiar with the structure of common publication formats. It will help students to advance their skills in communicating findings in textual, visual and verbal formats for a variety of audiences.

Introduction to Environmental Sciences

An introduction to the study of environmental sciences and policy through exploration of basic environmental principles in the life, physical, and social sciences. Emphasis on understanding how the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere function, and how these spheres interact with human consumption, production, and technological patterns and processes. The course includes field trips to local sites as relevant.

Applied Environmental Science and Policy

An examination of the interactions between the natural and the social systems as they relate to the environment. Focuses on ecological and earth system cycles, processes, and fundamental relationships, the environmental impact of human-induced change at the local, regional, and global levels. The role of technology and the policy process in determining how environmental problems evolve are addressed. Students will make use of ethical analysis to evaluate environmental tradeoffs, use case studies to integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives on environmental problems and to address issues of environmental justice.

Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Sciences.

International Environmental Policy

This course examines the international community’s responses to various global environmental problems. Because many environmental problems cross national borders, solutions require some form of global governance such as state-led mechanisms in the form of international environmental regimes. The course will thus explore how and why states both succeed and fail to negotiate international governance mechanisms. The course will also examine why some international environmental regimes are more effective than others and why states choose to comply with environmental regimes.

Dynamic Earth and Oceans: Physical and Biological Sciences for the Environment

Introduction to the dynamic processes that shape the Earth, the oceans, and the environment and their impact upon society. Earth science topics include volcanoes, earthquakes, seafloor spreading, floods, landslides, groundwater, seashores and geohazards. Ocean sciences topics include seafloor evolution, marine hazards, ocean currents and climate, waves and beach erosion, tides, hurricanes/cyclones, marine life and ecosystems, and marine resources. Emphasis on the formulation and testing of hypotheses, quantitative assessment of data, and technological developments that lead to understanding of the biosphere dynamics and associated current and future societal issues.

Biodiversity and Conservation

An overview of biological diversity, its patterns, and the current extinction crisis. Historical and theoretical foundations of conservation, from human values and law to criteria and frameworks for setting conservation priorities; island biogeography theory, landscape ecology, and socioeconomic considerations in reserve design; management of endangered species in the wild and in captivity; managing protected areas for long term viability of populations; the role of the landscape matrix around protected areas; and techniques for conserving biological diversity in semi-wild productive ecosystems such as forests.

Environmental Economics

The role of the environment in the theory and practice of economics. Topics include ways in which markets fail to efficiently allocate resources in the presence of pollution, along with the array of policies regulators used to correct those failures; the empirical techniques used by economists to put values on environmental commodities; and an examination of questions related to everyday environmental issues, particularly those confronting China, and the developing world.

Environmental Justice: The Economics of Race, Place and Pollution

Minorities and low-income households bear a disproportionate burden from environmental pollution. The inequality may happen in many countries, cultures and contexts. This course examines ways in which environmental injustices in the USA, China and in the world may arise out of discriminatory behavior and/or market forces founded on individual, firm, and government incentives. The course also analyses policies that are aimed at providing fair treatment and equal protection from pollution regardless of race, color, or income. The course first sets the theoretical framework used to document and explain disproportionate exposures. Based on this foundation, students then review existing empirical evidence through case studies and evaluate competing explanations of sources of injustice. The objective of this course is to enable students to examine environmental justice issues using an economics framework, which provides a different perspective for evaluating policies to address environmental inequities observed in today’s world.

Organic Chemistry I

The structures and reactions of the compounds of carbon and the impact of selected organic compounds on society. Laboratory: techniques of separation, organic reactions and preparations, and systematic identification of compounds by their spectral and chemical properties. Prerequisite: Mathematical Foundations 1 & 2; Integrated Science 1 – 4.

Organic Chemistry II

Continuation of Organic Chemistry I.

Elements of Physical Chemistry

The course introduces students to core concepts in physical chemistry including quantum chemistry, molecular structure, molecular spectroscopy, thermodynamics, and kinetics. The course also includes laboratory experiments illustrative of these topics, as well as instruction and practice in writing the laboratory notebook and formal laboratory reports.

Analytical Chemistry

Fundamentals of qualitative and quantitative measurement with emphasis on chemometrics, quantitative spectrometry, electrochemical methods, and common separation techniques. The laboratory experiments designed to accompany the lecture.

Inorganic Chemistry

Bonding, structures, and reactions of inorganic compounds studied through physical chemical concepts.

Climate Change and Society in China

Analysis of Earth’s climate history and links between climate and society in China, as well as physical climatology and the future climate in China. Topics include: global climate system, climate feedbacks, energy balance, basic circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, hydrological cycle and carbon cycle, paleoclimate reconstruction, record of natural variations of past climate with emphasis on past changes of monsoon rainfall reconstructed from paleoclimate archives for the past, extrinsic forcing mechanisms of observed paleoclimatic variations. The impact of climate variability and change on Chinese society and history will be discussed.

The Theory and Practice of Sustainability

Theories and practices of sustainability explored with application to the campus and local community environment, including economic, social and environmental factors, and a local to global reach. The Duke and Duke Kunshan campuses are used as case studies to illustrate institutional practices including building design and operations, utility supply and consumption, carbon offsets design and calculation, transportation, water, sustainability education and communication, behavior change, waste production and recycling, and procurement. In a service-learning project, students will perform sustainability inventories and cost/benefit analyses, and gather behavior change data.

Advanced Topics in Physical Chemistry

Builds on and extends the core concepts introduced in Elements of Physical chemistry. Advanced topics and recent developments in physical chemistry.

Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology

An overview of the fate and effects of chemicals in the environment. Topics include chemical characterization of pollutants, chemistry of natural waters, soil sediment chemistry, atmospheric chemistry, transfers between and transformations within environmental compartments, toxicokinetics, cellular metabolism, biological levels of organization, and approaches for assessing chemical hazards. Incorporates case studies focused on human health and ecosystem protection.

Chemical Transformation of Environmental Contaminants

Mechanisms and principles underlying organic contaminant transformations in the ambient environment. Topics include hydrolysis, oxidation/reduction, direct and indirect photolysis, and reactions with disinfectant chemicals. Reactions will be considered in context of both natural (e.g. surface water and cloudwater) and engineered (e.g. drinking water, wastewater, and groundwater remediation) systems. Approaches will include both qualitative (reaction mechanism and product identification) as well as quantitative (reaction kinetics and stoichiometry) aspects of environmental reaction chemistry.