ENV 311 Environmental Integration III: Interpreting and Communicating Information
This course focuses on the interpretation and communication of environmental issues and solutions from multiand interdisciplinary perspectives. Using contemporaneous environmental topics as a foundation, this course introduces students to written, oral, visual, and quantitative communication for a variety of audiences and intents. Students will develop the ability to interpret environmental information from multiple sources, to synthesize that information for their own understanding, and to communicate that knowledge in ways appropriate to the particular objective and audience. A final project enables students to communicate an environmental issue of their own choosing to a diversity of audiences. ENV 101 and ENV 201/202 are recommended.
2 Class meetings
While ENV-311 students have considered the role of maps in communicating data about the environment in previous semesters, this was the first semester that the students came down to the Spatial Analysis Lab to do an exercise in ArcGIS. After a brief introduction to cartography and visualizing data with maps, the students were asked to critically analyze some famous maps and point out misleading aspects of the map’s projection, symbology, and layout. After another group activity where students discussed how normalizing the data changes the spatial pattern on a map, we moved on to the GIS portion of the class period! The students considered a census shapefile containing socioeconomic information overlaid with an environmental layer of the location of Toxic Release Inventory Sites in the Pioneer Valley, and used their newfound knowledge about statistical and cartographic standards to symbolize the data in a way that made a visual argument about environmental justice in Western Massachusetts.