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Information Literacy

Environmental Science and Policy

Environmental Science and Policy majors should be able to

  • Find research articles using standard databases in both environmental natural and social sciences.
  • Draw on a range of sources that reflect the integration of environmental science and policy in real world problem solving. 
  • Recognize the differences between research articles and popular articles.
  • Present information in graphical and spatial form in a clear and accurate manner (including basic statistical analysis).
  • Understand graphical and spatial information in both quantitative and qualitative forms.
  • Give an oral presentation or a poster using a clear outline, good speaking skills, and good use of visual aids as appropriate.
  • Write an article in proper scientific format or a position paper with appropriate documentation.
  • Cite sources appropriately.
  • Identify (and avoid using) plagiarism.

Writing Intensive Classes

Students who have taken writing intensive classes should be able to:

  • Characterize problems and draw on integrated sources from a range of natural and social sciences for research papers or problem solving.
  • Define and articulate the need for information and identify a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information beyond the web search engine.
  • Identify the kinds of information needed – typically writing intensive courses focus on non-scientific types of information such as biographical, historical, or literary -- and know where to find information. In other words, students should be familiar with various electronic resources and some reference books. They should also be aware that web search engines are often inadequate for scholarly research.
  • Articulate and apply initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources – what is a source’s reliability? Who wrote it? When? Who published it? Students should be able to distinguish between popular and scholarly materials in a variety of formats such as books, periodical literature, and websites.
  • Acknowledge and cite sources used in conducting research for an assignment using an acceptable style guide.  Discern when citing sources is necessary and cite sources in an appropriate and consistent format.  Identify ethical and unethical citations, per the online plagiarism quiz.

These skills are a base for further study. Help is available through the Smith College Libraries’ Ask a Librarian options.

Beginning Students

After taking Environmental Integration I and II and introductory courses in the categories of natural sciences and social sciences, humanities, and policy, students should be able to:

  • Appropriately cite sources.
  • Identify (and avoid using) plagiarism.
  • Present graphical and spatial information in a clear and accurate manner (including basic statistical analysis, where appropriate).
  • Understand graphical and spatial information in both quantitative and qualitative forms.
  • Describe through examples how real world problem solving often draws on frameworks, tools, and knowledge from a range of environmental disciplines.

Advanced Students

Advanced students should be able to:

  • Analyze critically the validity of different sources, in particular websites.
  • Be familiar with diverse sources of information (including primary research literature, review articles, databases, archival sources, surveys, interviews, popular publications, web resources, etc.), understand the nature and scope of different kinds of information sources, and understand their appropriate uses.
  • Understand the fundamental difference between peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed sources of information.
  • Be able to present information coherently via posters, maps, oral talks, essays, position papers, short documentary-style films, or scientific reports.
  • Create and use spatial data in a geographic information system or other visualization programs such as virtual globes to communicate basic and advanced arguments and background.
  • Combine analytical and communication skills with a well rounded understanding of the environment to translate this knowledge into meaningful action and solutions.


Fulfilling the requirements of the major will enable students to acquire important research skills.  Individual instructors in each of the courses assess skills on a class-by-class and case-by-case basis.

Ethical Issues

A primary ethical concern in students’ use of information is the avoidance of plagiarism. Students will learn in introductory courses how to properly cite sources, and even more importantly when information needs to be cited. The need for giving proper credit to one’s sources will be emphasized and enforced throughout the curriculum.

Information Resources for Environmental Science & Policy

General Resources Access / SC Science Call #
  Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences online
  Journal for Environmental Science, Policy and Planning website
  Journal of Environmental Planning and Management online
  Environmental Science & Policy online
  Sustainability: Science, Practice & Policy online
  Environmental Communication online
  Conservation online / QH 75 .A1C66515
  Nature online / Q 1 .N2
  Science online / Q 1 .S35
  Solutions online


Environmental Policy and Politics (General) Access
  Global Environmental Politics online
  Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning online
  Environmental Policy Review  
  Environmental Policy and Governance online
  Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law online


Environmental Science (General) Access / SC Science Call #
  Journal of Environmental Sciences online
  Journal of Environmental Science and Technology online
  Environmental Science & Technoloogy online / TD180 .E5 


Atmospheric Sciences Access
  Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics online
  Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry online
  Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences online
  Nature Geoscience online


Climate Change Access
  Nature Climate Change  
  Global Change Biology online
  Climatic Change online
  Quaternary Science Review online
  Journal of Climate online
  Climate Dynamics online


Ecology and Biological Science Access / SC Science Call #
  Animal Behaviour online / QL 750 .B7
  Nature online / Q 1 .N2
  Global Change Biology online
  International Journal of Plant Sciences online / QK 1 .B3
  Annals of Forest Science online
  (And many others depending on sub-discipline within biology)  
  Ecology online / QH 540 .E3
  Ecological Applications online
  Journal of Ecology online / QH 540 .J68
  Conservation Biology online / QH 75 .A1C665
  Plant Ecology online
  Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics online / QH 540 .A53
  Oecologia online


Environmental Anthropology & Archaeology Access
  Anthropological Literature (Database of articles and books in anthropology)  
  Ecological and Environmental Anthropology online
  Nature and Culture online
  Human Ecology online
  Journal of Archaeological Science online


Environmental Chemistry Access / SC Science Call #
  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry online
  Biochimica et Biophysica Acta online / QD 1 .B55
  Analytica Chimica Acta online
  Environmental Pollution online
  Green Chemistry  
  Global Biogeochemistry  


Environmental Economics Access
  Journal of Environmental Economics and Management online
  Ecological Economics online
  Resource and Energy Economics online


Environmental Education Access
  Journal of Environmental Education online
  Environmental Education Research  
  Nature Literacy Series  


Environmental Engineering Access / SC Science Call #
  Environmental Science and Technology online / TD 180 .E5
  Journal of Environmental Engineering online
  Journal of Biological Engineering online
  International Journal of Lifecycle Assessment online


Environmental Health Access / SC Science Call #
  Environmental Health Perspectives online
  Journal of Environmental Health online / RA 565 .A153
  Journal of Environmental Health Research online
  Environmental Health and Toxicology online


Environmental History Access
  Environmental History (American Society for Environmental History) online
  Environment and History online


Environmental Justice Access / SC Science Call #
  Environmental Justice  
  Environmental Justice Quarterly online
  Cultural Survival Quarterly online / GN 357 .C84


Environmental Law Access
  Environmental Law Reporter online
  Environmental Law Review online
  Journal of Environmental Law online
  Journal of Environmental Litigation  
  Environmental Law online


Environmental Philosophy & Ethics Access / SC Science Call #
  Environmental Ethics online / BJ 57 .E57
  Environmental Philosophy  
  Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics online
  Environmental Values online
  Ethics and the Environment online
  Ethics, Policy and Environment (formerly: Ethics, Place and Environment) online


Environmental Physics  
  Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy  


Environmental Psychology Access / SC Science Call #
  Journal of Environmental Psychology online / BF 353 .J6
  Environment and Behavior online / HM 206 .E5


Environmental Sociology Access / SC Science Call #
  Ecology & Society online
  Environment and Planning A (thorugh D)  
  Human Organization online / GN 1 .A75
  Organization and Environment online / HD 49 .I53
  Population and Environment online
  Society and Natural Resources  
  Capitalism, Nature and Socialism online / HD 75.6 .C36


Geography Access
  Progress in Human Geography online
  Global Climate Change  
  Economic Geography online
  Landscape and Urban Planning online


Geographic Information Sciences Access
  International Journal of Geographical Information Science online
  Geographic Information Systems online
  Geoforum online
  Cartographic Journal online
  Cartography and Geographic Information Systems online


Geology Access / SC Science Call #
  Geology online / QE 1 .G528
  Quaternary Geology  
  Journal of Geology online / QE 1 .J8
  Natural Hazards and Earth System Science online


Land Use, Land Cover Change, Landscapes, Land Planning and Management
  Landscape Ecology online
  Journal of Biogeography online
  Landscape History online / GF 101 .L35
  Journal of Land Use and Environmental Law online
  Landscape Management online


Oceanography & Marine Biology Access / SC Science Call #
  Water Resources Research online / GB 651 .W32
  Paleoceanography online / QE 701 .P5442
  Limnology and Oceanography online / GC 1 .L5
  Marine Ecology Progress Series online / QH 541.5 .S3M26
  Marine Biology online
  Marine Chemistry online
  Tellus online


Remote Sensing Access
  Remote Sensing of Environment online
  ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing online
  IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing online
  Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing online

In Which Classes Should Students Learn These Skills?

For the introductory course, ENV 101: Environmental Integration I: Perspectives, students learn about how humans have changed Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere, particularly over the last century, and the social, scientific, and political challenges posed by these alterations.  Students also learn how to research, organize, and present basic environmental information, cite sources and avoid plagiarism.  In the methods course, ENV 201/202 Environmental Integration II: Collecting and Analyzing Information, students learn how to gather, analyze and present data using methods from the natural and social sciences. Students draw on and cite data from multiple sources, including laboratory experiments, fieldwork, maps, databases, archival sources, surveys, and interviews.  In the third integration course, ENV 311: Environmental Integration III: Interpreting and Communicating Information, students focus on the interpretation and communication of environmental issues and solutions.  Students 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.  The capstone course, ENV 312: Environmental Integration: IV: Sustainable Solutions, gives students direct experience with the range and complexity of activities required to address a real-world environmental project.  Additional introductory courses provide breadth in the natural and social sciences and introduce students to literary skills in contributing disciplines.  In other required courses, students learn quantitative analyses through Statistics and a range of specific literary skills to support a coherent environmental focus through their chosen electives.

Environmental Engineering Access / SC Science Call #
  Environmental Science and Technology online / TD 180 .E5
  Journal of Environmental Engineering online
  Journal of Biological Engineering online
  International Journal of Lifecycle Assessment online