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CHEM 311 Environmental Chemistry

This class addresses the principles of atmospheric chemistry, energy and climate changes, water chemistry, and soil chemistry. During the course of the semester, students will learn the chemistry behind modern challenges to our environment. It will include and examination of the sources, reactions, transport, and fates of different chemical species in the environment. The following topics will be covered: a) atmospheric chemistry and air pollution; b) energy and climate change; c) water chemistry and water pollution; d) toxic organic compounds e) wastes, soils and sediments.


Special information

First day attendance is mandatory.
Note: Optional to be taken concurrently with CHEM 311L.
3 Undergraduate credits

Effective May 10, 2014 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Describe the chemistry of the major environmental threats to the air, water, and soil. The threats include ozone depletion, global climate change, groundwater pollution, agricultural impacts to water and soil, and others.
  • Critically review news articles and journal articles on environmental chemistry issues and evaluate the science presented.
  • Make connections between chemical cycles and human activities
  • Model some global processes and systems
  • Have familiarity with chemical processes affecting the sources and fate of environmental contaminants.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 3: Natural Sciences

  • Demonstrate understanding of scientific theories.
  • Formulate and test hypotheses by performing laboratory, simulation, or field experiments in at least two of the natural science disciplines. One of these experimental components should develop, in greater depth, students' laboratory experience in the collection of data, its statistical and graphical analysis, and an appreciation of its sources of error and uncertainty.
  • Communicate their experimental findings, analyses, and interpretations both orally and in writing.
  • Evaluate societal issues from a natural science perspective, ask questions about the evidence presented, and make informed judgments about science-related topics and policies.

Goal 10: People and the Environment

  • Explain the basic structure and function of various natural ecosystems and of human adaptive strategies within those systems.
  • Discern patterns and interrelationships of bio-physical and socio-cultural systems.
  • Describe the basic institutional arrangements (social, legal, political, economic, religious) that are evolving to deal with environmental and natural resource challenges.
  • Evaluate critically environmental and natural resource issues in light of understandings about interrelationships, ecosystems, and institutions.
  • Propose and assess alternative solutions to environmental problems.
  • Articulate and defend the actions they would take on various environmental issues.

Fall 2024

Section Title Instructor books eservices
01 Environmental Chemistry Maas, Benjamin Books for CHEM-311-01 Fall 2024 Course details for CHEM-311-01 Fall 2024