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Applied Studies

UNC is uniquely positioned among Colorado’s public research universities and distinguished by its focus on the teacher scholar; outreach to and support of underserved students; our faculty-student collaboration in transformative research, scholarship, and creative works; and a history of innovative education no other Colorado university can claim.

In the ENST program we apply the teacher-scholar model through direct course engagement with faculty research and community partners as well as requiring an Applied Studies course as part of the degree program. Students fulfill their Applied Studies requirement via faculty-led directed studies and study abroad, internships with our community partners, or through one of our many university field-based courses. Below we highlight some of the programs and projects that ENST students have participated in, as well as a few projects currently seeking students this semester.

Directed Studies

Directed Studies

Directed Study projects are conducted with faculty at UNC. A Directed Study is the opportunity for students to receive credit for an individualized investigation under the direct supervision of a current UNC Faculty member. The investigation must be a specific topic that is not duplicated by an existing course within the University's curriculum. The nature of the study must involve intensive use of relevant literature, materials, or techniques and the study report must reflect a synthesis of the information or techniques acquired. 

Using Maps for Owl Conservation with the Global Owl Project

The Global Owl Project is a long-term, worldwide project to advance foundational aspects of science and conservation for the world’s owls. We are looking for students interested in furthering their goal of refining maps of owl species distributions and conducting global owl diversity analyses. Under this study, students will use their GIS skills to assess range distribution of owls with regards to rarity, threatened status, and proximity to threats and protected areas.

Learn more about the Global Owl Project

For more information, please contact Dr. Romulo at Chelsie.Romulo@unco.edu.

Sustainable Food Systems and Farming

In February 2015, the UNC Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENST) Program was presented with a remarkable opportunity: to lease a pre-existing farm in Northern Greeley for educational purposes. A seemingly modest proposal, UNC is now in a position to become part of a growing trend in higher education across the U.S. that incorporates experiential education with programs on sustainable food systems and agroecology. Students participate in internships and directed studies on the farm and our permaculture garden on the main campus.

Learn more about Wise Acres Farm



The Environmental and Sustainability Studies program offers internships for academic credit in a variety of exciting and educational settings during spring, summer and fall semesters. Examples of ongoing internship opportunities are listed below. 

Three-credit internships require a minimum of 135 hours for the semester (or nine hours per week for 15 weeks); you should be aware, however, that many internships require more hours per week, usually 12-15, but typically offer very flexible schedules. Students may earn up to 12 credits through the internship program, but only three credits will fulfill the Applied Studies requirements of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies major.

Internships are also advertised by Career Services and the UNC Earth and Environmental Network.

Contact Career Services

Follow UNC Earth and Environmental Network:

Spring and Summer Farm to School Internships

farm to school logo

Greeley-Evans School District 6 is seeking interns to assist with Farm to School programs during spring and summer semesters. D6 will use interns’ time to support their school gardens and related Farm to School programs. Intern activities include:

  • working with the school garden volunteer program,
  • recruiting and maintaining a school garden volunteer base,
  • leading special school garden projects;
  • facilitate and provide nutrition education through "Chef in the Cafeteria" sessions,
  • develop new and expand upon internal online resource and lesson plan database;
  • facilitate and provide garden-based education for students with curriculum provided by D6;
  • develop and design school garden plans;
  • assist in developing and organizing a seed bank; and finally
  • assist with the development of promotional and marketing materials as needed.

Learn more about the Farm to School program

For more information, please contact Dr. Romulo at Chelsie.Romulo@unco.edu

Middle South Platte River Alliance

Middle South Platte River Alliance Logo

MSPRA builds and enhances relationships along the Middle South Platte River to advance economic, ecological, and cultural opportunities that will help minimize future flood impacts. MSPRA has a number of projects and opportunities for groups or individuals looking to gain valuable experience.  Whether you are interested in hydrology, riparian health, water policy, business administration or public health and safety, there are plenty of ways to get involved with the MSPRA!

Learn more about the Middle South Platte River Alliance

For more information, please contact Dr. Romulo at Chelsie.Romulo@unco.edu

Field Courses

UNC Field Courses

Field Courses, Study Abroad, and Special Topics courses provide experiences to students beyond the classroom. Field courses chasing storms, mapping rivers, and studying environmental systems are regularly offered and our ENST 495 course changes each semester to offer students a variety of experiences working in local communities and abroad. 

Study Abroad Opportunities

Study abroad in Ghana, Finland, Fiji, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates and the Czech Republic. Complete internships in city planning agencies and police departments and join research projects that will add depth to your skills. Learn about study abroad.

ENST 495: Climate Change in Nepal

This course will encourage an appreciation of the dynamic people and places of Nepal through intensive classroom and field study, with particular emphasis upon the climate, natural hazards and challenges to human security in the region. Students from all majors have the opportunity to join an interdisciplinary research team that will explore multiple dimensions of climate change and its connections to human security. Climate change threatens human security. It can undermine people’s livelihoods and basic sustenance needs as climate change influences access to food, water, shelter, employment opportunities and public health.

Read the course syllabus

For more information, please contact Dr. Barton at Karen.Barton@unco.edu.

ESCI 494: Storm Chasing in the Great Plains


The class is led by UNC meterology professors David Lerach, an experienced storm chaser, and Wendi Flynn.  Both professors research extreme weather and teach Advanced Weather Prediction, among other meteorology courses. Students conduct weather briefings each morning to determine where they’ll go during the class. Eastern Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska — and even the Dakotas and Oklahoma — are all possibilities.

Read more about the Summer 2018 Storm Chasing class

For more information, please contact Dr. Lerach at David.Lerach@unco.edu

GEOG 391 Western Colorado Rivers

In this field-based course, students learn how to analyze the geography of rivers in Western Colorado. Fieldwork and conceptual skills address environmental issues, using specialized equipment, maps, data storage devices, and field sampling methods. James Dunn and UNC have been putting on "Western Colorado Rivers" class for over ten years. Dr. Dunn designed and led river field trips since the mid 1980s, beginning in the Canadian Arctic and most recently along Colorado’s western rivers. His research interests include geography education, invasive species, and northern regions.

Follow the course on Facebook

Read the catalog description

For more information, please contact Dr. Dunn at James.Dunn@unco.edu

ESCI 494: Study Abroad in Ecuador

EASCI Ecuador Trip 2017

On this 12-day trip you will learn about the environment, landscapes, and cultures of Ecuador. This trip will place particular emphasis on sustainable human interaction with the environment and challenges posed by natural and man-made hazards, including volcanoes, severe weather, and climate change. Highlights on our itinerary include:

  • A visit to Ecuador’s capitol, Quito
  • Opportunity to see amazing birds in the pre-montane ‘cloud’ forest in Mindo
  • Visits to volcanic craters, a tropical glacier, and a geologically active stratovolcano, Cotopaxi
  • A homestay with an indigenous community in the high Andes
  • A 3-day stay a an Amazon eco-lodge: see primary rainforest by canoe, observe monkeys, caimans and tapirs, visit local communities and learn to make chocolate

In addition to the homestay and the Amazon eco-lodge, our accommodations will be in 2-6 bed dormitories in hostels (private rooms sometimes available at extra cost). We will travel by private coach (or canoe).

Next Trip will take place in the two weeks prior to the start of Fall 2019 semester classes. 

For more information, contact Dr. Cindy Shellito (lucinda.shellito@unco.edu) or Dr. Steve Anderson (steven.anderson@unco.edu). More information and application available in mid-late February at the UNCO Study Abroad website.

Read more about the 2017 Ecuador Trip