Penn State Environmental Resources Management course ERM 497A: The Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Chesapeake Bay Issues and Careers in Complex Environmental Problem Solving.

In Spring 2014, AEC Director Matt Royer offered an innovative new ERM class entitled "The Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Issues and Careers in Complex Environmental Problem Solving." This class provides an in-depth exploration of issues related to the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed, with an emphasis on pollutants impacting water quality, and the long history of efforts to improve Bay watershed health.

These issues are explored from a wide variety of perspectives, including environmental, hydrological, historical, social, and political. While the main pollutants of concern are few (nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment), the issues related to addressing them are extremely complex and require a multidisciplinary approach to environmental problem solving. Nutrient pollution represents the leading unsolved water quality issue in the United States and is one of major worldwide significance threatening freshwater, estuarine, and coastal ecosystems.

Students will be introduced to the wide variety of environmental career opportunities that exist in "saving the Bay," spanning multiple disciplines, areas of expertise, and job sectors. The depth of complexity of the issues and the diversity of careers will be experienced firsthand through classroom guest lectures, as well as travel throughout the Bay watershed, including overnight travel to the Chesapeake Bay.

Among the highlights of the class is a travel component, where students travel locations within the Bay watershed where issues and solutions can be explored and seen firsthand and professionals working on those issues can discuss their careers and offer perspective to students on career opportunities related to Chesapeake Bay restoration. Travel includes several in-class trips to local sites in the State College area, a full day trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and a three day, two night strip to well as an overnight trip to the Chesapeake Bay at the Echo Hill Outdoor School on the upper Eastern Shore of Maryland.