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PhD Courses

All Bren PhD students must complete the following interdisciplinary seminar courses prior to graduation.

ESM 512: Research Ethics and Conduct

This course introduces the ethical principles that apply to scientists to incoming PhD students of the Bren School. We will discuss key concepts and cases in research conduct and research ethics including: (1) Brief history and basic terms and concepts in ethics; (2) Plagiarism and authorship; (3) Falsification and fabrication; (4) Peer-review process; (5) Human subjects & bioethics; (6) Conflict of interest; (7) Policies and protocols to prevent research misconduct; and (8) Miscellaneous ethical issues in the academic environment. We will also review historical cases of research misconduct, and we will analyze recent retraction cases.

ESM 513: Environmental Research Design

Introduces disciplinary traditions of knowledge creation and explores how these traditions motivate different approaches to research design. Students develop a series of short research proposals on environmental topics to hone their ability to frame effective research questions, and match those questions to appropriate research designs. By giving interdisciplinary environmental scholars a deeper understanding of other disciplines, the class empowers students to engage in more effective interdisciplinary collaboration and communication.

ESM 514: Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research

This course provides the opportunity to engage with the potential and challenges of cross- and multi-disciplinary research collaboration. Students will engage with practical and strategic elements of conducting research. The class is organized around eight issues and challenges that arise during the research process, from formulating a research question to forming a team of collaborators and fundraising to navigating the peer review process. Through activities, discussions and examples, the class will help demystify different stages of the research process and provide practical tools to help students succeed in the transition from consumers to producers of knowledge.


PhD Course Descriptions:

  • ESM 512 Research Ethics and Conduct

    2 units |  Mark Buntaine

    This course introduces the ethical principles that apply to scientists to incoming PhD students of the Bren School. We will discuss key concepts and cases in research conduct and research ethics including: (1) Brief history and basic terms and concepts in ethics; (2) Plagiarism and authorship; (3) Falsification and fabrication; (4) Peer-review process; (5) Human subjects & bioethics; (6) Conflict of interest; (7) Policies and protocols to prevent research misconduct; and (8) Miscellaneous ethical issues in the academic environment. We will also review historical cases of research misconduct, and we will analyze recent retraction cases.

  • ESM 513 Environmental Research Design

    4 units |  Robert Heilmayr

    Introduces disciplinary traditions of knowledge creation and explores how these traditions motivate different approaches to research design. Students develop a series of short research proposals on environmental topics to hone their ability to frame effective research questions, and match those questions to appropriate research designs. By giving interdisciplinary environmental scholars a deeper understanding of other disciplines, the class empowers students to engage in more effective interdisciplinary collaboration and communication.

  • ESM 514 Collaborative Interdisciplinary Research

    4 units |  Kelsey Jack

    This course provides the opportunity to engage with the potential and challenges of cross- and multi-disciplinary research collaboration. Students will engage with practical and strategic elements of conducting research. The class is organized around eight issues and challenges that arise during the research process, from formulating a research question to forming a team of collaborators and fundraising to navigating the peer review process. Through activities, discussions and examples, the class will help demystify different stages of the research process and provide practical tools to help students succeed in the transition from consumers to producers of knowledge.

  • ESM 526 Environmental Politics Workshop

    2 units |  Mark Buntaine

    An interdisciplinary seminar focusing on research at the intersection of political science and public policy as it pertains to environmental issues. The expectation is that students specializing in environmental politics will enroll continuously, with differentiated assignments appropriate to stage in the program. Students will present their own work, comment on the work of others, and engage in professional development activities.

  • ESM 595AA-ZZ Group Studies: PhD Level

    1-4 unit | 

    Seminars in selected fields of Environmental Science & Management. Open only to PhD students. May be repeated for credit with changes in topic.

  • ESM 595AL PhD Workshop in Food and Land Systems

    1 unit |  Ashley Larsen

    An interdisciplinary seminar focusing on sustainable food systems research from a variety of disciplinary and cross-cutting perspectives. Students will critically read papers prior to the bi-weekly seminar and engage actively with the speaker. Speakers will rotate each meeting of the class and will include UCSB faculty, other UC faculty (remote seminars), and senior PhD students.

  • ESM 595PH Seminar in Environmental Microbiology

    2.0 units |  Patricia Holden

    Group discussion of published literature in environmental microbiology and microbiology ecology, with learning aimed to improve reading, interpretation, writing and publishing. Meets once per week.

  • ESM 596 Directed Readings and Research

    1-12 unit |  Staff

    Independent study under the supervision of a Bren School faculty member (a faculty member from another department cannot supervise an ESM 596 course). Registration requires an ESM 596 Petition approved and signed by the supervising faculty member and the Assistant Dean before the start of the quarter. No petitions will be accepted after the 3rd week of the quarter. The ESM 596 Petition can be found on the Bren School website on the Class Schedule page. Registration in ESM 596 requires an “instructor code” that can be found on the Bren School website on the instructor's individual page. ESM 596 may be taken for a letter grade or S/U (as agreed upon by the instructor and the student). ESM 596 is a variable unit course; MESM students may apply a maximum of 4 units of ESM 596 towards their MESM degree requirements.

  • ESM 597 Individual Study for Ph.D. Examinations

    1-12 unit |  Staff

    Instructor should be student's major professor or chair of the doctoral committee. Instructor approval required to finalize enrollment.

  • ESM 599 Ph.D. Dissertation Research and Preparation

    1-12 unit |  Staff

    Instructor should be student's major professor or chair of the doctoral committee. Instructor approval required to finalize enrollment.

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