Course Waiver/Substitution

Curricular Policy Statement

Team-TERRA strives to improve STEM education by valuing a combination of (1) collaborative, (2) problem-based, and (3) service learning approaches for deepening scientific understanding. We use this training to assess 21st Century risks to food, energy, water, and ecosystems, and to understand inherent tradeoffs among them in social-ecological landscapes. Through classes and a practicum, we expect trainees to learn how to scope problems and work with stakeholders, develop quantitative or analytical skills in predicting risk and uncertainty, explore options for managing such risks, and communicate risk and uncertainty to clients, stakeholders, and the public as well as to the scientific community. Our students also will learn transferable skills by working with real-world problems, while providing an important service to governments, NGOs, and businesses. We think that work that leverages the perspectives and skills of students, faculty members, and community members from different backgrounds and disciplines will result in better and more relevant research.

Learning Objectives:

The curriculum for the TERRA program is designed so that by the end of the program all students will have met the following learning objectives: 

  • Understand basic principles of risk assessment
  • Know basic strategies for effectively interacting and communicating with stakeholders about risks
  • Develop technical skills that can are used in conducting risk assessments
  • Gain experience in applying risk assessment tools and principles to real-world problems related to FEWES that are of interest and importance to stakeholders
  • Understand basic principles of ethical research


In exchange for the support from the TERRA program, students are required to successfully complete the following courses on the following schedule:

 1st year


  • EEB 5872 Environmental Risk Assessment, 3 credits 
  • EEB 5882 Environmental Risk Practicum 1, 3 credits
  • EEB 5895 (Section (018) Environmental Risk Communication, 1 credit
  • EEB 5480 Science Communication I: Speaking for Public Audiences OR EEB 5482 Science Communication II: Writing for Public Audiences, 3 credits 


  • EEB 5882 Environmental Risk Practicum 2, 3 credits
  • A Quantitative Skills course (3 credit or greater), to be selected from the following list: EEB 5050: Fundamentals of Ecological Modeling
    • CSE 5095: Big Data Analytics
    • CSE 5819: Introduction to Machine Learning
    • EEB 5050: Fundamentals of Ecological Modeling
    • ENVE 5320: Quantitative Methods for Engineers
    • GEOG 5500: Fundamentals of Geographic Information Science
    • GSCI: 5810 (4810): Modeling the Changing Atmosphere and Ocean
    • NRE 5215: Introduction to Geospatial Analysis with Remote Sensing
    • NRE 5585: Developing Custom Geospatial Tools Using Python
    • NRE 5605: Environmental Data Analysis

A student, with written approval from their graduate advisor, may also petition the TERRA program curriculum committee  to substitute a class that is not on this list but that will provide skills that are deemed to be more strategic for the successful development of an identified Risk Team Project, dissertation research, or career goals. Such a petition must be made, in writing, to the TERRA Curriculum Committee, NO LATER THAN the end of the first semester of the 1st year of the program. The petition must identify the quantitative skills course being proposed, the number of credits, the schedule on which the course will be taken (see section on Course Waivers, below), and describe how the course will develop a skill set that applies to Quantitative Risk Assessment and the benefits of this substitution to the student and their Risk Team project. This document should be signed by the student’s graduate advisor before submission to the TERRA Curriculum Committee.  Petitions for substitutions should be made using the form below.

2nd year

  • Workshop
  • Internship
  • Mentorship


Policy for Waiver of any required course:

The TERRA program curriculum is designed to ensure that Fellows obtain a strong conceptual background and the skills needed for  analyzing, predicting, communicating and contributing to the solutions for environmental risks. A required course may be waived if the student can document that their previous coursework or existing skills are equivalent to those taught in the course. The decision to grant such a waiver rests with the instructor of the course that a student is proposing to waive, EXCEPT for the Quantitative Skills Course requirement. Students should submit a written request for such a waiver to the instructor of the course to be waived, accompanied by documentation demonstrating the previous work (e.g., a transcript) and the nature and extent of the previous work (e.g. a syllabus, a capstone project paper).  Requests to waive the Quantitative Skills course on the basis of previous coursework will be made to the TERRA Curriculum Committee, which will decide whether to grant the waiver or not. Permission to waive the Quantitative Skills Course requirement will only be made in cases where previous course work clearly develops skills of use in Quantitative Risk Assessment; courses that develop broadly applicable quantitative skills not primarily related to risk assessment (e.g., calculus, Introductory Statistics) cannot be used to waive the Quantitative Skills course requirement.  Petitions for waivers should be made using the form below.

TERRA Course Substitution/Waiver Request

Petition request form to substitute or waiver a Team-TERRA course

Which option are you requesting?
Which course requirement would you like to substitute/waive?
Max. file size: 100 MB.
Upload the syllabus for your proposed substitution/waiver course.
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