Environmental Studies

Director: H. Daniel Pecka, Anne Pike–TaybSteering Committee:Pinar Batur (Sociology), Stuart Belli (Chemistry), Randolph Cornelius (Psychology), Andrew Davison (Political Science), Harvey K. Flad (Geography), Brian Lukacher (Art), Leathem Mehaffey III (Biology), Leonard Nevarez (Sociology), H. Daniel Peck (English), Anne Pike–Tay (Anthropology), Margaret L. Ronsheim (Biology) Jill S. Schneiderman (Geology), Christopher J. Smart (Chemistry), Peter G. Stillman (Political Science), Jeffrey R. Walker (Geology). Participating Faculty: Michael Aronna (Hispanic Studies), Marianne H. Begemann (Chemistry), Frank Bergon (English), Pinar Batur (Sociology), Stuart L. Belli (Chemistry), Lisa Brawley (Urban Studies), Robert K. Brigham (History), Andrew Bush, Mario Cesareo (Hispanic Studies), Mark S. Cladis (Religion), Randolph Cornelius, Jeffrey Cynx (Psychology), Andrew Davison (Political Science), Rebecca Edwards (History), Marc M. Epstein (Religion), Harvey K. Flad (Geography), Brian J. Godfrey (Geography), Diane Harriford (Sociology), Richard Hemmes (Biology), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Paul Kane (English), John H. Long Jr. (Biology), Timothy Longman (Africana Studies / Political Science), J. Bertrand Lott (Classics), Brian Lukacher (Art), William E. Lunt (Economics), Brian G. McAdoo (Geology), Leathem Mehaffey III (Biology), Kirsten Menking (Geology), Seungsook Moon (Sociology), Uma Narayan (Philosophy), Leonard Nevarez (Sociology), Carolyn E. Palmer (Psychology), H. Daniel Peck (English), Anne Pike–Tay (Anthropology), Sidney Plotkin (Political Science), Michaela Pohl (History), Thomas Porcello (Anthropology), Ismail Rashid (History), Margaret L. Ronsheim (Biology), Jonathan C. Rork (Economics), Jill S. Schneiderman (Geology), Christopher J. Smart (Chemistry), Peter G. Stillman (Political Science), J. William Straus (Biology), Jeffrey R. Walker (Geology), Patricia B. Wallace (English), Yu Zhou (Geography).

Environmental Studies is a multidisciplinary program that explores the relationships between people and the environment as broadly conceived, encompassing all aspects of the settingsnatural, built, or socialin which people exist. It involves the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Environmental studies concerns itself with the description and analysis of environmental systems; with interspecies and species–environment relationships and the institutions, policies, and laws which affect those relationships; with aesthetic portrayals of the environment and how these affect human perceptions and behavior toward it; and with ethical issues raised by the human presence in the environment.

Students majoring in Environmental Studies are required to take courses offered by the Program, a set of courses within a particular department, and other courses from across the curriculum of the College. Therefore, a student interested in the major should consult with the director of the program as early as possible to plan a coherent course of study. The director, in consultation with the steering committee, will assign an advisor to each student. Advisors are selected from the steering committee or participating faculty of the program. The steering committee approves each major's program, and is concerned not only with the formal requirements but also with the inclusion of relevant environmental courses in the student's chosen areas of study, interconnections among groups of courses, and adequate concentration in the methods of a discipline. Students are admitted to the program by the director, subject to the approval of their program of study by the steering committee.

Requirements for the Major: 14 units to be distributed as follows, with specific courses chosen in consultation with the student's advisor and with the approval of the steering committee. (1) The senior seminar, Environmental Studies 301; (2) three other courses from within the Program's own offerings, at or above the 200–level, one of which must be Environmental Studies 250, Environmentalisms in Perspective, and at least one of which must be at the 300–level; (3) the senior project/thesis, Environmental Studies 300; (4) a sequence of five courses in one department (or a set of five courses with a common focus, such as law or environmental policy, from two or more departments), including at least one at the 300–level; (5) for students whose disciplinary concentration is in biology, chemistry or geology, three courses, at least one at the 200–level, relevant to the major in a department outside the natural sciences; for students whose disciplinary concentration is not in the natural sciences, three courses, at least one at the 200–level, relevant to the major from either biology, chemistry, or geology, with at least one at the 200–level; (6) one full unit of field experience which may come from field work, independent study, an internship, or selected course work taken during the Junior Year Abroad. Field experience is expected to be carried out before the senior thesis/project.

The unit of field experience is graded Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The senior project/thesis is graded Distinction, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory. After declaration of the major, no required courses may be elected NRO.

Senior Year Requirement: Environmental Studies 301. While not required for the major, Environmental Studies 103 and 150 are recommended for freshman and sophomores interested in environmental studies.

Course Offerings


I. Introductory

100a. The Earth Around Us (1/2)

(Same as Geology 100a) A series of lectures on topics such as water quality, soil erosion, global climate change, coastal development and environmental justice. A broad introduction to environmental problems and their impact on all living things. Ms. Schneiderman.

[103. Earth System Science and Environmental Justice] (1)

(Same as Geology 103) Exploration of the roles that race, gender, and class play in contemporary environmental issues and the geology that underlies them. Examination of the power of governments, corporations and science to influence the physical and human environment. We critique the traditional environmental movement, study cases of environmental racism, and appreciate how basic geological knowledge can assist communities in creating healthful surroundings. Examples come from urban and rural settings in the United States and abroad and are informed by feminist analysis. Ms. Schneiderman.

Two 75–minute periods.

Not offered in 2001/02.

[150. The Environmental Imagination in Literature and Science] (1)

The troubled relationship between humans and the rest of nature is a problem as urgent as any in our time. But if environmental thinking is timely, it is not new. This course, taught by a biologist and an environmental writer, considers how our thinking about nature has developed and how it shapes our ways of understanding and approaching environmental probleMs. The readings, which include poetry, fiction, essays, and scientific literature, focus on social and philosophical constructions of nature, on the historical interplay of humans and our environment, and the modes by which we evaluate and attempt to solve environmental probleMs. Readings and classroom discussions are complemented by trips in the local area, to experience how scientific methods can be used to measure nature and to test ideas from our reading against experience in the field.

Two 75–minute periods.

One 4–hour lab or field trip.

Not offered in 2001/02.

151a/b. Earth, Environment, and Humanity (1)

(Same as Geology 151a/b)

[201. Religion Gone Wild: Spirituality and the Environment] (1)

(Same as Religion 201) A study of the dynamic relation between religion and nature. Religion, in this course, includes forms of spirituality within and outside the bounds of conventional religious traditions (for example, Buddhism, Christianity, and Jainism, on the one hand; ecofeminism, the literature of nature, and Australian Aboriginal religion, on the other). Topics in this study of religion, ethics, and ecology might include: religious depictions of creation, nature, and the position of humans in the environment; religious aspects of environmental degradation and contemporary ecological movements; environmental justice; and environmentalism as a religion. Mr. Cladis.

Prerequisite: One course in Religion, or by permission.

Two 75–minute periods.

Not offered in 2001/02.

206b. Environmental Biology (1) 
(Same as Biology 206b and Science, Technology, and Society 206)

231a. Topics in Archaeology (1) 
(Same as Anthropology 231a and American Culture 231)

Topic for 2001/02a: Field Archaeology. Designed to introduce basic techniques of archaeological fieldwork. The class includes, in addition to classroom instruction, the excavation of a local archaeological site. In 2001 we conduct our archaeological fieldwork at Matthew Vassar's estate, Springside. Ms. Johnson.

Prerequisite: Anthropology 297 or Anthropology 100.

250a. Environmentalisms in Perspective (1)

The purpose of this course, an introduction to the core issues and perspectives of environmental studies, is to develop a historical awareness of selected, significant positions in the contemporary theory and practice of environmentalism. In addition to studying different views of the relationship between human beings and their environments posited by different environmentalisms, the course critically examines views of science (or the study of nature), implications for policy, and the creation of meaning suggested by each. Environmentalist positions under consideration vary. By examining the roots of major contemporary positions, students explore possible connections among the ethical, scientific, aesthetic, and policy concerns that comprise environmental studies. Mr. Stillman, Mr. Cynx.

Required of students concentrating in the program. Open to other students by permission of the director and as space permits.

Prerequisite: sophomore standing or above.

Two 75–minute periods.

255a. Environmental Perception and Conservation History (1)

(Same as Geography 255a)

260a. Issues in Environmental Studies (1)

The purpose of this course is to examine in depth an issue, problem, or set of issues and problems in environmental studies, to explore the various ways in which environmental issues are embedded in multiple contexts and may be understood from multiple perspectives. The course topic changes from year to year.

Topic for 2001/02: The Rationale of Environmental Advocacy: Questions from Science and Social Theory. Gaps in understanding, what one might call disconnections between the scientific community and society, are a common occurrence. Frequently, environmental advocates find themselves pitted against the scientific community, even though both groups are focused on the same problem. By concentrating on factors which influence policy making, the course, taught by a social theorist and a chemist, will explore institutional connections and the process of legitimatization. Ms. Batur, Mr. Smart.

264a. "The Nuclear Cage": Environmental Theory and Nuclear Power (1)

(Same as Sociology 264a.)

283b. It's Only Natural: Contemplation in the American Landscape (1)

(Same as American Culture 283b) This course examines the ways in which Americans have approached the natural world as both a source of revelation and an object of contemplation. Drawing on a wide range of literary and religious texts, we explore the shifting relations between concepts of the natural, the human, and the divine in the American experience. Authors to be discussed may include Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, Black Elk, Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams, and others. In addition to readings we will consider the American landscape tradition in painting, primarily the work of those artists associated with the Hudson River School and with Luminism in the nineteenth century. We will also make several field trips to local sites. Techniques of contemplation will play a part in the course. Mr. Cladis, Mr. Kane.

287b. Special Studies in the Environment (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 287 and Women's Studies 287) Topic for 2001/02: Gender, Nature, Justice: An Introduction to Feminist Environmentalism. This course is an introduction to feminist environmentalism as a political movement and an emerging critical field. A wide range of critical approaches to understanding gender and the environmentsuch as feminist political ecology, ecofeminism, ecosocialism, and environmental philosophyinform an exploration of specific cases of gendered environmental practice. Cases include: nature writing, landscape architecture, wilderness adventure, earth art, vegetarianism, and environmental activism. We examine environmental crises as they relate to processes of urbanization. We pay particular attention to the question of sustainable agriculture and food security. Critically attending to the global food systemand to the gendered and racial inequities in the production and distribution of the planet's most fundamental resourcespowerfully reveals the interconnection of the urban and the rural, the global and the local, the planet and the body, and thus calls for a feminist activism and scholarship that is able to traverse these diverse spaces. Readings for this course are supplemented by guest lectures by area feminist scholars, activists, and farmers. Ms. Brawley.

By special permission.

Two 75–minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1)

Individual or group field projects or internships. Prior approval of advisor and instructor supervising the work are required. May be taken during the academic year or during the summer. Participating faculty.

298a or b. Independent Research (1)

Individual or group project or study. Prior approval of advisor and instructor supervising the work are required. May be taken during the academic year or during the summer. Participating faculty.

II. Advanced

300b. Senior Project/Thesis (1)

Recognizing the diverse interests and course programs of students in Environmental Studies, the Program entertains many models for a senior project/thesis. Depending on their disciplinary concentration and interests, students may conduct laboratory or field studies, literary and historical analyses, or policy studies. Senior project/thesis proposals must be approved by the steering committee.

301a. Senior Seminar (1)

In the Senior Seminar, Environmental Studies majors bring their disciplinary concentration and their courses in the Program to bear on a problem or set of problems in environmental studies. Intended to be an integration of theory and practice, and serving as a capstone course for the major, the seminar changes its focus from year to year.

Topic for 2001/02: Campus Ecology. Mr. Cornelius.

Required of students concentrating in the program.

Open to other students by permission of the director and as space permits.

325a. American Literature of the Environment (1)

(Same as English 325, "American Genres.") A study of nature writing from the Colonial period to the present day, considering such issues as bioregionalism, the sense of place, the relationship of literature to the natural sciences, alternate visions of "wild" and domesticated nature, and ecofeminism. Writers such as William Bartram, James Fenimore Cooper, Susan Fenimore Cooper, Henry David Thoreau, John Burroughs, Mary Austin, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Mary Oliver, and Terry Tempest WilliaMs. Mr. Peck.

355b. Environment and Land–Use Planning (1)

(Same as Geography 355a, Geology 355a.)

364b. Seminar on Selected Topics in Law and Technology (1)

(Same as Science, Technology, and Society 364b) This course explores the dynamic interrelationship between technology and law. It is designed to analyze the reciprocal effects of our society's developed jurisprudence and the advancement and use of science and technology on each other. Areas explored include American Constitutional, international, environmental, criminal, and property law, particularly as they interact with reproductive determination, government information gathering, hazardous waste generation, biotechnology, and technology transfer. Mr. Otis

380b. Advanced Special Studies (1)

Topic for 2001/02: Whales, Whalers, and Whaling. Whales, perhaps more than any other group of organisms, have been on center stage in the arena of environmental conservation. The anthropogenic causes of their decline are clear enough that effective international treaties, which appear to have permitted some populations of whales to recover, have been forged and largely enforced. But some nations, citing this apparent rebound, have unilaterally renewed or increased hunting, an action that threatens to scuttle the political process that has allowed the limited recovery of whales. The resulting controversywhether or not whales may be hunted without driving them to extinctionreflects an essential lack of information about the environmental biology of whales. This course attempts to provide that information, in studying, for example, the number of individuals in populations, their natural history, and thus their sensitivity to human activity. Among its activities, the class will design, research, and build a website that provides biological knowledge of individual species and populations of whales and dolphins, including their conservation status. Conservation issues to be analyzed include hunting pressure, entanglement in fishing nets, collision with vessels, acoustic pollution, and whale watching. Mr. Long.

By special permission.

Two 75–minute periods.

382. Conservation Biology (1)

(Same as Biology 382) Conservation Biology is a new science that has developed in response to the biological diversity crisis. The goals of conservation biology are to understand human impacts on biodiversity and to develop practical approaches for mitigating them. This course is designed to provide and up-to-date synthesis of the multiple disciplines of conservation biology, with particular emphasis on applied ecology and evolutionary biology. Topics may include kinds of biological diversity, genetics of small populations, population viability analysis, systematics and endangered species, pests and invasions, habitat fragmentation, reserve design, management plans for ecosystems and species, and restoration ecology. Mr. Schlessman

Prerequisites: 2 units of 200-level Biology, preferably from 206, 208, 238, or 241; or permission of the instructor.

Two 2–hour periods.

399a or b. Senior Independent Research (1)

Individual or group project or study. Prior approval of advisor and instructor supervising the work are required. May be taken during the academic year or during the summer. Participating faculty.