Environmental Studies Program

Director : H. Daniel Peck. Steering Committee: Pinar Batur (Sociology), Stuart L. Belli (Chemistry), Frank Bergon (English), Randolph R. Cornelius (Psychology), Andrew Davison (Political Science), Harvey K. Flad (Geography), T. Paul Kane (English), 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), Pinar Batur (Sociology), Marianne H. Begemann (Chemistry), Stuart L. Belli (Chemistry), Frank Bergon (English), Lisa Brawley (Urban Studies), Robert K. Brigham (History), Andrew Bush, Mario Cesareo (Hispanic Studies), James F. Challey (Physics), Mark S. Cladis (Religion), Randolph R. Cornelius (Psychology), Mary Ann Cunningham (Geography), Jeffrey Cynx (Psychology), Andrew Davison (Political Science), Rebecca B. Edwards (History), Marc M. Epstein (Religion), Harvey K. Flad (Geography), Brian J. Godfrey (Geography), Wendy Graham (English), Richard Hemmes (Biology), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Paul A. Johnson (Economics), T. 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), Alan Marco (Economics), Mia Mask (Film), Brian G. McAdoo (Geology), Leathem Mehaffey III (Biology), Kirsten Menking (Geology), Seungsook Moon (Sociology), Uma Narayan (Philosophy), Leonard Nevarez (Sociology), Kikombo Ngoy (Geography), Judith Nichols (English), Carolyn F. Palmer (Psychology), H. Daniel Peck (English), Friedrich Pflueger (Geology), 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), Mark A. Schlessman (Biology), Jill S. Schneiderman (Geology), Cindy Schwarz (Physics), 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 involves the natural and social sciences as well as the arts and humanities. It explores the relationships between people and the totality of their environments - natural, built, and social. As part of that exploration, environmental studies concerns itself with the description and analysis of natural systems; with interspecies and species-environment relationships and the institutions, policies and laws that affect those relationships; with aesthetic portrayals of nature and how these portrayals 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 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 director and 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; (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 Study Away. 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, 100-level courses offered by the program are recommended for freshmen and sophomores interested in environmental studies.

Course Offerings

 

I. Introductory

 
150a.   The Environmental Imagination in Literature and Science
(1)
Taught by a poet and a geologist, this course examines the representations of environment by writers, explorers, and scientists. Drawing mainly on marginalized voices, we explore questions of perspective and power in the interactions between humans and the rest of nature. Writing requirements for this course are extensive. Ms. Nichols, Ms. Schneiderman.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
180a.   Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture
(1)
Developing a sustainable system of producing food and fiber is one of the most important challenges facing human societies. This challenge is as much social as scientific or technological, because it is technically possible, even now, to produce an adequate diet for a world population of over twenty billion people. This course considers the two most important aspects of agricultural sustainability: the demands of consumers, and the abilities of producers to satisfy those demands. Through the writings of such authors as Wendell Berry, Sir Albert Howard, Wes Jackson, David Kline, Aldo Leopold, and Vandana Shiva, and through field trips to local farms, we explore the physical, social, economic and environmental issues defining debates about sustainable agriculture. Mr. Walker.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
182a.   Food Systems Field Study
(1/2 or 1)
This course engages learning community students in an experienced- basesd curriculum that links hands-on work in local sustainable agricultural production to work wtih area community organizations involved in food policy. The course also provides opportunities to reflect upon and to document these field expereinces through collective readings and discussion, studetn presentations, and individual and collaborative projects. Ms. Dunn
       Enrollment limited to students participating in the Learning Community.
       One 2-hour period.
 
 

II. Intermediate

 
[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.
       Not offered in 2002/03.
 
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 or junior standing. Must be taken before the senior year.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
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 2002/03: 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.
       By special permission.
 
267.   Environment and Natural Resource Economics
(1)
(Same as Economics 267 and Science, Technology and Society 267)
 
270b.   Topics in Environmental Studies
(1)
The purpose of this course is to take up topics relevant to environmental studies, and examine them through the perspectives of the humanities and the natural or social sciences. The course topic changes from year to year.
       Topic for 2002/03: Terrain: Geographical and Literary Perspectives on Landscape. A consideration of the idea of landscape, especially as expressed in literature, art and geography. The humanistic study of landscape emphasizes the centrality of "place" as an actor in, rather than as a background for, cultural development. Topics may include: the poetics of nature writing environmental perception, evaluation, and behavior and landscape symbolism and contestation. Nineteenth-century figures may include landscape architects such as Andrew Jackson Downing and Frederick Law Olmsted writers such as Susan Fenimore Cooper and Henry David Thoreau artists such as Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand and photographers such as Timothy O'Sullivan and William Henry Jackson. Contemporary figures may include landscape architects such as Anne Whiston Spirn writers such as Terry Tempest Williams and Barry Lopez geographers such as Yi-Fu Tuan, David Lowenthal and Denis Cosgrove and photographers such as Ansel Adams and Richard Misrach. Theoretical discussions in class are complemented by map interpretation and field observation of significant landscapes in the Hudson Valley. Mr. Flad, Mr. Peck.
       By special permission.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
287b.   Special Studies in the Environment
(1)
(Same as American Culture 287b.) Topic for 2002/03: Discovering Listening. In this course, a series of recording field trips and workshops put students in touch with their cultural and natural landscapes. It allows them to explore the world of sound and share their discoveries with fellow listeners. Students are trained in the art of field recording, interviewing, writing, editing and producing a radio piece. They are given an oral history assignment as well as a soundscape study. Mr. Metzner.
       Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.
       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.
 
 

III. 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 2002/03: Campus Ecology. Mr. Cornelius.
       Required of students concentrating in the program.
       Open to other students by permission of the director and as space permits.
 
345a.   Oil
(1)
(Same as Geology 345a)
 
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. Englert.
       One 2-hour period.
 
367b.   Peoples and Environments in the American West
(1)
(Same as History 367b)
 
382.   Conservation Biology
(1)
(Same as Biology 382)
 
385b.   Gender, Science, and Rhetoric
(1)
When Gertrude Stein stated "a rose is a rose is a rose" she was quarreling with the layers of 'meaning' that 19th century sentimental and scientific culture had heaped on objects, especially flowers, in the natural world. In this course, we examine the ways in which scientific investigation, specifically botanical science (and the details of plant sex), informs the rhetoric of 19th and 20th century American culture and the ways in which the culture then co-opts scientific terminology to confirm stereotypes and hierarchies. We begin by learning about the roots of the "botany" debate in the 19th century and the science behind it, and then explore our current understanding of plant sex and the status of the science (topics include botanical science and education, sentimental flower books, professionalization and feminization of science, domesticity, flower structure and function, female mate choice, and functional gender in plants). After establishing the terms of the discussion, we turn to the specific case of weeds, and we discuss bioregionalism. The course involves reading primary source materials in conjunction with labs. Ms. Ronsheim, Ms. Gianquitto
       Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.
       Two 2-hour periods.
 
387a.   Advanced Special Studies
(1)
(Same as American Culture 387a) Topic for 2002/03: From the Natural History Museum to Ecotourism. Early endeavors to create a national literature, the rise of the natural history museum and the Bureau of Ethnology, the appropriation of American Indian lands and American Indians (as natural objects) offered white Americans a means to realize their own national identity. Today, archaeology and the ethnographic museum's attachment to issues of identity and possession (the retention or restitution of land, artifacts, and bones) have embroiled First and Third World states, mainstream and minority peoples, in a lively ethical debate. The American consumer-collector goes beyond the boundaries of the museum and zoo and into ecotourism, which claims to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate money, jobs, and the conservation of wildlife and vegetation. The goal of this course is to investigate historical and current trends in the way North Americans recover, appropriate, and represent non-western people, cultural materials, endangered animals and natural environments from theoretical and ideological perspectives. Course readings draw from the fields of museology, literature, archaeology, anthropology, and environmental studies. Ms. Graham, Ms. Pike-Tay.
       Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.
       One 2-hour period.
 
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.