Environmental Studies Program

Director: Peter G. Stillman; Steering Committee: Pinar Batur (Sociology), Marianne H. Begemann (Chemistry), Randolph Cornelius (Psychology), Mary Ann Cunningham (Geography), Jeffrey Cynx (Psychology), Harvey K. Flad (Geography), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Leathem Mehaffey III (Biology), Leonard Nevarez (Sociology), Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert (Hispanic Studies), H. Daniel Peck (English), Anne Pike-Tay (Anthropology), A. Marshall Pregnall (Biology), Margaret L. Ronsheim (Biology), Jill S. Schneiderman (Geology), 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), Lee Bernstein (English), Lisa Brawley (Urban Studies), James F. Challey (Physics), Mark S. Cladis (Religion), Randolph Cornelius (Psychology), Mary Ann Cunningham (Geography), Jeffrey Cynx (Psychology), Andrew Davison (Political Science), Rebecca Edwards (History), Harvey K. Flad (Geography), Brian J. Godfrey (Geography), Wendy Graham (English), Richard Hemmes (Biology), Lucy Lewis Johnson (Anthropology), Michael Joyce (English), Paul Kane (English), Sarjit Kaur (Chemistry), John H. Long Jr. (Biology), Brian Lukacher (Art), Brian G. McAdoo (Geology), Leathem Mehaffey III (Biology), Kirsten Menking (Geology), Mitchell Miller (Philosophy), Seungsook Moon (Sociology), Uma Narayan (Philosophy), Leonard Nevarez (Sociology), Judith Nichols (English), Leslie Offutt (History), Catherine O’Reilly (Environmental Science), Carolyn E. Palmer (Psychology), Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert (Hispanic Studies), H. Daniel Peck (English), Anne Pike-Tay (Anthropology), Sidney Plotkin (Political Science), Thomas Porcello (Anthropology), A. Marshall Pregnall (Biology), Barry D. Price (Art), Ismail Rashid (History), Christopher Roellke (Education), Margaret L. Ronsheim (Biology), Jonathan C. Rork (Economics), Mark A. Schlessman (Biology), 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), Michael Walsh (Religion).

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 Art: American Visions of Landscape
(1)
This course introduces students to ways in which American works of literature and art, from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century, may be considered “environmental.” Works are studied for ways in which they express environmental values such as a strong sense of place, a scientifically informed view of nature, a sense of nature as “process,” and an ecological worldview. Works considered may include Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, John Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra, essays by John Burroughs, Mary Austin’s The Land of Little Rain, Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us, and essays by Barry Lopez, Annie Dillard, and Scott Russell Sanders. Works of art may include landscape paintings by Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, as well as contemporary landscape painting and photography, including works by photographer Emmet Gowin. Mr. Peck.
       Two 75-minute periods.
 
[175a. 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.
       Not offered in 2003/04.
 

II. Intermediate

 
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. Ms. Brawley, Ms. Johnson.
       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.
 
260. 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. By special permission.
       Topic for fall 2003/04b: The New Zoo: Human Understandings of Animal Minds and Environments. This course reviews approaches to and the theories behind human explorations of animal “minds” and environments. Behaviorism, the dominant school of psychology for many years, can be traced to the Western idea that the human mind and spirit were made in the likeness of the divine creator’s, while those of all other species were part of beastly nature. In contrast to strict behaviorists’ view that animal actions can be explained in terms of automatic responses to external influences, a common sense view that animals are likely to think about what they do has coexisted in popular thinking as expressed in folklore, art, literature, and scientific writing from the Medieval period to the present. The course explores this earlier history of major paradigms and then moves into current debates regarding the study and conservation of animals including: animal language studies, why anthropologists study apes and monkeys, ecotourism, and the “new zoo.” How humans perceive animal minds as a part of their environment is seen as a key variable in all of these issues. Mr. Cynx, Ms. Pike-Tay.
       Topic for spring 2003/04: 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.
 
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 2003/2004: It’s Only Natural: Contemplation in the American Landscape. 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 American experience. Authors discussed may include Jonathan Edwards, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Wendell Berry, Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams, and others. In addition to readings we 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 also make field trips to local sites. Techniques of contemplation play a part in the course. Mr. Cladis, Mr. Kane.
 
287b. Special Studies in the Environment
(1)
(Same as American Culture 287b.)
       By special permission.
       One 2-hour period.
 
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

Prerequisite: Open to juniors and seniors with 2 units of 200-level work in English; or, for juniors and seniors without this prerequisite, 2 units of work in allied subjects and permission from the associate chair.
 
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 2003/04: Campus Ecology. Mr. Cornelius.
       Required of students concentrating in the program.
       Open to other students by permission of the director and as space permits.
 
302b. Environmental Science Seminar
(1)
The Environmental Science Seminar, taken during the junior or senior year consists of critical analyses of current issues in the interdisciplinary field of Environmental Science.
       Topic for 2003/04: Stable Isotope Ecology.
       By special permission.
       One 2-hour period.
 
345b. Oil
(1)
(Same as Geology 345) For the hydraulic civilizations of Mesopotamia, it was water. For the Native Americans of the Great Plains, it was buffalo. As we enter the twenty-first century, our society is firmly rooted both culturally and economically in oil. This class looks into almost every aspect of oil. Starting at the source with kerogen generation, we follow the hydrocarbons along migration pathways to a reservoir with a suitable trap. We look at the techniques geologists and geophysicists use to find a field, and how engineers and economists get the product from the field to refineries, paying particular attention to environmental concerns. What is involved in the negotiations between multinational corporations and developing countries over production issues? What are the stages in refining oil from the crude that comes from the ground to the myriad uses seen today, including plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fertilizers, not to mention gasoline. We also discuss the future of this rapidly dwindling, nonrenewable resource, and discuss options for an oil-less future. Mr. McAdoo, Mr. Rashid.
 
355b. Environment and Land-Use Planning
(1)
(Same as Geography 355b, Geology 355b.)
 
[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.
       One 2-hour period.
       Not offered in 2003/04.
 
[367b. Peoples and Environments in the American West]
(1)
(Same as History 367b)
       Not offered in 2003/04.
 
370a. Feminism and Environmentalism
(1)
(Same as Women’s Studies 370a) This seminar takes as its departure point the claim that the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, and the environmental movement, combined with efforts on behalf of anti-classism, anti-heterosexism, and anti-colonialism must be practiced and theorized as interconnected. We examine gendered discourses of natural history, explore their past origins and contemporary ramifications, and study various approaches to understanding gender and environment. We pay particular attention to feminist scholarship and activism concerning the gendered implications of development policies and practices. Course readings may include work by Susan Griffin, Donna Haraway, Maria Mies, Carolyn Merchant, Londa Schiebinger, and Vandana Shiva. Ms. Schneiderman.
       By special permission.
       One 2-hour period.
 
382b. Conservation Biology
(1)
(Same as Biology 382)
 
387b. Advanced Special Studies
(1)
Topic for 2003/04: Global Environmental Justice. In this seminar we explore global environmental issues from a perspective that foregrounds questions of social equality. Throughout the course we examine the roles that race, class and gender play in contemporary environmental issues. Beginning with a survey of the origins of environmentalism in the United States, we study the rise of the “environmental justice” movement in the United States and contemplate concepts of justice as they apply to “environment.” We pay particular attention to feminist theories of justice and concerns regarding social and environmental inequity. With the conceptual framework in place, we focus on particular problems that may include: pollution and exposure to toxic substances; global climate change and its links to global consumerism; economic development in the developing world; and resource (water and fuel) extraction. In the latter part of the course, we devote each class session to student projects focussed on specific local environmental issues within a framework of global environmental justice. Ms. Schneiderman.
       By special permission.
       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.