Environmental Studies Program

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. A component of the program is the Environmental Research Institute (ERI), whose mission is to broaden and enrich the Environmental Studies program by emphasizing and supporting fieldwork, research, and engagement in the community.

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, assigns 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. For additional information please consult the program website.

Research studies by Environmental Studies majors are supported by the Environmental Research Institute.

Requirements for the Major: 15 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) Environmental Studies 124, Environmental Studies 125 and Environmental Studies 301, the senior seminar; (2) Environmental Studies 260 or 270, and one course from within the program's own offerings at the 300-level; (3) the senior project/thesis, Environmental Studies 300 or 303-304; (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, earth science, or physics three courses, no more than one at the 100-level relevant to the major in a department outside the natural sciences; for students whose disciplinary concentration is in a natural science other than biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics, a set of courses established in consultation with the director; 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, earth science, or physics; (6) one half 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; and (7) Environmental Studies 291 (1/2 unit). Field experience is expected to be carried out before the senior thesis/project. The ½ 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 300 or 303-304 and 301.

Environmental Studies is a major in which students concentrate in two disciplines or areas of focus (one in the natural sciences).  Potential majors are encouraged to take additional introductory courses in the disciplines or areas where their focus may be.

Correlate Sequence in Sustainability:  Each 6 unit Correlate in Sustainability is designed in consultation with an advisor from the Environmental Studies Program and the ENST Director.  The correlate includes (1) ENST 107 Global Change and Sustainability or ESCI 151 Earth, Environment and Humanity; (2) a set of four related courses on sustainability in a division other than the one in which the student is majoring, no more than one of which is a 100-level course; (3) a 300-level seminar on sustainability chosen from a list of approved courses or ½ unit of 291 field experience combined with a ½ unit capstone project (399).



I. Introductory

100a. Earth Resource Challenges: Food and Farming (1)

(Same as Earth Science, Earth Science and Society, and Geography 100) As an introduction to earth science and geography, this course combines the insights of the natural and social sciences to address a topic of societal concern. Geographers bring spatial analysis of human environmental change, while earth scientists contribute their knowledge of the diverse natural processes shaping the earth's surface. Together, these distinctive yet complementary fields contribute to comprehensive understandings of the physical limitations and potentials, uses and misuses of the earth's natural resources. Each year the topic of the course changes to focus on selected resource problems facing societies and environments around the world. Enrollment is limited to first and second year students.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2012/13.

107b. Global Change and Sustainability (1)

This class offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the climate, ecosystem and sustainability principles needed to understand human impact on the natural environment. We discuss the issue of global change prediction and the scientific basis for global change assessments and policy measures. Key topics are the physical climate system and its variability, the carbon cycle and related ecosystem processes, land use issues, nutrient cycles, and the impact of global change on society. Common threads in all of these topics include the use of observations and models, the consideration of multiple scales (temporal and spatial), the interaction of human behaviors and choices with natural systems, and the linkages among aspects of the global change issue. Ms. Spodek.

Two 75-minute periods.

124a. Essentials of Environmental Science (1)

A lecture/laboratory course in which basic topics in environmental biology, geology, and chemistry are covered with examples from current environmental issues used to illustrate the application and interdisciplinary nature of these fields. This course treats the following topics: energy sources and waste products, atmospheric patterns and climate, biogeochemical cycles, properties of soils and water, and ecological processes. Using these topics as a platform, this course examines the impact humanity has on the environment and discusses strategies to diminish those effects. The laboratory component includes field trips, field investigations, and laboratory exercises.

Two 75-minute periods; one 4-hour laboratory.

125a and b. Environmentalisms in Perspective (1)

This multidisciplinary course examines significant approaches to the theory and practice of environmentalisms past and present. Students explore possible connections between the ethical, aesthetic, social, economic, historical, and scientific concerns that comprise environmental studies. The methods of inquiry we follow and the environmentalisms we consider vary among sections. Ms. Hart, Ms. Hughes.

Required of students concentrating in the program.

177b. Environmental Political Thought (1/2)

(Same as Political Science 177) The emerging awareness of ecological problems in the past half-century has led to a questioning and rethinking of some important political ideas. What theories can describe an ecologically-sound human relation to nature; what policies derive from those theories; and how do they value nature? What is the appropriate size of political units? What model of citizenship best addresses environmental issues? This course will address selected issues through readings in past political thinkers like Locke and Marx and in contemporary political and environmental theorists. Mr. Stillman.

178. Political Theory, Environmental Justice: The Case of New Orleans After Katrina (1/2)

(Same as Political Science 178) Hurricane Katrina flooded much of New Orleans, causing intense social and political problems within the city and testing the ability of citizens and governments to respond to the crisis. The course aims to interpret and evaluate those responses by reading past political theorists, such as Aristotle, Hobbes, and DuBois, and current evaluations, such as those based in concerns for environmental justice. Mr. Stillman.

Not offered in 2012/13.

183a. Photography, Environment, and Politics: the Sawdust Mountain (1/2)

(Same as Political Science 183) An examination of the fraught relation of environment, economic activity, community life, and politics in the (U.S.) Pacific Northwest. "Sawdust Mountain," an exhibition in fall 2012 of photographs by Eirik Johnson, shows the fraying edges of logging and other traditional extractive industries, the communities built around them and degenerating with their exhaustion, and the political responses to environmental and social decay. We work directly with the exhibition at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, other series of photographs, and presentations of similar concerns in art, literature, and the social sciences. We explore both the substantive environmental and political issues and the insights and limits of different media. Mr. Stillman.

Two 75-minute periods.

II. Intermediate

231. Field Archaeology (1)

254. Environmental Science in the Field (1)

(Same as Biology, Earth Science, and Geography 254) The environment consists of complex and often elegant interactions between various constituents so that an interdisciplinary approach is required to understand how human interactions may affect it. In this course, we study a variety of aspects of a specific environment by considering how biological, chemical, geological, and human factors interact. We observe these interactions first hand during a weeklong field trip. Some of the questions we may consider are: How does a coral polyp create an environment that not only suits its particular species, but also helps regulate the global climate? How has human development and associated water demands in the desert Southwest changed the landscape, fire ecology, and even estuary and fisheries' health as far away as the Gulf of California? How have a variety of species (humans included) managed to survive on an island with the harsh environment of the exposed mid-ocean ridge of Iceland? The course is offered every other year, and topics vary with expertise of the faculty teaching the course.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

256. Environment and Culture in the Caribbean (1)

The ecology of the islands of the Caribbean has undergone profound change since the arrival of Europeans to the region in 1492. The course traces the history of the relationship between ecology and culture from pre-Columbian civilizations to the economies of tourism. Among the specific topics of discussion are: Arawak and Carib notions of nature and conservation of natural resources; the impact of deforestation and changes in climate; the plantation economy as an ecological revolution; the political implications of the tensions between the economy of the plot and that of the plantation; the development of environmental conservation and its impact on notions of nationhood; the ecological impact of resort tourism; the development of eco-tourism. These topics are examined through a variety of materials: historical documents, essays, art, literature, music, and film.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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 2012/13a: Risk. This course examines environmental risk from several perspectives ranging from the underlying science of exposure and toxicology, to psychological perceptions of personal risk, up to risk as a driver of environmental regulation. Students engage with practical, scientific, regulatory, and theoretic difficulties involved in understanding risk. Topics are illustrated through case studies that involve students in the collection and analysis of samples, the interpretation of data, and the process of making environmental recommendations. Specific topics include environmental mercury and arsenic exposure. Mr. Belli.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

(Same as Sociology and International Studies 261) The central aim of this course is to explore debates about the interaction between beings, including humans, animals, plants and the earth within the context of advanced capitalism by concentrating on the production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of nuclear power. The first question concerning the class is how does Environmental Theory approach nuclear power and its impact on the environment. The second question deals with how this construction interacts with other forms of debate regarding nuclear power, especially concentrating on the relation between science, market and the state in dealing with nature, and how citizens formulate and articulate their understanding of nuclear power through social movements. Ms. Batur.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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 2012/13b: 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, environmental and religious texts, we explore the dynamic relations between concepts of the natural, the human, and the divine in the American and the Native American experience. We also consider the American landscape tradition in painting and photography, as well as certain forms of folk music. We take field trips to local sites, including parks, farms, museums and monasteries, and host class visits from educators and artists. Techniques of contemplation play a role in the course. Mr. Kane.

Special permission required.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 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.

291a and b. Field Experiences in the Hudson Valley (1/2)

The course emphasizes project-based learning that, rather than beginning with established divisions or disciplines, focuses on problems or questions to which students can bring all the resources of their previous classes in a truly multidisciplinary fashion.

Required for Environmental Studies majors.

First 6-weeks of fall semester and second 6-weeks of spring semester.

Two 75-minute periods.

298a or b. Independent Research (1/2 or 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.

Required of students concentrating in the program.

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

303a. Thesis (1/2)

Yearlong course 303-304.

304b. Thesis (1/2)

Yearlong course 303-304.

305. People and Animal Histories in Modern India (1)

(Same as Asian Studies and History 305) This course examines human interactions with animals in India from the colonial period through the present. How have various groups and important individuals defined the proper relationship between themselves and the animals around them? What challenges and advantages have animals and people met with as a result? As we explore how people have served their social, political, economic, national, and religious interests through animals, we learn how human values and beliefs about animals have in turn helped shape Indian environments. We read a variety of primary sources by Indians and Englishmen in South Asia, ranging from children’s literature through the writings of bird fanciers, big game hunters, and early animal rights advocates. Ms. Hughes.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

312a. Green Utopias (1)

(Same as Political Science 312) Although utopias since More's have been concerned with the human relation to nature, green utopias have flourished in the past half century as environmental concerns have come to the fore. This course begins with some written utopias that explore the human relation to nature and then examines green utopias (and dystopias), exploring both written proposals and existing communities, and asking about the value of applying utopian methods to environmental issues and about the environmental insights the utopias (and dystopias) offer. Students may (but need not) write their own green utopia. Mr. Stillman.

Two 75-minute periods.

325a. American Genres (1)

An intensive study of specific forms or types of literature, such as satire, humor, gothic fiction, realism, slave narratives, science fiction, crime, romance, adventure, short story, epic, autobiography, hypertext, and screenplay. Each year, one or more of these genres is investigated in depth. The course may cross national borders and historical periods or adhere to boundaries of time and place. 

Topic for 2012/13a: Green Writing: Literature and the Environment. (Same as English 325) This course examines the development of environmental literature, from the "nature writing" of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the emergence of contemporary ecocriticism. Readings will feature a wide range of writers from various disciplines. Mr. Kane.

One 2-hour period.

331b. Seminar in Archaeological Method and Theory (1)

The theoretical underpinnings of anthropological archaeology and the use of theory in studying particular bodies of data. The focus ranges from examination of published data covering topics such as architecture and society, the origin of complex society, the relationship between technology and ecology to more laboratory-oriented examination of such topics as archaeometry, archaeozoology, or lithic technology.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Topic for 2012/13b: Topic for Technology, Ecology and Society. (Same as Anthropology and Science, Technology and Society 331) Examines the interactions between human beings and their environment as mediated by technology, focusing on the period from the earliest evidence of toolmaking approximately up to the Industrial Revolution. Student research projects often bring the course up to the present. Includes experimentation with ancient technologies and field trips to local markets and craft workshops. Ms. Johnson.

Prerequisite: previous coursework in Anthropology, Environmental Studies or Science, Technology and Society, or permission of the instructor.

335. Paleoclimatology: Earth's History of Climate Change (1)

(Same as Earth Science 335) In recent decades, record high temperatures and extreme weather events have led scientists and policy makers to grapple with the fact that human activities are affecting the climate system. At the same time, scientists have come to realize that climate is capable of dramatic shifts in the absence of human intervention. The science of paleoclimatology seeks to understand the extent and causes of natural climatic variability in order to establish the baseline on top of which anthropogenic changes are occurring. In this course we examine the structure and properties of the oceans and atmosphere and how the general circulation of these systems redistributes heat throughout the globe, study how cycles in Earth's orbital parameters, plate tectonics, changes in ocean circulation, and the evolution of plants have affected climate, and explore the different lines of evidence used to reconstruct climate history. Weekly laboratory projects introduce students to paleoclimatic methods and to records of climatic change from the Paleozoic through the Little Ice Age. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: 200-level work in Earth Science or permission of the instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

340a and b. Advanced Urban and Regional Studies (1)

(Same as Geography 340a and Urban Studies 340a)

Topic for 2009a: Urban Political Ecology: Environmental History, Conservation, and Planning in Global Cities. In our increasingly urban world, understanding and managing the diverse connections among cities and their extended geophysical and human environments have become urgent tasks. This seminar examines issues of environmental history, conservation, and planning in global mega-cities—sprawling metropolitan areas exceeding ten million inhabitants—through the theoretical lens of urban political ecology. We focus on how political institutions have mediated the interactions of humans and nature in urban settings around the world. Topics for study include the intellectual history of urban sustainability, methods of environmental history, issues of urban design and metabolism, contemporary efforts to conserve urban environments, participatory citizenship and environmental justice, and prospects for livable cities. Students carry out research on a global mega-city of their choice. Mr. Godfrey.

(Same as Geography 340b and Earth Science 340b) Topic for 2009/10b: Arctic Environmental Change. Arctic environments define a geographic region that is important to understand both in terms of its distinctive biogeographic patterns and functions and because it is subject to some of the most dramatic environmental alterations associated with global climate change. This course takes a biogeographic and landscape ecological approach to examining how this region contributes to global biodiversity, and why it contributes disproportionately to the regulation and change of the earth's climate system. What characteristics define these environments and make them especially vulnerable to positive feedbacks in a changing climate? How might climate changes alter landscape structure and composition, and what are the implications of these changes for the distribution of plants and animals in the region? What are global implications of these changes? We examine current literature and data to explore these questions about ongoing and anticipated environmental change in arctic regions. Some background in understanding earth systems or climate change is helpful. Ms. Cunningham.

341. Oil (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Geography 341) 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, non-renewable resource, and options for an oil-less future. Mr. McAdoo, Mr. Rashid.

Prerequisite: one 200-level Earth Science course or permission of the instructor.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory/field period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

350. New York City as a Social Laboratory (1)

(Same as Urban Studies 350) What is the future role of cities in the global environment? The goal of this class is to explore the major challenges in making cities environmentally sustainable. Efforts to generate and foster green and sustainable urban space confront economic, political and social complexities, while our imagination is being challenged to define alternatives. By focusing on New York City, we explore alterations in the discourse on sustainability as it relates to spatial allocation in urban design, and architectural innovations in the form and function of green buildings. Through a combination of classroom based discussions and New York City on site investigations, the class strives to understand expanded definition of sustainability in the contemporary urban environment.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

352. Conservation Biology (1)

(Same as Biology 352) Conservation Biology uses a multidisciplinary approach to study how to best maintain the earth's biodiversity and functioning ecosystems. We examine human impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function and discuss how to develop practical approaches for mitigating those impacts. We start the semester by assessing the current human footprint on global resources, asking questions about what we are trying to preserve, why we are trying to preserve it, and how we can accomplish our goals. We critically examine the assumptions made by conservation biologists throughout, using case studies from around the world to explore a range of perspectives. Discussion topics include conservation in an agricultural context, the efficacy of marine protected areas, the impact of climate change on individual species and preserve design, restoration ecology, the consequences of small population sizes, conservation genetics, the impacts of habitat fragmentation and invasive species, and urbanecology. Ms. Ronsheim.

Recommended courses: Biology 241, 208, or 226, ESCI 161, Geography 260, 224, or 356; or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

356b. Environment and Land-Use Planning (1)

(Same as Geography and Urban Studies 356) This seminar focuses on land-use issues such as open-space planning, urban design, transportation planning, and the social and environmental effects of planning and land use policies. The focus of the course this year is impacts of planning policies (such as transportation, zoning, or growth boundaries) on environmental quality, including open space preservation, farmland conservation, and environmental services. We begin with global and regional examples and then apply ideas in the context of Dutchess County’s trajectory of land use change and planning policies. Ms. Cunningham. 

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in Geography, Urban Studies or Environmental Studies.

One 3-hour period.

361. Modeling the Earth (1)

(Same as Earth Science 361) Computer models are powerful tools in the Earth and Environmental Sciences for generating and testing hypotheses about how the Earth system functions and for allowing simulation of processes in places inaccessible to humans (e.g. Earth’s deep interior), too slow to permit observation (e.g., erosion driven uplift of mountains ranges), or too large to facilitate construction of physical models (e.g., Earth’s climate system). Taking readings from the scientific literature, we create and then perform experiments with simple computer models, using the STELLA iconographic box-modeling software package. Topics include the global phosphorus cycle, Earth’s radiative balance with the sun and resulting temperature, the flow of ice in glaciers, and the role of life in moderating Earth’s climate. Toward the end of the semester, students apply the skills they have acquired to a modeling project of their own devising. Ms. Menking.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in the natural sciences.

One 4-hour classroom/laboratory period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

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

(Same as Science, Technology, and Society 364) 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 2012/13.

367b. Peoples and Environments in the American West (1)

(Same as History 367) This course explores the history of the trans-Mississippi West in the nineteenth century and its legacies in modern America. Themes include cultural conflict and accommodation; federal power and Western politics; and humans' negotiations with their environments. The course considers the history of the frontier as a process; the Western U.S. as a geographic place; and the legendary West and its functions in American mythology. Ms. Edwards.

368b. Toxic Futures: From Social Theory to Environmental Theory (1)

(Same as Sociology 368) The central aim of this class is to examine the foundations of the discourse on society and nature in social theory and environmental theory to explore two questions. The first question is how does social theory approach the construction of the future, and the second question is how has this construction informed the present debates on the impact of industrialization, urbanization, state-building and collective movements on the environment? In this context, the class focuses on how social theory informs different articulations of Environmental Thought and its political and epistemological fragmentation and the limits of praxis, as well as its contemporary construction of alternative futures. Ms. Batur.

370. Feminist Perspectives on Environmentalism (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Society 370 and Women's Studies 370) In this seminar we explore some basic concepts and approaches within feminist environmental analysis paying particular attention to feminist theory and its relevance to environmental issues. We examine a range of feminist research and analysis in 'environmental studies' that is connected by the recognition that gender subordination and environmental destruction are related phenomena. That is, they are the linked outcomes of forms of interactions with nature that are shaped by hierarchy and dominance, and they have global relevance. The course helps students discover the expansive contributions of feminist analysis and action to environmental research and advocacy; it provides the chance for students to apply the contributions of a feminist perspective to their own specific environmental interests. Ms. Schneiderman.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor; Women's Studies 130 recommended.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2012/13.

372. Topics in Human Geography (1)

(Same as Geography 372 and Urban Studies 372)

Not offered in 2010/11.

375. Aquatic Chemistry (1/2 or 1)

(Same as Chemistry 375) This course explores the fundamentals of aqueous chemistry as applied to natural waters. The global water cycle and major water resources are introduced. Principles explored include: kinetics and thermodynamics, atmosphere-water interactions, rock-water interactions, precipitation and dissolution, acids and bases, oxidation and reduction, and nutrient and trace metal cycling. Ms. Spodek.

Prerequisites: Chemistry 245; Physics 113, 114; Mathematics 121/122 or 125 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2012/13.

381. Topics in Ecosystem Ecology - Ecosystem Structure and Function (1)

(Same as Biology 381) Ecosystems are complex systems, where biotic and abiotic factors interact to create the world we see around us. Understanding the nature of ecosystems is fundamental to understanding how disturbance and change in a dynamic world will influence ecosystem stability. This is especially critical as we enter the Anthropocene; a time in our planets history where one species, modern humans, dominate. Major changes brought about by increased human activity include changing climate regimes, invasive species spread and biodiversity loss. This course explores how ecosystems, both aquatic and terrestrial, are assembled (structured) and how different ecosystems process energy and matter (function). We use our understanding of structure and function to explore how different ecosystems respond to changes in the environment (including climate change, invasive species introductions, loss of biodiversity and pollution). A class project will explore an ecosystem scale problem, and students will develop a plan for effectively communicating the scientific understanding of the problem to multiple stakeholders. Ms. Christenson.

Prerequisite: Biology 241.

Not offered in 2012/13.

387. Risk and Geohazards (1)

(Same as Earth Science and Geography 387) The world is becoming an increasingly risky place. Every year, natural hazards affect more and more people, and these people are incurring increasingly expensive losses. This course explores the nature of risk associated with geophysical phenomena. Are there more hazardous events now than there have been in the past? Are these events somehow more energetic? Or is it that increasing populations with increasingly disparate incomes are being exposed to these hazards? What physical, economic, political and social tools can be employed to reduce this geophysical risk? We draw on examples from recent disasters, both rapid onset (earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones), and slow onset (climate change, famine) to examine the complex and interlinked vulnerabilities of the coupled human-environment system. Mr. McAdoo.

One 4-hour period.

Prerequisite: Earth Science 121, 151, or 161.

Not offered in 2012/13.

389a. From the Natural History Museum to Ecotourism:The Collection of Nature (1)

(Same as American Culture 389) From the rise of the Natural History Museum, the Bureau of Ethnology, and early endeavors to create a national literature, the appropriation of American Indian lands and Amerian Indians (as natural objects) offered Euro-Americans a means to realize their new national identity. Today, the American consumer-collector goes beyond the boundaries of the museum, national park, 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. This course investigates historical and current trends in the way North Americans recover, appropriate, and represent non-western cultures, 'exotic' animals, and natural environments from theoretical and ideological perspectives. Course readings draw from the fields of anthropology, archaeology, museology, literature, and environmental studies. Ms. Pike-Tay.

Two 75-minute periods.

399a or b. Senior Independent Research (1/2 or 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.