Environmental Studies

Undergraduate

Environmental studies is concerned with the interactions between people and their environment, the effects the environment has on people, and the impact of human activities on the environment. Learn about the origins and impacts of, and potential solutions to environmental issues by studying the behavior of natural systems and their interactions with political, economic, social, and cultural factors.

Program Overview

The environmental studies major will provide you with an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental issues and includes courses from the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

By developing a broad foundation of knowledge and integrative thinking skills, you will graduate with the intellectual tools and breadth of understanding to confront environmental challenges of the present and future. You are also encouraged to explore independent and summer research possibilities and utilize the many resources provided by the Miller Worley Center for the Environment.

Our students learn about the origins and impacts of, as well as potential solutions to, environmental issues by studying the behavior of natural systems and their interactions with political, economic, social, and cultural factors. Because the study of environmental concerns is inherently interdisciplinary, you will develop integrative thinking skills and a broad foundation of knowledge. Environmental Studies majors graduate with the intellectual tools, practical skills, and depth of understanding to confront environmental challenges of the present and future.

Community Voices

Spotlight on Environmental Studies students and alums

Selecting courses in your first year

If you are interested in environmental issues you should register for Introduction to Environmental Studies (Environmental Studies 100) during your first year. This course is required for both the major and the minor in environmental studies and provides a broad overview of the field. It will also gives you a good sense of how to continue your studies in the environmental field.

Other courses that are very useful for first-year students include Biology 145, Chemistry 101, Geology 105, Geography 107, Geology 103, Geology 107, Physics 100, Physics 104, Physics 110, and Statistics 140.

A 100-level science course with lab is a required prerequisite for the 200-level science courses that environmental studies majors and minors must take as Group A core courses. A course in statistics鈥攅ither Statistics 140, 240, 241 or 242, or Economics 220, or Biological Sciences 234 (depending on one鈥檚 concentration within the major) -- is also a requirement of the major, though its credits are not counted towards the credit requirements of the major.

Courses and Requirements

All courses provide students with an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental issues and include courses from the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

Learning Goals

The department emphasizes approaches to learning that engage students more actively in the scientific, social/human, and global dimensions of environmental study. Each approach is a fundamental component of environmental literacy.

  • Interdisciplinary Thinking: Students develop the ability to integrate knowledge using modes of inquiry that conceptually organize and link ideas, methods, and data from several fields. 
  • Critical Thinking: Students cultivate the capacity to listen and think analytically and critically by questioning assumptions, evaluating evidence, and articulating well-reasoned arguments. They also develop quantitative and qualitative methodological expertise. 
  • Depth of Knowledge: Students gain a solid understanding of how the natural world operates, how it has been impacted by human activities, and how it has influenced human actions and development through time. They recognize that solving environmental challenges requires knowledge of the underlying physical and biological processes involved as well as the complex ways these processes interact with cultural, historical, political, and economic forces. 
  • Intercultural Competence: Students appreciate the diverse cultures that make human society, and develop perspectives, skills, and knowledge to engage with values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors of communities other than their own in environmental education, activism, development projects, and domestic and international research projects. 
  • Global Consciousness: Students recognize and understand global, national, regional, and local environmental concerns, perspectives, and experiences, including the impacts of economic, cultural, and political contexts on various communities and resources.

Skills

In order to meet the above goals, the Environmental Studies curriculum places a strong emphasis on habits of critical thinking and questioning across academic disciplines:

  • Problem Identification, Assessment, and Solution: Students gain analytical skills in determining the scale and parameters of environmental problems. They develop an in-depth understanding of the scientific method, employing both quantitative and qualitative analyses to clarify and understand data. They become familiar with scientific, historical, and ethical analyses of environmental problems and are able to propose imaginative and creative solutions appropriate to specific issues, based on in-depth study of local to global factors.
  • Communication and Information Literacy: Students recognize the breadth depth of environmental information, across a range of formats and fields. They strengthen writing and communication skills and develop a broad foundation of information literacy. They learn how to formulate and articulate questions, frame research projects, locate needed resources, evaluate information, and make critical judgments about the presentation of research. They are able to synthesize, present, and use this information in a way that helps answer a question, solve a problem, or educate self or others.
  • Reflective Learning and Application of Knowledge: Students practice and develop their capacity for reflective learning in all courses, but especially in the capstone senior seminar. They develop the skills for peer feedback, self-reflection, and assessment of learning impacts. Experiential learning opportunities (e.g., community-based work, internships, and study abroad) allow students to increase their range of interactions with diverse peoples. They also develop leadership and decision-making skills including facility in working constructively with diverse perspectives, personalities, and groups. They develop pre-professional confidence in future options for environmental work in a range of government, education, business, and non-profit contexts.

These core foundational approaches and skills are important in all facets of environmental studies and will serve graduates well in their post-college lives and careers.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 44 credits:

Introductory Courses
ENVST-100Introduction to Environmental Studies 14
or ENVST-150DV Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Introduction to the Histories and Theories of Development'
or ENVST-150PH Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Introduction to Environmental and Public Health'
One Science with Lab Course:4
BIOL-145
Introductory Biology 2
BIOL-160
Integrated Introduction to Biology and Chemistry
CHEM-150
General Chemistry: Foundations
CHEM-160
Integrated Introduction to Biology and Chemistry
PHYS-100
Foundations of Physics
PHYS-110
Force, Motion, and Energy
PHYS-150
Phenomena of Physics
NEURO-100
Introduction to Neuroscience and Behavior
Intermediate Core 3
One Natural Science Course:4
ENVST-200
Environmental Science
BIOL-223
Ecology
GEOL-203
The Earth's Surface
One Social Science Course:4
ENVST-210
Political Ecology
ENVST-241
Environmental Issues
One Humanities Course:4
ENVST-240
The Value of Nature
ENVST-216
Global Environmental Justice
Senior Seminar
ENVST-390Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies4
Additional Electives
Three courses at the 300 level 412
Two additional electives at the 200 or 300 level8
Total Credits44
1

Or a 4 or 5 on the Environmental Studies AP exam

2

BIOL-145 or any of its offerings; for example BIOL-145AB, BIOL-145EX, BIOL-145GW, or BIOL-145MB.

3

A full list of the approved elective courses appears at the end of the Environmental Studies Courses section.

4

Independent study may be substituted for one of the 300-level courses, with approval of advisor. Independent study cannot be substituted for ENVST-390.

Additional Specifications

  • When declaring their Environmental Studies major, students must choose an advisor who can help them select the elective courses that best suit their curricular goals.

  • Students may take up to two 200- or 300-level courses off campus (study abroad, Five Colleges, etc.). Two additional 200- or 300-level courses may be taken within the Five Colleges. All off-campus courses are subject to advisor approval.
  • Students who declare an environmental studies major automatically fulfill the College's "outside the major" requirement.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 20 credits:

ENVST-100Introduction to Environmental Studies4
or ENVST-150DV Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Introduction to the Histories and Theories of Development'
or ENVST-150PH Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Introduction to Environmental and Public Health'
From the approved Environmental Studies course lists: 1, 2
8 credits in natural sciences at the 200 or 300 level8
8 credits in social sciences and/or humanities at the 200 or 300 level8
Total Credits20
1

A full list of the approved courses for the minor appears at the end of the Environmental Studies Courses section.

2

At least one course must be at the 300 level

Additional Specifications

  • These courses should be chosen from the list of approved courses. The list is included in this catalog and is also available at the department office or website or from any member of the environmental studies faculty. Other courses may be counted toward the minor, with the approval of the environmental studies department chair.
  • Courses in the same department as the student鈥檚 major may not be counted towards the minor in environmental studies.

Course Advice

In addition to courses in Environmental Studies, many courses for the major and minor in environmental studies are offered by other departments. Appropriate courses taken at Amherst, Hampshire, or Smith colleges or the University of Massachusetts may be counted toward the major or minor with the approval of environmental studies advisor. Courses taken at other colleges or universities, or through accredited field studies around the world, may also be counted toward the major or minor with the approval of environmental studies advisor.

Selecting Initial Courses

Students interested in environmental issues should register for a 100-level Environmental Studies course during their first year. An introductory course is required for both the major and the minor in environmental studies and provides a broad overview of the field. It also gives students a good sense of how to continue their studies in the environmental field.

Other courses that are very useful for first-year students include:

BIOL-145Introductory Biology4
or BIOL-160 Integrated Introduction to Biology and Chemistry
CHEM-150General Chemistry: Foundations4
or CHEM-160 Integrated Introduction to Biology and Chemistry
GEOG-105World Regional Geography4
GEOG-107Introduction to the Physical Environment4
GEOL-103Oceanography4
GEOL-107Environmental Geology4
PHYS-104Renewable Energy4
STAT-140Introduction to the Ideas and Applications of Statistics4

A 100-level science course with lab is a required prerequisite for the 200-level science courses that environmental studies majors and minors must take.

Intermediate Courses

Intermediate courses for the major and minor should be chosen from the list approved by the environmental studies faculty. Other courses may be counted toward this requirement with the approval of environmental studies advisor.

Advanced Courses

All majors must complete ENVST-390, and complete three other 300-level courses. Independent study (ENVST-395) may be substituted for one of the required advanced courses (though not ENVST-390), with approval of advisor.

ENVST Course Offerings

ENVST-100 Introduction to Environmental Studies

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course introduces students to the field of environmental studies and to some of the scientific, historical, political, economic and cultural aspects of environmental concerns. Through interdisciplinary lenses, we explore the complexities of many issues and problems such as climate change, threats to biodiversity, and toxic environments. In addition to fostering an understanding of their origins, the course focuses on potential solutions.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
T. Farnham

ENVST-104 Renewable Energy

Spring. Credits: 4

We will examine the feasibility of converting the entire energy infrastructure of the US from one that is dependent on fossil fuels to one that utilizes mostly renewable sources of energy. We will examine the potential scale of energy production and the associated costs, natural resource requirements and land usage needs for both renewables, such as solar, wind and biofuel, and non-renewables, such as coal, natural gas, petroleum and nuclear. By applying extensive use of basic algebra and an elementary understanding of the physical processes underpinning each energy technology, we will arrive at a number of urgent conclusions about the challenges facing our energy infrastructure.

Crosslisted as: PHYS-104
Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
A. Arango

ENVST-150 Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies

ENVST-150DV Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Introduction to the Histories and Theories of Development'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

What is so compelling about the idea of development? Why does it fail much of the global south? Do colonialism and capitalism have anything to do with it? Why do hunger, poverty, inequality, unemployment, and ecological crises persist in the so-called developed world? What are the parameters of the proposed solutions to underdevelopment such as neoliberal market reforms versus those of alternative models? What are the connections between development and environmental issues? development and war? Can development be sustainable? Are gender and race incidental or central to these issues? This course engages these questions through readings, lectures, discussions, and writing assignments.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Surprise

ENVST-150PH Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Introduction to Environmental and Public Health'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course offers a broad introduction to the problems and solutions in the field of environmental and public health. Students will read about and discuss issues that occur in both industrialized and developing countries. Topics include the biological, physical, and chemical agents of environmental contamination; methods used in epidemiology and toxicology to evaluate environmental hazards; policies currently in place to reduce health risks and protect populations from exposure; and emerging global environmental health problems.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
G. Peltier

ENVST-200 Environmental Science

Fall. Credits: 4

Most of the environmental challenges we face are complex and interdisciplinary in nature. This course introduces students to the scientific principles, concepts, and methodologies required to both understand the interrelationships of the natural world, as well as to identify and analyze environmental problems and think critically about alternative solutions for addressing them. Key concepts from ecology, biogeochemistry, and other fields inform our study of climate change, water resources, soil sustainability, food production, and other topics. Fundamental and emerging issues are examined using regional case studies, hands-on problem solving, and field and laboratory experiments in this interdisciplinary field-based course.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
K. Ballantine
Restrictions: This course is limited to Environmental Studies majors.; Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Prereq: One 100-level lab science. Coreq: ENVST-200L.
Advisory: One course in statistics is recommended.
Notes: Pre-registration will open to environmental studies majors only. In the second week of pre-registration, remaining seats and waitlisting will be open to all sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

ENVST-210 Political Ecology

Fall. Credits: 4

This course will explore the historical, political, economic, social, and cultural contexts in which human-environment interactions occur. We will cover critical topics and trends in the field of political ecology, from its early manifestations to more recent expansions. Using case studies from the global south and north, we will discuss factors that shape social and environmental change across scales from the personal to the global, and we will examine the role of gender, race, class, and power in struggles over resources. Students will become familiar with the academic debates in which political ecologists are engaged, and they will apply the concepts discussed in a case of their choice.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
C. Corson
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ENVST-216 Global Environmental Justice

Fall and Spring. Credits: 4

From struggles for racial justice and Indigenous self-determination, to action for biodiversity conservation, many of the world's most urgent issues are also environmental justice challenges. This course will survey the theoretical questions, concepts, and perspectives on environmental justice at local and global scales. In the first part of the course, we will do a brief historical overview of the environmental justice movement and environmentalism(s), and we will discuss global contemporary issues like e-waste and food justice. In the second part of the course, we will analyze the multiple definitions and meanings that social movements and collectives give to justice. As such, we will engage with decolonial, Indigenous, eco-feminist, queer, and multispecies perspectives. Throughout the semester, students will analyze a case study of environmental (in)justice, which will culminate in a research-grounded sci-fi creative piece that represents a more just future in their chosen case.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
S. Cifuentes
Prereq: ENVST-100 or 4 credits in humanities or social science.

ENVST-233 Topics in Environmental Studies

ENVST-233HC Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Human Health and Climate Change'

Spring. Credits: 4

Human health is directly and indirectly impacted by climate change. Throughout this course we will investigate the diverse human health impacts that are linked to climate change. We will ask how changes to our air quality, water quality, vector-borne disease distribution, and food production impact our health. We will examine how extreme weather events lead to changes in morbidity, mortality, and mental health conditions in communities. Through both lecture and discussion, we will critically review and evaluate our current knowledge regarding climate and human health as well as identify solutions for adapting to these changes.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive
G. Peltier
Prereq: ENVST-150 or 4 credits in science.

ENVST-240 The Value of Nature

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Through this seminar, students develop an in-depth knowledge of and articulate vocabulary for the significant and diverse ways that humans value the natural world - utilitarian, scientific, aesthetic, naturalistic, symbolic, ethical, and spiritual. We use these different typologies of human environmental values as frameworks for readings and discussion, extending our examination to historical and cultural variations in values, competing perspectives of the natural world, and other value concepts, including intrinsic and transformative value. We examine the concept of biophilia and probe the role values play in the concern over losses of biological diversity and its implications.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
T. Farnham
Prereq: ENVST-100 or ENVST-150PH.

ENVST-241 Environmental Issues

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

In this course, we will explore the different facets of numerous environmental policy issues and review the substantive aspects, legal themes, and regulatory structure of the major federal environmental laws. The laws covered in this course include the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and others. The course objectives are for the student to learn the basic regulatory characteristics of the major laws and to become well-versed in the current environmental issues which we will focus upon throughout the semester, such as global climate change, ocean degradation, energy resources, and biodiversity loss.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
T. Farnham
Prereq: ENVST-100, or ENVST-150PH, or ENVST-150DV.

ENVST-251 Research, Ethics, Justice and Campus Sustainability

Fall. Credits: 4

The course is designed for students interested in learning about and doing qualitative research on campus sustainability. We will discuss the logic of qualitative social research and examine a range of methods, considering the specific advantages and limitations of different techniques. Students will also discuss ethical issues, including the challenges of conducting research in cross-cultural settings, reflect on our own underlying assumptions, motivations and values in research, and consider what it means to decolonize methodologies. The course is a term-based learning course in which students work in teams to conduct research on a topic of their choice related to sustainability literacy on the 精东传媒 campus. Students share and discuss weekly assignments in class, and then analyze and present their results.

Crosslisted as: EOS-299RJ
Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
C. Corson
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits of social science or humanities courses.
Advisory: Students from a variety of disciplines are welcome.

ENVST-254 The Climate Humanities, Futures, and Activism

Spring. Credits: 4

The climate humanities are uniquely positioned to imagine, question, and promote the necessary changes for more just climate futures. Thus, this course asks, how just are climate solutions for those who will be most impacted, and for those who have contributed the least, to climate change? How can we imagine alternative modes of existence and just futures? What can we learn from diverse climate imaginaries? We will first analyze climate change and history, climate ethics, and climate fiction. Next, through post/decolonial approaches, we will examine the contradictions of some climate mitigation and adaptation mechanisms, and how they can reinforce inequalities. Lastly, we will learn about the meanings of climate justice and the perspectives of Indigenous and other marginalized communities.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
S. Cifuentes
Prereq: ENVST-100 or 4 credits of social science or humanities courses.

ENVST-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

ENVST-316 Restoration Ecology

Spring. Credits: 4

A key test of our ecological knowledge is whether we can successfully apply it to create or restore ecosystems that have been damaged or destroyed. As we take on the role of restoration ecologists this semester, we will use principles and methods of ecology, conservation biology, hydrology, soil science, and related disciplines to learn about the theory, practice, and politics of ecosystem restoration. This course emphasizes fieldwork, interdisciplinary teamwork, and ecological planning to evaluate and design restoration projects in our surrounding communities and regional landscapes. On a few occasions, meetings may last until 5:05 pm so that we can go on fieldtrips that are farther from campus.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
K. Ballantine
Prereq: ENVST-200 or at least 8 credits of 200 or 300-level laboratory science.

ENVST-321 Conference Courses in Environmental Studies

Selected topics in areas of environmental interest, determined by faculty expertise and student needs. Study in small groups or by individual students working with faculty.

ENVST-321CP Conference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Political Economy of the Environment: Capitalism and Climate Change'

Fall. Credits: 4

Can an economic system predicated on infinite growth achieve sustainability on a finite planet? This question will likely define the twenty-first century. This course aims to grapple with this paradox, examining the relationships and tensions between the globally dominant form of economy - capitalism - and global climate change. We will explore the interwoven rise of capitalism and emergence of fossil fuel energy, as well as the global expansion of capitalism and the connections between resources, economic growth, and political power. We will engage with various theoretical approaches to capitalism-environment relations, such as metabolic rift theory, the second contradiction of capitalism, and the production of nature thesis. These theories provide insight into recent forms of capitalism (i.e. neoliberalism) and the increasing degradation and commodification of the environment. We end by studying contemporary debates, examining institutions and policies seeking to manage climate change from with liberal-capitalist frameworks, the emergence of the "green economy", and the politics of climate denialism, concluding with alternatives economies and the climate justice movement. This course will provide students with theoretical knowledge and analytical skills for understanding economy-environment relationships.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Surprise
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ENVST-321EQ Conference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Food Equity and Empowerment' Change'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course uses a critical lens to examine the conflicts around equity and justice in our food systems, from production to consumption. Using race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic factors as the lens through which to examine the impacts associated with how we grow and consume food, this course seeks to understand an alternative to the dominant Western narrative on food systems. As a class, we will engage with readings, discussion and actual hands-on participation with food equity issues in the Pioneer Valley, so that we can reflect on our own power and privilege in the food system and come to a more holistic understanding of the challenges within the field.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
O. Aguilar
Prereq: 8 credits in Environmental Studies or Geography including ENVST-100 or ENVST-150PH.

ENVST-321GW Conference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Water Is Life: Human Health, Disease, and the Environment'

Fall. Credits: 4

Water is essential for life. Human health, both morbidity and mortality, is directly impacted by the accessibility of safe drinking water and the scarcity of water. Amidst a changing climate, population pressures on finite water supplies continue to increase. This course will focus on the human health implications and challenges of water access, scarcity, and quality in different parts of the world. We will cover threats to water quality including water-borne diseases, inorganic contaminants, and emerging contaminants of concern. We will also discuss the disproportionate burden of water-related diseases on children, which impacts their long-term physical and cognitive development.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
G. Peltier
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits in ENVST or science courses.

ENVST-321HC Conference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Human Health and Climate Change'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Climate change presents a global public health problem, with serious health impacts predicted to manifest in varying ways in different parts of the world. Through this course, we will investigate these health effects which include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injuries and premature deaths related to extreme heat, weather, and other disaster events, and changes in the prevalence and geographical distribution of food- and water-borne illnesses and other infectious diseases. We will critically review the literature documenting recent and current impacts and predictions for the future. We will also look at solutions in place for adapting to these changes.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
J. Albertine
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: ENVST-200.

ENVST-321TX Conference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Toxic Entanglements: Environmental (In)Justice in the United States'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Toxic water in Flint, Michigan. Oil pipelines through sacred sites in North Dakota. These manifestations of environmental injustice and inequality are only the most recent incarnations of larger legacies. Environments are never simply natural or given: they are imbued with unequal entanglements of gender, race, class, and power. Environmental justice asks questions about the ways in which environments are produced, and the relations of risk, harm, benefit, access, privilege, domination, oppression, and liberation therein. In this course, we will study the theory and practice of environmental (in)justice in the United States. We will briefly explore histories of environmental injustice in the U.S. (from colonization and slavery, to industrialization and pollution); past and current struggles over the siting of production facilities, toxic waste, and pollution; and recent events around water (be they floods, toxicity, or protection): Hurricane Katrina, Flint, and Standing Rock. We will pay particular attention to questions of food and justice, examining gender, race, and class in agricultural labor, corporate power in agribusiness, food deserts, food access/health and white privilege, and gender in alternative community food movements.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Surprise
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Prereq: 4 credits from a related subject.

ENVST-333 Landscape and Narrative: Finding Place, Finding Home

Fall. Credits: 4

Different types of stories or narratives -- whether myth, literature, maps, oral tradition, or scientific theory -- have been created about nearly every region or environment on Earth as attempts to describe and understand that place and human connections to it. In this seminar we'll explore how braided strands of human history and natural history contribute to stories we tell of the land, and to stories we tell of ourselves in the land. We'll consider examples of how lifeways, homeplace, and identity are linked with environment or landscape. We'll also create written, visual, and/or aural narratives of our own.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
T. Farnham, L. Savoy
Instructor permission required.
Prereq: 8 credits in Environmental Studies.
Advisory: Preference will be given to junior and senior Environmental Studies majors, but other students who meet the prerequisite of 8 credits in the department are welcome to apply. Application: https://tinyurl.com/envst333.

ENVST-335 Wetlands Ecology and Management

Spring. Credits: 4

Although they cover ~0.6% of the earth's surface, wetlands perform more ecosystem services per hectare than any other ecosystem type. Alarmingly, over half of the earth's wetlands have been lost to agriculture and development. With these wetlands were also lost the valuable ecosystem functions wetlands perform. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to examine the biogeochemical, ecological, societal, and regulatory aspects of wetland ecosystems. Group discussion of primary scientific literature, as well as independent experimental design and the writing of a research proposal are core components. Field trips will sometimes keep us until 5:05 pm, and will provide an opportunity to explore these fascinating ecosystems in person.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
K. Ballantine
Prereq: ENVST-200 or at least 8 credits of 200- or 300-level laboratory science.

ENVST-339 Indigenous and Decolonial Ecologies

Fall. Credits: 4

From protesting pipelines in Standing Rock to fighting fires in Brazil, Indigenous peoples have been at the forefront of environmental struggles. But how do Indigenous peoples characterize relationships with land/territories? How do Indigenous and other marginalized groups contest colonialism when engaging with their territories, and in politics? What alternative worlds do they imagine? This course will seek to answer these questions in connection to theories, concepts, and cases focused on the Americas/Abya-Yala. It will further center Indigenous and other marginalized ways of knowing, worldviews, and lifeways, when analyzing issues like pollution, conservation, or environmental conflicts.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distrib. Rqmt; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
S. Cifuentes
Prereq: 8 credits in the department or in humanities or social science at the 200-level or above.

ENVST-342 Living in the Anthropocene: Development, Technology, Futures

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

The concept of the Anthropocene (the "human epoch") signifies that human activity has become the dominant physical force on the planet. Mainstream narratives envision three phases of the Anthropocene: industrial origins (1800 - 1950); global expansion and the nuclear age (1950 - 2000+); and an emergent third phase marked by massive shifts in land-use and biodiversity. This course undertakes a critical examination of the Anthropocene concept. We will analyze debates over geological demarcation, the term itself and the "anthropos" it embodies, and eco-modernist conceptions of a "good" Anthropocene. We aim to historically contextualize the socio-technical phases of the Anthropocene (industrial revolution, post-WWII global expansion, and contemporary globalization), situating them as processes emerging within a specific political-economic context (capitalism). Finally, we examine struggles over the socio-ecological entanglements shaping its future directions: urbanization, industrialized agriculture, genetic technology, and geoengineering/Earth System management. This course explores what it means to live in an era where a subset of one species can determine the conditions of possibility for life on the entire planet.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
K. Surprise
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ENVST-346 Global Inequality, Smart Earth Technology, and Environmental Governance

Spring. Credits: 4

This course is an interdisciplinary advanced seminar for students interested in learning about global environmental governance and inequality. We review the major theories about the intertwined challenges of poverty and environmental degradation, explore how legacies of colonialism persist, and examine how actors from nation states to Indigenous Peoples influence official state negotiations. Finally, we explore how advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and environmental sensor networks, and novel financial instruments, such as cryptocurrencies and nature-based video games, are changing conservation. As a curriculum-to-career course, there is strong emphasis on research, writing and speaking skills needed to advocate for environmental sustainability and social justice.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences; Multicultural Perspectives
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
C. Corson
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits of social science or humanities courses.

ENVST-347 Environmental Geopolitics and Security

Spring. Credits: 4

Food insecurity, warfare, disasters, energy, climate crises: how are environments enrolled in and entangled with questions of power, security, and geopolitical strategy? This course will explore relationships between population, resources, and scarcity, starting from the premise that scarcity is more often manufactured to maintain power than it is a "natural" condition. We examine the weaponization of environments in modern warfare, relationships between racism, pollution, (in)security and slow violence, the ways that climate change is being militarized and securitized and energy transitions are raising new questions of geopolitical power. We conclude with perspectives on rethinking security.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Surprise
Restrictions: This course is open to juniors and seniors
Prereq: 8 credits in humanities or social science.

ENVST-390 Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies

Fall. Credits: 4

This is the capstone course of the environmental studies major. The course explores linkages among the diversity of disciplines that contribute to the environmental studies major, illustrates how these disciplines that contribute to the environmental studies major are used in environmental decision making, enables students to inform one another's roles as environmentalists, and provides students with opportunities to develop individual and cooperative projects.

Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Community-Based Learning
T. Farnham
Restrictions: This course is limited to Environmental Studies majors.

ENVST-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Courses Approved as Electives for the Major and Core Courses for the Minor

Natural Sciences

Biological Sciences
BIOL-200Introductory Biology II: How Organisms Develop4
BIOL-223Ecology4
BIOL-226Evolution: Making Sense of Life4
BIOL-315Behavioral Ecology4
BIOL-323Plant Growth and Development4
BIOL-325Plant Diversity and Evolution4
BIOL-331Conservation Biology4
Chemistry
CHEM-202Organic Chemistry I4
Environmental Studies
ENVST-150PHIntroductory Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Introduction to Environmental and Public Health'4
ENVST-200Environmental Science4
ENVST-233HCTopics in Environmental Studies: 'Human Health and Climate Change'4
ENVST-316Restoration Ecology4
ENVST-321GWConference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Water Is Life: Human Health, Disease, and the Environment'4
ENVST-321HCConference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Human Health and Climate Change'4
ENVST-335Wetlands Ecology and Management4
Geography
GEOG-205Mapping and Spatial Analysis4
GEOG-224Atmosphere and Weather4
GEOG-230Environmental Soil Science4
Geology
GEOL-201Rocks and Minerals4
GEOL-202History of Earth4
GEOL-203The Earth's Surface4
GEOL-211Uranium4
GEOL-227Groundwater Geology4
GEOL-229Hydrology and Hydrogeology: Hydrological Cycle, Surface, and Groundwater Movement4
GEOL-240Geological Resources and the Environment4
GEOL-342CCSeminar in Geology: 'Global Effects of Climate Change'4
GEOL-342HYSeminar in Geology: ''Geology and Hydrology Underfoot'4
GEOL-342PESeminar in Geology: 'Plastics in the Environment'4
GEOL-342WASeminar in Geology: 'Water Issues Worldwide'4

Humanities

Architecture
ARCH-225EDIntermediate Studies in Architecture: 'Environmental Principles'4
Critical Race & Political Econ
CRPE-240FDIntermediate Topics: 'U.S. Latinx Foodways'4
English
ENGL-219CHTopics in Creative Writing: 'Climate Changes Everything: Telling Stories at the End of the World As We Know It'4
ENGL-350ABTopics in African American Literature: 'Abolition and Climate Change'4
ENGL-366Love, Sex, and Death in the Anthropocene, or Living Through the Age of Climate Change and Other Disasters4
Environmental Studies
ENVST-216Global Environmental Justice4
ENVST-240The Value of Nature4
ENVST-254The Climate Humanities, Futures, and Activism4
ENVST-333Landscape and Narrative: Finding Place, Finding Home4
ENVST-339Indigenous and Decolonial Ecologies4
Gender Studies
GNDST-333ANAdvanced Seminar: 'Love, Sex, and Death in the Anthropocene, or Living Through the Age of Climate Change and Other Disasters'4
GNDST-333MSAdvanced Seminar: 'Multi-Species Justice? Entangled Lives and Human Power'4
History
HIST-239GFTopics in Asian History: 'Global Food and Local Tastes in Modern East Asia'4
HIST-239HHTopics in Asian History: 'History of Humans and Other Living Beings'4
HIST-277History of Energy4
HIST-280DDTopics in North American History: 'Diversity, Inclusion, and Daily Democracy in US History'4
HIST-332Environmental History of China4
Music
MUSIC-203Acoustic Ecology and Sonic Art4
Philosophy
PHIL-161Science and Human Values4
Religion
RELIG-172Religion and Ecological Movements4
RELIG-225APTopics in Religion: 'Apocalypse Now? Spiritual Responses to Ecological Catastrophe'4
RELIG-331CAAdvanced Topics in Religion: 'Carbon Christianity'4
Spanish
SPAN-250ATConcepts and Practices of Power: 'The Agency of Things: Material Culture of Latin America, Spain, and the U.S. Border'4

Social Sciences

Anthropology
ANTHR-316MTSpecial Topics in Anthropology: 'Multispecies Ethnography: 'Across Humans, Animals, and Plants'4
Critical Race & Political Econ
CRPE-239Latina/o/x Urbanism4
Economics
ECON-219Environmental Economics4
ECON-319Environmental Economics, Ecology and Conservation Policy4
Environmental Studies
ENVST-210Political Ecology4
ENVST-241Environmental Issues4
ENVST-251Research, Ethics, Justice and Campus Sustainability4
ENVST-321CPConference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Political Economy of the Environment: Capitalism and Climate Change'4
ENVST-321EQConference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Food Equity and Empowerment' Change'4
ENVST-321TXConference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Toxic Entanglements: Environmental (In)Justice in the United States'4
ENVST-342Living in the Anthropocene: Development, Technology, Futures4
ENVST-346Global Inequality, Smart Earth Technology, and Environmental Governance4
ENVST-347Environmental Geopolitics and Security4
Entrepreneurship, Orgs & Soc
EOS-299RJTopic: 'Research, Ethics, Justice, and Campus Sustainability'4
Geography
GEOG-204Human Dimensions of Environmental Change4
GEOG-206Political Geography4
GEOG-208Global Movements: Migrations, Refugees and Diasporas4
GEOG-210GIS for the Social Sciences and Humanities4
GEOG-241RETopics in Geography: 'Geographies of Renewable Energy Transition'4
GEOG-304UPPlanning and the Environment: 'Urban Planning'4
GEOG-313Third World Development4
GEOG-314China in the Global South4
GEOG-319Africa: Problems and Prospects4
GEOG-331Water, People, and Politics in the Anthropocene4

Contact Us

Environmental Studies is an interdisciplinary department with courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Debra LaBonte
  • Academic Department Coordinator

Next Steps

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