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Environmental Studies Courses

Course information found here includes all permanent offerings and is updated regularly whenever Academic Senate approves changes. For historical information, see the Course Catalogs. For actual course availability in any given term, use Course Search in the Portal.

  • ENVS 205. Seminar on Energy and Environmental Economics (1). This course has two main themes: First, the most pressing environmental problems, such as climate change, are directly connected to the production and consumption of energy. Second, the design and critique of environmental policies must be grounded in a solid understanding of economics. (Also listed as Economics 205.) (3B) Offered each fall. Prerequisite: Economics 199.

  • ENVS 224. Environmental Ethics (1). An examination of ethical questions related to the environment and our place in it. Special emphasis on issues concerning our moral responsibility to beings and entities that are physically, metaphysically, and/or temporally distant from us. These may include distant persons, nonhuman animals, natural objects, species, and ecosystems, as well as future iterations of these. (5T) (Also listed as Philosophy 224.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Philosophy 110 or 115, or sophomore standing.

  • ENVS 237. Race and the American Environment (1). As Native peoples, Africans, and Europeans came into contact with one another, their actions altered both the cultural and natural landscapes of the present-day United States. This course will focus on some of these actions, both intentional and unwitting, as we consider central questions of American environmental history from the colonial era through the present day. We will think about the ways that different cultural approaches to land, plants, and animals transform ecological systems, as well as the ways that different groups of people approach various landscapes. We will also consider environmental causes and consequences of otherwise familiar historical events, as well as the ways that class and, especially, race, affect people's relationships with "the environment." Additional topics include ideas and experiences of "nature"; slavery and the plantation system; the displacement of indigenous peoples; and the rise of environmentalism and its transformation by issues of inequality and justice. (5T) (Also listed as History 237/Critical Studies 237.) Open to first-year students.

  • ENVS 248. Politics of Global Sustainable Development (1). Uncovers the relationships between politics and poverty on the one hand, and politics and development on the other. Investigates differing conceptions of development and the many different theoretical approaches to development. Drawing on case studies from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America topics covered may include: law and legal system reform; politics of HIV/AIDS; state capacity and efficiency; civil society and social movements; and resource mismanagement and conflict. (3B) (Also listed as Political Science 249.) Offered odd years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160, or consent of instructor.

  • ENVS 249. Central Asia: A Sense of Region (1). Between the Caspian Sea and the region of Lake Baikal, Central (Inner) Asia is a region of millions of square miles, inhabited by non-Slavic and non-Chinese peoples—Azeri, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Mongol, Tajik, Tibetan, Turkmen, Uighur, Uzbek, et al. Although their number is close to 100 million, we know little of their way of life and their societies, and even less of their histories and their aspirations. They are now resuming the course of their independent development, after being dominated—directly or indirectly—-by the neighboring empires of Russia and China, among others. This interdisciplinary lecture-discussion course emphasizes the region's environment, which had the primary effect on the inhabitants' way of life, their history, and their marginalization in the modern era. Parts of the region are still described as belonging to the 'Third World', while others are making promising moves toward modernization. Beyond a strategic location and an abundance of natural resources, Central Asia is rich in tradition. It was the center of history's largest land empire. It more than once exerted epoch-making historical influence on its neighbors (including Europe), and survival techniques of its peoples—from simple items such as use of the stirrup and dehydrated food to such practices as diplomatic immunity and parliamentary representation—became components of our modern life. (Also listed as History/Interdisciplinary Studies 249.) Open to first-year students

  • ENVS 250. Women and Politics in Africa (1). Introduction to the roles and interaction of women within African society and in relation to the African state. Examines the formal and informal ways in which African women have entered and shaped the political sphere; as political activists, organizers, voters, politicians, lawyers, and policymakers. This course situates the study of African women in politics within the scholarship of developing world gender politics more broadly. (3B) (Also listed as Political Science 250.) Offered odd years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160, or sophomore standing.

  • ENVS 255. Contemporary Art in an Age of Global Warming (1). What role, if any, can art play in solving current environmental challenges? Is it ethical for artists to make more objects in a world already littered with too many? What would an art based on a true integration of ecological, aesthetic and ethical consciousness look like? This course explores artist-based perspectives on building a more sustainable future--exciting territory where the very purpose and practice of art are being redefined. We examine a range of contemporary art practices and pressing environmental concerns. Through historical and contemporary readings and field trips, we consider artists' initiatives within the context and history of environmental thought and contemporary art theory. Scientific labs and fieldwork allow us to test the viability and ethics of key artworks. Additionally, the Science Center building serves as a case study of green architecture. A strong interest in art, art history, and/or environmental studies is required. (5T) (Also listed as Art History 255.) Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

  • ENVS 256. Environmental Politics (1). This course has a strong practical focus to help students develop skills for careers in sustainability. Students will work in groups on a semester-long sustainability project on campus and a simulation of a climate change summit. They learn about different ecologies, as well as the actors, institutions, and key issues in environmental policy-making, from the local level to the global, with special focus on climate change, class, environmental racism, environmental justice, activism, and empowerment. This course fulfills one of the requirements for the environmental studies major and minor. (3B) (Also listed as Political Science 255.) Offered every spring semester. Prerequisite: any 100-level political science or environmental studies course or consent of instructor.

  • ENVS 258. Interdisciplinary Applications of Geographic Information Systems (.5, 1). This course examines the theory and methods of computer-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and their application to interdisciplinary topics such as urban and regional planning and environmental management. Students learn to collect and display various types of spatial data. Interpretation and analysis of spatial data are also emphasized. Through individual and group projects, students are encouraged to explore political, economic, sociological, and/or scientific topics that might benefit from spatial analysis. Lecture, discussion, computer laboratory, and possible field study. Offered every third semester. Prerequisite: 1 lab-science course, sophomore standing, or consent of instructor.

  • ENVS 260. Media and the Anthropocene (1). Many scientists and researchers across the globe now agree that the Anthropocene—the word proposed to describe a new geological epoch defined by the earth-shaping consequences of human activity—has arrived. This course explores the media landscape of the Anthropocene, focusing on various ways in which filmmakers, podcasters, and other digital storytellers are attempting to make sense of the challenges we humans face during this moment of profound geological and ecological change. In addition to examining the work of others, students are required to produce their own digital media projects, using a variety of audio, video, and web-based production tools. (2A) (Also listed as Media Studies 350/Journalism 350.) Offered every other year. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing or permission of instructor.

  • ENVS 271. Sociology of the Environment (1). This course will examine how social factors shape human interaction with, and understanding of, our natural environment. We will critically examine a variety of social institutions—political and economic systems, cultural traditions, governmental bodies and advocacy organizations, among others—that mediate and shape our relationship with the environment. Topics include the social construction of nature, discourse and agenda-setting within the media and the environmental movement, environmental justice issues and the possibility of sustainable societies. (Also listed as Sociology 271.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor. Sociology 200 is suggested as well.

  • ENVS 280. Core Topics in Environmental Studies (.5, 1). Designed to pursue topics in environmental studies that are not addressed in the regular core course offerings. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Meets environmentally-related course requirement (#4) for Environmental Studies majors. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and any 2 courses that satisfy the Environmental Studies major, or consent of instructor. The 2A, 1S, 3B, 4U, 5T domained versions of this course are, respectively, 281, 282, 283, 284, 286.

  • ENVS 290. Topics in Environmental Studies (.5,1). Courses with environmental components. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Meets environmentally-related concentration course requirement (#5) for Environmental Studies majors. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: varies with course offering or consent of instructor. The 1S, 2A, 3B, 4U, 5T domained versions of this course are, respectively, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295.

  • ENVS 380. Senior Colloquium in Environmental Studies (.5). The senior colloquium provides a capstone opportunity for students of environmental studies. This course uses a variety of perspectives to examine human interactions with the environment and political and cultural responses to these interactions. Students may perform research, pursue an internship or other experiential opportunity, or bring previous experiences to the course. All students will reflect on these experiences, make a public presentation, and investigate professional opportunities in environmental studies. Offered each fall. Prerequisite: senior standing in an environmentally related major.

  • ENVS 390. Special Projects (.5, 1). Research work under faculty supervision. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

  • ENVS 392. Honors Thesis (.5, 1). The writing of a substantial paper based on independent study or project. Qualified students may apply by submitting an application by the mid-point of the term prior to the term in which the honors research would be conducted; environmental studies program faculty will select a limited number of honors candidates each year. May be repeated for up to 1 unit of credit. Prerequisite: declared environmental studies major, senior standing, 3.4 minimum grade point average in courses required for the environmental studies major, an approved departmental honors application.

  • ENVS 395. Teaching Assistant (.25, .5). Work with faculty in classroom, laboratory, and field instruction of a class. Graded credit/no credit.

  • ENVS 396. Research Assistant (.5, 1). Work with faculty on a research project.