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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 208. Sustainable Agricultural Management (1). This course is an introduction to global agriculture and natural resource management. Students will learn how agriculture has been evolving to where it is now. More focus will be on agribusiness principles and how sustainability issues are shaping current and future business decisions as firms strive to remain profitable. In addition, students will learn about what the conversion to sustainable agriculture entails for different parts of the world. The course exposes students to hands on experience and interaction with experts in the sustainable agriculture field. No prior exposure to any form of agriculture is required/assumed. (Also listed as Economics 208.) Offered each spring. Prerequisite: Economics 199.

ENVS 219. Environmental Archaeology (1). Environmental archaeology attempts to understand the interrelationships between cultures and environments of the past. This course examines how archaeologists study the environmental contexts of past societies, and it engages students in the practice of environmental archaeology. Students review the theoretical bases of cultural ecology and paleoecology and learn the principal methods of paleoenvironmental reconstruction from archaeological and non-archaeological data. Major topics covered are climate, landscape and geoarchaeology, vegetation, fauna, and human impacts on environments. Students visit nearby archaeological sites and laboratories, process soil samples from archaeological sites, conduct team research on plant and animal remains recovered from these samples, and present oral and written research reports. (Also listed as Anthropology 219.) Offered odd years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Anthropology 110.

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. (Also listed as Philosophy 224.) (5T) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Philosophy 110 or 115 or sophomore standing.

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 249.) Offered biennially.

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 art, art history and/or environmental studies are required. (5T) Prerequisite: sophomore standing

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 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. Topics in Environmental Studies (.5, 1). Designed to pursue topics in environmental studies that are not addressed in the regular course offerings. Topics vary, but they may include Challenges of Global Change or Environment and Society. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and any 2 courses that satisfy the Environmental Studies major or consent of instructor.

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 (.25 - 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.