Environmental Studies

Environmental studies concerns human interaction with the physical world. The Environmental Studies Program offers an opportunity to explore that interaction from a variety of perspectives and using the tools of different academic disciplines. A number of departments contribute courses to this interdisciplinary program.

The concentration in Environmental Studies encourages both interdisciplinary breadth and depth of study in a discipline. Upon declaring their ES concentration, students also declare a focus academic division in which to pursue their ES program, and work closely with faculty advisors to develop an individualized plan of study. Note that ES 150 is NOT a required course for the concentration.

The concentration consists of 13 courses:

Six foundational courses distributed among the two academic divisions: 1) natural sciences and 2) social sciences/humanities, including:
•       one introductory science course in geoscience, and one in biology, chemistry or physics;
•       two in the social sciences/humanities;
•       two additional courses selected from the student's focus division;

Four elective courses chosen from a specific discipline within the focus division;

One data analysis and/or statistics course (prior to senior year);

One elective course with explicit environmental content;

550, the Senior Project

A complete description of the Senior Project is available from members of the advisory committee. A maximum of four credits may be transferred into the concentration from study off-campus with prior approval. Students who have earned at least a 3.5 (90) average in courses toward the concentration may receive honors in Environmental Studies through distinguished work on the Senior Project.

The detailed requirements for the environmental studies concentration are:

1. Six foundational courses, which should be taken before the completion of the junior year. These courses are:

Two of the following Natural Sciences courses:
One of Geoscience 103, 105, 110, 112 or 116
One of Biology 101, 102 or 115, Chemistry 120 or 125, or Physics 100 or 200

Two courses from the Social Sciences/Humanities list below (or at the discretion of the student's advisor and the Program Committee)

Two more courses from the student's focus division (not limited to the lists below).

ES 220 Forever Wild: The Cultural and Natural Histories of the Adirondack Park
ES 221 Global Warming
ES 250 Interpreting the American Environment
ES 290 Nature and Technology
Economics 380 Environmental Economics (prerequisite Economics 101)
English 267 Literature and the Environment
ES 155 Religion in the Wild
Government 285 Introduction to Environmental Politics
Government 287 Political Theory and the Environment
Philosophy 235 Environmental Ethics
Religious Studies 118 Religion and Environmentalism

ES 150 Environmental Science and Society
ES 221 Global Warming
Biology 101, 102 or 115 Introductory Biology
Biology 237 Ecology
Chemistry 120 or 125 Introductory Chemistry
Geoscience 222 Earth’s Climate
Geoscience 240 Meterology
Geosciences 295Su Geology of Tasmania

2. Four elective courses selected in consultation with the student’s advisor from a discipline within the focus division. These courses are intended to provide the student with sufficient depth of understanding to enable competent pursuit of the Senior Project. At least three of these electives must be above the 100 level.

3. One course in data analysis and/or statistics: Economics 265 Economic Statistics, Government 230 Data Analysis, Mathematics 100 Statistical Reasoning and Data Analysis, Mathematics 253 Statistical Analysis of Data, or Psychology 201 Statistics and Research Methods in Psychology. This course must be taken prior to senior year.

4. One elective course with explicit environmental content from outside one’s discipline (chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor).

5. 550 Senior Project. Note that students pursuing science- or other empirically-oriented Senior Projects are normally expected to begin their empirical research as an Independent Study with a faculty member in the semester (or summer) preceding their enrollment in ES 550. The Independent Study can be undertaken as a half- or full-credit course and will be counted toward completion of the ES concentration.

The minor in Environmental Studies consists of five courses: An introductory environmental science course (one of ES150, GeoSc 105, or GeoSc 110) and four from the Natural Sciences and Social Sciences/Humanities lists above (with the exclusion of introductory biology, chemistry, and physics courses). A student may petition to substitute other courses with an explicit environmental focus. The five courses must include at least one course from outside the natural sciences. A student may count for the minor at most two courses from a single department, and at most two courses from programs away from Hamilton.

150F Environmental Science and Society.
An introduction to environmental science. Emphasis on scientific understanding of the causes and implications of, and potential solutions for, problems that result from human interactions with the environment. Current environmental problems examined from an ecological perspective. (Same as Biology 150.) W Pfitsch.

[155F] Religion in the Wild.
Jesus, Moses, Siddharta, and Mohammed all had significant experiences in the wilderness. These experiences shaped their lives and the religious traditions that they helped found. We will read from and about philosophers, mystics, and spiritual seekers who have gone to untamed spaces for inspiration. We will then turn toward the modern world, and its ongoing spiritual/secular impact, reading works by H.D. Thoreau, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Gary Snyder, Sara Maitland, and Jonathan Franzen, and look at films including Into the Wild and The Straight Story. (Writing-intensive.) (Oral Presentations.) Instructor's Permission Only. (Same as Religious Studies 155.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

212S Global Warming: Is the Day After Tomorrow Sooner than We Think?.
Investigates the historical/political/geographic context for our hydrocarbon economy, the scientific and economic debate behind global warming, the social and ecological consequences of action or inaction regarding greenhouse gas emissions and the role of public policy and international relations in global invironmental change. Prerequisite, One semester of science. Not open to students who have taken Environmental Studies/Geoscience 221. May count toward a concentration in environmental studies. (Same as Geosciences 212 and Government 212.) Maximum enrollment, 25. C Dash.

[218F] Industrial Ecology.
The science of sustainability. Using a variety of tools students will assess the total environmental impact associated with the manufacturing, use and disposal of a variety of common consumer goods. Key concepts to be introduced include life-cycle analysis, eco-design, product stewardship, product dematerialization, industrial metabolism and industrial symbiosis. Popular strategies for reducing the environmental burden of industrial activities will also be examined. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, any 100-level course in science, government or economics. May not be counted toward the concentration or the minor in biology. (Same as Biology 218 and Geosciences 218.) Maximum enrollment, 24.

220F,S Forever Wild: The Cultural and Natural Histories of the Adirondack Park.
Study of America's largest inhabited wilderness. Survey of natural and cultural histories of the park and examination of ecological, political and social issues. Study of literary, scientific, historical and political texts. Exploration of environmental issues such as acid rain, development and land-use, predator re-introduction and population controls. Prerequisite, one course in literature, biology, geology or environmental studies. May count toward a concentration in environmental studies. Field trip required. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the fall. Oral Presentations (Fall-2 sections); Writing-intensive (Spring). (Same as College Courses and Seminars 220.) Maximum enrollment, 14. O Oerlemans and J Schwartz.

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250F,S Interpreting the American Environment.
A survey of responses to and interpretations of the American landscape. Study of historical, political, literary, and critical texts. Puts contemporary environmentalism in a historical and geographical perspective. Emphasis on changing notions of wilderness, urban development and the cultural contexts of expansion and development. Cannavò.

255S Gender and Environment.
The theoretical, historical and material links between gender and the natural world. We explore how the social category of gender relates to environmental issues, but also focus on how other human differences based on race, class, sexuality and nation connect to the so-called "non-human environment.” The course begins with feminist historical and theoretical analysis of the links between gender and environment, including examinations of Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology. Building on this foundation, we then explore Health and Technology, Environmental Justice, and Global Climate Change. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Women's Studies 255.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

[290F] Nature and Technology.
This course examines the sometimes contentious relationship between the natural world and human attempts to understand it (science) and control it (technology). We survey ethical, social, artistic and scientific distinctions between the natural world and the human-built world. Specific topics include everyday tools (e.g., hammers), food and agricultural practices (corn & chickens), modes of transportation (trains), and emerging biotechnologies (genes & humans). Readings will draw from works in philosophy of technology, environmental history, and science and technology studies. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

305F Global Climate Change Seminar.
An exploration of the scientific evidence for anthropogenic global climate change through analysis and discussion of primary literature. The course covers data interpretation, critical thinking about scientific articles, and use of scientific evidence to inform thought about the causes and consequences of climate change. Prerequisite: one Environmental Studies Science Foundation course. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, One Environmental Studies Science Foundation course. Maximum enrollment, 16. Carolyn Barrett Dash.

550F,S Senior Project.
An independent study developed in consultation with a faculty advisor and the environmental studies advisory committee to explore in detail an environmental topic, culminating in a substantial research paper and oral presentation. Proposals for Senior Projects are developed with a faculty advisor and submitted to the ES advisory committee prior to course registration. Prerequisite, Permission of instructor. The Program.

(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)