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Information on this website is posted for historical reference only. Please visit the Office of the Registrar for current requirements.

Environmental Studies Program

1. Humans and Nature in America

12W, 13W: 10

Using literary texts as the primary guides, this course will explore a variety of relationships between humans and the natural world in North America (primarily the USA) over the last 200 years. The texts—including the Journals of Lewis and Clark, nonfiction by John McPhee and Terry Tempest Williams, and fiction by Toni Morrison and Leslie Marmon Silko—will be supplemented by readings and guest lectures from other academic perspectives and disciplines and integrated with the students’ own contemplative fieldwork. The goal will be to investigate the complexities inherent in any human’s relationship with the natural world—from individual perceptions to social and cultural constructions—and analyze closely those that seem characteristically “American.” Dist: LIT; WCult:W. Osborne.

2. Introduction to Environmental Science

11F, 12F: 12

To understand current environmental problems, we need to study the physical, biological, chemical and social processes that are often the basis of those problems. This course will give the skills necessary to ask intelligent questions about—and perhaps obtain answers to—some of the environmental problems our planet is facing today by examining scientific principles and the application of those principles to environmental issues. This course will survey a variety of topics including pollution, biodiversity, energy use, recycling, land degradation, and human population dynamics. It is designed to introduce environmental science and environmental issues, topics which are explored in greater depth in other Environmental Studies courses. Dist: SCI. Friedland.

3. Environment and Society: Towards Sustainability?

12S, 13S: 12

What does a sustainable relationship between humans and the environment look like? The co-evolution of society and the environment involves complex and dynamic interactions whose consequences are hard (or impossible) to predict because causes and effects are often far apart in time and space. This course examines interactions between environmental and social processes from the perspective of sustainability. This course explores: the historical roots of unsustainability and the underlying mental models contributing to this state of affairs; the idea that resilience is the key to a sustainable relationship between society and environment; how institutions and power dynamics influence sustainability; and possible actions to facilitate transitions to sustainability founded on mindfulness of paradigms and ethics. Dist: SOC. Kapuscinski, Sneddon.

7. First-Year Seminars in Environmental Studies

Consult special listings

12. Energy and the Environment

12W, 13W: 10A

Energy, in a variety of forms, is a fundamental need of all societies. This course explores the scientific concepts and applications to society of the issues regarding energy extraction, conversions and use. It will examine the scientific basis for environmental and social concerns about our present energy mix including global climate change, toxic emissions and wastes from energy combustion, and nuclear proliferation. We will also consider choices that are made in the development and utilization of energy resources and the role of public policy.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 2 or permission of the instructor. Dist: TAS. T. Smith

15. Environmental Issues of the Earth’s Cold Regions

12S, 13S: 10

This course examines the major physical, ecological and human systems of high latitudes, including the circumpolar northern Arctic regions and the continent of Antarctica. Using an interdisciplinary perspective the course explores the science of polar environmental change and applies this information to understand the connections of the polar regions to global processes and international issues (climate change, biodiversity, indigenous rights).

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 2 or 3 or permission of the instructor. Dist: TAS. Virginia.

16. Business and the Environment

12W: 11

We’ve all heard that green jobs will bring the U.S. out of this recession, but can Ben & Jerry’s really save the economy and the planet? This course will cover the principles of green business, critiques of green business, and the role of green business in the global economy. Students will compare theory and practice by evaluating the green credentials of companies ranging from Patagonia to British Petroleum. Dist: SOC, INT. Webster.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 2 or equivalent. (Pending Approval)

17. Marine Policy

11F, 12F: 10A

People use the oceans for transportation, recreation, food, mineral wealth, waste disposal, military defense, and many other important things. This course explores the most significant human-ocean interactions known today from two perspectives: science and policy. From the scientific literature, students will learn about issues ranging from the physical effects of sea level rise to the biological impacts of pollution events like the recent BP oil spill to the economic repercussions of overfishing. For each of the problems that are revealed by science, we will also critically evaluate relevant policy solutions to understand how institutional design can (or can’t) enhance human interactions with the oceans. Dist; LIT. Webster.

20. Conservation of Biodiversity

12W, 13W: 2

On a global scale we are witnessing an unprecedented decline in what has come to be called Biodiversity. Human population growth and increasing rates of material consumption and technological development have increased the rate and scale at which we impact populations of native animals and plants. One goal of the course will be to address the biological aspects of this issue. What is Biodiversity? How is Biodiversity distributed geographically and taxonomically? What does humankind do to cause animal and plant extinctions? Is there a Biodiversity crisis? What is the current rate of extinction and what is the natural extinction rate? What properties of individual species make them vulnerable to extinction? What are the major threats to Biodiversity? The second objective is to examine the social dimensions of Biodiversity. How do our cultural and political perceptions and institutions contribute to the loss of Biodiversity? What value is Biodiversity to humankind? What is being done to preserve Biodiversity in the realms of science, technology, and policy? These questions will be addressed through lecture material, course readings, and writing assignments.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 2 or Biology 16, or permission of the instructor. Dist: TAS. Bolger.

25. Ecological Agriculture

12X: 11, Laboratory Monday and Tuesday 2:00-5:00 p.m.

This course will introduce the principles of ecological agriculture. Concepts from ecology and ecosystem science will be applied to the study of agriculture and the design of sustainable production systems. An introduction to soils and their management and controls on plant growth will be emphasized in the field and in the laboratory. Environmental issues associated with conventional and low-input agriculture will be considered. Visits to local farms and field exercises at the Dartmouth student organic farm will supplement the classroom material.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 2 or Biology 16 or permission of the instructor. Dist: TLA. Staff.

28. Global Environmental Health

12S, 13S: 11

This course will focus upon the scientific and public health principles that govern environmental health outcomes at the individual to the global scale. Case studies will be used to illustrate the principles. Some of the issues that will be discussed include lead poisoning, mercury in the food web, the epidemic of tobacco use that is sweeping the world, the global movement of persistent organic pollutants, and natural contaminates in the human supply. These cases will increase in complexity with regards to causative agents and health outcomes. Lastly, trends of environmental diseases coupled with the prevention of these diseases will be emphasized.

Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 2 or Biology 16 or permission of the instructor. Dist: TAS. Roebuck.

30. Global Environmental Science

Not offered in the period from 11F through 13S

39. Natural Resources, Development, and the Environment

12X: 10A

How do countries develop their natural resources and also maintain environmental quality? How are water resources and food security maintained in the face of pressures for economic development? Using a multidisciplinary and comparative approach, this course explores the social, political, and scientific issues behind economic development and environmental preservation. Agricultural practices, resource conservation strategies, and tensions between development and conservation are interrogated. The course examines these issues in the historical, social, and political contexts of developed and developing countries, with an emphasis on the emerging nations of sub-Saharan Africa.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 2 or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC. Fox.

40. Foreign Study in Environmental Problems I

11F, 12F: D.F.S.P.

Natural Resources and Environmental Issues in Southern Africa. This course will examine the natural resource constraints and policy dilemmas faced by developing countries and the impacts of people on the environment. Topics will include land and water use, biodiversity and wildlife management, population and environmental health, agricultural practices and community dynamics, and development economics. These topics will be illustrated through field work at National Parks and safari areas, farming areas, and at community-based development projects. Dist: SOC. Fox.

42. Foreign Study in Environmental Problems II

11F, 12F: D.F.S.P.

Social and Political Aspects of Development and Conservation in Southern Africa. This course will examine the historical, social, and political context of the interplay between resource use, economic development and environmental conservation in southern Africa. The impact of colonial and ethnic traditions and international institutions, on strategies for economic development, urban growth, wildlife management, ecotourism, resource conservation (especially water and soil) and land use will be discussed. Issues of gender in agricultural development and environmental protection will be considered. Dist: INT. Roebuck.

44. Environment and Politics in Southeast Asia (Identical to Geography 44)

11F, 12F: 10A

Over the past several decades, the people and ecosystems of Southeast Asia have confronted a host of political, economic and cultural processes commonly grouped together under the heading “development”. Using an approach grounded in political ecology, this course will explore a diversity of human-environment relationships in Southeast Asia. We will use case studies representing a variety of geographical scales (e.g., local, urban, national, transnational), ecological settings (e.g., mountain, coastal, agro-ecosystem) and societal contexts (Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia) to address several cross-cutting themes (e.g., urbanization; hydropolitics and the politics of large dams; ecotourism; and questions of identity and resource conflicts).Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW. Sneddon.

45. Colonialism, Development and the Environment in Asia and Africa (Identical to and described under History 75, also AAAS 50)

13W: 10

Open to all students. Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: NW. Haynes.

50. Environmental Problem Analysis and Policy Formulation

12S, 13S: 2

Students working together in groups will formulate and justify policy measures that they think would be appropriate to deal with a local environmental problem. The purposes of this coordinating course are to (1) give students an opportunity to see how the disciplinary knowledge acquired in their various courses and departmental major programs can be integrated in a synthetic manner; (2) provide a forum for an in-depth evaluation of a significant environmental policy problem; and (3) give students the experience of working as a project team toward the solution of a real-world problem. Considerable field work may be involved, and the final examination will consist of a public presentation and defense of student-generated policy recommendations.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 1, 2 or 3, and at least one upper-level Environmental Studies course, or permission of the instructor. Open only to seniors or to other classes with permission of the instructor. Satisfies the Culminating Experience requirement. Dist: SOC. Bolger.

53. Science for Sustainable Systems

11F, 12F: 12

A great challenge of our age is to understand the dynamics of complex biological/environmental/human systems and move them toward sustainability. Lecture, discussion and project topics include methods and traditions in systems thinking; ecological resilience; adaptive management; systems dynamics modeling; theory and practice of sustainability in terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems; real-world case studies of current projects, leadership for convening diverse stakeholders; and relevant principles of social and organizational learning.

Prerequisites: One of Environmental Studies 20, 25, 28, 30, 55 or 79; or one of Biology 21, 22, 25, 31 or 53; or one of Engineering Sciences 37, 41-44 or 51; or Chemistry 63; or one of Earth Sciences 16-18, 26, 28, 61, 71 or 76; or one of Economics 22, 24, 28, 38 or 44; or one of Anthropology 49 or 75. Other students with relevant preparation in the sciences or social sciences can seek the permission of the instructor. Dist: TAS. Peart.

55. Ecological Economics

12W, 13W: 10

This course examines the links between economic and ecological systems with an emphasis on the interplay between values and institutions in environmental problem-solving. Concepts pertaining to welfare economics, common pool resources, ecosystem valuation, and environmental ethics are developed and applied to problems such as fisheries and forest management, biodiversity conservation, and global environmental change. The course emphasizes the relationship between economic growth, ecosystem services, and human flourishing in the definition and pursuit of sustainable development.

Prerequisites: Economics 1 or 2; Mathematics 3 or the equivalent; Environmental Studies 2 or 3; or permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC. Howarth.

56. Environmental Economics and Governance

12S, 13S: 11

This course explores how concepts from economics and political science can be integrated and applied to issues of environmental governance. Classroom activities and assignments are designed to foster critical thinking about 1) the tools used in environmental economics and 2) the interplay between economic and political forces in human-environment systems. Students will learn how concepts such as cost-benefit analysis, incentive-based regulation, and interest-based politics are applied to problems ranging from pollution reduction to international environmental negotiations.

Prerequisites: Economics 1 or 2 and Mathematics 3, or the equivalent, or permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC. Webster.

58. Environmental Justice Movements

12S: 10A

This class explores how marginalized communities have responded to the incidence, causes, and effects of environmental racism. Special attention is given to how the critiques offered by these communities challenge the knowledge and procedural forms of justice embedded in environmental policy making. Case studies will be drawn from readings on African-Americans, European-Americans, Chicano and Latino Americans, Native Americans and other constituents.

Open to all classes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Dorsey.

60. Environmental Law

11F, 12F: 10

Environmental law aims to protect and enhance the environment, reduce the risk to human health from pollution, and achieve sustainable development of natural resources. The success of environmental law depends upon balancing the three components of sustainability: ecological, economic, and social/cultural. Today, the primary sources of this balancing act are federal, state, and local ordinances and their myriad regulations. However, these statutes and regulations overlay a common, judge-made, law of property that establishes a system of private and public property, a law of contracts that governs transactions, and a tort law that provides remedies for intentional and unintentional harms. In addition, there is a growing body of international environmental law with both similarities and differences to U.S. environmental law. The major objectives of this course are to survey today’s major environmental laws, explore their history, determine how well they balance ecological, economic, and social sustainability and, finally, to discuss how to improve environmental law to better deal with biodiversity loss, human population growth, energy needs, and climate change in the future. Enrollment is limited. Dist: SOC. Jones.

65. International Environmental Issues

12W, 13W: 10A

This course will examine key international environmental issues such as desertification, wildlife, fragile ecosystems, ocean issues, environmental health, and land use. The approach is from a social science, human ecology perspective. The United Nations Environment Programme will also be focused upon. Case histories will be drawn from the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, China, East Africa, and elsewhere. Readings will be from original materials and the current literature. Dist: INT. Dorsey.

72. Nature Writers

12S: 10A

This course combines reading, writing and fieldwork to explore the breadth and richness of the Nature Writing genre. It will be a literature class that will expose you to a variety of nature writing forms; a field course, in which you will take to the field a number of times during the term to put yourself in the practical position of a nature writer; and a writing workshop in which you will write your own literary nature-related essays and critique each other’s pieces in class.

Enrollment is limited, and students interested in the course must apply. Applications will include a writing sample—a 3-page personal narrative based on a nature-related experience; the forms should be requested from the instructor. Applications are due by the last day of winter term (the term before the class is offered); extensions are possible for students off-campus during the winter. Students will be notified about application decisions on or before the first day of class. Dist: LIT, WCult: W. Osborne.

79. The Soil Resource (Identical to, and described under, Earth Sciences 35)

Not offered in the period from 11F through 13S

Dist: SLA.

80. Seminar in Environmental Studies

This course may be offered any term and the content varied according to the interests of the instructor. Seminars explore contemporary issues and problems in environmental science, environmental policy, and environmental topics from the humanities and social sciences. Seminars are primarily designed for juniors and seniors and generally require the permission of the instructor. Others may seek to apply by permission. Dist: Varies.

In 12S at 3A, Writing Our Way Home: The Writing That Sustains Us. Dist. LIT. Williams. This will be an intensive creative writing seminar and workshop in creative nonfiction, focusing on memory as source and landscape as setting. Students will explore the notion of place, not only as a physical construct but as an idea. The work of Helene Cixous, George Orwell, Brenda Ueland, and John Berger will serve as texts. The form of the essay will be discussed through the writings of Joan Didion, David Foster Wallace, Anne Carson, Sherman Alexie, and others. Weekly classes will be held at the Montgomery House followed by a dinner. Throughout the quarter, students will immerse themselves in both the art of storytelling and the practice of writing, culminating in “a natural autobiography,” a long essay that illuminates their own sense of place.

In 12S, Arrange, Polar Science, Policy, and Ethics (Identical to Biological Sciences 148).This course examines the connections between polar science and the human dimensions of rapid environmental change in the Arctic. The differing ways of understanding environmental change from the standpoints of western science and traditional knowledge information will be viewed as drivers of policy formulation. The course will emphasize team learning and the development of science communication skills as an important part of the policy research process.

This is a core course in the IGERT Polar Environmental Change graduate curriculum and will include instructors from several disciplines. Open to qualified undergraduates by permission of the instructor. Virginia.

84. Seminar on Environmental Issues of Southern Africa

11F, 12F: D.F.S.P.

This seminar will coordinate and supplement the material in courses and field work of the program, using guest speakers and student presentations. Students, working in small sub-groups, will undertake multidisciplinary studies of specific regional environmental issues in southern Africa. These projects will lead to a single major paper produced by the group on an environmental topic selected in consultation with the instructor. The paper will be -printed in a volume for use by future students and by interested individuals in the U.S. and in southern Africa. Satisfies the Culminating Experience requirement. WCult: NW. Roebuck.

86. Advanced Conservation Science (Identical to Biology 52)

Not offered in the period from 11F through 13S

Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 20 or Biology 21/51, or permission of the instructor. Dist: TAS.

90. Independent Study and Research

All terms: Arrange

Permission is required from the faculty advisor and the program chair.

91. Thesis Research in Environmental Studies

Independent study of an environmental problem or issue under the supervision of a member of our staff. Open only to Environmental Studies majors. May be taken two terms, both for course credit, but can only count once toward the major. Credit requires completion of a suitable report. See description of the Honors Program in Environmental Studies.

Prerequisite: Permission is required from the faculty advisor and the program chair.