Environmental Studies (ENVST)

ENVST Course Offerings

ENVST-100 Introduction to Environmental Studies

Spring. 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
K. Ballantine, 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-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 scientific 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.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
J. Albertine
Prereq: One 100-level lab science. Coreq: ENVST-200L.
Advisory: One course in statistics is recommended.

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
K. Surprise
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors

ENVST-233 Topics in Environmental Studies Studies

ENVST-233ET Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Environmental Ethics'

Fall. Credits: 4

A fundamental problem we face as humans is how we should relate to the natural world. Why not turn Yosemite into a parking lot? Should we control nature by applying scientific and technological expertise? Or should we strive for noninterference and preservation of the wild? How do we balance the pressing needs of people for food, energy, and other resources with the needs of other species or whole ecosystems?

Crosslisted as: PHIL-260ET
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
A. Arden

ENVST-233PB Topics in Environmental Studies: 'Air Pollution Biology'

Spring. Credits: 4

Humans are increasing the amount of pollutants in the environment, particularly through the burning of fossil fuels and other industrial practices. This course will investigate the pollutants that cycle through the atmosphere. Key pollutants covered will include nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon compounds, particulate matter, mercury, and ozone. We will investigate where the pollutants come from, their presence in the environment, and the biological effects of these pollutants. This course will be largely lecture based, but group discussions of primary scientific literature and case studies will be core components. Field trip outside class time to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection air pollution-monitoring site.

Applies to requirement(s): Math Sciences
J. Albertine
Prereq: 100-level Chemistry and 100-level Biological Sciences.

ENVST-237 Native American History Through 1865

Spring. Credits: 4

This course surveys Native American history from ancient times through the U.S. Civil War, tracing the ways that tribal communities have shaped North America. Beginning with the diverse indigenous societies that inhabited the Americas millennia before Columbus's arrival, it discusses the cultural complexity of Native peoples, nations, and worldviews rooted in particular ecosystems and homelands. It moves through the early modern era of European scientific exploration and "discovery" of a New World, and the pivotal violences of the "Indian Wars" of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries.

Crosslisted as: HIST-235
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
C. DeLucia

ENVST-240 The Value of Nature

Fall. 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.
Notes: gateway course for minor in Conceptual Foundations of Science

ENVST-241 Environmental Issues

Spring. 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.

ENVST-271 Place and Power in the American West and Pacific World

Spring. Credits: 4

The vast region of North America between the Mississippi River and Pacific Ocean has been a site of many migrations, conflicts, political transformations, and environmental changes. This course examines dynamic histories of Native American tribes, Euro-American "explorers" and colonists, cowboys and miners, Asian immigrant laborers, and mariners, all of whom helped create interior and oceanic worlds. It focuses on natural and human changes in specific locales, and also explores how public histories at these places shape the present and future.

Crosslisted as: HIST-271
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities; Multicultural Perspectives
C. DeLucia

ENVST-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

ENVST-301 History of Energy

Fall. Credits: 4

We live in an age of energy crises, in which the future of energy is questioned in countless headlines and Twitter feeds. Often our energy agony accompanies other assumptions about energy's past, in particular the idea that social change invariably follows the discovery of new energy technologies. From food to fuel cells, this colloquium charts a more complicated and interesting history, a history in which people have continually shaped and made meaningful the energies that fuel the modern world. It will be of particular interest to students in history and environmental studies and to those interested in the social study of science and technology.

Crosslisted as: HIST-301HE
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
D. Fitz-Gibbon

ENVST-315 Research, Ethics and Policy in Environmental Studies

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Designed to promote curriculum-to-career, this hands-on course prepares students for independent research, research internships, or research careers.Student pick topics of interest and share weekly assignments. Over the course of the semester, we examine methods for designing research and for gathering and analyzing information, and we discuss using data to inform policy. We speak with Mount Holyoke alumnae who have conducted research during internships, for honors theses and independent study, or for policy institutes after graduating. Finally, we consider ethical issues, from gendered experiences to cross-cultural research, and students prepare institutional review board proposals. Students from various disciplines are welcome.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
C. Corson
Prereq: 8 credits of 200 level social science or humanities courses
Notes: Meets the ES politics and policy, environment and development, and conservation concentration requirements.

ENVST-316 Restoration Ecology

Not Scheduled for This Year. 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-317 Perspectives on American Environmental History

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

We explore the history of human-environment interactions in North America from precolonial times to the present from different cultural perspectives. How have such human activities as migration, colonization, and resource use depended on or modified the natural world? How have different cultural perceptions of and attitudes toward environment shifted through time and helped to reshape American landscapes? Case studies include ecological histories of Native America and Euro-America, slavery and land use, wilderness and conservation, and environmental racism and social justice. Our approach entails historical review of scientific studies, literature, visual records, and oral tradition.

Crosslisted as: HIST-317
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
L. Savoy
Instructor permission required.

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'

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

Spring. 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 waterbourne 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
Prereq: ENVST-200.

ENVST-333 Landscape and Narrative

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

Different stories or narratives--whether myth, literature, maps, or scientific theory--have been created about every region or environment on Earth as human attempts to describe and understand our connections with that place. How do 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 and of relational identity? In this reading and writing seminar we will reflect on how lifeways, homeplace, and identity of an individual or a community are linked with environment or the land. We will also create written and visual narratives of our own and explore creative environmental writing in reflection and action.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
L. Savoy
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
Instructor permission required.

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-337 Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Environment and Development

Spring. Credits: 4

This course will engage students in interdisciplinary thinking about the dynamic relationship between environment and development. Focusing on specific case studies, we will consider complementary and contrasting perspectives about the causes of and solutions to global poverty and environmental degradation. We will examine how development theories and practices have changed over time, and we will reflect on how our assumptions shape what we "see" in specific sites, how we frame particular problems and what we suggest as solutions. The course is designed as a curriculum-to-career course in which students build practical skills for international development careers.

Applies to requirement(s): Social Sciences
K. Surprise
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.

ENVST-341 Science and Power in Environmental Governance

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course applies concepts from political ecology to study how governance, broadly defined, works in relation to the environment. Using case studies of international environmental issues, we will explore how people make decisions about the environment in a policy realm. We will discuss the role of various agents, such as governments, scientific bodies, and nongovernmental organizations, in the decision-making process. We will reflect on who has access to decisions; how scientific data is used; how environmental ideas become powerful; and how policies are legitimated. Armed with this information, we will consider how to advocate for global environmental sustainability and social equity.

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

ENVST-373 Nature and Gender

ENVST-373WN Nature and Gender: 'Representations of Women and Nature in American Literature (Nineteenth-Twentieth Century)'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course will focus on portrayals of women in nineteenth through mid-twentieth century America, particularly in the context of nature and landscape. We will explore how women, often objectified in visual images of the period, appropriated established devices or developed new images and structures to represent womanhood in their own terms. Texts will include selected poetry, sketches, autobiographical essays or memoirs, short stories, novels, paintings, films, and photography.

Crosslisted as: ENGL-373NT, GNDST-333MM
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
L. Glasser
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
Prereq: 8 credits from the English department.
Notes: meets English department 1700-1900 requirement; meets English department seminar requirement

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 ENVST Majors.

ENVST-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Courses Approved as Core Intermediate Courses

Group A: Natural Sciences

Biological Sciences
BIOL-200Introductory Biology II: How Organisms Develop 4
BIOL-223Ecology 4
BIOL-226Evolution 4
BIOL-236TATopics in Biological Sciences: 'Biology of Terrestrial Arthropods' 4
BIOL-310Invertebrate Zoology 4
BIOL-315Behavioral Ecology 4
BIOL-325Plant Diversity and Evolution 4
BIOL-331Theory and Application of Conservation Biology 4
Chemistry
CHEM-201General Chemistry II 4
CHEM-202Organic Chemistry I 4
Environmental Studies
ENVST-200Environmental Science 4
ENVST-233PBTopics in Environmental Studies: 'Air Pollution Biology' 4
ENVST-316Restoration Ecology 4
ENVST-321HCConference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Human Health and Climate Change' 4
ENVST-335Wetlands Ecology and Management 4
Geography
GEOG-205Mapping and Spatial Analysis 4
GEOG-230Environmental Soil Science 4
Geology
GEOL-201Rocks and Minerals 4
GEOL-202History of Earth 4
GEOL-211Uranium 4
GEOL-227Groundwater 4
GEOL-240Geological Resources and the Environment 4

Group B: Humanities and Social Sciences

Economics
ECON-203Environmental Economics 4
Environmental Studies
ENVST-210Political Ecology 4
ENVST-237Native American History Through 1865 4
ENVST-241Environmental Issues 4
ENVST-315Research, Ethics and Policy in Environmental Studies 4
ENVST-321CPConference Courses in Environmental Studies: 'Political Economy of the Environment: Capitalism and Climate Change' 4
ENVST-337Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Environment and Development 4
ENVST-341Science and Power in Environmental Governance 4
Geography
GEOG-204Human Dimensions of Environmental Change 4
GEOG-304UPPlanning and the Environment: 'Urban and Regional Planning' 4
GEOG-313Third World Development 4
GEOG-319Africa: Problems and Prospects 4
Geology
GEOL-326Seminar: Global Climate Change 4
Latin American Studies
LATAM-389Agrarian America: Sugar, Cotton, Coffee, Bananas, and Wheat 4
Politics
POLIT-266Environmental Politics in America 4
Russian & Eurasian Studies
RES-242Oil and Water Don't Mix: Geopolitics, Energy, and the Environment 4