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Current Courses

Fall 2022 Course Offerings

Below is a list of current courses for which students can receive credit for the minor in environmental and sustainability studies. Please see the core curriculum sections on the major and minor page for a full list of required courses.

If you identify a course that is not listed below, please contact Professor Zdravka Tzankova to see if it can qualify for the minor (a syllabus may need to be provided). In some cases it is possible to count a B list course for the C list and vice-versa, so please contact Professor Tzankova if you want it to be considered for a variance. Some courses listed below may not appear in your degree audit for the minor. If that happens, contact Professor Tzankova.

List A – Natural Science and Technology-Intensive Courses

Evolution of biodiversity from the Cambrian period through today. Theories and challenges of its conservation. Case studies drawn from Hawaii, Madagascar and Australia. Not intended for students planning to major in biological sciences. Not open to students who have earned credit for 1510 or 1511 without permission. Total credit for this course and 1510 or 1511 will not exceed 3 credit hours. Credit hours reduced from second course taken (or from test or transfer credit) as appropriate. [3] (MNS)

Population biology, evolutionary ecology, community structure, with emphasis on species interactions, including competition, predation, and symbiosis. Prerequisite: 1511. [3] (MNS)

Impacts of climate change on biological and ecological systems from the Paleozoic era to today. Inter-play of earth's systems, climate, and biological innovations. Effects on our natural resources, and consequences for our health. Prerequisite: 1511. [3] (MNS)

Processes that have changed the earth. Relation between these processes and their products (e.g., earthquakes, minerals and rocks, mountains, oceanic features); interactions between processes affecting the solid, liquid, and gaseous components of earth; impact on humans. [3] (MNS)

Effects of feedbacks between the geologic cycles on the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere at diverse intervals in the Earth's history. Present and future implications. Interpretations of evidence recorded in Earth materials. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory per week. Repeat credit for students who have completed 1020. Prerequisite: 1030 and 1030L, 1081 and 1081L, or 1510 and 1510L. [4] (MNS)

Ecology, classification, and evolution of important groups of fossils, emphasizing invertebrates. Change in marine ecosystems through geologic time. Causes and effects of rapid evolution events and mass extinctions. Three hours of lecture and one laboratory period per week. Corequisite: 2510, 2550, 2580, or CHEM 1602. [4] (MNS)

Design and conduct of environmental assessments to evaluate risks posed by infrastructure systems or environmental contamination. Impact analyses for sources, infrastructure modifications, due diligence environmental audits, and contaminated site remedial investigations. Prerequisite: Senior standing. FALL. [3]

List B – Humanities courses

Interdisciplinary view of environmental and social movements in local South Asian and global contexts. Impacts of colonial legacies, social inequalities, and spirituality on environmental and development outcomes. [3] (INT)

Disaster and apocalyptic scenarios in popular culture as revelations of political and cultural anxieties. Role of humanity in producing ecological crisis in the Anthropocene. Not open to students who completed 3333-01 offered spring 2021. [3] (HCA)

  • "Nature" is one of the weirdest words in the English language: it can refer to human trait ("it is in her nature"), a nonhuman environment ("we walked in nature"), a divine power ("mother nature"), or a biological process ("nature calls"). Despite, and indeed because of, these ambiguities, nature has played pivotal roles in the territory that has come to be known as the United States. In this course, we will analyze a number of these roles, focusing on the ways nature has staged struggles between settlers and Natives, whites and racialized peoples, upper classes and working classes. [3] (US)

Interdisciplinary study of human beings' relationship to the environment. Literary, artistic, historical, and philosophical perspectives. Cultural understandings of the environment. [3] (HCA)

Environmental issues from British, American, and global perspectives. Methodological approaches such as ecocriticism, environmental and social justice, ethics, and activism. The role of literature and the imagination in responding to ecological problems and shaping environmental values. [3] (HCA)

This course investigates how animals have changed the course of human history. Together, we will track the changing relationships between humans, animals, and environment over time from domestication, imperial conquest, agriculture, colonization, industrialization and urbanization, conservation, and climate change. We will consider the varied symbolic, political, and economic dimensions of animal life across global history, and the ways their importance has shifted at particular times and places. Central to our inquiry will be, how have animals been intertwined with the many ways of being human?

Early modern to present. How politics and technology shape everyday life in Africa and have been shaped by competing groups. Critiques the narrative that Africa lacks technological sophistication. Shifting meanings of technology; Africa's role in global history of technology; forms of technological engagement including guns, radios, roads, nuclear power, and biometrics. [3] (P)

Role of religion in climate change and as response to planetary catastrophe. Religious and literary texts. Historical, philosophical, and anthropological work. [3] (P)

List C – Social-behavioral Science and policy-intensive courses

This seminar examines how cultural values and cultural politics coalesce in public attitudes and debates over climate change. Media coverage of scientific research on climate will be a major focus, with attention to how journalists, interest groups, and other writers represent climate change, climate science, and competing perspectives. Students will learn to use qualitative research methods for interviewing, media analysis, and data analysis to carry out an original research project. [3] (INT)

The relationship between human beings and the environments that sustain them. Global diversity of human ecological adaptations. Hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, slash-and-burn agriculturalists, and irrigation agriculturalists. Human impact on the environment. Theories of human ecological interaction. [3] (SBS)

Scholarship from across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. History and science of climate change;, the cultural and political-economic systems that shape climate injustice. Challenges and possible solutions to the climate crisis. [3] (P)

Throughout history, humans have shaped the environment to provide food, shelter, energy, profit, and social power. Today our relationship to nature is more complex than ever before. On the one hand, societies have an unprecedented capacity to reconfigure the environment through processes that range from genetic manipulation to geo-engineering. On the other hand, the unequal distribution of environmental problems across races, classes, genders, and nations is intensifying and demands critical interrogation. From farmer suicides in India to protests against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the United States, social movements are demanding more democratic control over land and natural resources. In this course, we will explore environmental justice in theory and practice. Drawing on geography, anthropology, history, and critical race studies, we will examine the following questions: What is nature? Who defines and controls it? Why do environmental inequalities arise and how are they maintained? How do groups resist and organize around environmental justice concerns? 

This interdisciplinary course will help students to develop a capacity to analyze society-environment relations across spacial scales (from local to the global) using approaches from multiple academic disciplines and professional fields. The course's dual focus on analytical approaches and environmental objects (rather than a typical emphasis on problems) underscores the fact that today's concerned citizens and professionals must be able to analyze complex society-environmental relations from multiple perspectives and at multiple scales. Sustainability demands insights and methods from education, the social sciences, business and organizational studies, the natural sciences, and more. [3]

This seminar-style course provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary overview of water justice focusing on the United States. We will cover three interwoven themes throughout the semester. The first theme will examine the relationship between drinking water legislation and regulation on accessibility, affordability, and quality of drinking water from national to community-level scales. The second theme will assess how federal, state, and local governments respond to the aging water infrastructure crisis, including pipes and workforce. The third theme will examine the impacts of climate change-related extreme weather events on the drinking water supply. Students will learn to identify water justice issues, apply theories and frameworks (e.g., environmental justice, health inequities, and social determinants of health), and utilize geographic information science to analyze water policy successes and failures.

Basic concepts in the sociology of science and their applications to controversies in the health and environmental sciences. Toxins and risk, nutrition, and health. Health and environmental aspects of emerging technologies. Case studies to develop generalizable social-science hypotheses. [3] (SBS)

Relationships between social inequalities and environmental degradation, both in the U.S. and internationally. Distribution of environmental hazards across race and class, natural resource rights and management, urban health and sustainability, climate injustices, and environmental justice movements. [3] (SBS)

Environmental sustainability and social responsibility; interactions among private sector, civil society, state, and consumers. Social movements and industry, politics of green consumption, and rise of third-party certification movements and private governance. Agriculture, fishing, and forestry industries. [3] (SBS)

Comparisons of contemporary societies' transition to low-carbon energy systems. Emphasis on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Perspectives include both wealthy and poor countries. [3] (INT)

The mutual influence of demographic factors and social structure. Trends in fertility, mortality, population growth, distribution, migration, and composition. Population policy and national development. [3] (INT)