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Winter 2024

Course Schedule

*Titles in Bold are Core Courses*

Course Title Day/Time Instructor
ENVR_POL 212-0-20 Environment and Society MW 3:30pm-4:50pm Ewert, Rebecca
ENVR_POL 337-0-1 Hazard, Disaster and Society TTh 2pm-3:20pm Hoominfar, Elham
ENVR_POL 390-0-20 Culture in a Changing Climate TTh 11am-12:20pm Byrnes, Corey
ENVR_POL 390-0-21 Ocean Law and Policy MW 11am-12:20pm Burns, Wil
ENVR_POL 390-0-22 Climate Change Law and Policy MW 12:30pm-1:50pm Burns, Wil
ENVR_POL 390-0-23 Maple Syrup and Climate Change F 11am-1:50pm Suzukovich III, Eli
ENVR_POL 390-0-24 The World That Fossil Fuels Made MW 3pm-4:50pm Woodhouse, Keith
ENVR_POL 390-0-25 Applied Policy Analysis MW 9:30am-10:50am Marion Suiseeya, Kim
ENVR_POL 390-0-26 Art and Nature in Renaissance Europe TTh 12:30pm-1:50pm Zorach, Rebecca
ENVR_POL 390-0-27 Green Worlds? Shakespeare’s Environmental Questions MW 3:30pm-4:50pm Shannon, Laurie
ENGLISH 283-0-01 Introduction to Literature and the Environment MW 12:30pm-1:50pm Shannon, Laurie; Wolff, Tristram
GER 346-0-1 Talking Trash: Managing Waste in Culture, Theory, and Practice TTh 11am-12:20pm Holt, Xan
EARTH 202 Earth’s Interior TTh 3:30pm-4:50pm Suzan van der Lee
CIV ENV 309 Climate and Energy – Law and Policy F 4:00pm-6:50pm Keith Harley
ENVR SCI 202 The Health of the Biosphere TTh 12:30pm-1:50 pm Joseph Walsh
ENVR SCI 390 GIS Level 1 MW 2:00pm-3:20pm Elsa Anderson
ENVR SCI 390 R Data Science MW 11:00am-12:50pm Elsa Anderson
ISEN 220 Introduction to Energy Systems for the 21st Century MWF 12:00pm-12:50pm Yip-Wah Chung


Course Descriptions

ENVR_POL 212-0-20: Environment and Society

Our climate is rapidly changing. Rising sea levels and increasing ocean acidity, higher temperatures, more droughts, melting glaciers, wilder weather patterns, and mounting environmental disasters mean that climate change is increasingly visible in our daily lives. What role does human society play in these changes, and what consequences does society suffer as these changes occur? This course is an introduction to environmental sociology during which we will employ an intersectional, sociological perspective to look beyond the scientific basis for environmental problems to understand the social roots of environmental issues. We will cover a variety of topics in environmental sociology, including new directions in sustainable development and how actors such as corporations, the media, and social movements impact public opinion and environmental issues. Further, we will critically examine the gendered, racial, and socioeconomic production of disparate environmental risks.

ENVR_POL 337-0-1: Hazard, Disaster and Society

This course examines how socioeconomic and environmental factors work together to cause hazards and disasters in human society. In this course we learn the main concepts about disaster such as preparedness, vulnerability, resilience, response, mitigation, etc. We learn that a disaster does not have the same effect on everyone (all groups of people), and factors of social inequality such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender, make people more vulnerable to impacts of disasters. Also, this course, with an interdisciplinary perspective, analyzes disasters in the global North and South. This is a discussion-intensive course for advanced undergrad students. The classes are the student-centered with an emphasis on collaborative learning. The class meetings will consist of lecture, discussion, presentations, teamwork, activities, video/audio materials and projects.

ENVR_POL 390-0-20: Culture in a Changing Climate

This course will offer an introduction to creative responses to climate change and associated environmental problems in recent literary, cinematic, and artistic works from around the world. We will pay close attention to how aesthetic forms and the critical methods used to understand them are (or are not) changing in the face of overlapping, existential environmental crises. Are there specific genres or media best suited to addressing climate change and helping to inspire political action? What are the effects of identifying or writing within a “new” literary genre such as “climate fiction”? Can we speak of similar modes in other media: is there such a thing as “climate cinema” or “climate art”? And if there is, how do these categories shape both the art that gets made and how we understand it?

ENVR_POL  390-0-21: Ocean Law and Policy

The world's oceans, encompassing 70% of the world's area and 90% of its volume, are essential to life on Earth. However, they are increasingly imperiled by an array of anthropogenic stressors, including pollution, overexploitation of natural and non-living resources, and climate change. This class will focus on both the threats posed to ocean ecosystems, including impacts on marine living resources. The focus of the course will be on the role of international law, including treaties and customary international law, in addressing threats to the world's oceans. A large portion of the course will focus on the provisions of the so-called "constitution for the oceans," the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

ENVR_POL 390-0-22: Climate Change Law and Policy

This course examines the potential role of the law in confronting climate change from an institutional and policy perspective, examining the role of treaties, national legislation (in the United States), sub-national responses and judicial and quasi-judicial fora. Among the topics that will be addressed include the science associated with climate change, the role of key international climate treaty regimes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, national and state and local responses to climate change in the United States, the role of litigation in confronting major emitters, and the potential role of climate geoengineering approaches. It will also seek to help students develop critical skills of analysis of treaty provisions, legislative language, and court decisions, public speaking and cogent writing.

ENVR_POL 390-0-23: Maple Syrup and Climate Change

As the earth's climate changes, maple trees and the maple syrup industry in the U.S. and Canada are being affected, in both good and bad ways. The class will cover these effects, their impact on Native American and non-Native communities, the maple syrup industry, and maple species themselves through articles and readings. Along with a focus on maple syrup production, we will cover aspects of food sovereignty happening across the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. Examining how communities and countries are looking inward towards traditional economies and practices to adapt to a changing climate.  Through field observations of climatic and natural phenomena, students will work in groups to collect data from three maple species on campus. The groups will examine and record sugar ratios, sap flow rates, and ambient temperature and precipitation: along with a focus on species differentiation, soil nutrients, and campus micro-climates. The final product for the class would be a group data report. A copy of the report will go to facilities management to be added to their campus tree inventory.

ENVR_POL 390-0-24: The World that Fossil Fuels Made

This course will examine energy use in American history, ranging from the use of wood and water in colonial times, to animal-derived oils and fossil fuels in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to nuclear in the late-twentieth century, and finally to the search for alternative sources in recent decades. We will consider not only how human use of various forms of energy has affected the non-human environment but also what particular energy regimes have meant for the social, political, and material lives of Americans at different points in history.

ENVR_POL 390-0-25: Applied Policy Analysis

Public policy issues are questions about what governments should - or should not - do to address problems that affect large numbers of people. What should governments do about rising rates of homelessness and unhoused populations? Climate change? Corruption? Education? Water quality and access? Trade? Migration? Environmental conservation? This list and a multitude of additional public policy problems facing governments present a variety of challenges. This course explores what it means to identify, examine, and explore solutions to public policy problems like these and others, while practicing concrete skills and approaches to public policy analysis. Students will hone skills in effective written and oral communication, applying ethical frameworks to public policy decision-making, and conducting policy analysis on a range of possible topics using different modes of inquiry.

ENVR_POL 390-0-26: Art and Nature in Renaissance Europe

This course surveys European Renaissance approaches to the idea of nature, and the relationship of art and nature. We read primary texts in translation and examine artworks from the early 1400s to the late 1500s, in Italy and Northern Europe, with attention to the ways in which exploration and colonization reflected and also altered European attitudes toward nature. Nature can mean plants and animals and landscapes in this period, but it also has many different definitions, and the class will defamiliarize the modern received definitions. We consider the Renaissance as a moment of origin for later ideologies that promote the human domination of nature (with all its negative consequences for both human beings and extra-human life) but we also look at alternative ideas and traditions within and outside of the European context that point to more holistic notions of the interconnections of living (and, sometimes, nonliving) beings. To the extent possible, course will be taught as a "flipped classroom," with video lectures to watch on your own along with short readings followed by ample time for in-class discussion.

ENVR_POL 390-0-27: Green Worlds? Shakespeare’s Environmental Questions

This seminar will work across Shakespeare's genres (comedies, tragedies, and tragicomic hybrids), focusing on representative plays that also show a preoccupation with humanity's cosmic place and environmental situation. The course will explore Shakespeare's persistently troubled sense that humankind, alone, does not quite "belong" to nature. We'll assess how his understanding of "Nature" and our relation to it changes over his career and also how it varies in the distinct ecologies of tragedy and comedy. The critical concept of Shakespearean "green worlds" first arose to describe those retreats into nature (and away from civilized society) that typically occur in the comedies. There, a removal to the "green world" serves to counteract one or another social ill, which in turn enables a rebalanced, healthier socio-political life to be restored. But how does this traditional and sometimes pastoral sense of a natural equilibrium hold up against a closer reading of the plays, especially if we consider comedies and tragedies together? Against what, exactly, is the human order of civil life defined and established, and from what threatening "laws of nature" is it supposed to defend us? How does our grasp of more contemporary human impacts on the environment illuminate Shakespeare's premodern vision of human existence as a calamity of exposure -- to hard weather and our own worst instincts, too? This inquiry into Shakespeare's environmental vision will, finally, tell us something about the history of what it has meant to be human.

ENGLISH 283-0-01: Introduction to Literature and the Environment

How is it that the natural world has seemed to writers across time as both comforting and terrifying, a pastoral refuge or a dark threat? How have literary myths of a "green world" spurred us to think about what precisely separates "the human" from other worlds around us? Are humans a part of nature or an exception to it? How do our ideas about nature impose distinct worlds, with distinct rules and rights, on humans, nonhumans, and the places we cross paths, sometimes without knowing it? Tracking these questions through literary forms ranging from Edenic stories and origin myths to Shakespearean drama, Romantic poetry, the modernist novel, and science fiction, students in this course will unearth the unexamined grounds of "green" thought as it appears in literary environments (as well as film, mass media, and the popular imagination). The course will give students an introduction to the "environmental humanities" and a deep dive into the storied concept of "nature," while offering an unusual and broad background on classic literary themes of belonging, justice/ethics, freedom, wilderness, and the everyday.