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Course Catalog

Courses in Culture

ENVR_POL 261 – American Religion, Ecology and Culture

The historical rise of environmentalism in American culture and its impact on religious thought and practice.

Taught with REL 261; students may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_POL 309 – American Environmental History

This course will survey American history from the colonial era to the present with two premises in mind: that the natural world is not simply a passive background to human history but rather an active participant, and that human attitudes toward nature are both shaped by and in turn shape social, political, and economic behavior. The course will cover formal schools of thought about the natural world - from transcendentalism to the conservation and environmental movements - but also discuss the many informal intersections of human activity and natural systems, from European colonialism to property regimes, migration and transportation, industry, consumer practices, war, technological innovation, political ideology, and food production.

Taught with History 309; students may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_POL 340 – Global Environments and World History

An introductory course exploring the recent histories of environmental problems around the world, including urbanization, industrialization, population growth, commodification, empire-building, intercontinental warfare, energy extraction, and new technologies.

Taught with History 376-0; students may not receive credit for both courses.

Courses in Policy

ENVR_POL 211 – Food and Society: An Introduction

Overview of past and present food systems from a sociological perspective, examining the role of culture, government policy, and social movements in shaping such systems and future alternatives.

Taught with SOC 211; students may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_POL 212 – Environment and Society

Overview of the interactions between societies and the natural environment. Examines both key environmental problems, like climate change and oil spills, and possible solutions, and the roles played by different social structures and groups in shaping both issues.

Taught with SOC 212; students may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_POL 311 – Food, Politics and Society

This course looks closely at how different social groups, institutions and policies shape the ways food is produced, distributed and consumed in different parts of the world, especially the United States, and the social and environmental consequences of such a process. We look at the dramatic growth of factory farming and the social and political factors lying behind such rise, and alternatives such as sustainable farming, Farmers' Markets, and local food aspects of the food systems we examine, and the social actors and policies giving rise to such alternatives.

Taught with SOC 311; students may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_POL 332 – Native American and Environmental Politics

Focus on Native Americans, culture and cultural processes, and environmental decision making. Emphasis on contemporary Native American cultures and relevant research. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110.

Taught with PYSC 332; students may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_POL 336 – Climate Change, Policy and Society

Examination of main impacts of climate change and of different perspectives toward mitigation and adaptation: market based, institutionalist, bio-environmentalist, social movement, and climate justice.

Taught with SOCIOL 336; may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_POL 390 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture

Lecture course on environmental issues of current interest to students and faculty. May be repeated for credit with different topic. Recent examples follow.

ENVR_POL 390 – Special Topics in Policy & Culture: Politics of Disaster A Global Env. History

The term ‘natural disaster' conjures images of tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other powerful forces of nature that strike without warning, inflicting massive suffering on a powerless and unsuspecting populace. We now have several decades' worth of research from the social sciences and humanities showing that so-called "natural" disasters are not very natural at all. Instead, they are deeply political and profoundly man-made. This course adopts a historical and global approach in order to denaturalize disaster. From famines in British India to earthquakes in post-colonial Peru, from floods in New Orleans to nuclear disaster in Japan, we will see how disasters expose and exacerbate pre-existing inequalities, inflicting suffering disproportionately among those groups already marginalized by race, class, gender, geography, and age. These inequalities shape not only the impact of the disaster but the range of responses to it, including political critique and retrenchment, relief and rebuilding efforts, memorialization, and planning - or failing to plan - for future disasters of a similar kind. The course culminates in a unit on the contemporary challenge of anthropogenic global climate change, the ultimate man-made disaster. We will consider how memories, fears, and fantasies of past disasters are being repurposed to create new visions of what climate change will look like.

ENVR_POL 390 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy & Culture: Energy in American History

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 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy & Culture: Black Ecology

Taking inspiration from Nathan Hare’s 1970 essay “Black Ecology” and Félix Guattari’s 1989 essay “The Three Ecologies” (which discusses ecology in relation to environment, society, and human consciousness and also includes a memorable comparison of Donald Trump to invasive algae), this course addresses the question of eco-aesthetics in relation to environmental justice with a focus on the experiences, political struggle, and art making of people of color in the U.S. and internationally. We will read fiction and scholarly writings, view artworks, and participate in one or more environmental projects. The class will also host several guest speakers (artists, scholars, and activists). It will also involve several field trips during class time—potentially extending into the early evening—and/or on weekends.

ENVR_POL 390 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: Cultural Resource Management and Environmental Politics

Why is it important that we save significant cultural places, landscapes, practices, and artifacts? This will be the focal question of this class. Through the next 10 weeks we will explore this question and gain a better understanding of what makes something culturally significant and the laws and policies that govern cultural resources such as architecture, historical personages, local history, landscapes and ecosystems, and language and cultural knowledge.

This course will explore cultural aspects of environmental resource policy, covering the history of cultural resource management in the United States including the National Historic Preservation Act, language and cultural preservation, Native American sovereignty, mitigating natural resources, cultural patrimony, and Traditional Cultural Properties. We will also discuss ethical issues that arise from multiple perspectives of culturally significant landscapes, places, beliefs and practices. The course will examine the main debates around protecting and preserving cultural and natural resources. Selected case studies will be utilized as both a focus for, and to facilitate, class discussions. Readings will include four books and selected articles relevant to the course.

Dr. Eli Suzukovich III is an anthropologist and lecturer in EPC.

ENVR_POL 390-25 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: Environmental Anthropology

Anthropology has had a long, storied relationship with questions of nature and culture, society and environment, during which time a variety of theoretical approaches have been developed. This class will review these intellectual developments and recent trends with the aim of giving students toolkits for analyzing present-day environmental concerns.

ENVR_POL 390 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: Environmental Justice

This topic is titled "Environmental Justice: Environmental Protection and Social Equity". This course will begin by examining evidence that there is not equal environmental protection in this country and by analyzing why this inequality exists. Course participants will then review initiatives by activists, regulators and regulated polluters to respond to evidence of environmental injustice, with special attention to the perspectives of grassroots organizations, the U.S. EPA and its state counterparts, and businesses that operate where the problems are most severe. The course will conclude by reviewing the most effective environmental justice strategies to achieve a safe and healthful environment for all, including initiatives emerging from the Obama Administration.

ENVR_POL 390-23 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: U.S. Environmental Politics

This course explores the ongoing socio-political challenges of addressing environmental problems. Drawing primarily on research in political science and political ecology, we will analyze the diverse types of social dilemmas that produce environmental problems. We begin by examining the nature of environmental problems through different theoretical frameworks, including collective action, distributive, and ideational explanations of environmental problems. We then explore three core debates in environmental politics that interrogate the role of science, ethics, and economics in shaping environmental policy solutions. In the third part of the course we shift our gaze to evaluate different policy approaches to solving environmental problems. Throughout the course, we will pay particular attention to the values conflicts that shape environmental policy and how politicians respond. This course is designed to give students an understanding of important conceptual issues in environmental politics and policy. The course is comprised of interactive lectures and discussion sections. The lectures will provide an opportunity for students to contemplate different approaches to explaining and addressing environmental challenges. Discussion sections will challenge students to delve more deeply into a particular topic by applying concepts introduced in readings and lectures to a specific US-based case, as well as seek to understand the critical variables that explain how a case evolved. Note that this course is not an environmental law class. As such, you should not expect a full survey of environmental policies in the US. Instead, our treatment of US environmental policies is designed to assist students in understanding and applying concepts so that they may independently understand and evaluate a variety of environmental problems and solutions.

ENVR_POL 390 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: International Environmental Politics

Environmental problems that transcend national borders are amongst the most intractable challenges facing our global community. Collective action problems are pervasive in negotiations and attempts to address, monitor, and enforce international environmental agreements are often weak. Yet, despite these constraints, international actors have designed and secured agreement in a variety of policy arenas, aiming to improve global environmental governance. Through a team-based approach to learning, we will explore how, why, and when the international community is able to overcome collective action problems and effectively address global environmental challenges. The course is divided into three parts. In the first part of the course, we will focus on the problems, institutions, and politics in global environmental governance. The second part of the course focuses on key concepts or themes in global environmental politics that shape our understanding of international cooperation in solving environmental problems, such as science, justice, markets, and security. In the third part of the course, students will participate in an extended negotiation simulation to examine the diverse actors and modes of engagement that define the politics around a particular issue.

ENVR_POL 390 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: US Environmental Law and Policy

This course provides an introduction to central aspects of U.S. environmental law and policy. It covers a wide range of environmental topics including water, air pollution, and bio-diversity. We will focus on national environmental policy as implemented through major federal environmental statutes. In order to cover a variety of topics, the course will include lectures, skill sharing sessions, discussions and case studies. The course is designed for students with a personal or professional interest in the environment, policy development, law, business, science and/or engineering. This course counts toward the Weinberg College social and behavioral sciences distribution requirement, Area III.

ENVR_POL 390-20 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: Maple Syrup and Climate Change: The Northwestern Maple Tree Project

Sesipaskw'peskan is the Nehiywa (Cree) word for a maple sugar camp. It's the time in between late winter and early spring when families gather to collect maple sap, and to harvest fish, beavers, and early spring plants, or at least it used to be. As the earth's climate changes, maple trees and the subsequent maple syrup industry in the U.S. and Canada are being affected, in both good and bad ways. To compound this, the demand for maple syrup is rising in Asia. The class will cover these effects, their impact on Native American and non-Native communities, the maple syrup industry, and maple species themselves.

Students will work in groups, to collect data from three maple species on campus and examine sugar ratios, sap flow rates, species differentiation in sap quality, the presence of heavy metals, soil quality, bud development, and bloom times in relation to campus micro-climates, ambient temperature and precipitation. Students would also learn about how to utilize outdoor space as an informal science classroom and develop community based citizen science methods and curriculum.

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 – Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: Wilderness in American History

This seminar will review the history of wilderness in America, both in the broad sense of wilderness as a general term meaning "pristine" or "uninhabited" nature and in the specific sense of wilderness as the highest level of protection for public lands managed by the federal government. We will consider the role that the concept of wilderness has played in the conservation and environmental movements, and the ways that it both grounds those movements and pushes them in problematic directions. Finally, we will consider the abstract issues of wilderness in terms of specific wilderness areas in the late-twentieth-century United States.

ENVR_POL 394 – Professional Linkage Seminars

Seminar courses led by practitioners in the Environmental Policy and Culture fields. May be repeated for credit with different topic.

ENVR_POL 394 – Professional Linkage Seminar: International Environmental Organizations: Agents of Change

This seminar will explore the provenance, legitimacy, and influence of environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) that have emerged as important international players over the last half century. ENGOs educate the public, pioneer innovative solutions to environmental problems, participate in public dialogues, and advocate environmentally sound decisions in courts, governmental policy forums and legislatures.

How do they influence international and domestic environmental policy, undertake important conservation efforts, and promote responsible behavior by governments, multilateral entities, corporations and populations? What are their specific activities, missions, funding sources and governance? How do governments oversee and regulate their activities? Through iterative dialogue, student research and presentations, we will evaluate the effectiveness of these important players as measured by their own goals, and compared to the other major players - sovereign states, multilateral organizations, and transnational corporations.

ENVR_POL 395 – Special Topics Seminars

Seminar on current environmental issues and problems. Topics vary. May be repeated for credit with different topic.

ENVR_POL 399 – Independent Study

Independent project in student's area of interest. Readings and conferences.

Comprehensive term paper required. Prerequisite: consent of program director.

ENVR_SCI 399 – Independent Study

Independent project in student's area of interest. Readings and conferences.

Comprehensive term paper required. Prerequisite: consent of program director.

Courses in the Natural Sciences

BIOL_SCI 103 – Diversity of Life

Comparative survey of organisms, emphasizing adaptation and phylogenetic relationships. Particular emphasis on animals.

BIOL_SCI 104 – Plant-People Interactions

Biology and history of the interaction of humans and flowering plants.

BIOL_SCI 109 – The Nature of Plants

Plant adaptations for growth, survival, and reproduction. Plant defense against herbivory, pollination, and seed dispersal.

BIOL_SCI 313 – Quantitative Methods for Ecology & Conservation

Approaches, methods, and techniques for analyzing datasets in ecology and conservation biology. Prerequisites: 215 or ENVR SCI 202; a course in statistics.

BIOL_SCI 332 – Conservation Genetics

Critical issues in the management and understanding of endangered populations. Prerequisite: 215 or ENVR SCI 202.

BIOL_SCI 334 – Soils and the Environment

Soil development and morphology; physical, chemical, hydrologic, and biological properties of soils. Prerequisite: 215 or ENVR SCI 202.

BIOL_SCI 335 – Fundamentals of Plant Biology and Conservation

No description available.

BIOL_SCI 336 – Spring Flora

Life cycles, vegetative and reproductive structures, and adaptations for pollination and fruit and seed dispersal of the wildflowers, trees, and shrubs of oak woodland. Prerequisite: 215 or ENVR SCI 202.

BIOL_SCI 346 – Field Ecology

An intensive experience in field ecological research. Prerequisites: 215; a course in statistics.

BIOL_SCI 347 – Conservation Biology

Evolution, ecology, and conservation of patterns of biological diversity. Prerequisites: 215 or ENVR SCI 202; a course in statistics.

BIOL_SCI 349 – Plant Community Biology

Abundance, distribution, diversity, and scaling in plant communities in space-time. Prerequisite: 330.

BIOL_SCI 350 – Plant Evolution & Diversity

Introduction to the diversity and evolutionary history of land plants. Prerequisite: 330.

CIV_ENV 368 – Sustainability: Issues and Actions Near and Far

While there is general consensus on the definition of sustainability, there are many divergent views on what it means to scientists, social scientists and engineers, especially when considering what are appropriate activities in developed as compared to developing economies. The purpose of this course is to explore the issues that motivate the planning, policy, design and engineering of sustainable resource use and development. First we will consider the issues driving the need for sustainable design and development. Is it simply good practice (that few really apply. . .) or is there a more critical imperative? The principles of sustainability will be reviewed and then their application to energy, climate change, urban planning, transportation, water, ecosystem services, social equity and environmental justice will be considered. Case studies and examples from both developed and developing economies will be discussed and compared. Students will work on teams on short and long-term projects throughout the course. This course will serve students from a wide range of disciplines, who have a strong interest in environmental issues. Weekly readings will be assigned and periodic presentations will be made by students throughout the quarter.

EARTH 105 – Climate Catastrophes in Earth History

Introduction to fundamental components of the earth system that control climate. Exploration of present-day climate change and how climate has changed (sometimes catastrophically) in the geologic past. Lectures and discussion.

EARTH 106 – The Ocean, the Atmosphere, and Our Climate

The role of the world’s oceans in the earth’s climate system. Properties of the oceans and marine life. Interaction of oceans, atmosphere, and land. Lectures and discussion.

EARTH 201 – Earth Systems Revealed

Rocks, minerals, earth surface and interior processes, basic field methods. Required weekend field trip.

EARTH 203 – Earth System History

Evolution of the earth system and its record through geological time. Interactions among the atmosphere, hydrosphere, sediments, and life on earth.

EARTH 342 – Topics in Energy and Climate Change

Interdisciplinary course examining global energy use and associated challenges, including the history of energy use, the science of climate change, and technological, economic, and environmental aspects of various energy sources. Prerequisite: senior standing in the physical sciences or engineering, or consent of instructor. Taught with ISEN 410; may not receive credit for both courses.

ENVR_SCI 201 – Earth, A Habitable Planet

Overview of the physical processes governing environmental systems, from lithosphere to hydrosphere to atmosphere. Physical science perspectives on current debates, such as those over water resources, energy, and climate change.

ENVR_SCI 202 – The Health of the Biosphere

Dimensions of the ecological niche; growth and regulation of populations; interactions among populations; community structure and diversity; conservation. Prerequisite: CHEM 152 or equivalent.

ENVR_SCI 203 – Energy and the Environment

Introduction to the mitigation of environmental impacts and the science and engineering behind sustainable energy production. Prerequisites: CHEM 152, 172, or equivalent, MATH 224 or equivalent. May not receive credit for both this course and CIV ENV 203.