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Approved Courses


Spring Semester 2020

Category I: Social Sciences/Humanities/Arts

ANTH 256 Anthropology of Food (by petition)
This course explores aspects of the cultural uses and symbolic meanings we attach to food and eating. Students explore such questions as: How do we use food? What is changing in our food consumption patterns? What is the relationship between food consumption and the environment? What are some of the politics and the ethics involved in food consumption? What is the significance of eating out, of "ethnic" restaurants? And how do we analyze the smell and taste of food cross-culturally? 

COMM 328 Topics: Environmental Communication
In this class, we will explore the communication and conflict surrounding "the environment," with a focus on the social construction of nature and critical/cultural approaches to environmental discourse. Policies and practices related to the environment result not just from the facts from science alone, but often emerge from the influence of our social constructions about our "natural resources." We will consider the ways that wilderness and nature have been constructed in American culture, the public controversies that have developed surrounding the environment, the advocacy groups that advance various environmental causes, and the scientific and corporate discourse about the environment. We will also consider the role of media in the ongoing discourses about the environment.

HIST 100B Historical Encounters: Eco-Fascism: A Global History of Authoritarian Environmentalism
Fascist political movements around the world have long placed environmental concerns at the center of their rhetoric and at the top of their policy agenda. In this survey course, students will explore how fear of the Other is connected to anxieties surrounding pollution and habitat loss, and how promises to redeem the "homeland" from the harmful influence of outsiders appeals to some environmentalists who are generally regarded as leaning to the political left. Using primary sources and selected secondary readings, we will discuss topics from the "blood and soil" ideology of the Nazis, through xenophobic anti-immigrant campaigners in the United States and the forced removal of indigenous people from national parks, to white supremacist terror around the globe in order to show the surprising--and chilling--affinity between authoritarian ethno-nationalism and a love of "nature." This is a discussion-based class that engages with controversial actors and inflammatory subject matter. For environmentally-minded students who care about social justice, it is essential to acknowledge the ways that environmentalism has been, and continues to be, racialized, and how mass violence has been justified on ecological grounds.

HIST 200B Topics: Climate Crisis and Social Change from Ancient Mesopotamia to Your Own Backyard
Today's anthropogenic global warming is unprecedented in scale, but climate change is not a new problem for human societies. What can history tell us about the relationship between people and a changing climate? How did societies in the past understand the environment around them, and how did that perception shape their response? Who, exactly, is a climate refugee? What does your class, race, and gender have to do with how you experience your environment? This class explores these questions, and others, in ancient, early modern, and contemporary case studies from around the world. By taking a historical perspective on climate change, students will learn that human behavior is never predetermined by environmental forces--but it is conditioned by them, along with politics, culture, food production, trade, and technology. In addition to historical scholarship on climate change, students will use LANDSAT images, fossil pollen records, and "Cli-Fi" novels to critically assess what it means to live in the "age of humans."

PHIL 232 Animal Ethics (by petition)
Are humans the only animals with moral rights? Does the suffering of a pig or a chicken matter more than, less than, or the same, morally speaking, as the suffering of a dog, a chimpanzee, or a human? Is it wrong to eat meat? Should animals be used for research? What should we think about hunting, zoos, or rodeos? This course examines theories concerning the moral status of nonhuman animals, the ethics of certain practices of using animals for human purposes, challenges to the legal status of animals as property, and/or questions of ethical activism. 

POLS 265 Introduction to Environmental Policy
This course examines the different actors, interests, and institutions that aim to govern or regulate the environment and its resources. Students will learn how environmental policy has evolved over time to deal with changing needs and threats, ranging from domestic pollution issues to longer-term threats such as climate change and drought. Much of the course material will focus on environmental policy at the federal level in the US, though students will also look at more local and international efforts to address the global issue of climate change. Throughout the class, we will also examine the societal implications of environmental threats and policy in order to better understand how environmental outcomes and policies affect issues such as inequality, health, and global conflict.

POLS 450 Senior Seminar: The Political Economy of Energy, Resources, and the Environment
Political Science senior seminars focus on theory and analysis in the various fields of the discipline and in the discipline as a whole.

SOC 301 Social Justice (by petition)
This course focuses generally on how to define social justice and what we can do to promote social justice in modern society. Social justice, however, is impossible to imagine without at least addressing some examples of social injustice; thus, the central goal of this course is to provide students with a framework and opportunity to study historical and contemporary examples of social injustice with an eye toward how we can ameliorate them. The course beings with an introduction to the study of social justice using the works of John Rawls, Angela Davis, Iris Marion Young, and Brian Berry before turning to examine examples of social injustice such as economic inequality, slavery and human trafficking, mass incarceration, and environmental degradation. The final portion of this course will then focus on the pursuit of social justice through a range of mediums including public policy, civil society groups, nonprofit organizations, independent media, and social movements. Throughout the course, we will consider both structural and individual approaches for pursuing social justice, from macro policy proposals to strategies for promoting social justice in our personal lives.

UNIV 390 Topics: City Lab: Complexity Thinking: Right to the City (by petition)
City Lab aims to be an innovative approach to liberal education in the 21st century. Its center of gravity is the convergence of teaching and research that takes the form of a workshop that explores the 21st century urban experience. Each semester the workshop takes a core theme from 21st century urbanism as a collective research topic. For more information you can visit the City Lab website.

Category II: Natural Sciences

BIO 102 Evolution, Organisms, and Ecology
Includes laboratory. An introduction to the principles and practice of evolutionary biology, population genetics, and ecology. Students will examine topics in natural selection, the modern synthesis, speciation, phylogeny, primary productivity and ecological efficiency.

BIO 190 Topics in Biology: Marine Biology
Selected topics in biology.

GEOS 110 Earth and the Environment
Includes laboratory. An introduction to the materials that make up the earth and the interplay between constructive and destructive processes that shape the earth, including plate tectonics. Laboratories include mineral and rock identification, field trips, and topographic map interpretation.

GEOS 117 Weather, Climate, and Climate Change
An introduction to the Earth's atmosphere through the study of weather, climate and climate change. Topics covered include atmospheric composition, structure and function, weather phenomena and climate, and natural and human-induced climate change. Global societal responses to rapid climate change are also discussed.

GEOS 125 Introduction to Environmental Science
An introduction to the study of environmental science. Topics include matter, energy, ecosystems, human populations, natural resources, and the impact of human activity on the natural environment. Special attention is given to current environmental problems including air and water pollution, acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion, climate change, deforestation, and species extinctions.

GEOS 190 Energy and the Environment
An introduction to energy resources and the environmental impacts of their use. The importance of nonrenewable fossil fuels in modern industrialized societies is examined and the effects of changing rates and costs of energy production on modern lifestyles are explored. The potential economic costs and societal impacts of transitioning to renewable and sustainable sources of energy are discussed. 

UNIV170 Environmental Science Seminar
In this discussion-based course, students learn the interdisciplinary science behind environmental problems by reading current and classic papers from a variety of scientific journals. The specific topic or topics are chosen by the class during the first session and then are explored over the course of the semester. Scientific writing and speaking skills are developed throughout the semester.


HONR 122 Rethinking the Environment (available to first-years only)
What constitutes an 'environmental' problem? Which environmental problems are most urgent? Urgent for whom, and who decides? Environmental issues, it turns out, are always about more than the natural world. In order to understand environmental problems, we also need to understand human societies and the diverse ways that people cause, are affected by, and seek to solve these problems. Using case studies, students will learn to recognize the complex ways that environmental issues such as pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss intersect with social justice issues such as poverty, racism, and gender inequality. This course aims to develop students' cultural competence, information literacy, and critical thinking skills in preparation for more advanced environmental coursework across a range of academic disciplines. 

HONR 422 Environmental Fellows Senior Seminar
An interdisciplinary capstone course for Environmental Fellows. Students draw on field experience, leadership projects, and coursework in the program, across the curriculum and in their majors as they analyze environmental issues from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of environmental complexity by discussion of, for example, ethics, science, art, culture, economics and policy.