ENVR 124 Managing the Gulf of Maine: Climate Change and Impacts on Coastal Communities
The Gulf of Maine, due to its oceanography and other factors, has historically supported the harvesting of abundant marine resources, such as groundfish, lobster, and shellfish. Climate change is, however, leading to considerable environmental change with warming waters, increasing ocean acidification, and sea level rise, forcing communities to adapt existing resource management, reconsider location of coastal structure, and make way for new uses of the Gulf of Maine, such as aquaculture and energy production. This interdisciplinary course draws on oceanography, ecology, history, economics, anthropology, and political science to explore these pressures on the marine environment’s impact on coastal economies. Through lectures, discussion, readings, and field trips, students explore the social and ecological dimensions of managing fisheries and aquaculture with a focus on the Gulf of Maine.
ENVR 203 Scientific Approaches to Environmental Issues/Lab
An introduction to central concepts in environmental science through the study of specific environmental issues. Focal issues, landscapes, and ecosystems illuminate the function and interrelationship of physical, chemical, biological, and socio-cultural systems at scales ranging from microscopic to global. The laboratory links field studies of environmental systems to the scientific concepts, tools, habits of the mind, and approaches to data handling and analysis that environmental scientists use. Not open to juniors or seniors.
ENVR 204 Environment and Society
The environmental crisis is profoundly political. This course familiarizes students with some of the major social scientific contributions to understanding how and why environmental problems arise, how they are defined, and how different groups are affected by and respond to them. The course first outlines the contemporary world system in which environmental debates take place and then identifies drivers of environmental change. Students then apply these ideas to a variety of ongoing environmental controversies, including climate change, agriculture, urbanization, biodiversity conservation, pollution, and environmental justice.
ENVR 205 Lives in Place
What does it mean to live sustainably in place? This course investigates possible answers to that question by considering lives in place: particular stories, particular places, and multiple forms of storytelling about human relationships to the more than human world. From nature writing to poetry, memoir, documentary, film, and the novel, humans (the “storytelling animal”) demonstrate ways of living that enable us to reflect on the virtues, values, vices, and trade-offs of those lives. Keystones in this consideration include modernity and tradition, technologies of change, voices and points of view, animal agency, eating as agricultural act, consumption, and creativity. Students consider both classic and emerging texts and artists from a variety of periods and cultures, examples of humans’ ongoing experiment in living on Earth.
ENVR 209 Sustainable Cities
More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas, a share that will increase to more than two thirds by 2050. What are the consequences of increasing urbanization, and how can urban environments adapt to become more sustainable in the face of global change? Who benefits from urban sustainability strategies (e.g., green design, smart growth, new urbanism), and who absorbs the costs? This course critically unpacks these questions through case studies from Global North and South and explores strategies for socio-ecological justice in urban transit, housing, energy, water, waste, and land use. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204.
ENVR 211 U.S. Environmental History
This course explores the relationship between the North American environment and the development and expansion of the United States. Because Americans’ efforts (both intentional and not) to define and shape the environment were rooted in their own struggles for power, environmental history offers an important perspective on the nation’s social history. Specific topics include Europeans’, Africans’, and Native Americans’ competing efforts to shape the colonial environment; the impact and changing understanding of disease; the relationship between industrial environments and political power; and the development of environmental movements.
ENVR 214 Environmental Ethics
What do we owe to nonhuman animals? How ought we treat plants and other nonsentient organisms? Are ecosystems appropriate objects of moral concern? This course focuses on moral issues that arise as a result of human interaction with the environment. Students discuss mainstream Western philosophers as well as challenges from the point of view of indigenous cultures, Buddhism, and ecofeminism.
ENVR 216 Nature in the Cultures of Russia
This course explores the connections among environment, culture, and identity in the Eurasian landmass that has been home to Russians, Siberians, and Central Asians. After a brief consideration of the ways in which Russian identities have been grounded in deeply conservative understandings of land and peasantry, students consider alternative and revisionist versions that draw on “nature” to explore gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, often in direct opposition to the state. Conducted in English.
ENVR 217 Mapping and GIS/Lab
Geographical information systems (GIS) are computer-based systems for geographical data presentation and analysis. They allow rapid development of high-quality maps, and enable sophisticated examination of spatial patterns and interrelationships. In this course students learn the principles of GIS through extensive computer use of ArcGIS (ESRI). Geological and environmental projects introduce students to cartography, common sources of geographic data, methods for collecting novel spatial data, and data quality. Finally, students learn to extend the capabilities of GIS software to tackle more advanced spatial analysis tasks by completing an independent project. Lectures supplement the laboratory component of the course. Prerequisite: one 100-level course in earth and climate sciences or one 200-level course in environmental studies.
ENVR 219 Disasters and Displacement
This course explores the social, political, and economic production of “natural” disasters, and the linkages between disasters and various types of displacement (e.g., temporary/permanent, internal/international, and forced/voluntary). We take a case-study approach to understand disasters and displacement and work across a diversity of geographic and cultural contexts. Lastly, we engage both domestic and international law and policy as it relates to disaster preparedness and recovery, displacement, and resettlement.
ENVR 220 GIS across the Curriculum
Geographical information systems (GIS) are computer-based systems for analyzing spatially located data. They allow rapid development of high-quality maps and enable sophisticated examination of spatial patterns and interrelationships. In this course students learn the principles of GIS through extensive use of the software ArcGIS (ESRI). Modules from across the curriculum introduce students to spatial data by exploring common data sources, data collection methods, data quality, and data presentation methods. Finally, students extend their capabilities in advanced spatial analysis tasks by undertaking an independent project.
ENVR 221 Ecology of Food and Farming
This course introduces the principles of ecology as applied to agricultural systems. Students explore the interaction of crop plants, soils, beneficial and pest insects, and environmental conditions in both conventional and low-input systems. Interdisciplinary readings consider both the ecological foundation of how agricultural ecosystems function and related socioeconomic and cultural forces and context such as federal farm policy, labor, cultures of food, and environmental justice. Prerequisite(s): BIO 124, 190, 195 or ENVR 203.
ENVR 223 Politics of Wildlife Conservation
The pursuit of wildlife conservation has produced significant policy changes, funding flows, international conventions, and countless projects. But how and why does conservation happen? And what are the consequences for diverse human and nonhuman communities? This course seeks to answer these questions through topics including the historical origins of the conservation idea; the national parks movement in the United States and the British Empire; the raced, classed, and gendered dimensions of conservation; protectionist, integrated, co-managed, and market-based approaches; human-wildlife conflicts; the illegal wildlife trade; de-extinction; rewilding; and conservation ethics. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204.
ENVR 225 Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of spatiotemporal distribution of biota through the interplay between living systems and the environment. This course explores how biogeographic processes influence the evolution of species, communities, and ecosystems, and provides background and analytical techniques for studying the effects of global change on biota. The course combines evolutionary and ecological perspectives in the field of biogeography and shows how Earth history, contemporary environments, and evolutionary and ecological processes have shaped species distributions. General patterns in space and time across the Earth’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems are used to illustrate biogeography. This course examines how geographically-linked processes influence evolution and extinction of biota, and provide an overview of the techniques and applications for studying the interplay between geographic ranges, environment, evolution, and extinction. Prerequisite(s): BIO 195 or 204 or ENVR 203 or 240.
ENVR 226 Hydrogeology
Hydrogeology is the study of the movement and interaction of underground fluids within rocks and sediments. This course uses hydrogeology as a disciplinary framework for learning about groundwater processes, contamination, supply, use, and management. Students engage in practical applications of hydrogeology via discussions, guest lectures, research projects, problem sets, and hands-on experience. Students learn field and laboratory methods for determining and analyzing groundwater flow, contamination, and aquifer properties by working at local sites of interest in central Maine. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 203 or one 100-level earth and climate sciences course.
ENVR 227 Catastrophes and Hope
Throughout human history, environmental wastelands have occupied a peculiar spot in our cultural imagination, invoking the specter of absolute catastrophe, and yet equally suggesting the hopeful possibility of rebirth and renewal. This course examines narratives of ecological disaster drawn from various time periods and cultural traditions, and including religious texts, memoir, literature, and film. Particular attention is paid to how events including the cold war and the contemporary climate crisis have caused us to reimagine the figure of the “wasteland” in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205.
ENVR 229 Electric Grids
An exploration of electricity production, distribution, and consumption. Principles of electromagnetism are developed to provide an understanding of the design and function of the electric grid. Topics include the history of grid evolution, reliability, and disruptions; organizational design; regulations; environmental impact; energy storage; incorporation of renewable energy sources; and the smart grid. Prerequisite(s): CHEM 107A, ENVR 203, or any course in physics.
ENVR 231 Climate (In)Justice
Year after year of unprecedented flooding, fires, and heatwaves: the climate crisis of the future is now. Governments, NGOs, scientists, entrepreneurs, communities, and individuals across the world are now confronted with the climate crises in variable and uneven ways. The drivers of climate change and how humanity responds to climate impacts each engender matters of climate (in)justice. This course explores the ways in which the uneven distribution of climate harms and benefits are deeply linked to structural inequalities along axes of race, class, gender, and nationality. Through engagement with case studies and social movements, topics such as sacrifice zones, environmental racism, climate gentrification, green grabbing, disaster capitalism, climate apartheid, and climate displacement are explored. Finally, students consider possibilities and proposals for realizing more just climate futures.
ENVR 235 Climate Fiction
This course examines representations of climate change in contemporary literature, comics, and film. Working with materials from a variety of world regions and cultural traditions, students consider the emerging genre of “climate fiction” in relation to a larger and longer history of environmental fiction. They grapple with the form, function, and limits of climate fiction as a discourse. Is cli-fi a kind of science fiction? A new mode of realism? A new form of activism of pedagogy? A genre of Anthropocene fiction? Or something else entirely? Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205 or one 100-level English course.
ENVR 236 The Green New Deal and the Politics of Climate Change
The congressional Green New Deal resolution in 2019 marked a turning point in climate politics by calling for a war-like mobilization to rapidly decarbonize the U.S. economy while redressing legacy inequalities through redistributive investments in “frontline communities.” What is the Green New Deal, and what could it mean for the future of housing, transportation, work, and leisure? How does its political vision differ from other climate policies and from the original Depression-era New Deal? Drawing on theories of social movements, students explore the political formations (labor, indigenous, and climate and environmental justice movements) shaping the Green New Deal and future climate politics. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level environmental studies course, or one course in politics.
ENVR 239 Anti-Blackness and the Environment
This course interrogates the link between anti-Blackness and the environment. It examines how race, power, and environmental risk converge to create environmental racism, which disparately impacts Black communities. This is a conundrum of the Anthropocene: those who cause the least pollution experience its effects the most. Students explore this dynamic while paying attention to how communities fight back and demand justice. They also consider the role this dynamic plays in our current climate crisis and what it implies for the responsibility and possibilities of repair.
ENVR 240 Water and Watersheds/Lab
This course explores the structure and function of lakes and rivers and their relationship to the surrounding terrestrial systems. Students consider physical, chemical, and biological processes that influence the movement and quality of water, emphasizing controls on the distribution, movement, and chemistry of water both to and within freshwater ecosystems. Field and laboratory studies combine ecological, geological, and chemical approaches to questions of water quality and quantity as well as an introduction to working with large data sets. Students are assumed to be proficient in the use of spreadsheets. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: BIO 195; ENVR 203; BI/EA 112; EACS 103, 104, 107, 109, or FYS 476.
ENVR 242 Environment, Human Rights, and Indigenous Peoples
This course looks at the complex intersection between environmentalism, the human rights movement, and indigenous politics. Starting with the premise that settler colonialism is not a past event but rather a structure that continues to shape societies worldwide, students consider topics including the emergence and growth of the global indigenous movement; the politics of (environmental) representation; resource conflicts such as bioprospecting and biopiracy, climate change, wildlife conservation, and extractive industries; and indigenous calls for self-determination and decolonization. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: ANTH 101 or ENVR 204.
ENVR 243 International Development
This course casts a critical eye on the international development complex and its varied consequences for environments and communities worldwide. Students first consider the colonial origins of the development idea, its institutional growth in the twentieth century, and various theoretical approaches to development. Drawing heavily on case studies and voices from across the global South, the course then explores major environment-development quandaries such as extractive industries, large infrastructure projects, public health, famine and food security, climate change adaptation, disaster relief, and foreign aid, all the while measuring them against development’s shifting aspirations: poverty alleviation, social justice, and sustainability. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204 or any course in Latin American and Latinx Studies.
ENVR 246 Conservation Biology
The work of conserving the ecological systems on which we and other species rely draws on many disciplines, including biology, policy, ethics, and other disciplines to conserve biological diversity. This course focuses on the biological aspects of conservation work while also considering their context within a complex, interdisciplinary endeavor. Students examine conservation at multiple scales, including the conservation of species, biological communities, and ecosystems. Classroom activities help students develop scientific reasoning skills and apply them to conservation problems. Readings and discussions encourage students to consider social, ethical, and other perspectives on conservation work. Prerequisite(s): BIO 190, 195 or ENVR 203, 240, or 310.
ENVR 251 Ecology and Policy: The Maine Lobster Fishery and Right Whale Conservation
Understanding how science, policy, and livelihoods interact is critical to citizen engagement with many issues related to the environment. This course provides some of the tools for such interdisciplinary engagement, using the case study of the Maine lobster fishery and ongoing debates over right whale conservation within that fishery. The course reviews the basics of how marine policy is made at local, state, and federal levels; explores concepts and models from population ecology and their application in conservation and fisheries management; and asks how policy can be responsive to livelihood needs that are in conflict with conservation goals. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 203 or BIO 206.
ENVR 271 Dendrology and the Natural History of Trees/Lab
In this field-based course, students engage in the scientific study of the natural history and identification of trees and important shrubs native to New England, and some commonly planted non-native trees. Topics include the anatomy, function, taxonomy, biology, and uses of trees. Lecture topics support weekly outdoor laboratories, which may include trips to such field sites as the Saco Heath, Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, and Wolfe’s Neck State Park. Study of the woody flora of New England serves as a foundation for further work in biology, environmental studies, conservation, or related fields. Prerequisite(s): BIO 117, 124, 195, 206, or ENVR 203.
ENVR 272 Oikos: Rethinking Economy and Ecology
Economy and ecology share the same Greek root: oikos, or “home.” Both name relationships that are crucial to the sustenance of life, yet these two domains often appear to be locked in mortal combat. Why is the oikos of modern life torn asunder? What is this split and how did it arise? Is reconciliation possible? If so, what might it entail? This course brings critical tools from political theory and science studies to bear on these questions, exploring a variety of attempts to rethink the relation between economy and ecology and to reconfigure the very nature of the categories themselves. Recommended background: one course in anthropology, economics, environmental studies, politics, or sociology.
ENVR 273 Land and Livelihood
Land is the source of life and a site of tremendous struggle. Who gets to use land and how? Who decides? What is at stake in the ways we think about and represent the land? How might we enact more just and nourishing ways of living with the places that sustain us? Engaging these questions through historical, legal, philosophical, and anthropological perspectives—particularly in the U.S. context—this course seeks to foster a critical and creative understanding of the complex, contested meanings and uses of land, and of possibilities for enacting new forms of land care and land justice. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204 or 209.
ENVR 301I Farm, Food, and Factory: An Environmental History of the Industrial Food System in the United States
Food as one of the most basic human needs has generated incredible efforts to shape the environment. Beginning in the nineteenth century, innovations that applied principles of industry to food production have resulted in an unprecedented availability of food. But nonhuman organisms have resisted complete commodification again and again, and have shaped the U.S. and global food system in return. From the vantage point of the United States and Maine in particular, this seminar explores how humans linked agriculture, labor, science, technology, industry, empire, and global trade and development into a powerful industrial-agrarian system that feeds us today.
ENVR 301M New England: Environment and History
This seminar examines how people relate to their environments and how those relationships have changed. It also examines how understanding of “the environment” has consequences for how people influence it, how it influences them, and even how people influence each other. Understanding these varied relationships within the human and more-than-human world highlights how canoe routes, beach towns, textile mills, apple orchards, and all other New England environments are products of human dynamics, including those of race, gender, and class. Drawing on scholarly work as well as primary sources (including paintings, newspapers, diaries, and maps), students gain an appreciation for this complex history. They then engage in the process of writing their own analysis of some part of the region’s past.
ENVR 302 Restoration Ecology/Lab
Ecological restoration assists the recovery of ecosystems damaged or destroyed by human activities, improving habitat for threatened species and increasing the ability of natural systems to serve a wide variety of human needs. Students learn ecological concepts and practical approaches used in this important and growing field and explore the complex human values that shape restoration goals and practices. Course activities emphasize critical reading of the primary scientific literature, discussion of restoration goals and practices, and developing skills relevant to restoration work. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: BI/ES 246, 271, 306, 333; BIO 206, 221, 270, s32, s37; ENVR 221, 240, or 310.
ENVR 303 Restoration Ecology
Ecological restoration assists the recovery of ecosystems damaged or destroyed by human activities, improving habitat for threatened species and increasing the ability of natural systems to serve a wide variety of human needs. Students learn ecological concepts and practical approaches used in this important and growing field and explore the complex human values that shape restoration goals and practices. Course activities emphasize discussion of restoration goals and practices and critical reading of the primary scientific literature. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: BI/ES 246, 271, 306, 333; BIO 206, 221, 270, s32, s37; ENVR 221, 240, or 310.
ENVR 304 Politics of Nature
What is nature and what does it mean to say that it has a politics? In one common understanding, nature is precisely that which stands apart from political dynamics, indicating a world of objective “facts” beyond human influence. Yet the concept of nature has long been implicated in relations of power, whether by making certain social relationships such as race, gender, and class seem inevitable or by lending strength to movements for liberation. This course examines the politics of nature through various lenses of poststructuralist, postcolonial, feminist, and Marxist political theory, ultimately seeking to imagine how nature itself might become a site for transformative democratic practice. Prerequisite(s): two of the following: AN/ES 242; ENVR 203, 204, or 205; ES/PL 214; ES/PT 272; GS/PL 262; GSS 100; PHIL 150 or 211; PLTC 191 or 202; or SOC 204.
ENVR 305 Aquaculture Science & Management
Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms. This course is an examination of species, cultivation techniques, environmental conditions, and management considerations central to aquaculture. We will explore these topics at both a global level and a regional level, giving significant attention to aquaculture research and development efforts in Maine. Students will learn about and apply the fundamental biological, chemical, and ecological concepts at play in the most common culture systems. We will also discuss issues that have affected the growth and development of aquaculture in the last century.
ENVR 306 Disturbance Ecology
Many ecosystems have a long evolutionary history of being adapted to natural disturbances such as wildfire, insect outbreaks, and drought. These disturbance processes are required for such systems to persist. On the other hand, anthropogenic disturbances—nuclear disasters, invasive species, oil spills—can have profound effects on systems that are not evolutionarily prepared for them. In this course students examine the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on ecological systems and discuss whether climate change is increasing disturbance severity. Students are introduced to concepts of disturbance probability and risk, and the complexities of conveying this information to the general public. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: BI/ES 246, 271; BIO 113, 128, 133, 206, 221, 270; ENVR 203, 221, 240, or 310. Open to juniors and seniors.
ENVR 307 Narrating (Agri)cultures: Ecologies of Livelihood, Care and Reciprocity
Many stories associated with the environment reflect the experiences of populations that no longer grow their food or manage their waste – experiences that favor the idealization of “Nature” as a space of recreation or conceal the communities that make the modern economy possible. What priorities, hopes and anxieties emerge when we center communities that work the land? Devaluing the knowledge of small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples and minoritized communities has supported the spread of colonial capitalism. We ask how this stigma is contested by the stories of these groups today as they struggle to restore ancestral practices of land use, resist industrial agrobusiness or secure food sovereignty in the face of climate change. Through the study of art, literature and scholarship produced by these communities and their allies, we ask how the stories and ways of storytelling of those who work the land reorient definitions of “environment” and climate action and “resilience” agendas.
ENVR 310 Soils/Lab
Depending on one’s point of view, soils are geological units, ecosystems, the foundation of plant life, a place for microbes to live, building material, or just dirt. This course takes a scientific perspective and explores the genesis of soils, their distribution and characteristics, and their interaction with plants. Field studies emphasize description of soils, inferences about soil formation, and placement within a landscape context. Labs investigate the chemistry of soils and their role in forestry and agriculture. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: BIO 206; BI/ES 271; CHEM 212 or 215; ENVR 203, 221, or 240; EACS 210, 223, or 240.
ENVR 311 Environmental History of China
This course investigates the deep historical roots of China’s contemporary environmental dilemmas. From the Three Gorges Dam to persistent smog, a full understanding of the environment in China must reckon with millennia-old relationships between human and natural systems. In this course students explore the advent of grain agriculture, religious understandings of nature, the impact of bureaucratic states, and the environmental dimensions of imperial expansion as well as the nature of kinship and demographic change. The course concludes by turning to the socialist “conquest” of nature in the 1950s and 1960s and China’s post-1980s fate.
ENVR 314 The Environment and What We Owe to Each Other
As we use and deplete natural resources and alter the global environment, the consequences do not respect national borders, the boundaries among generations, or species distinctions. This course takes up questions about the nature and scope of justice as it pertains to the environment. Specifically, it considers what we owe to our fellow citizens, to the global community, to future generations, and to nonhuman animals, as we change the environment. Prerequisite(s): ES/PL 214; or two courses in philosophy; or one course in philosophy and one course in environmental studies.
ENVR 316 Consumerism and Beyond
Consumerism is a pervasive hallmark of modernity, often seen as the key to freedom, upward mobility, self-actualization, and happiness. Yet critics argue that it comes at the cost of an accelerating environmental crisis, mental health problems, social anomie, and violent inequalities. Drawing on diverse theoretical approaches, this seminar first explores the ecological, political, cultural, and psychological aspects of consumerism in the United States. The course then critically examines a range of alternative movements and paradigms that seek a life beyond consumerism, such as anti-corporate activism; ethical and political consumption; voluntary simplicity; neo-Luddism; freeganism; circular economies; degrowth; commoning; and relocalization. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204.
ENVR 318 Ecomedia: Audiovisual Cultures of the Environment
This course explores audio and/or visual modes of environmental expression including film, documentary photography, music, fine art, architecture, the graphic novel, and manga. Working across cultural traditions and emphasizing works by marginalized authors, artists, and directors, students investigate how various forms of ecomedia have been employed to express environmental sentiments, explore environmental issues, and give voice to those impacted by environmental crises. Equal attention is paid to canonical works of environmental art as well as pop cultural and/or nontraditional works that have often been overlooked. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205 or one 200-level course in English or rhetoric, film, and screen studies.
ENVR 321 Afroambiente: Escritura negra y medio ambiente
This course studies the response of black writers and intellectuals of the Spanish-speaking world to issues related to the natural environment. In several countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Equatorial Guinea, from colonial times to the present, modernity has brought serious challenges to notions of economic progress, human rights, and national sovereignty as well as individual and communal identity. Course materials include written texts from local newspapers and magazines as well as other sources of information such as websites that present issues related to the environment and the arts. All readings are in English. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level Hispanic studies course above 211. Only open to juniors and seniors.
ENVR 322 Mountains and Modernity
Once regarded as impenetrable barriers dividing Europe, the Alps and Carpathian Mountains were transformed into international meeting places with the arrival of mass tourism in the late nineteenth century. At the same time, these mountain ranges began to be claimed in the constructions of national and ethnic identities that reshaped Central and Eastern Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. The course examines the role ascribed to the Alps and Carpathians at a pivotal time in European history, when the demise of empires and rising nationalism, but also new ideas about class, gender, ethnicity, and race, fundamentally restructured dynamics of power on the continent. Recommended background: a 200-level course focused on the study of literature and/or film in any department.
ENVR 333 The Genetics of Conservation Biology/Lab
Conserving biodiversity is important at multiple scales, including genetic variation within species. Does a species have enough variation to evolve in a changing world? Are individuals differentially adapted to local environmental variation? In a captive population of a rare animal, which individuals should be bred to minimize the erosion of genetic variation? Lectures and labs cover the fundamentals of classical, molecular, and population genetics, applying them to current issues in biological conservation. Prerequisite(s): BIO 202, 206, 242 or 270.
ENVR 335 Indigenous Ecologies
This course centers Indigenous relations with land, water, climate, and more-than-human others. Drawing upon Indigenous studies and post/de/anticolonial literature, this course explores diverse ways in which Indigenous Peoples around the world understand, experience, and are responding to contemporary ecological challenges of pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change. A wide range of topics are explored including the construction of knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, eco-imperialism, ecocide, sovereignty and self-determination, and decolonization. This is a writing-intensive course culminating in the development of a creative anticolonial case study project. Prerequisite: Successful completion of ENVR 204 OR ENVR 205
ENVR 336 The Genetics of Conservation Biology
Conserving biodiversity is important at multiple scales, including genetic variation within species. Does a species have enough variation to evolve in a changing world? Are individuals differentially adapted to local environmental variation? In a captive population of a rare animal, which individuals should be bred to minimize the erosion of genetic variation? Lectures and labs cover the fundamentals of classical, molecular, and population genetics, applying them to current issues in biological conservation. Prerequisite(s): BIO 202, 242, 206, or 270.
ENVR 337 Social Movements, NGOs, and the Environment
As powerful transnational actors, social movements and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seek to address the environmental crisis in new ways. But why and when do environmental movements emerge? What makes them effective and what makes them fail? Do NGOs necessarily “do environmental good”? To whom are they accountable? How does transnational activism work and what are its pitfalls? Ultimately, what pathways do these kinds of politics offer? In pursuit of these questions, this seminar considers topics and case studies across the global north and south, using them as a lens through which to understand the complexities of socio-environmental change. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204.
ENVR 341 Political Ecology of Climate Change
This course takes a critical political ecology approach to understanding the current global climate crisis. We will engage the historical, economic, cultural, and political dimensions of climate change, as well as adaptation and mitigation responses to it. This course does not attempt to present a comprehensive review of the political ecology literature on climate change. Rather, it is designed as an exploration of political ecology’s insights and arguments as they pertain to climate change impacts, governance, and politics. The course is divided into four units: (I) defining the political ecology of climate change field, (II) doing political ecology research, (III) exploration of climate cases, and (IV) political ecology applied: climate case studies. Throughout the class, students engage in collaborative, community-engaged research centered around a local or regional climate issue of their choice. Prerequisite: ENVR 204.
ENVR 349 Extinction
This course considers how key historical developments, including the rise of evolutionary biology, the birth of the nuclear age, and the contemporary climate crisis, have informed and transformed how writers, thinkers, and artists have imagined species extinction from the nineteenth century to the present. Beginning with the discovery of the first extinct species in 1796, students trace the concept of extinction across discourses including literature, film, philosophy, and the history of science. Particular attention is paid to questions concerning biodiversity loss and climate change, our cultural fascination with prehistoric life, and the omnipresent threat of human extinction. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205.
ENVR 350 Environmental Justice
This seminar explores issues of environmental justice by focusing on how lines of difference-especially race, class, and gender-mediate people’s relationships to each other and to the natural world. How do power relations shape differential access to and control over resources? What makes people more or less vulnerable to environmental changes? Through a selection of historical and contemporary topics and case studies from across the United States, the course explores how political, economic, and cultural forces shape environmental inequalities and how, in trying to address those inequalities, various groups challenge and broaden the assumptions and practices of modern environmentalism. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204.
ENVR 354 Bodies of Land: The Creation of Indigeneity in Film
This course explores the representation and roles of Indigenous peoples in film, the creation and maintenance of the settler-colonial imagination, the inseparable links between Indigneous bodies and land, and the roles of environment and landscape. This is an Indigenous studies course, centering Native American, First Nations, and Indigenous interests, perspectives, and identities. The course relies on various genres of films; “classics,” independent, Hollywood blockbuster, and documentary, created by a range of filmmakers from various backgrounds and identities. Students become well-versed in the topic and impacts of settler-colonialism, develop critical thinking, and explore methods of analysis that will allow them to apply methodological skills related to film review, analysis, and writing.
ENVR 360 Independent Study
Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester.
ENVR 365 Special Topics
Offered occasionally on subjects of special interest.
ENVR 417 Practicum in Community-Engaged Research
Students work collaboratively to complete an interdisciplinary semester-long project. Projects include work with previously identified community partners and may vary from year to year. The course deals explicitly with the issues and best practices arising from doing complex collaborative work in a community-engaged setting. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 204 and 205 and one of ENVR 203, 240, or 310.
ENVR 450 Senior Capstone in Environmental Studies
This course serves as a capstone to the environmental studies major, in which students hone skills needed for future lives as environmental scientists, activists, practitioners, and artists. Students learn a variety of modalities for communicating about environmental topics with public audiences. They consider environmentally themed text as models for writing (e.g., advocacy, scholarship, scientific writing, personal and lyrical essays, natural history) and explore new media forms (e.g., podcasts, video essays, and other creative formats). Students’ environmental writing develops through peer review and culminates in a substantial work for a public audience. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 203, 204, 205, and 417.
ENVR 457 Senior Thesis
This course involves research for and writing of the senior thesis, under the direction of a faculty advisor. Guidelines for the thesis are published on the program website and are available from the program chair. Students register for ENVR 457 in the fall semester.
ENVR 458 Senior Thesis
This course involves research for and writing of the senior thesis, under the direction of a faculty advisor. Guidelines for the thesis are published on the program website and are available from the program chair. Students register for ES 458 in the winter semester.
ENVR S11 In Search of Higher Ground: Sea-Level Rise, Coastal Flooding and the Future of the Eastern Seaboard
Climate change, increased storm frequency and intensity, and sea-level rise have created an urgent need for adaptation planning for many communities along the U.S. eastern seaboard. In this course students examine adaptation strategies and vulnerability assessments to understand social and economic vulnerability and the complexities of coastal retreat. Utilizing climate adaptation planning tools, mapping technology, and on-the-ground observation, students examine adaptation strategies including managed retreat, buyouts, living shorelines, and green infrastructure. Students consider the current and future role of FEMA’s national flood insurance program as a major mechanism for incentivizing resilient or reckless coastal development. Based in experiential learning, students engage in discussions with experts, practitioners, and residents in highly vulnerable coastal areas in Maine, as well as a ten-day trip to coastal communities in Virginia and North Carolina. Prerequisite(s): ECON 101 or 222, or ENVR 209. Recommended background: ECON 250 or other statistics course.
ENVR S13 Infrastructures
Popular representations of digital technologies often present them as somehow independent of material constraints-as inherently clean, “green,” and ethereal as a cloud. Those images belie the realities of the information economy’s myriad environmental impacts, from resource depletion to water pollution to massive energy consumption. This course, an introduction to the history and politics of infrastructure, directs attention to relationships between human and nonhuman nature, using everyday personal computing as a point of departure. Throughout, students engage with activists, regulators, and maintainers working toward justice and sustainability in the digital age.
ENVR S14 The Ecology of Place: Field Methods for Coastal Research at Bates-Morse Mountain
This course immerses students in coastal issues facing Maine with the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area and Phippsburg as the course setting. Students examine community dependence on fisheries and aquaculture and learn how to assess the health of the environment, including salt marshes, mudflats, the rocky intertidal zone, sandy beaches, and coastal forests. By combining the study of human and natural systems, students consider ways to manage resources within the broader context of a changing environment. The course introduces social-ecological systems theory and field methods including basic experimental design, data collection, and analysis. This course includes overnight stays at the Bates-Morse Mountain Conservation Area.
ENVR S15 Photographing the Landscape
The course provides a context for studying and analyzing images of the landscape by viewing and discussing historic and contemporary landscape photographs. Questions considered include the role of the sublime in current landscape photography, beauty as a strategy for persuasion, perceptions of “natural” versus “artificial,” and contemporary approaches in trying to affect environmental change. Students explore the depiction of the landscape by producing their own work, using “pinhole,” black-and-white film, or digital photography. There is a laboratory fee. Recommended background: AVC 219.
ENVR S16 Minding Birds: Culture, Cognition, and Conservation
What are the consequences of minding birds, in several senses (caring for them, being bothered by them, endowing them with faculties of intellect and emotion, or simply believing that they have minds of their own)? This course invites students to take birds seriously as thinking, feeling neighbors by examining literary representations of birds from antiquity to the present alongside recent ornithological studies. Three distinct units focus on separate families: hawks, crows, and sparrows. Students venture outside to record field notes on local species in each of these groups, and compare their findings to representations in literary and scientific texts. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level English course.
ENVR S20 The Future of Food
This course considers how novelists, filmmakers, chefs, activists, and political theorists have imagined the future of food in a warming world. From works of science fiction predicting the “meal-in-a-pill” to “slow food” manifestos by chefs who call for us to think globally but eat locally, the course explores cultural visions of our culinary futures. Will the future of food be marked by transformative technologies or a return to ancestral traditions and local food economies? Students explore these questions in conjunction with a weekly bread baking “lab” in which they learn the basics of making sourdough using Maine-grown grains. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205 or one course in English or rhetoric, film, and screen studies. This course is not open to first-year students. Please note: This course has an extra cost of $100.
ENVR S21 Economic Ecologies: Anthropology, Digital Humanities, and Climate Change in the North Atlantic
This course provides a multidisciplinary introduction to the north of Iceland as a unique site to explore culture and nature from the medieval era to the present. Students examine local knowledges and folklore to better understand the rapidly changing climate. They investigate how locals work with global scholars to document and better understand humans’ relationship to the natural world, using interdisciplinary tools from climate and social sciences, medieval and premodern studies, and digital media studies. Students apply what they learn by documenting the cultural and economic ecologies around them at Bates and in Maine through ethnographic and digital humanities methods. Recommended background: prior coursework in anthropology and/or environmental studies.
ENVR S22 Local Food: Sovereignty and Justice
A community’s right to healthy and culturally appropriate foods produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods is at the center of numerous climate justice debates and “resilience” initiatives, particularly those driven by minoritized and colonized communities. While food sovereignty points to the rights of communities to control and define their own agricultural systems, food justice refers to the systemic lack of access to safe and sustainable nourishment suffered by certain communities, particularly within the globalized, industrial economy. Food sovereignty and food justice are thus intimately entwined struggles in the search for more equitable food systems. Over the course of the term students will discuss introductory texts to histories and concepts that define these movements as they learn about local food initiatives in Lewiston and its environs through conversations with local activists and visits to local food justice initiatives.
ENVR S26 Overstories: Telling the Lives of Trees
Who tells the stories of trees, how do they tell them, and why? How are the lives and voices of forests captured and constructed? Students in this course address these questions by examining a range of novels, histories, and scientific studies focused on trees and forests, and by constructing their own narratives — fictional and/or historical — about their lives with trees, including those on the Bates campus and in the surrounding community. They consider how trees and forests have been identified by writers as models for human beings and human communities. Students hear from those who work with trees, including foresters and arborists, and consider the ways in which the lives of trees and those of human beings are intertwined. Readings include Richard Powers, The Overstory; John Fowles, The Tree; Lauren Oakes, In Search of the Canary Tree; and Peter Wohlleben, The Secret Lives of Trees. Prerequisite(s): ENVR 205 or one 100-level English course.
ENVR S31 Landscape Ethnography
Environmental anthropologists, geographers and political ecologists have long been preoccupied with understanding the ways in which seemingly “natural” landscapes are actually the result of complex social histories. Landscape ethnography is the approach we take in this class to understand the entangled human and ecological histories of place, and challenge dichotomies of nature and culture. Informed by multispecies, interspecies and more-than-human perspectives across the social sciences and humanities, this class enables students an explorative and creative space to produce a landscape ethnography.
ENVR S50 Independent Study
FYS 427 Introduction to Ecopsychology: The Human-Nature Relationship
Ecopsychology is concerned with the psychological dimensions of our relationship to the environment. As a developing and interdisciplinary field of inquiry, ecopsychology provides the opportunity to explore conceptions of self and nature; the perceived schism between humans and nature; and the psychological sources and repercussions of environmental degradation. In the context of these themes, we explore the cultural evolution of the Western mind, identity, the psychology of climate change, and the role of perception in healing the human-nature relationship. Throughout, our fundamental question asks how we might become more wisely responsive and adapted to current environmental conditions.
FYS 515 Food Systems and Food Justice
As modern food systems have grown increasingly productive, centralized, and expansive, they have lifted millions out of poverty and averted malnutrition for millions more. At the same time, they cause massive ecological impacts and they rely on social injustices including land theft, labor exploitation, and rampant (if uneven) food insecurity. Through the lens of food justice, this course explores the central question of how humanity will feed itself in an era marked by climate change and a global pandemic.
FYS 542 The Nature of International Development
This course casts a critical eye on the international development complex and its varied consequences for environments and communities worldwide. Students consider the colonial origins of the development idea, its institutional growth in the twentieth century, theories of development, and the different actors involved. Drawing heavily on case studies and voices from across the global South, the course then explores major environment-development quandaries such as extractive industry, large infrastructure projects, public health, food security, disaster relief, and foreign aid, all the while measuring them against development’s shifting aspirations: poverty alleviation, social justice, and sustainability.
JPN S29 Performing Fukushima: Theater and Film
In Japan in 2011, an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown killed nearly 16,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. This course considers how a traumatic event is presented in theater and film. Students learn about the social and political background of the disaster through readings and watch related theater and film. They analyze these media, considering and critiquing different approaches. How can trauma be represented? Who controls the narrative? What are the ethics of performing trauma? Recommended background: one course in Asian studies, environmental studies, film studies, Japanese, or theater.