This faculty member is currently on leave. Please contact the Dean of Faculty's Office at 207-786-6067 if you need further assistance.

Sonja K. Pieck

Professor of Environmental Studies


Environmental Studies

Hedge Hall, Room 113

Latin American and Latinx Studies

Hedge Hall, Room 113


Ph.D., Clark University

As a human geographer, I am broadly interested in how various forms of nature (e.g., “cultural landscapes” or “biodiversity”) are produced and how they become meaningful to different groups of people. At the same time, I am curious about environmental governance and political participation at multiple scales, especially around access to and use of these forms of nature and natural resources.


In the past, I have examined these issues by exploring transnational alliances between Amazonian Indigenous groups and US environmentalists and by studying NGO mobilization strategies against mega-infrastructure projects in Peru.

My current research takes me back to Germany, my country of origin, where I investigate the history and environmental politics of the Green Belt, an ecological corridor and protected area crafted from the remains of the Cold War inter-German border that once separated socialist East Germany from capitalist West Germany. In my current book project, Mnemonic Ecologies: Conservation along the Former Iron Curtain (under contract with MIT Press), I am particularly interested in the complex and mutual entanglements of emergent ecosystems and historical memory. In landscapes marked by war, militarization, and trauma, I argue for a conservation praxis productively situated between land care and curation, between ecological principles and historical memorialization, and between expertise and community participation. My work ultimately advances a vision of conservation that is sensitive to the landscape’s past while being collaborative, empathetic, and more deeply acknowledging of the interlacing between humans and the places they inhabit.


My courses, from the introductory to the upper levels, broadly cover the environmental social sciences and range across the Global North and South. Course descriptions can be found in the College Catalog.

ANES 242      Environment, Human Rights & Indigenous Peoples
ENVR 204      Environment & Society
ENVR 223      Politics of Wildlife Conservation
ENVR 337      Social Movements, NGOs & the Environment
ENVR 350      Environmental Justice
ENVR 417      Community-Engaged Research in Environmental Studies
ESEU s28        Green City Germany: Experiments in Sustainable Urbanism
FYS 542          The Nature of International Development


Letter of recommendation policy for 2021-2022:

While I am on sabbatical, I will have infrequent contact with Bates, including my Bates e-mail. Ask for letters early, since it may be a while before I even see your request.

Please note that I am limiting my letter-writing to those needed for graduate school, post-graduate jobs, and major graduate fellowships (e.g., Watson, Fulbright). To be able to write such a letter, I must have had you in at least two courses, and you must have had high marks in both.

Shorter letters and references for study-abroad programs, summer jobs, and internships should be requested from other faculty this year. Keep in mind that good letter-writers need not be ES faculty as long as they can attest in some way to your character, work ethic, and/or in-class performance.