Environmental Studies

Director: Einspahr
Affiliated Professors: Askew, Fraser, Furchak, Garriga-Lopez, Girdler Katanski, Latiolais,
C. Lewis, J. Lewis, Lindley, Newday

The concentration in environmental studies is based upon the recognition that environmental and resource problems are not just biological, geological, economic, or political. Therefore, the concentration is structured as an interdisciplinary study by selecting appropriate courses from the natural and social sciences, as well as the humanities, in order to pool knowledge from across traditional disciplinary lines. This information is essential for an interdisciplinary assessment, analysis, and evaluation of environmental problems.

Students interested in environmental studies are urged to keep this interest in mind when selecting a site for study abroad. If approved ahead of time by the Director, up to one course from study abroad can count toward the completion of the concentration. Moreover, pursuing these interests abroad emphasizes the important international dimensions of many environmental issues while often permitting students to gain familiarity with some problems (and their possible solutions) in other countries. Courses from study abroad sites in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, and Thailand are particularly suitable.

The Concentration in Environmental Studies

Six units are required.

Take at least one course from each of the four numbered groups listed below (* indicates that a course has a pre-requisite course, usually a 100-level course in the same department), and two additional courses from any of the groups or the additional elective list. Study Abroad courses, Independent Study courses, and Senior Individualized Projects may be approved on a case by case basis; please consult with the Program Director.

Four required courses (one from each of four numbered groups below):

  • 1. Natural Science
    • ENVS 115 Environmental Science (to be taken as early as possible)
  • 2. Social Science
    • ANSO 232 Nature and Society
    • ANSO/ENVS 350 Political History of Western Environmental Thought*
    • ANSO/ENVS 365 Humans and Non-Humans*
    • CES 300 Body, Land, and Labor
    • ECON 235 Environmental and Resource Economics* (highly recommended)
    • POLS 267 Environmental and Political Theory
  • 3. Arts & Humanities
    • ARTX 234 Structure & Space
    • ENGL 151 Reading the World: Environments: Gardens
    • ENGL 156 RTW: Social Justice
    • ENGL 217 World Indigenous Literatures
    • ENGL/SEMN 492 American Indian Literature and the Law*
    • HIST 212 American Environmental History
    • HIST 217 History of Leisure and Recreation in America
    • PHIL 108 Ecological Philosophy
    • PHIL 310 Critical Social Theory
  • 4. Senior Seminar (must have senior standing to enroll)
    • ENVS 490 Senior Seminar
    • SEMN 408 Slow Farming

Two additional elective courses selected from any courses listed above or below:

Elective Courses (do not count as one of four required categories):

  • BIOL 224 Ecology & Conservation*
  • BIOL 232 Plant Biology
  • BIOL 396 Entomology*
  • BIOL 485 Topics in Biology: Trees*
  • CES 340 Plant Communication/Kinship
  • CHEM 240 Analytical Chemistry*

* indicates that a course has a pre-requisite, usually a 100-level course in the same department

Note: New courses with environmental or sustainability themes may be approved throughout the year that are not on the required or elective course list. Students are encouraged to ask the Program Director for permission to count such towards the concentration. Additional special topics one-time course offerings may count as electives depending on content (e.g. ENGL, RELG); please discuss the suitability of these courses with the Program Director.

Environmental Studies Courses

ENVS115Environmental Science In this course you will (1) build a basic understanding of the physical and natural systems that make up the biosphere on Earth (land, water, atmosphere, and life) stressing the dynamics of these interconnected systems; (2) develop a scientific understanding of the causes and consequences of several of the major environmental problems facing today's society; (3) acquire the tools to enable you to think critically about other current and future environmental challenges you will face as a member of contemporary society. One weekend field trip is required. This course is required for the Environmental Studies concentration.
ENVS/BIOL195Science and Social Justice Why does anyone become a scientist? What problems do you want to solve? This course is intended for first year students who are interested in exploring the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and also want to empower their communities to address some of society's most vexing problems. We will take an interdisciplinary scientific approach to issues such as lead in pipes and paint, sinking coastal cities, contested genomes, and conflicts between technology and culture. At the same time we will necessarily confront intersecting ethical and social factors that set the context for these issues, such as race, gender, citizenship status, colonial history, and access to healthcare and education. No prior knowledge of any scientific discipline is required to be successful in this course, although we will be doing science. Note: You must co-enroll in the laboratory section of this course.
ENVS/ANSO232Nature & Society: Intro Pol. Ecology This course will introduce students to the sub-discipline of political ecology, a field broadly concerned with the relationships between nature and social power. In other words, this course will focus on developing an understanding of how social relations and politico-economic systems produce environmental problems, structure access to natural resources, the resulting struggles over 'nature' and how and in whose interests these may or may not be resolved.Because the field is broad, the course has been structured into themes that we will explore each week.Prerequisite: Sophomores only.
ENVS/HIST295Environmental History of Colonial Latin America This course is a survey of Colonial Latin American Environmental History. It uses topography, weather, plants, animals, and viruses as units of analysis for exploring topics including indigenous civilizations, Iberian conquest, trans-Atlantic slavery, colonial reforms, and resistance movements. And it explores the changing relations between human beings and non-human nature in the Atlantic Basin in the early-modern era.
ENVS/ANSO350Political Histories of Western Environmental Thought This course explores a partial (Western) history of how humans have understood themselves in relation to nature. To do so, this course relies on a landmark text in the field along with a series of primary texts, tracing the continuities and ruptures in thought during different historical periods have engaged with the idea of nature and the place of the human within it. Although, the course relies mostly on a broadly defined Western thought tradition in this course but students are encouraged to undertake research on other traditions and bring those into the classroom.Prerequisite: ANSO-103
ENVS/ANSO365Humans and Non-Humans What does it mean to be human? What is the history of the notion of the human, and who or what has been excluded from it? What does it mean to study non-humans through a humanistic frame? How can we know non-human beings? What kinds of knowledges exist at the edges of the discourse on the human? This course will introduce students to these issues through a combination of readings that engage with the field known as new materialisms to consider the ways in which the study of humanity has been challenged by new modes of thinking about being, producing situated answers to these questions.
ENVS/BIOL395Wildlife Ecology With Lab The Wildlife Ecology course will help students to gain a better understanding of the depth and breadth of the field of wildlife ecology with emphasis on understanding the ecology, dynamics, principles of conservation, and factors affecting wildlife resources. Through lectures and labs, students will learn about multiple approaches to studying wildlife, conservation, and also some techniques employed for ecological sampling and analysis. Students will learn basic concepts about population ecology, habitat use, selected animal diseases, and conservation of endangered species. They will also gain skills in GIS analysis They will also explore how global change is affecting wildlife population and distribution.Prerequisite: Must have taken BIOL-224
ENVS490Environmental Studies Senior Seminar Examination and analysis of selected contemporary environmental and resource problems and issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. In addressing these issues, special attention is given to the application and integration of principles, theories, and analytical techniques introduced in the core courses. Topics covered in the seminar are likely to vary annually as new problems, policies, and solutions develop. Prerequisite: Core courses plus senior standing, or permission.
ENVS/SEMN495Finding a Home in the World: Lessons in Sustainability From the Ancient Mediterranean People have struggled with how to live sustainably and to mitigate environmental damage at least since humans began farming. Since that time, we have existed in a struggle with the world we occupy for resources to sustain us and to fulfill our desires, and yet there have always been those who have found a harmonious balance within it. This class will be an exploration of how to become part of that latter group, examining struggles, practices, and solutions from the ancient Mediterranean and from today, and working on a community-based project. This is a service-learning course.
ENVS593Senior Integrated Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details.Prerequisite: Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.