Courses and Requirements

The goal of Hamilton's Environmental Studies Program is to encourage students to explore the impact of human interaction with our environment through an interdisciplinary approach that balances broad, practical groundwork with focused, individual study.

Environmental studies concerns human interaction with the physical world. The Environmental Studies Program offers an opportunity to explore that interaction from a variety of perspectives and using the tools of different academic disciplines. A number of departments contribute courses to this interdisciplinary program.

The concentration in Environmental Studies encourages both interdisciplinary breadth and depth of study in a discipline. Upon declaring their ES concentration, students also declare a focus academic division in which to pursue their ES program, and work closely with faculty advisors to develop an individualized plan of study. Note that ES 150 is NOT a required course for the concentration.

The concentration consists of 13 courses:

Six foundational courses distributed among the two academic divisions: 1) natural sciences and 2) social sciences/humanities, including:
•       one introductory science course in geoscience, and one in biology, chemistry or physics;
•       two in the social sciences/humanities;
•       two additional courses selected from the student's focus division;

Starting with the class of 2019, all sophomore majors must take ES 210: Gateway to Environmental Studies, in lieu of one of the two courses from the student's focus division.

Four elective courses chosen from a specific discipline within the focus division;

One data analysis and/or statistics course (prior to senior year);

One elective course with explicit environmental content;

550, the Senior Project

A complete description of the Senior Project is available from members of the advisory committee. A maximum of four credits may be transferred into the concentration from study off-campus with prior approval. Students who have earned at least a 3.5 (90) average in courses toward the concentration may receive honors in Environmental Studies through distinguished work on the Senior Project.

The detailed requirements for the environmental studies concentration are:

1. Six foundational courses, which should be taken before the completion of the junior year. These courses are:

Two of the following Natural Sciences courses:
One 100-level Geoscience course
One of Biology 101, 102 or 115, Chemistry 120 or 125, or Physics 100 or 200

Two courses from the Social Sciences/Humanities list below (or at the discretion of the student's advisor and the Program Committee)

Two more courses from the student's focus division (not limited to the lists below).

Starting with the class of 2019, all sophomore majors must take ES 210: Gateway to Environmental Studies, in lieu of one of the two courses from the student's focus division.

ES 212 Global Warming
ES 220 Forever Wild: The Cultural and Natural Histories of the Adirondack Park
ES 236 Thought for Food: The Culture and Politics of Food
ES 250 Interpreting the American Environment
ES 255 Gender and the Environment
ES 285 Introduction to Environmental Politics
ES 287 Political Theory and the Environment
Economics 380 Environmental Economics (prerequisite Economics 101)
Literature 267 Literature and the Environment
Philosophy 235 Environmental Ethics

ES 212 Global Warming
ES 150 Environmental Science and Society
Biology 101, 102 or 115 Introductory Biology
Biology 237 Ecology
Chemistry 120 or 125 Introductory Chemistry
Geoscience 222 Earth’s Climate
Geoscience 240 Meteorology

2. Four elective courses selected in consultation with the student’s advisor from a discipline within the focus division. These courses are intended to provide the student with sufficient depth of understanding to enable competent pursuit of the Senior Project. At least three of these electives must be above the 100 level.

3. One course in data analysis, statistics, or geographic information systems: Archaeology 380 Geographic Information Systems, Economics 265 Economic Statistics, Geosciences 380 GIS for Geoscientists, Government 230 Data Analysis, Mathematics 100 Statistical Reasoning and Data Analysis, Mathematics 253 Statistical Analysis of Data, or Psychology 201 Statistics and Research Methods in Psychology. This course must be taken prior to senior year.

4. One elective course with explicit environmental content from outside one’s discipline (chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor).

5. 550 Senior Project. Note that students pursuing science- or other empirically-oriented Senior Projects are normally expected to begin their empirical research as an Independent Study with a faculty member in the semester (or summer) preceding their enrollment in ES 550. The Independent Study can be undertaken as a half- or full-credit course and will be counted toward completion of the ES concentration.

The minor in Environmental Studies consists of five courses: An introductory environmental science course (one of ES150 or an introductory Geoscience course) and four from the Natural Sciences and Social Sciences/Humanities lists above (with the exclusion of introductory biology, chemistry, and physics courses). A student may substitute other courses with an explicit environmental focus, subject to approval from the Environmental Studies Program Director. The five courses must include at least one course from outside the natural sciences. A student may count for the minor at most two courses from a single department, and at most two courses from programs away from Hamilton.

150F Environmental Science and Society.
An introduction to environmental science. Emphasis on scientific understanding of the causes and implications of, and potential solutions for, problems that result from human interactions with the environment. Current environmental problems examined from an ecological perspective. ES 150 is not required for the ES major. (Same as Biology 150.) Environmental Studies and related faculty.

156F Making Modern Cities.
This course examines the design of buildings and cities by professional architects, urban planners, and developers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It also addresses utopian projects and theoretical texts that have influenced modern design. We will furthermore illuminate in western and non-western contexts the relationships between the architecture of cities and economic and political processes. (Writing-intensive.) Open to first-year students only. (Same as History 156.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Faiza Moatasim.

157F Environmental History: An Introduction.
This course introduces students to environmental history by examining both foundational scholarship and new research in the field. It will explore the methods and sources—including texts, images, sounds, artifacts, and site visits—that historians use to uncover the natural environment’s past. As an introduction to the history of the natural environment, this course equips students to pursue new areas of inquiry and provide them with a different lens through which to view familiar topics. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as History 157.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Simons.

210S Gateway to Environmental Studies.
This is a comprehensive introduction to Environmental Studies. Through a set of case studies, the course investigates key concepts that define ES: complexity, holism, feedbacks, thresholds, scale, thermodynamics, benefit-cost analysis, environmental ethics, collective action, uncertainty, environmental justice, and sustainability. The format is lecture/discussion, plus field trips. Students pursue individual and group assignments. The final project is a research paper (and in-class presentation) by 3 or 4 students analyzing a case study via the aforementioned concepts. Prerequisite, Two Environmental Studies or related courses, or permission of the instructor; preference will be given to sophomores choosing to major in Environmental Studies. Peter F Cannavò.

212S Global Warming: Is the Day After Tomorrow Sooner than We Think?.
Investigates the historical/political/geographic context for our hydrocarbon economy, the scientific and economic debate behind global warming, the social and ecological consequences of action or inaction regarding greenhouse gas emissions and the role of public policy and international relations in global invironmental change. Prerequisite, One semester of science. May count toward a concentration in environmental studies. (Same as Government 212 and Geosciences 212 and Government 212.) Maximum enrollment, 25. Beck.

220F,S Forever Wild: The Cultural and Natural Histories of the Adirondack Park.
Study of America's largest inhabited wilderness. Survey of natural and cultural histories of the park and examination of ecological, political and social issues. Study of literary, scientific, historical and political texts. Exploration of environmental issues such as acid rain, development and land-use, predator re-introduction and population controls. Prerequisite, one course in literature, biology, geology or environmental studies. May count toward a concentration in environmental studies. Field trip required. Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors in the fall. Oral Presentations (Fall-2 sections); Writing-intensive (Spring). (Same as College Courses and Seminars 220.) Maximum enrollment, 14. Environmental Studies and related faculty.

236F Thought for Food: The Culture and Politics of Food.
A multi-disciplinary approach to study of the food system. Examination of the origins of culinary traditions, contemporary politics of the food movement, the GMO debate, food sovereignty, hunger and food security, and Slow Food. Laboratory sessions include activities in the Community Farm, tastings, and cooking instruction with the college. (Same as College Courses and Seminars 236.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Sciacca.

237S Food for Thought Introduction to the Science of Food.
An interdisciplinary exploration of food with focus on nutrition biology of food and food science; the history of food and contemporary issues related to food production and the food industry. Tastings, films, gardening. Prerequisite, one course in Biology or Chemistry. (Same as College Courses and Seminars 237.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Gapp.

[250F,S] Interpreting the American Environment.
A survey of responses to and interpretations of the American landscape. Study of historical, political, literary, and critical texts. Puts contemporary environmentalism in a historical and geographical perspective. Emphasis on changing notions of wilderness, urban development and the cultural contexts of expansion and development.

[255S] Gender and Environment.
The theoretical, historical and material links between gender and the natural world. We explore how the social category of gender relates to environmental issues, but also focus on how other human differences based on race, class, sexuality and nation connect to the so-called "non-human environment.” The course begins with feminist historical and theoretical analysis of the links between gender and environment, including examinations of Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology. Building on this foundation, we then explore Health and Technology, Environmental Justice, and Global Climate Change. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Women's Studies 255.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

[285S] Introduction to Environmental Politics.
An overview of environmental politics, domestic and global. Topics include the environmental movement and its history and values, anti-environmentalism, environmental policy analysis, the relation between environmental science and politics, the domestic and international environmental policy processes, the North-South debate, globalization, race and environmental justice, and the implications of environmental politics for liberal democracy. Students will explore these topics directly and through selected policy issues, including forest politics, sprawl and climate change. (Same as Government 285.)

287F Political Theory and the Environment.
What is the relationship between theorizing about politics and theorizing about nature? Explores how conceptions of the natural world and our relationship to it have shaped political thought since ancient times and how contemporary "green" political thinkers attempt to craft principles for an ecologically responsible society. (Same as Government 287.) Cannavó.

305F Global Climate Change Seminar.
An exploration of the scientific evidence for anthropogenic global climate change through analysis and discussion of primary literature. The course covers data interpretation, critical thinking about scientific articles, and use of scientific evidence to inform thought about the causes and consequences of climate change. Prerequisite: one Environmental Studies Science Foundation course. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, One Environmental Studies Science Foundation course. Maximum enrollment, 16. TBA.

[310S] Seminar: Native Ecologies.
This interdisciplinary seminar explores the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of indigenous peoples. Drawing upon scholarship from such diverse fields as acoustic ecology, ethno-ecology, ethnography, geography, environmental history, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and religious studies, we will examine indigenous knowledge about particular species and relationships between them. (Same as Religious Studies 310.) Maximum enrollment, 12.

334F Environmental Justice Law and Policy.
This writing-intensive course examines environmental justice from a policy and legal perspective. The course reviews the development and goals of the movement, evidence and causes of inequitable distribution of environmental hazards, critiques of the movement, and legal and policy responses. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in Africana Studies, Government, Environmental Studies, or Women's and Gender Studies. Not open to first-year students. Maximum enrollment, 20. Alma Lowry.

[354S] The History of American Exploration and Outdoor Adventure.
This research course examines how the history and culture of the United States is bound up with that of the discovery and exploration of the New World. A focus on the meaning of that legacy for Americans from the 19th century on. Topics covered will include military exploration and surveys of the west, the development of a wilderness and a conservation ethic, and the growth of mountaineering and similar outdoor endeavors. (same as Environmental Studies 354.) (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one 200-level U.S. history course, or consent of instructor. (Same as History 354.) Maximum enrollment, 20.

367S The History and Literature of Himalayan Mountaineering, from the 19th Century to the Present.
Examines Himalayan mountaineering over the past 150 years, and its roots in imperial expansion, national competition, and cultural and social evolution. Topics include mountaineering in the age of empire, George Leigh-Mallory’s death on Everest, American mountaineering in the Himalaya, conquest of the 8,000 meter peaks, Sherpas' role in mountaineering, and the rise of commercial mountaineering. Special attention to mountaineering on Everest. Includes an optional two-week, spring break trip: students, supervised by Hamilton's Outdoor Leadership program, will trek in Nepal's Everest region. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as History 367.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Maurice Isserman.

549F,S,Su Preparatory Research for Senior Project.
Students doing experiments, data-gathering, or other significant empirical or field work in preparation for their senior project should carry out this work prior to taking 550 and under the guidance of their thesis adviser. This research course is generally done in the fall of senior year, but in certain circumstances may be completed in the spring of junior year or the summer before senior year. Depending on the extent of their research, students may take this course for full or half credit. Environmental Studies and related faculty.

550F,S Senior Project.
An independent study developed in consultation with a faculty advisor and the environmental studies advisory committee to explore in detail an environmental topic, culminating in a substantial research paper and oral presentation. Proposals for Senior Projects are developed with a faculty advisor and submitted to the ES advisory committee prior to course registration. Prerequisite, Permission of instructor. The Program.

(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)

Contact Information

Environmental Studies Program

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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