Life has existed on Earth for nearly four billion years, shaped by massive extinction events. In the short span of the last 10,000 years, humans have become important agents in shaping global environmental change. The question this course considers is straightforward: Have humans been modifying the environment in ways that will, in the not distant future, cause another worldwide extinction event? There are no simple, much less uncontested, answers to this question. We will have to consider the ways we have altered habitats and ecosystem processes. We will also consider the economic consequences of disturbed ecosystems and assess contemporary policy responses intended to avert what some claim is an impending catastrophe.
Limited to 75 students. Spring semester. Professors Dizard and R. Levin.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022
(Offered as BIOL 230 and ENST 210.) A study of the relationships of plants and animals (including humans) to each other and to their environment. We'll start by considering the decisions an individual makes in its daily life concerning its use of resources, such as what to eat and where to live, and whether to defend such resources. We'll then move on to populations of individuals, and investigate species population growth, limits to population growth, and why some species are so successful as to become pests whereas others are on the road to extinction. The next level will address communities, and how interactions among populations, such as competition, predation, parasitism, and mutualism, affect the organization and diversity of species within communities. The final stage of the course will focus on ecosytems, and the effects of humans and other organisms on population, community, and global stability. Three hours of lecture per week.
Requisite: BIOL 181 or ENST 120 or permission from the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Temeles.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
(Offered as HIST 104 [C] and ENST 220.) This course considers the ways that people in various parts of the world thought about and acted upon nature during the nineteenth century. We look historically at issues that continue to have relevance today, including: invasive species, deforestation, soil-nitrogen availability, water use, desertification, and air pollution. Themes include: the relationship of nineteenth-century colonialism and environmental degradation, gender and environmental change, the racial dimensions of ecological issues, and the spatial aspects of human interactions with nature. We will take at least one field trip. In addition, we will watch three films that approach nineteenth-century environmental issues from different vantage points. Two class meetings per week.
Spring semester. Professor Melillo.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as PHIL 225 and ENST 228) As our impact on the environment shows itself in increasingly dramatic ways, our interaction with the environment has become an important topic of cultural and political debate. In this course we will discuss various philosophical issues that arise in such debates, including: What obligations, if any, do we have to future generations, to non-human animals, and to entire ecosystems? How should we act when we are uncertain exactly how our actions will affect the environment? How should we go about determining environmental policy? And how should we implement the environmental policies we decide upon? What is the most appropriate image of nature?
Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Professor Emeritus Kearns.2021-22: Not offered
(Offered as ENST 230 and ECON 111.) A study of the central problem of scarcity and the ways in which the U.S. economic system allocates scarce resources among competing ends and apportions the goods produced among people. We will apply core economic concepts to major environmental/natural resource policy topics such as global climate change, local air and water pollution, over-harvesting of renewable resources, habitat loss, and solid waste management.
Students who have already taken ECON 111 can satisfy the Environmental Studies requirement by taking ECON 210.
Limited to 25 Amherst College students. Omitted 2011-12. Professor Sims.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
(Offered as MATH 130 and ENST 240.) This course is an introduction to applied statistical methods useful for the analysis of data from all fields. Brief coverage of data summary and graphical techniques will be followed by elementary probability, sampling distributions, the central limit theorem and statistical inference. Inference procedures include confidence intervals and hypothesis testing for both means and proportions, the chi-square test, simple linear regression, and a brief introduction to analysis of variance (ANOVA). Some sections of MATH 130 have an environmental theme and are recommended for students interested in Environmental Studies. In Fall 2011, the environmental section will be section 02; in Spring 2012, there will NOT BE an environmental section. Four class hours per week (two will be held in the computer lab). Labs are not interchangeable between sections due to course content.
Each section limited to 20 students. Fall semester: Professor Liao and Postdoctoral Fellow Stratton. Spring semester: Professor Manack and Postdoctoral Fellow Stratton.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021
Independent reading course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2022
The Senior Seminar is intended to bring together majors with different course backgrounds and to facilitate original independent student research on an environmental topic. In the early weeks of the seminar, discussion will be focused on several compelling texts (e.g., Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring or Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us) which will be considered from a variety of disciplinary perspectives by members of the Environmental Studies faculty. These discussions are intended to help students initiate an independent research project which may be expanded into an honors project in the second semester. For students not electing an honors project, the seminar will offer an opportunity to integrate what they have learned in their environmental studies courses. The substance of the seminar will vary from year to year, reflecting the interests of the faculty who will be convening and participating in the seminar.
Open to seniors. Fall semester. Professors Temeles and Moore.2021-22: Offered in Fall 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022
Spring semester. The Department.2021-22: Offered in Spring 2022