Spring 2015

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ENVS 1091. Bird Song.
A study of the biology of birdsong, including the mechanics, anatomy, neurobiology, endocrinology, ecology and evolution of sound production and recognition in birds. Students will be responsible for recognizing the songs and calls of common Maine birds and analyzing them using sonograms. We will also explore the sounds produced by other animals, particularly insects and frogs, and explore the relationships between “music” in humans and birds. Required field trips, research project, and anatomy laboratories. Although no biology (or music) experience is required or presumed, students should have a strong interest in learning about birds. Weekly one-hour lab. Not open to students who have credit for a biology course.
ENVS 1102. Oceanography.
The fundamentals of geological, physical, chemical, and biological oceanography. Topics include tectonic evolution of the ocean basins; deep sea sedimentation as a record of ocean history; global ocean circulation, waves, and tides; chemical cycles; ocean ecosystems and productivity; and the oceans’ role in climate change. Weekly labs and fieldwork demonstrate these principles in the setting of Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine. Students complete a field-based research project on coastal oceanography.
ENVS 1104. Environmental Geology and Hydrology.
An introduction to aspects of geology and hydrology that affect the environment and land use. Topics include lakes, watersheds and surface-water quality, groundwater contamination, coastal erosion, and/or landslides. Weekly labs and fieldwork examine local environmental problems affecting Maine’s rivers, lakes, and coast. Students complete a community-based research project.
ENVS 1155. Into the Wild.
An examination of the mix of conflicting ideas that shape the many conceptions of “wilderness.” Among other questions, explores the ideas of wilderness as a space without or preceding culture and civilization, as a mental state, and as an aesthetic experience. Considers the place of wilderness in the ‘urban jungle’ of cities. Puts Anglo-American and European theories and images of the wilderness into dialogue by comparing literary works, film, artworks, and philosophical texts. No knowledge of German is required.
ENVS 2004. Understanding Place: GIS and Remote Sensing.
Geographical information systems (GIS) organize and store spatial information for geographical presentation and analysis. They allow rapid development of high-quality maps, and enable powerful and sophisticated investigation of spatial patterns and interrelationships. Introduces concepts of cartography, database management, remote sensing, and spatial analysis. The productive use of GIS and Remote Sensing technology with an emphasis on the biophysical sciences and environmental management is investigated through a variety of applied exercises and problems culminating in a semester project that addresses a specific environmental application.
ENVS 2201. Perspectives in Environmental Science.
Functioning of the earth system is defined by the complex and fascinating interaction of processes within and between four principal spheres: land, air, water, and life. Leverages key principles of environmental chemistry and ecology to unravel the intricate connectedness of natural phenomena and ecosystem function. Fundamental biological and chemical concepts are used to understand the science behind the environmental dilemmas facing societies as a consequence of human activities. Laboratory sessions consist of local field trips, laboratory experiments, group research, case study exercises, and discussions of current and classic scientific literature.
ENVS 2251. Marine Biogeochemistry.
Oceanic cycles of carbon, oxygen, and nutrients play a key role in linking global climate change, marine primary productivity, and ocean acidification. Fundamental concepts of marine biogeochemistry used to assess potential consequences of future climate scenarios on chemical cycling in the ocean. Past climate transitions evaluated as potential analogs for future change using select case studies of published paleoceanographic proxy records derived from corals, ice cores, and deep-sea sediments. Weekly laboratory sections and student research projects focus on creating and interpreting new geochemical paleoclimate records from marine archives and predicting future impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on marine calcifiers.
ENVS 2255. Environmental Chemistry.
Focuses on two key processes that influence human and wildlife exposure to potentially harmful substances—chemical speciation and transformation. Equilibrium principles as applied to acid-base, complexation, precipitation, and dissolution reactions are used to explore organic and inorganic compound speciation in natural and polluted waters; quantitative approaches are emphasized. Weekly laboratory sections are concerned with the detection and quantification of organic and inorganic compounds in air, water, and soils/sediments.
ENVS 2303. Natural Resource Economics and Policy.
A study of the economic issues surrounding the existence and use of renewable natural resources (e.g., forestry/land use, fisheries, water, ecosystems, and the effectiveness of antibiotics) and exhaustible resources (such as minerals, fossil fuels, and old growth forest). A basic framework is first developed for determining economically efficient use of resources over time, then extended to consider objectives other than efficiency, as well as the distinguishing biological, ecological, physical, political, and social attributes of each resource. Uncertainty, common property, and various regulatory instruments are discussed, as well as alternatives to government intervention and/or privatization.
ENVS 2306. Comparative Environmental Politics.
Examines environmental politics from a comparative perspective, drawing on case material from the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Asks why, despite the fact that many contemporary environmental problems are shared globally, states develop different environmental policies. Readings cover issues ranging from forest conservation to climate policy and consider explanatory factors such as type of political regime, level of economic development, activism by citizens, and culture and values.
ENVS 2312. Contemporary Arctic Environmental and Cultural Issues.
Throughout the Arctic, northern peoples face major environmental changes and cultural and economic challenges. Landscapes, icescapes, and seascapes on which communities rely are being transformed, and arctic plants and animals are being affected. Many indigenous groups see these dramatic changes as endangering their health and cultural way of life. Others see a warming Arctic as an opportunity for industrial development. Addressing contemporary issues that concern northern peoples in general and Inuit in particular involves understanding connections between leadership, global environmental change, human rights, indigenous cultures, and foreign policies, and being able to work on both a global and local level.
ENVS 2334. Environmental Sociology.
Applies sociological insights to investigating the ways that humans shape and are shaped by their ecological surroundings. Introduces theories and concepts for exploring how western society and more specifically contemporary American society interact with nature. Reviews central academic questions, including social constructions of nature and perceptions of ecological risks, and drawing from complementary readings and student-led dialogue, examines in greater depth ongoing struggles over conservation, sustainability, development, and social justice.
ENVS 2403. Environment and Culture in North American History.
Explores relationships between ideas of nature, human transformations of the environment, and the effect of the physical environment upon humans through time in North America. Topics include the “Columbian exchange” and colonialism; links between ecological change and race, class, and gender relations; the role of science and technology; literary and artistic perspectives of “nature”; agriculture, industrialization, and urbanization; and the rise of modern environmentalism.
ENVS 2416. California Dreamin': A History of the Golden State.
Seminar. Sunshine, beaches, shopping malls, and movie stars are the popular stereotypes of California, but social conflicts and environmental degradation have long tarnished the state’s golden image. Unravels the myth of the California dream by examining the state’s social and environmental history from the end of Mexican rule and the discovery of gold in 1848 to the early twenty-first century. Major topics include immigration and racial violence; radical and conservative politics; extractive and high-tech industries; environmental disasters; urban, suburban, and rural divides; and California in American popular culture.
ENVS 2438. Natural Supernaturalism.
Examines the Romantic attempt to blend aspects of the transcendental – such as the sublime, immortality, and divinity – with ordinary life, the forms of nature, and the resources of human consciousness. Discusses theories of the sublime, poetry of the English landscape, mountaintop experiences, tales of transfiguration, and evocations of intimacy with nature. Explores the difficulties of representing the transcendental in secular poetry and the consequences of natural supernaturalism for our own understanding of nature. Authors include Burke, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Kant, and Shelley.
ENVS 2445. The Nature of Frank Lloyd Wright.
An in-depth investigation of the buildings of North America’s most celebrated architect, with emphasis on the major theme of his work—the complex relationship between architecture and nature. Examines Wright’s key projects for a diverse range of environments and regions while also placing the master builder and his works into a larger historical, cultural, and architectural context. Engages in a critical analysis of the rich historical literature that Wright has evoked in recent decades, along with the prolific writings of the architect himself. Note: This course counts toward the art history requirement for the visual arts major and minor.
ENVS 2448. Environmental Ethics.
What things in nature have moral standing? What are our obligations to them? How should we resolve conflicts among our obligations? After an introduction to ethical theory, topics include anthropocentrism, the moral status of nonhuman sentient beings and of non-sentient living beings, preservation of endangered species and the wilderness, holism versus individualism, the land ethic, and deep ecology.
ENVS 2463. Science to Story, Digital and Beyond.
Examines the translation of science into stories and digital media that successfully engage public attention. What enables ordinary citizens to form an understanding consistent with the best available scientific evidence? What gets in the way of forming such an understanding? What communication strategies and formats successfully move science to civic society? Case studies include translation of the following areas of climate change science: synthetic biology and algae as biofuel, ocean acidification, rising sea levels, and super storms. Class reading and writing assignments and seminar discussions lead to development of group presentations and production of digital media.
ENVS 2475. Ecocinema: China's Ecological and Environmental Crisis.
Examines how China’s economic development has caused massive destruction to the natural world and how environmental degradation affects the lives of ordinary people. An ecological and environmental catastrophe unfolds through the camera lens in feature films and documentaries. Central topics include the interactions between urbanization and migration, humans and animals, eco-aesthetics and manufactured landscapes, local communities and globalization. Considers how cinema, as mass media and visual medium, provides ecocritical perspectives that influence ways of seeing the built environment. The connections between cinema and environmental studies will enable students to explore across disciplinary as well as national boundaries. Note: Fulfills the film theory requirement for Cinema Studies minors.
ENVS 2558. Ornithology.
Advanced study of the biology of birds, including anatomy, physiology, distribution, and systematics, with an emphasis on avian ecology and evolution. Through integrated laboratory sessions, field trips, and discussion of the primary literature, students learn identification of birds, functional morphology, and research techniques such as experimental design, behavioral observation, and field methods. Optional weekend field trip to Monhegan Island or the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island.
ENVS 3963. Advanced Seminar in International Relations: Law, Politics, and the Search for Justice.
Examines the complex relationship between law and policy in international relations by focusing on two important and rapidly developing areas of international concern: environmental protection and humanitarian rights. Fulfills the environmental studies senior seminar requirement.
ENVS 3980. Nature and Health in America.
Explores relationships between humans, environment, and health in North American history from the sixteenth century to the present day. Topics may include the evolution of public health, biomedical research, and clinical practice; folk remedies and popular understandings of health; infectious and chronic diseases; links between landscape, health, and inequality; gender and reproductive health; occupational health and safety; the effects of agriculture, industrialization, and urbanization on human and ecological health; state and federal policies; and the colonial and global dimensions of public health and medicine. Students write a major research paper based on primary sources. Environmental Studies 1101 {101}, 2403 {203}, and at least one history course numbered 2000–2969 {200–289} recommended.
ENVS 3991. Troubled Waters: Fishing in the Gulf of Maine.
Around the world and in the Gulf of Maine, overfishing, threats to habitat, and climate change are putting marine ecosystems and coastal communities under great stress. An interdisciplinary senior seminar draws on oceanography, ecology, history, economics, anthropology, and political science to explore the causes and scope of pressures on the marine environment; the potential for restoring ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal economies; political conflicts over fisheries and related issues; federal, state, and community-based approaches to managing marine ecosystems; and strategies for coping with scientific and management uncertainties.
ENVS 3994. Ecological Recovery in Maine's Coastal Ecosystem.
Maine’s coastal ecosystems once supported prodigious abundances of wildlife that supported human communities for millennia before succumbing to multiple anthropogenic stresses in the mid-twentieth century. Today, we need to understand the most pressing ecological and social constraints limiting recovery of these once vital ecosystems to achieve sustainable ecological recovery and provision of ecosystem services. Objective is to better understand the biophysical and social constraints limiting ecological recovery, and to rethink the failed management policies of the past. Students participate in a thorough review of the relevant scientific and historical literature and conduct a group study investigating some aspect of the ecology and/or the environmental history of Maine’s coastal ecosystems.