Fall 2014 Courses

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ENVS 1004. A Global History of Food.
Examines the shifting relationship between people, food, and the environment that ties them together. It asks how have distance and space between the sites of production and consumption affected the economic and social relations of food? How has geography influenced the types of food people eat? How do views of scarcity and plenty shape approaches to farming? What is the role of governments and markets in agriculture? How does food refract and transform social divisions, cultural attitudes, and daily life? Topics include rural development; subsistence gardening; famine; histories of sugar, corn, pork, fish, whales, ice cream, and anything else that fits on a plate.
ENVS 1011. Why Architecture Matters.
Architecture is unavoidable: we spend our lives in and around buildings and in spaces and landscapes defined by them. Too often we take the built environment for granted, oblivious of how it affects us and shapes our lives. This seminar aims to explore architecture’s critical role in creating a sense of place, settings for community, symbols of our aspirations and fears, cultural icons and political ideals. As we investigate the fundamental principles of architecture, we will study closely some of history’s great buildings and spaces. Students will learn how to talk about architecture and write about it.
ENVS 1026. Landscape, Energy, and Culture.
Explores current controversies in energy, giving particular attention to debates surrounding the implementation of renewable energy in Northern New England. Through both popular and scholarly readings and one mandatory field trip, students will engage with critical perspectives on consumer-oriented culture and identities, and on tensions between urban and rural visions of landscape. The course will also contemplate the social structures governing regional development and planning in which renewable energy strategies are framed.
ENVS 1083. Energy, Physics, and Technology.
How much can we do to reduce the disruptions of the Earth’s physical, ecological and social systems caused by global climate change? How much climate change itself can we avoid? A lot depends on the physical processes that govern the extraction, transmission, storage and use of available energy. This course will introduce the physics of solar, wind, nuclear, and hydroelectric power and discuss the physical constraints on their efficiency, productivity and safety. We will review current technology and quantitatively analyze the effectiveness of different strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not open to students with credit for Physics 1140 {104}.
ENVS 1101. Our Earth: Introduction to Environmental Studies.
An interdisciplinary introduction to the environment framed by perspectives from the natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Surveys past and present status of scientific knowledge about major global and regional problems, explores both successes and inadequacies of environmental ideas to address specific crises, and assesses potential responses of governments, corporations, and individuals. Topics include food and agriculture, pollution, fisheries, and climate change and energy. Other subjects include biodiversity, population, urbanization, consumption, environmental justice, human and ecological health, and sustainability.
ENVS 2221. Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change.
Understanding global change requires knowing how the biosphere, geosphere, oceans, ice, and atmosphere interact. An introduction to earth system science, emphasizing the critical interplay between the physical and living worlds. Key processes include energy flow and material cycles, soil development, primary production and decomposition, microbial ecology and nutrient transformations, and the evolution of life on geochemical cycles in deep time. Terrestrial, wetland, lake, river, estuary, and marine systems are analyzed comparatively. Applied issues are emphasized as case studies, including energy efficiency of food production, acid rain impacts on forests and aquatic systems, forest clearcutting, wetland delineation, eutrophication of coastal estuaries, ocean fertilization, and global carbon sinks. Lectures and three hours of laboratory or fieldwork per week.
ENVS 2223. Plant Physiology.
An introduction to the physiological processes that enable plants to grow under the varied conditions found in nature. General topics discussed include the acquisition, transport, and use of water and mineral nutrients, photosynthetic carbon assimilation, and the influence of environmental and hormonal signals on development and morphology. Adaptation and acclimation to extreme environments and other ecophysiological subjects are also discussed. Weekly laboratories reinforce principles discussed in lecture and expose students to modern research techniques.
ENVS 2224. Behavioral Ecology and Population Biology.
Study of the behavior of animals and plants, and the interactions between organisms and their environment. Topics include population growth and structure, and the influence of competition, predation, and other factors on the behavior, abundance, and distribution of plants and animals. Laboratory sessions, field trips, and research projects emphasize concepts in ecology, evolution and behavior, research techniques, and the natural history of local plants and animals. Optional field trip to the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island.
ENVS 2229. Biology of Marine Organisms.
The study of the biology and ecology of marine mammals, seabirds, fish, intertidal and subtidal invertebrates, algae, and plankton. Also considers the biogeographic consequences of global and local ocean currents on the evolution and ecology of marine organisms. Laboratories, field trips, and research projects emphasize natural history, functional morphology, and ecology. Lectures and four hours of laboratory or field trip per week. One weekend field trip included.
ENVS 2233. Marine Molecular Ecology and Evolution.
Features the application of molecular data to ecological and evolutionary problems in the sea. Hands on laboratory work will introduce students to sampling, generation, and analysis of molecular data sets with Sanger-based technology and Next Generation Sequencing. Lectures, discussions, and computer-based simulations will demonstrate the relevant theoretical principles of population genetics and phylogenetics. A class project will begin a long-term sampling program that uses DNA barcoding to understand temporal and spatial change in the ocean. Taught at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory.
ENVS 2234. Dimensions of Marine Biodiversity.
Focused laboratory and fieldwork that integrates across the genetic, systematic, and functional aspects of marine biodiversity to understand the ecological and evolutionary significance of biodiversity. The course will illustrate this approach by featuring 3-4 different evolutionary clades that are the foundations of different marine communities (e.g. coastal zooplankton, rocky intertidal, soft-bottom benthos, tropical coral reefs, and marine mammals). Taught at the Bowdoin Marine Laboratory.
ENVS 2270. Landscapes and Global Change.
The Earth’s surface is marked by the interactions of the atmosphere, water and ice, biota, tectonics, and underlying rock and soil. Even familiar landscapes beget questions on how they formed, how they might change, and how they relate to patterns at both larger and smaller scales. Examines Earth’s landscapes and the processes that shape them, with particular emphasis on how future changes may both influence and be influenced by humans. Topics include specific land-shaping agents (rivers, glaciers, landslides, groundwater), as well as how these agents interact with one another and with changing climate, tectonics, and human activities.
ENVS 2271. Biology of Marine Mammals.
Examines the biology of cetaceans, pinnipeds, sirenians, and sea otters. Topics include diversity, evolution, morphology, physiology, ecology, behavior, and conservation. Detailed consideration given to the adaptations that allow these mammals to live in the sea. Includes lecture, discussion of primary literature, lab, field trips, and student-selected case studies. Laboratory and field exercises consider anatomy, biogeography, social organization, foraging ecology, population dynamics, bioacoustics, and management of the marine mammal species found in the Gulf of Maine.
ENVS 2281. Forest Ecology and Conservation.
An examination of how forest ecology and the principles of silviculture inform forest ecosystem restoration and conservation. Explores ecological dynamics of forest ecosystems, the science of managing forests for tree growth and other goals, natural history and historic use of forest resources, and the state of forests today, as well as challenges and opportunities in forest restoration and conservation. Consists of lecture, discussions, field trips, and guest seminars by professionals working in the field.
ENVS 2282. Ocean and Climate.
The ocean covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. It has a vast capacity to modulate variations in global heat and carbon dioxide, thereby regulating climate and ultimately life on Earth. Beginning with an investigation of paleo-climate records preserved in deep-sea sediment cores and in Antarctic and Greenland glacial ice cores, the patterns of natural climate variations will be explored with the goal of understanding historic climate change observations. Predictions of polar glacial and sea ice, sea level, ocean temperatures, and ocean acidity investigated through readings and discussions of scientific literature. Weekly laboratory sessions devoted to field trips, laboratory experiments, and computer-based data analysis and modeling to provide hands-on experiences for understanding the time and space scales of processes governing oceans, climate, and ecosystems. Laboratory exercises form the basis for student research projects. Mathematics 171 is recommended.
ENVS 2301. Building Resilient Communities.
Examines efforts by communities and regions to build resilience in the face of changing environmental and social conditions. This course will examine how local leaders can work in complex settings to set goals and mobilize federal, private, and non-profit resources to achieve specific, cross-cutting objectives that include strengthening local economies, safeguarding important environmental values, protecting public health, and addressing issues of economic and social justice. The course provides students with firsthand understanding of how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is playing an increasingly important role in understanding and informing effective approaches for expanding resilience at a community level by integrating social and natural data to inform policy decision. Students will learn GIS as part of the course.
ENVS 2420. The History of Energy.
Explores how and why Americans (and others) have made the energy choices that they have. The production and distribution of energy is one of the key challenges for modern societies. It involves the development of specific technologies and industries- from fossil fuels to solar power to nuclear plants. But the history of energy transcends the technical. It intersects with law, politics, and economics; social norms and cultural values play a role as well. The connections between the technical and non-technical are central to understanding both the history of energy itself, as well as its place in the history of the modern Unites States.
ENVS 2423. Telling Environmental Stories.
Intended for students with a demonstrated interest in environmental studies, as an introduction to several modes of storytelling, which communicate ideas, historical narratives, personal experiences, and scientific and social issues in this increasingly important area of study and concern. Explores various techniques, challenges, and pleasures of storytelling, and examines some of the demands and responsibilities involved in the conveyance of different types of information with clarity and accuracy in nonfiction narrative. Engages student writing through the workshop method, and includes study of several texts, including The Control of Nature, Cadillac Desert, Living Downstream, and Field Notes from a Catastrophe.
ENVS 2432. History of the American West.
Survey of what came to be called the Western United States from the nineteenth century to the present. Topics include Euro-American relations with Native Americans; the expansion and growth of the federal government into the West; the exploitation of natural resources; the creation of borders and national identities; race, class, and gender relations; the influence of immigration and emigration; violence and criminality; cities and suburbs; and the enduring persistence of Western myths in American culture. Students write several papers and engage in weekly discussion based upon primary and secondary documents, art, literature, and film.
ENVS 2461. Seashore Digital Diaries.
Exploration of techniques and principles of digital multi-media, as tools of inquiry at the seashore. Through assigned and self-designed independent and group projects, the focus is the seashore as a zone of extremity and movement, in light of its historical and contemporary contexts within the visual arts and film. Techniques introduced include time-lapse sequences of seascape and aquaria, portraits of characters on the working waterfront, and motion graphic visualizations. Seminar discussions, bi-weekly field trips to the seashore, and class critiques.
ENVS 2462. Reel Places: Framing Interactions between Humans and Their Environments.
Explores cinematic places to examine how humans engage and experience their environments through cultural production and reception. The study of human-environment interactions often considers natural and built environments. In Reel Places, we will consider “built environments” as imagined or represented places to investigate nature and film culture’s interdependence. Of particular interest are: how nature in film exists simultaneously as an actual independent entity and a conceptual construction (i.e., setting or landscape) and how cinematic landscapes express issues inherent in human-place relationships. Assignments will include written essays and the making of short films. Attendance at weekly film screenings and occasional off-campus theatrical screenings are required.
ENVS 3906. Transformation of Organic Chemicals in the Environment.
Human activities result in the intentional or inadvertent release of organic chemicals into the natural environment. Interconnected physical, chemical, and biological processes influence the environmental fate of chemicals and the extent human and ecosystem exposure. Focuses on the thermodynamics and kinetics of chemical transformations in the natural environment via nucleophilic, redox, photolytic, and biological (microbial) reactions.
ENVS 3918. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics.
Seminar. Analysis of externalities and market failure; models of optimum control of pollution and efficient management of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources such as fisheries, forests, and minerals; governmental vs. other forms of control of common-pool resources; and benefit-cost analysis of policies, including market-based and non-market valuation. Permission of instructor required during add/drop for students who have credit for Economics 2218 {218}
ENVS 3920. Animal Planet: Humans and Other Animals.
Cultures around the world maintain different stances about non-human animals. People eat meat or avoid doing so. Religions advocate veneration, fear, or loathing of certain animals. Domesticated animals provide us company, labor, and food. Wild animals are protected, studied, photographed, captured, and hunted. Animals inhabit novels, are featured in art, and adorn merchandise. Students read ethnographies, articles, animal rights literature, and children’s books; study museum collections; and examine animal themes in films and on the Web. Employing anthropological perspectives, students consider what distinguishes humans from other animals, how cultures are defined by peoples’ attitudes about animals, and what might be our moral and ethical responsibilities to other creatures.
ENVS 3998. The City since 1960.
Seminar. Focuses on five important developments in the history of the American city (with a brief excursion to London) during the past half-century. These themes include: urban renewal’s rise and fall, historic preservation, gentrification, urban disasters and their aftermaths, and the changing notion of community. We examine these issues in some depth through primary and secondary source readings and, at the end of the course, we consider the city today. Throughout the semester students will pursue a research project of their own, culminating in a presentation to the class and a substantial (twenty-five page) paper.