Location: Bowdoin / Environmental Studies / Courses / Spring 2009

Environmental Studies

Spring 2009

015. Frontier Crossings: The Western Experience in American History
Matthew Klingle M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
What accounts for the persistence of the “frontier myth” in American history, and why do Americans continue to find the idea so attractive? Explores the creation of and disputes over what became of the western United States from 1763 to the present. Topics include Euro-American relations with Native Americans; the creation of borders and national identities; the effect of nature and ideology; the role of labor and gender in the backcountry; and the enduring influence of frontier imagery in popular culture.

079. Agriculture: Ancient and Modern
Barry Logan T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Though nearly all people presently living on earth depend upon some form of agriculture to feed themselves, farming is a recent innovation when considered in the context of human evolution. The last century witnessed profound changes in agricultural technology and practices. Examines the ecological forces that influenced the establishment and proliferation of agriculture, studies the scientific underpinnings of the “Green Revolution” and contemporary methods of genetic modification. Compares “high-input” conventional farming with organic approaches in terms of productivity and ecological impacts.

081. Physics of the Environment
Mark Battle M 11:30 - 12:25, W 11:30 - 12:25, F 11:30 - 12:25
An introduction to the physics of environmental issues, including past climates, anthropogenic climate change, ozone destruction, and energy production and efficiency.

100. Environmental Geology and Hydrology
Peter Lea T 8:30 - 9:55, TH 8:30 - 9:55
An introduction to aspects of geology and hydrology that affect the environment and land use. Topics include watersheds and surface-water quality, groundwater contamination, coastal erosion, and landslides. Weekly labs and field trips examine local environmental problems affecting Maine rivers, lakes, and coast.

201. Perspectives in Environmental Science
John Lichter T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
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.

203. Environment and Culture in North American History
Matthew Klingle M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
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. Assignments include a research-based service learning term project.

205. Environmental Chemistry
Dharni Vasudevan M 10:30 - 11:25, W 10:30 - 11:25, F 10:30 - 11:25
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. The kinetics and mechanisms of organic compound transformation via hydrolysis, oxidation, reduction, and photochemical reactions are examined; environmental conditions and chemical structural criteria that influence reactivity are emphasized. Weekly laboratory sections are concerned with the detection and quantification of organic and inorganic compounds in air, water, and soils/sediments.

233. Architecture and Sustainability
Wiebke Theodore T 9:00 - 11:25, TH 9:00 - 11:25
Explores the critical components, principles, and tools of good sustainable design. Uses design exercises, readings, class discussion, field visits, and case studies to investigate why and how buildings can be designed in ways that are environmentally responsive and responsible. Issues include the relationship between sustainability and creative architectural form, as well as the importance of place and community in design.

247. Maine: A Community and Environmental History
Sarah McMahon M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Seminar. Examines the evolution of various Maine social and ecological communities—inland, hill country, and coastal. Begins with the contact of European and Native American cultures, examines the transfer of English and European agricultural traditions in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and explores the development of diverse geographic, economic, ethnic, and cultural communities during the nineteenth and into the early twentieth centuries.

256. Environment and Society in Latin America
Allen Wells M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Examines the evolving relationship between the environment, politics, and culture in Central America and the Caribbean. Topics include the environmental impact of economic development; colonialism; the predominance of plantation monoculture, slavery, and other forms of coerced labor; and political instability.

258. Environmental Ethics
Lawrence Simon M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
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 to be covered 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.

263. International Environmental Policy
Allen Springer T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
Examines the political, legal, and institutional dimension of international efforts to protect the environment. Problems discussed include transboundary and marine pollution, maintaining biodiversity, and global climate change.

264. Energy, Climate, and Air Quality
DeWitt John M 2:30 - 3:55, W 2:30 - 3:55
Examines how the federal government in the United States, as well as states, communities, businesses, and nonprofits, can address climate change and energy issues. Compares American policies and politics with efforts in other countries and examines the links between American policies and efforts in other nations.

266. Find a Way or Make One: Arctic Exploration in Cultural, Historical, and Environmental Context
Susan Kaplan M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
Bowdoin faculty and students have been traveling to the Arctic since 1860, studying northern environments and cultures, and exploring unmapped regions. Their work is part of a longer history involving Westerners who have been exploring the Arctic for centuries, drawn by a desire to map the geography of the earth, claim lands and their resources, find new shipping routes, understand Arctic environments, and develop insights into the lifeways of northern indigenous peoples. Examines some of the social, economic, political, and scientific factors shaping Arctic exploration. The ways in which expeditions and specific explorers affected and continue to affect northern peoples, the general public, and the contemporary geopolitical landscape will be examined. Students will read published accounts and unpublished journals and papers, and will study archival photographs and motion picture films.

283. Environmental Education
None None T 6:30 - 8:25
Examines the role of environmental education within environmental studies while providing students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience within a local elementary school. Students read, research, analyze, discuss, and write about theoretical essays, articles, and books from the field of environmental education, in addition to theoretical material on pedagogy and lesson plans. Topics discussed include ecological literacy, the historical roots of environmental education, globalization, sustainable education, and policy implications of environmental education. In addition, students teach at least one hour weekly. Students develop lesson plans and reflect on their experience of teaching environmental education lessons.

284. Coral Reef Biology
Daniel Thornhill M 8:00 - 9:25, W 8:00 - 9:25
An exploration of the ecology and evolution of coral reef environments. Topics covered include biodiversity, reef formation and energy flow, community ecology, phylogeography, symbiosis, marine diseases, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, global climate change, and conservation of coral reefs. Time primarily devoted to lectures, discussions of the primary literature, student presentations, and occasional laboratory or field sessions.

318. Environmental and Resource Economics
Guillermo Herrera T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
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. Not open to students who have credit for Economics 218 or 228.

350. Atmospheric Chemistry
Laura Voss M 1:30 - 2:25, W 1:30 - 2:25, F 1:30 - 2:25
In-depth study in the chemistry that affects atmospheric composition and global climate change. Topics include ozone depletion, tropospheric pollution, understanding past climates, and modern research techniques.

363. Advanced Seminar in International Relations: Law, Politics, and the Search for Justice
Allen Springer T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
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.

375. Feeding the World: The Nature and Challenges of our Food and Agricultural Systems
Phil Camill M 8:30 - 9:55, W 8:30 - 9:55
Few things are more essential to us than food. Although we live in a world where global food abundance is at record highs, and prices are at historic lows, our modern food system has its share of challenges. Methods of food production, marketing, distribution, and consumption have spawned waves of criticism, including concerns about farm economics, food justice, worker safety, animal welfare, famine, ecological degradation, climate change, biotechnology, and public health. In the wake of these challenges, alternative systems of food production, distribution, and consumption are beginning to emerge. This seminar is an interdisciplinary exploration of three major questions: How do we produce and eat food? What major social and environmental consequences have arisen from food production and consumption? What should we produce and eat? Students examine the historical context of agriculture, from the dawn of agricultural societies to the revolutions producing the modern industrialized farm, social and environmental problems arising from these transitions, and social movements oriented towards making our food system more ecologically sustainable and socially just. Current or prior enrollment in Environmental Studies 201, 202, and 203 is recommended.

393. Advanced Seminar in Geology
Eben Rose M 6:30 - 9:25
Offers students the opportunity to synthesize work done in geology courses, to critically read and discuss articles, to listen to speakers prominent in the discipline, and to write scientific essays. Specific topic varies by year; possible topics include Global Environmental Changes in the Oceans, Estuaries, and Mountain Belts. Required for the major in geology. Open to junior or senior geology majors or minors, or interdisciplinary majors in geology-chemistry and geology-physics.

395. Advanced Seminar in Environmental Policy and Politics
DeWitt John M 10:00 - 11:25, W 10:00 - 11:25
Examines a complex current environmental issue in depth. Explores the underlying social, economic, scientific, and cultural dimensions of the issue; reviews how this and related issues have been addressed so far by state and local governments as well as by the federal government; analyzes current policy-making efforts; and suggests lessons from this policy area about the capacity of public institutions to deal effectively with complex issues. Equal attention given to the substance of public policy, the political process, and implementation of past and proposed policies. Focuses primarily on the United States but will consider experiences in other nations as points of comparison and also any relevant international dimensions of the issue.

397. Advanced Winter Field Ecology
John Lichter F 9:30 - 5:25
Exploration of advanced concepts in ecology and evolutionary biology, and the natural history of plants, animals, and ecosystems in winter in Maine. Structured around group research projects in the field. Each week, field trips focus on a different study site, set of questions, and taxon (e.g., host specificity in wood fungi, foraging behavior of aquatic insects, estimation of mammal population densities, winter flocking behavior in birds). Students learn to identify local winter flora and fauna, evaluate readings from the primary literature, analyze data from field research projects, and present their results each week in a research seminar. Field trip to the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island.