Spring 2012 Courses

071. Bird Song, Human Song
Robert Greenlee T 1:00 - 2:25, TH 1:00 - 2:25
A study of avian and human melodies, including the mechanics, anatomy, neurobiology, and endocrinology of sound production and recognition in birds and humans; ecological and evolutionary contexts of song; and interspecific influences on songs. Songs and calls, identified aurally and through sonograms and basic music notation, are used to inspire new musical compositions that explore the musical relationships between humans and birds. Required field trips, research projects, and anatomy laboratories. Although no music or biology experience is required or presumed, students should have a strong interest in learning about birds and music. Weekly one-hour lab.
081. Physics of the Environment
Mark Battle M 1:30 - 2:25, W 1:30 - 2:25, F 1:30 - 2:25
An introduction to the physics of environmental issues, including past climates, anthropogenic climate change, ozone destruction, and energy production and efficiency.
102. Introduction to Oceanography
Collin Roesler T 10:00 - 11:25, TH 10:00 - 11:25
The fundamentals of geological, physical, chemical, and biological oceanography: tectonic evolution of the ocean basins, ocean circulation, chemical cycles, primary production and trophodynamics and the oceans’ role in climate change. Weekly labs will apply the principles in the setting of Casco Bay and the Gulf of Maine.
104. Environmental Geology and Hydrology
Gabrielle David M 11:30 - 12:25, W 11:30 - 12:25, F 11:30 - 12:25
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 landslides. Weekly labs and field trips examine local environmental problems affecting Maine’s rivers, lakes, and coast. Students complete a community-based research project on Maine water quality. Formerly Geology 100 (same as Environmental Studies 100).
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
Connie Chiang M 1:00 - 2:25, W 1:00 - 2:25
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.
205. Earth, Oceans and Society
Emily Peterman M 8:30 - 9:25, W 8:30 - 9:25, F 8:30 - 9:25
Explores the historical, current and future demands of society on the natural resources of the Earth and the Ocean. Discusses the formation and extraction of salt, gold, diamonds, rare earth elements, coal, oil, natural gas and renewable energies (e.g. tidal, geothermal, solar, wind). Examines how policies for these resources are written and revised to reflect changing societal values. Students complete a research project that explores the intersection of natural resources and society.
218. Environmental Economics and Policy
Erik Nelson M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
An exploration of environmental degradation and public policy responses in industrial economies. Market failures, property rights, and materialistic values are investigated as causes of pollution and deteriorating ecosystem functions. Guidelines for equitable and cost-effective environmental policy are explored, with an emphasis on the roles and limitations of cost-benefit analysis and techniques for estimating non-monetary values. Three core themes are the transition from “command and control” to incentive-based policies; the evolution from piecemeal regulation to comprehensive “green plans” (as in the Netherlands); and the connections among air pollution, energy systems, and global warming.
252. Global Justice
Megs Gendreau M 8:00 - 9:25, W 8:00 - 9:25
Investigates questions concerning the distribution of both goods and harms at the global scale, as well as issues in international human rights. Special attention will be given to environmental issues that have international import, including global climate change, waste disposal, and resource scarcity. Readings will be taken largely from contemporary sources, and students will be expected to investigate and discuss a number of case studies from the 20th and 21st Centuries.
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.
267. Coastal Oceanography
Edward Laine T 8:30 - 9:55, TH 8:30 - 9:55
Principles and problems in coastal oceanography, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary inquiry. Topics include circulation and sediment transport within estuaries and on the continental shelf, impact of human systems on the marine environment, and issues and controversies of eutrophication and hypoxia in the coastal environment.
270. Landscapes and Global Change
Gabrielle David T 11:30 - 12:55, TH 11:30 - 12:55
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.
302. Earth Climate History and Its Impacts on Ecosystems and Human Civilizations
Philip Camill M 10:00 - 11:25, W 10:00 - 11:25
The modern world is experiencing rapid climate warming and some parts extreme drought, which will have dramatic impacts on ecosystems and human societies. How do contemporary warming and aridity compare to past changes in climate over the last billion years? Are modern changes human-caused or part of the natural variability in the climate system? What effects did past changes have on global ecosystems and human societies? Students use environmental records from rocks, soils, ocean cores, ice cores, lake cores, fossil plants, and tree rings to assemble proxies of past changes in climate, atmospheric CO2, and disturbance to examine several issues: long-term carbon cycling and climate, major extinction events, the rise of C4 photosynthesis and the evolution of grazing mammals, orbital forcing and glacial cycles, glacial refugia and post-glacial species migrations, climate change and the rise and collapse of human civilizations, climate/overkill hypothesis of Pleistocene megafauna, climate variability, drought cycles, climate change impacts on disturbances (fire and hurricanes), and determining natural variability vs. human-caused climate change. One introductory biology (with ecology or evolution focus), chemistry, or earth and oceanographic science course is required. Prior enrollment in a 200-level ecology or earth and oceanographic science course is recommended.
305. Environmental Fate of Organic Chemicals
Dharanija Vasudevan M 11:30 - 12:55, W 11:30 - 12:55
More than 100,000 synthetic chemicals are currently in daily use. In order to determine the risk posed to humans and ecosystems, we need to understand and anticipate the extent and routes of chemical exposure. Addresses the fate of organic chemicals following their intentional or unintentional release into the environment. Why do these chemicals either persist or break down, and how are they distributed between surface water, ground water, soil, sediments, biota, and air? Analysis of chemical structure used to gain insight into molecular interactions that determine the various chemical transfer and transformation processes, while emphasizing the quantitative description of these processes.
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
Philip Camill M 8:00 - 9:25, W 8:00 - 9:25
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. An interdisciplinary exploration of three 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? Examines the historical origins agriculture, 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.
397. Advanced Winter Field Ecology
Nathaniel Wheelwright F 3:00 - 4:55
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 under the ice, estimation of mammal population densities, winter flocking behavior in birds). Students learn to identify local winter flora and fauna, critically evaluate readings from the primary literature, analyze data from field research projects, and present their results each week in a research seminar. Required field trip to the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island.
398. The City Since 1960
Jill Pearlman M 10:00 - 11:25, W 10:00 - 11:25
Seminar. Explores the history of the North American city from the end of urban renewal to the age of climate change. Focused thematically, topics include the fall of the postwar city and the rise of urban complexity ; gentrification and its effects; changing ideals of historic preservation; monuments and sites of memory; urban disasters and their aftermaths; and the brief history of the sustainable city. Culminates in an original research paper, based on primary and secondary source materials.