Bard College Catalogue

The Bard College Catalogue contains detailed descriptions of the College's undergraduate programs and courses, curriculum, admission and financial aid procedures, student activities and services, history, campus facilities, affiliated institutions including graduate programs, and faculty and administration.

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Bard College Catalogue 2013-14

Bard College Catalogue 2013-14

Environmental and Urban Studies


Kris Feder (director), Myra Young Armstead, Daniel Berthold, Diana De G. Brown, Nicole Caso, Robert J. Culp, Deirdre D’Albertis, Matthew Deady, Diana H. DePardo-Minsky, Sanjaya DeSilva, Michèle D. Dominy, Gidon Eshel, Felicia Keesing, Cecile Kuznitz, Christopher R. Lindner, Mark Lytle, William T. Maple, Susan Merriam, Aniruddha Mitra, Anne Nelson, Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, Bruce Robertson, Susan Fox Rogers, Nathan Shockey, Michael Specter, Alice Stroup, Irene Sunwoo, Yuka Suzuki, Clement Thery


Environmental and Urban Studies is an interdisciplinary program that examines the interdependence of human societies and the physical environment. The program strives to ensure that majors have a solid background in the physical sciences, humanities, economics, and policy. It also aims to enhance students’ understanding of the complexities of environmental and urban issues and their awareness of interrelationships between built and “natural” environments.

The program is designed to allow students to engage intellectually with people across disciplines, as well as to acquire practical skill sets and hands-on experience addressing urban and environmental challenges. Students take several rigorous interdisciplinary and disciplinary core courses, complete an internship and a practicum, and attend the EUS colloquium. To balance transdisciplinary breadth with depth in a particular discipline, each student also takes intermediate and advanced courses in a chosen focus area. Expertise developed through the focus area prepares the student for the Senior Project. 

The Hudson River, its estuaries and wetlands, the Catskill Mountains, the valley communities, and other historical and natural resources provide a laboratory for empirical research in environmental studies. The Bard campus is home to Hudsonia, an independent environmental and educational institute, and the Bard College Field Station. The EUS program has links to the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program in New York City and to a rich variety of internship and junior-year abroad programs. Students can also draw on the resources of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Cary Arboretum, Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and the laboratories of The Rockefeller Univer­sity in New York.

EUS majors with a strong foundation in science and/or economics may apply to the 3+2 program with the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, earning in five years a B.A. and a master of science degree in environmental policy or in climate science and policy.

Senior Projects have addressed questions pertaining to environment and population growth; sustainable development; environmental impacts of globalization; international efforts to protect the environment; land ownership and the distribution of wealth; the environment and human health; the measurement of environmental quality; alternative energy; urban sprawl; land-use planning; land and tax policy; wilderness protection; watershed protection; habitat loss; agricultural subsidies; organic farming; pollution control policy; transportation policy; ecotourism; the viability of small communities; and environmental politics, art, and education. 

Focus Areas

EUS requirements strike a balance between the interdisciplinary breadth ­necessary to address complex environmental problems with depth and rigor in the focus area. The student should learn the methodological approaches, research methods, and writing/ publication conventions as well as the fundamental principles and theorems of the discipline or subject area. In consultation with the adviser and Moderation board, the student maps an individualized path within one of the following broadly defined focus areas: 1) physical sciences (biology, physics, chemistry); 2) social sciences (economics, political studies, anthropology); 3) humanities (history, philosophy, literature); 4) urban studies (architecture, urban history, urban economics, others); and 5) arts (creative writing, visual arts, performing arts, music). 


To moderate, students must take A) the core interdisciplinary course in the social sciences, Introduction to Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS 101); B) the core interdisciplinary course in the physical sciences, Introduction to Environmental Science (EUS 102); and C) any one EUS or EUS cross-listed course at the 200 level in the following areas of study: historical studies, economics, or biology, physics, or chemistry. All 200-level economics courses require a prerequisite of Economics 100, Principles of Economics; 200-level biology, physics, and chemistry courses also require prerequisites. By the sophomore year, a prospective EUS major must have an academic adviser who is an EUS core faculty member. In the second semester of the sophomore year, the student and adviser convene the Moderation board, which normally consists of three EUS faculty members, though one board member may be a non-EUS faculty member in the student’s focus area. One week prior to the board meeting, the student must prepare the following materials: an academic paper that specifies how the student’s scholarly interests have evolved and why he/ she has chosen the EUS Program; a paper that details the student’s future academic plans, including the focus area selected; and a writing sample, usually a 5- to 10-page paper of scholarly writing.

To graduate, EUS majors must also have taken one course at the 200-level or above in each of the two remaining areas of study (see “C” above); EUS Colloquium; EUS Practicum, a studio course that includes fieldwork; an internship or service project; at least three courses in any one focus area; at least two courses at the 300-level in the student’s focus area (these courses need not be EUS-related courses); four credits in empirical analysis (e.g., GIS; statistics), research methods, writing, mathematics, or computer science, as deemed appropriate for the student’s focus area and Senior Project; and the Senior Project.

Additional courses may be essential for rounding out a coherent individual program of study; while not required, these are often critical factors affecting the student's prospects for graduate school admissions and career satisfaction.

Recent Senior Projects in Environmental and Urban Studies

  • “Carving Out an Agricultural Landscape: Meat Production and Geographies of Resistance in the Hudson Valley”
  • “In the Company of Bees: Gleanings from the Hive”
  • “The Stone Wall and the Town Common: Dwelling and Mythmaking in the New England Landscape”


In addition to the required courses cited above (EUS 101, Introduction to Environmental and Urban Studies; and EUS 102, Introduction to Environmental Science), recent EUS-appropriate courses have included Field Methods in Environmental Archaeology; Ecology and Evolution; Global Change Biology; Advanced Readings in Environmental Science; American Environmental History I and II; Environmental Diplomacy; City Cultures; Modern Architecture; Water, Power, and Politics; Ecological Economics; Urban and Regional Economics; Economic Development; Field Study in Natural History;  Writing the Natural World; Geographic Information Systems; and Reading and Writing the Hudson.

Sample four-year study plans for each focus area and a complete list of courses, including graduate-level courses at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy that are open to EUS ­students, can be found at

Introduction to Environmental and Urban Studies
Environmental Studies 101
This introductory core course provides an overview of the interdisciplinary questions of environmental conservation and sustainable development (for example, how are critical resources such as water, biodiversity, and the air we breathe affected by urbanization?) by exploring their scientific, economic, political, cultural, and ­ethical implications.

Introduction to Environmental and Urban Science
Environmental Studies 102
The course provides a systems-oriented approach to biological, chemical, physical, and geological processes that affect earth, air, water, and life. Students gain a solid understanding of the fundamental scientific principles governing environmental systems, including the cycling of matter and the flow of energy, and develop their ability to predict potential outcomes of complex environmental issues. Regional examples of ­elemental cycling, hydrology, ecology, climate change, and food systems are used to teach and practice concepts.

Colonial and Postcolonial Geographies
Environmental Studies 104
cross-listed: human rights
An intensive study of lived environments. With the help of tools provided by critical geography and related disciplines, students explore how various forms of knowledge of territory—such as maps, surveys, and oral histories—shape the way landscapes are lived. In particular, the course emphasizes how colonial histories shape present governance and struggles over land and resources. Examples considered from Egypt, Brazil, the American Southwest, New Zealand, Indonesia, Nigeria, and the Hudson Valley.

Urban Worlds
Environmental Studies 118
As an introduction to the city, this course has two aims: to explore some of the essential concepts of urban theory, and to study in-depth urban experiences around the world. Topics may include the city and marginality, urban modernity, consumption, gender and public space; gentrification, suburbanization, transgression, and urban nature. Case studies may be from cities such as Lagos, New York, Paris, Dubai, and Rio de Janeiro.

Geographic Information Systems
Environmental Studies 203
This course provides students with a comprehensive review of geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and remote sensing technologies as they are used in a variety of social and environmental science applications. Students acquire an understanding of the structure of spatial data and databases, basic cartographic principles, and data visualization techniques, and learn methods for developing sound GIS project design and management practices.

Urbanism Unbound: Field Study in Mumbai
Environmental Studies 204
An advanced study of the city that takes place in Mumbai, India, during the winter break and continues at Bard in the spring semester. By studying Mumbai’s vibrant streets, shantytowns, trains, and markets students gain a sense of the vast possibilities for organizing urban life. The course explores topics such as access to water; the politics of slum removal; informal waste recycling and sustainability; media and civic engagement; urban environmental activism; gender and urban development; popular culture; globalization and consumer culture; and the politics of heritage conservation.

Quantifying Planetary Consequences of Food Production
Environmental Studies 205
Can one produce local organic food with relative environmental impunity? Life-cycle analyses repeatedly show that, on a national average, transportation is relatively unimportant in food production’s overall environmental footprint. While this appears to cast doubts on the “local food” notion, the picture may change dramatically with organic food production because of the absence of environmentally adverse agrochemicals. The course makes use of an innovative campus greenhouse.

The Global Future of Food
Environmental Studies 220
In the United States, calories are plentiful and cheap—but with twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes, those calories are killing us. In many parts of the world, the opposite is true: more than a billion people go to bed hungry every night. This course examines one of our most fundamental problems: Is it possible to overhaul our badly broken system of industrial agriculture and feed Earth’s rapidly growing population, while also growing safe, plentiful, and nutritious food?

Advanced Readings in Environmental Science I, II
Environmental Studies 240, 241
While prohibitively technical at times, some fundamental advances in environmental science can be translated into English and made at least partially palatable for the curious, motivated student. This seminar-style course explores  several key papers of recent years covering climate change, water resources, and agriculture.

Urban Practicum: Hudson Valley
Environmental Studies 305
This course focuses on the intersection of natural and built environments in the Hudson Valley. The practicum element involves work on a Poughkeepsie-based project (being developed by Clearwater; Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation architects; and community organizers) to transform a forgotten creek into a vital urban resource. Issues explored include environmental justice, urban design with nature, watershed management, and urban governance.

Neotropical Ecology
Environmental Studies 310
An introduction to the Amazon rain forest and its complex ecology. By studying the intricate web of relations between plants and animals in pristine ancient forests, students get a good understanding of why the Amazon harbors the highest biodiversity on earth. Topics considered include the continent’s geomorphology, going back in time to the Miocene, and the role played by the major tributaries of the Amazon in the speciation and radiation of species through genetic isolation of entire populations of plants and animals.

EUS Research Seminar
Environmental Studies 399-400
This seminar is required for Environmental and Urban Studies majors. Students and faculty share tips on research methods and sources, academic writing, and strategies for designing and executing a successful project. Moderated students are expected to take the seminar twice, during their junior and senior years

EUS Colloquium: What Does It Mean to Be an Environmentalist?
This course presents the research and work of those in environmental fields, from activists to scholars. Students analyze the speakers’ arguments, honing their skills in rhetorical analysis, and in so doing come to see the range of skills needed for environmental thinking and action.