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.

Bard College Catalogue 2017-18

Bard College Catalogue 2017-18

Environmental and Urban Studies


Michèle D. Dominy (director), Myra Young Armstead, Alex Benson, Daniel Berthold, Katherine M. Boivin, Adriane Colburn, Cathy D. Collins, Robert J. Culp, Matthew Deady, Diana H. DePardo-Minsky, Sanjaya DeSilva, Ellen Driscoll, Holger Droessler, M. Elias Dueker, Mike Endo, Gidon Eshel, Kris Feder, Brooke Jude, Felicia Keesing, Arseny Khakhalin, Peter Klein, Cecile E. Kuznitz, Peter L’Official, Susan Merriam, Aniruddha Mitra, Gabriel Perron, Jennifer Phillips (BCEP), Dina Ramadan, Bruce Robertson, Susan Fox Rogers, Gretta Tritch Roman, Margie Ruddick, Lisa Sanditz, Monique Segarra (BCEP), Robyn L. Smyth, Alice Stroup, Yuka Suzuki, Julianne Swartz, Olga Touloumi, Julia Rosenbaum, Nathan Shockey, Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, Oli Stephano
Archaeologist in Residence: Christopher R. Lindner


Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) is an interdisciplinary program that examines the interdependence of human societies and the physical environment. The program strives to ensure that students have a substantial background in the physical and social sciences, humanities, economics, and policy, while enhancing their understanding of the relationship between built and natural environments.

The program calls for students to engage both intellectually and empirically with urban and environmental issues. EUS students gain theoretical and scientific grounding in the field as well as valuable experience, through practicums and internships, in addressing urban and environmental challenges. Students complete a series of core courses, as well as courses that engage interdisciplinary methods; pursue an internship in the area of their interest; attend EUS Colloquium; and complete the practicum. To balance transdisciplinary breadth with depth in a particular discipline, students also select intermediate and advanced courses in their chosen focus area. Expertise developed through problem-driven focus area studies prepares the student for the Senior Project.

The scope of EUS is regional, national, and global. EUS takes advantage of its immediate surroundings, using the campus and the region as a laboratory for natural and social science research and interpretation through language and the arts. The Hudson River estuary, with its wetlands and watershed, is framed by the Catskill Mountains to the west; its valley communities offer a variety of historical and natural resources. On campus, Bard Archaeology, the Bard College Farm, the Bard Arboretum, and the unique landscape, architecture, and history of Montgomery Place offer academic and cocurricular activities. The Bard College Field Station is home to the Bard Water Laboratory and Hudsonia, an independent environmental institute; and the Saw Kill Watershed Community brings campus and community members together for science, stewardship, and education. Other place-based partners include the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Students can also explore international affiliations and institutions through a rich variety of internship and study abroad programs, and take courses with leading practitioners at the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program in New York City.

EUS majors with a strong foundation in science, policy, 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 in environmental policy or in climate science and policy.

Senior Projects have addressed questions pertaining to a wide variety of topics, including environment and population growth; sustainable development; environmental effects of globalization; international efforts to protect the environment; land ownership and the distribution of wealth; the environment and human health; environmental racism; alternative energy; urban sprawl; land-use planning; land and tax policy; wilderness and 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

The following focus areas suggest the breadth of possibilities for advanced study within EUS: Environmental Science; Global Perspectives on Environment, Society, and Culture; Urban and Regional Studies; Environmental Humanities and the Arts; Agriculture and Food Systems; and Economics, Policy, and Development.


By the sophomore year, an EUS major should have an academic adviser who is an EUS core faculty member. To moderate into the program, a student must have successfully completed the core courses EUS 101 (Introduction to Environmental and Urban Studies) and 102 (Introduction to Environmental and Urban Science), as well as one 200-level EUS course in one of the following areas: economics, social/historical analysis (other than economics), and laboratory science (environmental science, biology, chemistry/biochemistry, or physics). In addition, the student needs to prepare in advance and provide the Moderation board with three documents:

•  A paper reviewing the first two years of academic study.
•  A paper that sets out a plan for successful completion of the degree requirements, while also defining the student’s focus area. The focus area plan should clearly articulate a particular research agenda with suitable advanced courses in preparation for the Senior Project.
•  A writing sample from an EUS-related course that closely addresses the student’s interest.

Graduation requirements include one 200-level EUS course in economics; one 200-level EUS course in social/historical analysis (other than economics); one 200-level EUS course in laboratory science; EUS 305, EUS Practicum, which includes fieldwork (some study abroad programs may satisfy the practicum requirement); EUS Colloquium (2 credits); one EUS internship or service project (0 credits); 14 additional credits in a well-defined focus area, with at least two courses at the 300 level and one covering methodologies relevant to the focus area (e.g., GIS, biostatistics, or qualitative or quantitative methods); and the Senior Project. See the EUS website for additional details on program requirements.

Recent Senior Projects in Environmental and Urban Studies

  • “Food Access in Kingston, New York: An Evaluation of the Role of Farmers Markets in Food Assistance Programs”
  • “Lifeguarding the Hudson: Microbial Agents of Concern in Puddles, Tide Pools, and the River”
  • “Outside the Frame: Mapping and Urban Space in the United States, c. 1920–2014”


EUS offers a wide variety of courses in each focus area every semester. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, EUS courses are offered in the program and as cross-listed courses in other programs across the four divisions of the College. EUS students can also take graduate-level courses at the Bard Center for Environmental Policy. A full list of the offerings can be found on the EUS website.

Introduction to Environmental and Urban Studies
Environmental Studies 101
An introduction to key themes and fields that address environmental and urban questions. While disentangling and analyzing the terms used to describe aspects of the environment—nature, wilderness, ecology, countryside, city, urbanism—this interdisciplinary course delves into issues such as food, sustainability, environmental justice, infrastructure, agriculture, and development. The course is organized around four ways that humans relate to their environments: observing, organizing, gathering and distributing, and conserving. Under the rubric of each category, students become familiar with various disciplines represented in the EUS curriculum (e.g., literature, written arts, sociology, urbanism, anthropology, history, economics), while engaging with their methods on a beginner level. The course culminates with a role-play debate, where students assume the roles of scientist, sociologist, and city official.

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.

Geographic Information Systems
Environmental Studies 203
This course provides a comprehensive review of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technologies as they are used in a variety of social and environmental science applications. Through lectures, readings, and hands-on exercises, students acquire an understanding of the structure of spatial data and databases, basic cartographic principles, and data visualization techniques. They also learn how to conduct spatial analysis as well as methods for developing sound GIS project design and management practices. Preference is given to moderated students.

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.

Environmental Monitoring Lab: Quality on the Saw Kill
Environmental Studies 214
To get hands-on experience with the nuts and bolts of monitoring water quality in the Hudson River estuary, students plan and implement a sampling program on the Saw Kill to be integrated into Riverkeeper’s tributary monitoring program. In addition to building a monitoring program from the ground up, students become proficient in field and lab methods for monitoring basic water quality. They also become familiar with governmental regulations and policy concerns. Prerequisite: EUS 102, Biology 202, or permission of the instructor.

Food Systems: Human Health and Environmental Health
Environmental Studies 215
This course examines the association between human health and environmental health, with a focus on the links between the “diseases of civilization” and industrial agriculture. The class reviews what nutrition science has discovered about the role of diet in human health and disease; how agriculture has impacted human health and environmental quality; appropriate technologies for reforming our food systems toward less destructive and more sustainable methods of production; and the political and policy obstacles that stand in the way of reform.

The Dust Bowl: Lessons on How Not to Prepare for and Respond to Natural Perturbations
Environmental Studies 220
The Dust Bowl—the prolonged, sustained, and widespread drought that ravaged the southern Great Plains throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, and the blowing sand and soil that accompanied it—is arguably the single most devastating environmental catastrophe in U.S. history. It is also a nearly perfect example of how a natural, entirely expected phenomenon can be turned into an unmitigated regional catastrophe by ill-conceived human action. Students review the physical elements of the Dust Bowl and place them in historic/economic context.

Environmental Studies 221
This course explores the earth’s hydrosphere and its interactions with the biosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere. Topics include origins of the hydrosphere, origins of life, the global hydrologic cycle, anthropogenic influences on that cycle, and pressing environmental issues such as climate change, protection of drinking water resources, ecosystem degradation, and wastewater treatment.

Environmental Studies 222
Topics covered in this course include origins of the atmosphere, origins of life, anthropogenic influences on the atmosphere, and connections and exchanges with the hydrologic cycle. Pressing global environmental issues associated with the atmosphere are also discussed, including climate change, air pollution, acid rain, and depletion of the ozone layer. Prerequisite: EUS 102, Biology 202, or permission of the instructor.

Environmental Modeling
Environmental Studies 226
This course exposes students to a variety of modeling techniques used in environmental decision making. For example, how rapidly should the switch to renewable energy generation be made? Other policy issues discussed include developing simple predator-prey models to predict changes in populations of keystone species and modeling the sustainability of fisheries under various regulations of regional U.S. fisheries councils. Students are expected to have some basic knowledge of regression analysis and be proficient in calculus. Prerequisite: Mathematics 141.

Buddhist Views of Nature: A Vast Net of Interconnected Diamonds
Environmental Studies 231
cross-listed: religion
Interconnection is a central teaching in Buddhism. In the Flower Ornament Scripture (Avatamsaka Sutra), the image of Indra’s Net is depicted as a world in which everybody and everything is a diamond, mirroring each other. This course draws from traditional Buddhist views of nature, with readings including ecological appeals in Engaged Buddhism, classical texts, and reflections by modern poets. The goal is to recognize the Buddhist view of an environment where our “inside” nature and “outside” nature are not separate.

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.

EUS Practicum
Environmental Studies 305
cross-listed: american studies, historical studies
The Environmental and Urban Studies Practicum connects theory with practice through a combination of theoretical and site-specific learning. The course extends beyond the classroom to local communities and ecosystems, and challenges students to complete field-based projects. The practicum provides students in an interdisciplinary major such as EUS with a range of academic and professional possibilities by illustrating potential internships, Senior Project questions, or careers. The EUS Practicum addresses a new topic each semester, recently including climate change, urban ecology, food systems, urban planning, and green architecture.

Environmental Policy
Environmental Studies 307
This course analyzes the dynamic and complex relationships among various factors—legal, political, cultural, and ethical—that influence environmental policy making. It uses a case-study approach to introduce core concepts of environmental policy making and policy cycles that include defining the problem, setting the agenda, and presenting and implementing policy solutions. In addition to U.S. policy, the course explores international environmental regime development, conflict resolution, and transboundary citizen networks that influence global decision making. Open to moderated students.

Climate and Agrosystems
Environmental Studies 311
This graduate-level course, offered to a limited number of undergraduates, examines the linkages between agroecosystems and the climate system, beginning with projections for climate change impacts on crop production. The class looks at expectations for the influence of elevated CO2 on yield; the role that agriculture can play in climate change mitigation, given the large greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming systems; soil carbon management; and various strategies regarding climate change adaptation, including the role of genetically modified crops, biodiversity, and system resilience.

Climate Policy
Environmental Studies 315
This course focuses on the legal, political, cultural, and ethical dimensions of the climate policy–making process. Students evaluate climate change responses including incentive-based regulatory approaches (e.g., carbon taxes and cap-and-trade and cap-and-dividend systems with offsets), command and control approaches, direct promotion of clean technology through regulation and subsidy, and voluntary agreements. They also examine critical issues of monitoring and enforcement as well as the relationships among local, state, federal, and international policy. This is a graduate course offered to a limited number of undergraduates.

Environmental Studies 316
The class takes a close look at the long-term implications of our standard approaches to handling human waste as well as innovations in waste treatment. Students learn the science behind current waste treatment technology (water, air, land-based) and are exposed to new alternative approaches (water reclamation, living machines). Field-based labs introduce the bacteria and biogeochemical processes we rely on for most current and cutting-edge waste-treatment approaches. Prerequisites: EUS 221 and Biology 202, or permission of the instructor.

Environmental Studies 318
cross-listed: biology
Students in the course explore the relationship between land use and water quality, using the Saw Kill Watershed as a living laboratory. Three broad areas of human-environment interaction are covered: soils and soil management, land-surface vegetation impacts on energy and water balance, and variation in stream water quality and quantity as a function of land use. Prerequisite: a 200-level laboratory course or permission of the instructor.

Hudson Valley Cities and Environmental (In)Justice
Environmental Studies 319
cross-listed: gis, political studies, sociology
How do urban processes of growth, decline, and revitalization affect different groups, particularly along dimensions of race, class, and gender? This research seminar examines the historical, political, and social landscape of Hudson and Kingston, using these nearby communities as case studies to explore theories on urban transformation as well as the contemporary challenges that face small urban centers. The course also addresses issues of environmental inequality, food justice, pollution, access to resources, and environmental decision-making processes. Students develop and carry out their own research project about one or both places.

EUS Colloquium
The colloquium is an invited speaker series that meets once weekly and addresses key contemporary questions of environmental and urban studies. Speakers address such questions from multiple disciplinary perspectives. EUS majors must enroll in EUS COL at least once and may enroll twice for credit. Space permitting, all members of the community are welcome to attend lectures.