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Bard College Catalogue 2020-21
Environmental and Urban Studies
M. Elias Dueker (director), Myra Young Armstead, Alex Benson*, Daniel Berthold, Katherine M. Boivin, Kenneth Buhler, Alejandro Crawford (Bard MBA), Adriane Colburn, Cathy D. Collins, Robert J. Culp, Sanjaya DeSilva, Michèle D. Dominy, Ellen Driscoll, Gidon Eshel, Kris Feder, Brooke Jude, Felicia Keesing*, Arseny Khakalin, Peter Klein, Cecile E. Kuznitz*, Peter L’Official, Susan Merriam*, Gabriel Perron, Jennifer Phillips (BCEP), Bruce Robertson, Susan Fox Rogers, Julia Rosenbaum, Lisa Sanditz, Monique Segarra (BCEP), Gautam Sethi (BCEP), Robyn L. Smyth, Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, Yuka Suzuki, Olga Touloumi, Susan Winchell-Sweeney (BCEP)
Archaeologist in Residence: Christopher R. Lindner
* Member of steering committee
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. Students complete a series of core courses as well as courses that engage interdisciplinary methods; pursue an internship in the area of their interest; 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 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, the Bard Water Lab, Bard Archaeology, the Bard College Farm, 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 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 American Eel Research Project in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 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 4+1 program with the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, earning in five years a BA and a master of science in environmental policy or in climate science and policy or an MEd in environmental education.
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.
RequirementsBy 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 reflective paper reviewing the first two years of academic study.
• A reflective 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.
• An assigned essay set by the EUS faculty that addresses a contemporary issue from the perspective of EUS-related coursework and a set of assigned articles.
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; an EUS Practicum, which includes fieldwork (some study abroad programs may satisfy the practicum requirement); 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 an additional methods course relevant to the focus area (e.g., GIS, biostatistics, econometrics, 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
- “Fences: Physical and Metaphorical Socio-Cultural Boundaries”
- “The Future of Forever Wild: The History, Politics, and Economics of the New York State Forest Preserve”
- “The Role of Unpaid and Alternative Labor on Organic and Sustainability-Oriented Farms”
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
While disentangling and analyzing the terms used to describe aspects of the environment—nature/culture, human/nonhuman, wilderness, urbanism, countryside, and the city—this interdisciplinary course considers issues such as environmental justice, biodiversity preservation, protected natural areas, infrastructure, agricultural and food sustainability, ecotourism, climate change, and development. The course is organized around four ways that humans relate to their environments: observing, organizing and classifying, collecting and distributing, and conserving.
Introduction to Environmental and Urban Science
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
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.
An examination of basic physics as it relates to understanding and modeling environmental phenomena. Topics covered include Newton’s laws of motion and linear and angular momentum conservation applied to oceanic and atmospheric flows; thermodynamic conservation laws, heat transfer, phase transition, and heat engines applied to hurricanes and midlatitude storms; and turbulence and turbulent transfer of environmentally important attributes. The course requires some math, and a willingness to learn more.
Geographic Information Systems
In this project-based course, students explore the various spatial analysis methods used by scientists, planners, and public policy makers to improve the understanding and management of our world. They learn the fundamentals of modeling, data analysis, and mapping using geospatial technologies, and then apply these skills to a team-based research project of their own design.
Planetary Consequences of Food Production
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.
Food Systems: Human Health and Environmental Health
Nutrition science implicates modern diets—based on processed grains, soy, seed oils, and sugar—in the soaring rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and some cancers. Meanwhile, the industrialization of agriculture has accelerated environmental damage from soil erosion, nutrient loss, water pollution, and deforestation. So what are humans supposed to eat? This question is often overlooked in debates over farm policy. The course provides an overview of the geomorphology, ecology, history, economics, and politics of food systems, with a particular focus on the United States.
GIS and Community Engagement: Preparing a Natural Resource Inventory
Students receive formal instruction in the fundamentals of using spatial information, conducting spatial analysis, and producing high-quality cartographic products. Creating a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI): A Guide for Communities in the Hudson River Estuary Watershed is supplied to each student, and the development of an NRI for the Town of Esopus serves as the team-based research project. Students participate in work group meetings with community stakeholders throughout the semester.
EUS 218, 318
A look at the fundamentals of land-atmosphere interactions, with a focus on agricultural and built environment perturbations. The course is offered at the 200 or 300 level, with a more intense lab at the 300 level.
The Dust Bowl: Lessons on How Not to Prepare for and Respond to Natural Perturbations
CROSS-LISTED: HISTORICAL STUDIES
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.
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.
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
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.
Air Quality Research
Harmful algal blooms in the ocean, freshwater lakes, streams, and rivers are increasing across the United States, threatening drinking water supplies, aquatic ecology, and human health. While we know that these blooms can be toxic to animals and humans if ingested or through skin contact, we know very little about exposure to these toxins through the air. Using cutting-edge equipment, students conduct research focused on characterizing and quantifying connections between water quality and air quality regionally. Prerequisite: EUS 102 or another 100-level lab course.
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.
CROSS-LISTED: POLITICAL STUDIES
Environmental politics intersects with debates over economic development, the value of conservation, and concerns regarding the impact of industrial and agricultural practices on human health and the environment. This course introduces the political forces that influence environmental policy formation and outcomes, and covers such topics as risk, sustainability, regulation, conservation, and environmental justice, within the United States and through comparative analysis of countries in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and China.
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
The world’s oceans are vastly underappreciated in terms of their influence on our daily lives, regardless of where we live. The course takes an earth sciences approach, coupled with a socioeconomic lens, to understand this influence globally, regionally, and locally, using the Hudson River Estuary, New York Harbor, Coney Island, and other coastal areas as a living lab. Students are introduced to the fundamental biological, physical, and chemical mechanisms governing global oceans, and explore the central role oceans play in climate change.
Advanced Readings: Environmental Science
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 recent key papers covering climate change, water resources, and agriculture.
EUS Practicum: Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
With climate change intensifying the hydrologic cycle and exacerbating existing challenges to water management, we face a need to simultaneously restore and adapt aquatic ecosystems to improve water quality and prepare for greater uncertainty in precipitation. This course looks at how to maximize resources to simultaneously restore degraded water quality, enhance resiliency to climate extremes, sequester carbon, and enhance biodiversity. In addition to hands-on practice in the field, students write and present a mock proposal for a restoration/adaptation project in response to an actual grant solicitation.
Social Entrepreneurship Practicum
DESIGNATED: OSUN COURSE
In this collaborative, cross-institution course, student teams conceive and develop models for social enterprises. Bard students engage with classes from American University of Central Asia, Al-Quds Bard, Central European University, and Earth University in Costa Rica through synchronous online learning and in-person labs. The course culminates in a “shark tank” for sustainability among and between teams from the different universities. Readings and discussions are focused on issues such as urban-based innovation ecosystems, social obstacles to risk taking, and drivers of change from decarbonization to artificial intelligence, among others. Prerequisite: Economics 101.
Climate and Agroecology
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
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.
Reimagined Farms in Reimagined Spaces
This course examines the role farms and gardens play within institutions, and the interplay of race, gender, class and power within these spaces. Working closely with a local farmer and through lectures and site visits, students consider issues surrounding land use, equity, and social capital. As a final project, they develop a mission statement and reimagined direction for Bard’s agricultural initiatives. Prerequisite: Moderation or permission of the professor.
Hudson Valley Cities and Environmental (In)Justice
EUS 319 / Sociology 319
CROSS-LISTED: AMERICAN STUDIES, ARCHITECTURE
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 Politics of Solutions
Despite the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Agreement, innovative solutions to mitigating and adapting to climate change are emerging at a rapid pace, from both the private and public sectors. The course examines a range of climate solutions—e.g., renewable energy technologies, urban planning, changing individual and social behaviors— whose viability is shaped by ideas, interests, and institutions that facilitate or impede their moving onto policy agendas or to large-scale adoption. Cases are drawn from the United States, China, South Korea, and Latin America.
Environmental Futures and the Global Climate Crisis
DESIGNATED: CALDERWOOD SEMINAR
Glacial melt, tropical deforestation, sea-level rise, desertification, ocean acidification. How will these processes determine our environmental futures? Can we respond to the increasing threat of a sixth extinction? Students select a critical environmental issue related to human-induced global climate change and follow it as their investigative “beat” for the term. Through varied written assignments, students hone their analytic and writing and editing skills for cogency and elegant expression as “public” writers, collaborating in and modeling effective environmental communication as an instrument for climate action.
Environmental Policy I, II
EUS 405, 407
This graduate-level course analyzes the complex legal, political, cultural, and ethical factors that influence policy making. Students examine state and social responses to new and ongoing environmental problems, taking into account the nature of state-federal relationships in developing and applying environmental law; the evolving role of technology; tensions between private and public interests; and equity considerations. In addition to U.S. environmental policy, the course explores international environmental regime development. Prerequisite: Upper College status.
Environmental Law for Policy
An introduction to the core concepts of environmental law in the context of interdisciplinary policy making. Students examine responses and solutions to environmental problems that rely on legal and regulatory instruments, judicial decisions, and voluntary agreements, while exploring the interaction between environmental law and policy. They also consider the nature of international, federal, state, and local relationships in developing and applying the law; the role of technology and science; and tensions between private and public interests.
Climate Change and Water Resources
Climate change is altering the global hydrologic cycle and impacting aquatic ecosystems and water resources available for human use. This course draws upon the physical science of hydrology, the biological science of ecosystem ecology, and the social science of water resource management to build interdisciplinary understanding of complex climate-ecological-social systems related to water.
The Food/Energy/Water Nexus
Modern human societies depend upon the large-scale provision of food, water, and energy but too often fail to recognize the interconnectedness of these key resources in decision-making processes. This course uses multidisciplinary evidence to identify conflicts and tradeoffs in the provision of food, energy, and water; investigate integrated approaches to resource management; and critically evaluate policy and decision making around these issues in the face of climate change. Prerequisites: a 200-level science laboratory course and a 200-level course in social or historical analysis.
While the practice of releasing raw sewage into public waterways has been occurring on a global scale for centuries, environmental scientists, environmental engineers, and municipal decision makers are still struggling to end the practice. Using the Hudson River as a case study, the class takes a deep dive into the science of sewage and its relation to human health. Prerequisite: a 200-level lab sciences course.
Microbial Remediation (Waste Cluster)
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
Our past approach to handling human-generated waste, “the solution to pollution is dilution,” has resulted in the saturation of our air, water, and soils with toxins and plastics. As we grapple with this complex issue, we are also forced to upgrade crumbling infrastructure, including landfills, waste treatment plants, and drinking water plants. This seminar explores the microbiological field that is dedicated to proactively reducing pollution in our water, land, and air, and to developing effective alternatives to our treatment of waste moving forward.