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Bard College Catalogue 2023-24
Beate Liepert (director), Myra Young Armstead, Katherine M. Boivin, Cathy D. Collins*, Robert J. Culp, M. Elias Dueker, Gidon Eshel, Felicia Keesing, Peter Klein*, Cecile E. Kuznitz, Peter L’Official*, Susan Merriam, Gabriel Perron, Jennifer Phillips (GPS), Bruce Robertson, Susan Fox Rogers, Monique Segarra (GPS), Gautam Sethi (GPS), Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins, Yuka Suzuki, Olga Touloumi*, Susan Winchell-Sweeney (GPS)
Archaeologist in Residence: Christopher R. Lindner
* Member of Steering Committee
By adding the Environmental Studies (ES) concentration to their major, students from any program can help make environmental and social change in real time. Working closely with the Center for Environmental Sciences and Humanities (cesh.bard.edu), ES trains students to engage with the interdisciplinary nature of environmental questions and “wicked” problems such as climate change, urbanization, and generational inequality. With the goal of addressing environmental justice, ES aims to cultivate the exchange of academic communication with community engagement, hands-on problem solving, and renewed awareness of Indigenous and other marginalized realities to create mindful, local-to-global environmental thinkers, policy makers, and activists.
RequirementsES requires 20 credits total. For Moderation—during which students declare their concentration as well as a major program—students must complete:
• Environmental Studies 100, Introduction to Environmental Studies
• One additional ES cross-listed course (100 level or above). Sample courses include:
American Studies 101, Introduction to American and Indigenous Studies
Arts 135, The Architecture of an Urbanized Planet
Biology 102, Food Microbiology
Biology 171, Tree of Life
History 2356, American Indian History
Philosophy 140, Other Animals
Physics 141, Introduction to Physics I
Sociology 138, Introduction to Urban Sociology
• An ES Practicum. These 300-level, hands-on, community-engaged courses are offered every semester, and often change to address current issues and realities of environmental justice communities. Sample practicums include:
Environmental Studies /American Studies 309, Environmental Justice Practicum: Art, Science, and Radical Cartography
Environmental Studies 321, GIS for Environmental Justice
Environmental Studies 327, Leading Change in Institutions Practicum
Environmental Studies 339, Kingston Housing Lab
• Two additional ES or ES cross-listed courses in the sciences or humanities (200 level or above), one of which must be offered outside of the student’s major. Examples include:
American Studies 310, Art, Animals, Anthropocene
Anthropology 362, Climate Change, Culture Change
Biology 202, Ecology and Evolution
Biology 244, Biostatistics
Environmental Studies 205, Planetary Consequences of Food Production
Environmental Studies 223, Air Quality Research
Environmental Studies 224, Climate Change Science and Its Human Dimensions
Physics 215, Climate and Energy
Politics 372, Environmental Political Theory
For more information, email Environmental Studies Director Eli Dueker at [email protected].
Introduction to Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies 101
Humans have profoundly altered the character of Earth’s biosphere since the advent of agriculture and urbanization 10,000 years ago. This course explores how global problems such as climate disruption, species extinction, and depletion of fossil soils, fuels, and waters are interlinked with one another but also with social problems such as financial instability, widening economic inequality, food insecurity, intensifying conflict and militarization, and declining public health. Issues are considered from the level of individual responsibility to local, regional, national, and global dimensions.
Environmental System Science
Environmental Studies 102
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
This course introduces and integrates core concepts and methodologies from physical, biological, and social sciences to build students’ capacity to think critically about the causes and solutions to complex environmental problems and sustainability challenges. The class learns about and practices the scientific method through study of the air, land, water, and waste around campus. Additional goals are to better understand the climate system, watershed processes, waste fate and transport, and other core environmental sciences.
Geophysics of Racism and Classism
Environmental Studies 107
The focus of this discussion-based seminar is the disproportionate shouldering by some communities—Native Americans, African Americans, Central American migrants—of environmental burdens exerted by human actions. While social aspects of this uneven burden are widely discussed, the natural science manifestations are not. This course strives to bridge this gap. Topics include storm surge, forest fires, agricultural chemical toxicity, water quality degradation, municipal water systems, and air pollution due to proximity to oil and gas facilities, among others.
Environmental Studies 109
One of the key modes of climate variability arises not from inherent atmospheric or land surface variability but from their interactions. This course addresses both climatological phenomena (e.g., radiative-thermodynamic-hydrological connections that explain the geography of major deserts and rainfall provinces) and anomalies (recent Western US wildfires). While these operate on timescales of days to decades, the class also explores a third form of land-atmosphere interaction having to do with long-term Earth evolution on a billion-year timescale.
Feeding 10 Billion People
Environmental Studies 111
Local food systems—and the global one—cannot be scaled up in their current configurations to feed predicted future Earths in just and nutritionally adequate ways. Yet alternative configurations can easily do the job. This course explores existing food systems and possibilities for a global system that builds on the robust elements while minimizing susceptibility to the weaknesses. Prerequisites: passing score on Part I of the Mathematics Diagnostic, and familiarity with Excel or Google Sheets.
Reading on Grass
Environmental Studies 112
CROSS-LISTED: AMERICAN AND INDIGENOUS STUDIES, HISTORICAL STUDIES
Global grasslands and steppes are the most recent addition to Earth’s grand biomes. These landscapes are also well represented in fiction. The class reads both scientific literature and several novels in an effort to intellectually balance and harmonize the scientific and literary approaches to the world’s grasslands and steppes.
Introduction to Geography and GeoSciences
Environmental Sciences 113
Geography is both a physical and social science. This course covers basic geographic concepts and the techniques used by geographers to study the earth and portray spatial information. It presents a geography of the modern world with attention to human-environment relationships, urbanization, and regional development, communication and transportation, and environment and change, as well as environmental governance, justice, and sustainability.
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.
Food Systems: Human Health and Environmental Health
Environmental Studies 215
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.
Environmental Studies 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
Environmental Studies 220
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.
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
CROSS-LISTED: ARCHITECTURE, BIOLOGY
DESIGNATED: ELAS AND RJI COURSE
Recent global catastrophes, including COVID-19 and unusually destructive wildfires, have highlighted the importance of equitable access to clean air in human and ecological health. Students learn the scientific principles behind measuring and managing air quality on local, regional, and global scales, and interact with other Bard network institutions to think cross-disciplinarily and cross-nationally about the global nature of air “management.” Lab work is guided by scientific questions generated by communities including Kingston, New York, and Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Air Quality Research
Environmental Studies 223
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: Environmental Studies 102 or another 100-level lab course.
Climate Change Science and Its Human Dimensions
Environmental Studies 224
Understanding the scientific facts of a changing climate in the past and present guides our decision making today for a climate future 20, 50, and 100 years from now. This course addresses how greenhouse gases and other man-made disturbances impact Earth’s climate, how ongoing and projected future anthropogenic changes compare to natural variability, and the implications of climate change to human and natural systems. A lab component explores physical principles in hands-on experiments. Specific issues of interest can be investigated in group projects.
Environmental Studies 226
CROSS-LISTED: ECONOMICS, MATHEMATICS
An introduction to various modeling techniques used in environmental decision making. For example, how rapidly should the switch to renewable energy generation be made? The answer depends, in part, on the rapidity with which fossil fuels are being depleted. Students use statistical methods to estimate the timing of peak global crude oil production. Other issues addressed include developing predator-prey models to predict changes in populations of species and modeling the sustainability of fisheries under various regulations of regional fisheries councils. Prerequisite: Mathematics 141.
Environmental Studies 232
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
Environmental Studies 240
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.
ES Practicum: Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration
Environmental Studies 304
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
Environmental Studies 305
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.
Environmental Justice Practicum—Art, Science, and Radical Cartography
Environmental Studies 309
CROSS-LISTED: AMERICAN AND INDIGENOUS STUDIES, EXPERIMENTAL HUMANITIES, HUMAN RIGHTS
DESIGNATED: ELAS AND RJI COURSE
Maps are generally assumed to be objective, accurate representations of data and the world around us when, in fact, they depict the knowledge and values of the humans who draft them. This course explores ways in which ecological issues are entangled with colonial histories of racism and supremacy, resource extraction, and expansion through mapping. Native American scholarship grounds study of the impact of mapping as a tool used to claim ownership and invite exploitation. The evolution of radical cartography to imagine alternative mapping is also considered.
Sustainable Development and Social Enterprise
Environmental Studies 310
DESIGNATED: OSUN COURSE
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlight 17 key areas for global progress, ranging from food security to women’s empowerment. One way to achieve these goals is through social enterprise: creating for-profit and nonprofit organizations to advance one or more of the SDGs. In this collaborative, cross-institution course, Bard students work with and learn from peers in Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, the West Bank, and other countries, through a mix of synchronous online classes and in-person, project-based learning.
Climate and Agroecology
Environmental Studies 311
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
This course 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.
Hudson Valley Cities and Environmental (In)Justice
Environmental Studies 319 / Sociology 319
See Sociology 319 for a full course description.
GIS for Environmental Justice
Environmental Studies 321
CROSS-LISTED: HISTORICAL STUDIES, HUMAN RIGHTS
DESIGNATED: ELAS AND RJI COURSE
The course provides instruction in the fundamentals of using spatial information, conducting spatial analysis, and producing high-quality cartographic products. Students learn how GIS can be used as a tool for identifying and assessing environmental justice issues at the local, regional, and global scale. They then apply these skills to a team-based research project focused on an environmental justice problem. The course culminates in a presentation session, where students show their analysis and results to their peers, professors, and the greater Bard community.
Making the State of the Planet Accessible: Understanding the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) #6 Reports
Environmental Studies 323
CROSS-LISTED: GIS, HUMAN RIGHTS
DESIGNATED: OSUN COURSE
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed in 1988 as a United Nations body to “provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications, and potential future risks, and to put forward adaptation and mitigation options.” The first three sections of the sixth report were released in fall 2021. The reports are notorious for being inaccessible to the general public, so the focus of the course is on breaking through that inaccessibility via readings and discussions with experts and with students in other parts of the world.
Environmental Law for Policy
Environmental Studies 324
An introduction to 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, as well as the role of technology and science, tensions between private and public interests, and environmental justice considerations.
Leading Change in Institutions Practicum
Environmental Studies 327
DESIGNATED: OSUN COURSE
This is a collaborative, cross-institution course in leading change in organizations where student teams develop and advance proposals for organizational innovation within the university. Examples include carbon footprint analysis, expansion of local food offerings, improved daycare or transportation for students and workers, or improved recycling systems. Bard students work with classes from Palestine, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh, and Lithuania through a mixture of synchronous online learning and in-person labs. The course culminates in a “shark tank” for sustainability between teams from the different universities.
Kingston Housing Lab
Environmental Studies 339
CROSS-LISTED: ARCHITECTURE, HUMAN RIGHTS
DESIGNATED: ELAS COURSE
This practicum brings students into the ongoing work of the Kingston Housing Lab, a project that combines critical geography with the politics and philosophy of prison abolition, bringing both to bear upon the struggle for housing justice in Kingston, New York, and Ulster County. Students engage the latest academic literature on housing insecurity and evictions as an ongoing crisis in late capitalism, receive training in ArcGIS, and participate in efforts to repair relationships between tenants and landlords.
Statistics and Econometrics
Environmental Studies 340
A look at the quantitative tools used for analyzing data for policy analysis. Upon completion of the course, students are able to explain statistical concepts in plain English; develop an appreciation for connections among geometry, trigonometry, and statistics; and write code in a programming language such as STATA or R.
Introduction to Environmental Policy
Environmental Studies 405
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.
Climate Science to Justice
Environmental Studies 407
CROSS-LISTED: HUMAN RIGHTS
This senior seminar critically evaluates historic data on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by country and sector along with projected impacts of climate change on food, energy, and water resources to demonstrate the uneven and inequitable distribution of climate drivers, risks, and social costs. Students estimate the contributions of proposed and enacted climate policies at the state, regional, and national levels to GHG reductions and compare them to the magnitude of GHG reductions recommended in scientific consensus documents.
Sewage, Sanitation, and SDG6 (UN Sustainable Development Goal 6): Clean Water and Sanitation for All
Environmental Studies 413
CROSS-LISTED: AMERICAN AND INDIGENOUS STUDIES, BIOLOGY, HUMAN RIGHTS
According to the United Nations, more than 4.2 billion people do not have access to effective sanitation, including citizens of the richest countries in the world. For example, residents of Mt. Vernon, New York, located in one of the state’s richest counties, regularly must remove solid and liquid waste from overflowing toilets and basements as 100-year-old sewer pipes disintegrate. This seminar studies the science of wastewater treatment and tracks the direct interactions of policy, science, and the societal barriers of racism, sexism, and classism on achieving equal access to adequate sanitation.