The ES Major or Concentration begins with an introduction to environmental studies, a class focusing on global environmental problems viewed from a natural and physical science perspective but treated within the larger context of political, economic and ethical concerns. Students then select additional courses from the three tracks. These track course choices provide a significant focus on discipline-centered studies of the environment, and include areas such as environmental history and ethics, conservation biology, earth system science, environmental chemistry, literature of the environment, and environmental policy. Choices for the remainder of the requirements include a number of off-campus studies as well as courses from allied departments. Examples of the former include winter ecology, desert ecology, and tropical ecology, or participation in programs in Costa Rica, south India, or Australia. The capstone seminar, required of ES majors, is also an option as one of the elective choices for the Concentration.
ES 123: Geophysics/Introduction to Earth Science
ES 137: Introduction to Environmental Studies
ES 202: The Culture of Nature
ESPS 201: Global Environmental Politics
BIES 226: Conservation Biology
BIES 228: Environmental Health
ES 232: Environmental Policy and Regulation
ES 245: Global Climate Change
ES 255: Remote Sensing & Geographic Info. Systems
ES 270: Nature and the American Landscape
ESPS 276: Environmental Politics
ES 281 A&B: Sustainable Development (Binder)
ES 281 C: Agroecology (Shea)
ES 281 D: Varieties of Ecological Experience (Brown)
ES 381: Adv. Topic: Green Building/Remodeling (Jackson)
ES 381 A: Ecocriticism and American Nature Poetry (Allister)
ES 381B: Environmental Modeling (Whittinghill)
ES 399: Senior Seminar In Environmental Studies
Note: Art 370 Issues Art Criticism: environmental art. This course will count toward the arts/humanities area of environmental study.
BIO 391 Ecosystem Ecology will count toward the natural science area of environmental study
EnvSt 381A Nature Poetry & Ecocriticism
(ARTS/HUMANITIES)- Mark Allister
In this interdisciplinary seminar we’ll consider the relations among art, ecological understanding, emotion, and interpretation. Reading poems and eco-critical theory, we’ll begin by reflecting on how literature about the non-human world works in a reader and in the world. Camilo Gomides suggests that eco-criticism “analyzes and promotes works of art which raise moral questions about human interactions with nature,” and we’ll consider why such a practice might be good or useful or neither. Using American poets such as Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, Oliver, Berry, and Hirschfield, we’ll ask ourselves questions such as the following: should ethical considerations be a part of literary interpretation? Can reading poems help teach us about environmental matters? Can poems address the intellect and the emotions, and how do we as individual readers want this to happen? In relation to such questions, we’ll consider such subjects as environmental justice, eco-thinking, and the act of interpretation. In the last part of the course, students will embark on their own self-defined projects, using the material from the course to address an issue from any artistic genre that they’d like — literature, music, film, photography, and so forth. This course is suitable for advanced majors in Environmental Studies or English who wish to work in an interdisciplinary way.
EnvSt 381B Environmental Modeling
(NATSCI – Kyle Whittinghill)
Models allow scientists and others to represent features and behaviors of environmental systems in order to promote inquiry, develop insights, test hypotheses, and consider solutions to problems. The class will use the primary literature and hands on experiences with computer models to produce environmentally relevant applications. Topics covered will include process based models of disease, climate, ecosystems, ecosystem services, hydrology, predator-prey systems, and competition among species for resources. Students will have the opportunity to conduct original research with existing models or develop their own environmental model. No programming experience is required. Students should have a background in environmental studies, biology, physics, or chemistry and be comfortable thinking quantitatively.
BIES 286 Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica and Sustainable Land Use (off-campus) - Kathy Shea
EnvSt 281 A&B Sustainable Development
(SOC SCI) – Seth Binder
The past 200 years have seen unprecedented, exponential improvements in the health and material well-being of humankind. Yet, a substantial portion of the world’s 7 billion people is largely excluded from this progress. Many of the same forces that have created this extraordinary material growth and concomitant inequality have also contributed to the vast and rapid alteration our natural environment. The unintended negative consequences of environmental change threaten to rob current and future populations of the benefits of continued economic development. This has led to a call for “sustainable development”. In this course, we will discuss the ethical and historical underpinnings of the sustainable development concept; explore what exactly is required for development to be sustainable (especially with respect to the environment); investigate the factors that have led development to be particularly unsustainable; and evaluate a variety of steps–both incremental and radical–that can put us on a path to more sustainable development.
EnvSt 281 C Agroecology & STOGROW
(NAT SCI) – Kathy Shea
This course examines how ecological knowledge contributes to the development and implementation of sustainable agriculture. Over half the earth’s land surface has been altered by human activities and agriculture comprises the greatest single land use. Increased food production is a priority as the human population continues to increase. Through readings, discussions, field trips and projects students will study which agricultural methods and practices are more sustainable. Student projects will focus on local agricultural practices at St. Olaf and other nearby farms. By studying the relationship between agrocosystem structure and function students will consider pros and cons of various management systems such as organic agriculture, GMO’s, precision agriculture, and whether or not biodiversity can be managed to benefit food production. Students will also consider different approaches to assessment of agricultural sustainability and compare practices in divergent agroecosystems.
EnvSt 281 D Varieties of Ecological Experience
(ARTS/HUM) – James Brown
From its origins, ecological writing in the United States has engaged the spiritual, moral and ethical dimensions of being a person in the natural world. Drawing on Enlightenment traditions of humanist and Christian ethics, ever-emergent scientific understandings, and the spiritual technologies of world religions, each of the writers we explore this semester makes a connection between environmental degradation and the disintegration of individual and social wholeness. Linking Earth, society, and individual commitment, each in turn offers a unique “ecology of faith” as a solution—that is, a personal, redemptive spiritual practice (or “technology of the self”) based in an ecological awareness. As we read these authors, we will explore the important role that individual, spiritual transformation has played in environmental thought to the present, evaluate the effectiveness of personal practices for ecological renewal, and propose solutions to the problematic, interdependent relationship between the individual (local) and the environment (global). NOTE: WRI is pending for this course. Instructor plans to submit for permission to add this component to the course.
Courses from prior years:
ES 381 Green Building/Green Remodeling NATSCI
ES 381 A Nature Poetry/Eco-criticism ARTS/HUM
ES 381 B Environmental Modeling NATSCI
ES 281 A&B Sustainable Development SOCSCI
ES 281 C Agroecology NATSCI
ES 281 D To Be Determined ARTS/HUM
ES 381 Gardens’ Healing Powers: ARTS/HUM
ES 281A What is Nature Worth? Economic and ethical perspectives…SOC SCI
ES 281 Env Justice, Food & Climate: SOC SCI
ES 381A Imagining Environment: ARTS/HUM
ES 381B Landscape and Regional Change in the Arctic: NAT SCI
ES 281A Cultural Ecology – A look at 1st Nations’… SOC SCI or ARTS/HUM
ES 281B Issues of Food and Community Agriculture: SOC SCI
ES 381 Topics in Ecosystem Research: NAT SCI
ES 381 Eco-criticism and American Nature Poetry: ARTS/HUM
ES 281 Life Cycle Analysis – Food & Ag: SOC SCI
ES 281 Water – Global Crisis: NAT SCI