Environmental Social Sciences
Environmental Social Sciences
Aaron Bobrow-Strain, Politics (on Sabbatical, Spring 2014)
Philip D. Brick, Politics
Alissa Cordner, Sociology
Jan P. Crouter, Economics
Human activities are at the root of most aspects of environmental degradation from global climate change to toxic waste to habitat loss. Applying social science theories and methods, environmental social science majors explore how human systems affect the natural environment, how decisions to utilize natural resources are made, and how various political strategies might address environmental concerns. Available majors and required courses appear below.
These requirements are in addition to courses required of all environmental studies majors.
Economics 177 Principles of Microeconomics and the Environment or Economics 101 Principles of Microeconomics; Economics 102 Principles of Macroeconomics; Economics 227 Statistics for Economics (Mathematics 128 Elementary Statistics or Mathematics 247 Statistics with Applications, while not ideal, would be acceptable substitutes); Economics 307 Intermediate Microeconomics; Economics 308 Intermediate Macroeconomics (Note: Mathematics 125 Calculus I is a prerequisite for Economics 307 and Economics 308); Economics 477 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; and one additional course in economics. Additional relevant coursework in other social sciences is strongly recommended (see social science area of the environmental studies major requirements). A minimum requirement of C (2.0) is required in Economics 307 and 308. Economics 493, 494 Directed Reading and other economics courses taken P-D-F may not be used to meet the 27-credit requirement. The senior assessment consists of the Major Field Test (MFT) and an oral exam in economics and (for those not writing a suitably interdisciplinary honors thesis) an oral exam in environmental studies.
Introductory courses: Take at least one of the following: Politics 119 Whitman in the Global Food System; Politics 124 Introduction to Politics and the Environment; Politics 228 Political Ecology; Politics 287 Natural Resource Policy and Management.
Political economy: Take at least one of the following: Economics 177 Principles of Microeconomics and the Environment; Politics 363 Genealogies of Political Economy.
Global politics: Take at least one of the following: Politics 147 International Politics; Politics 232 The Politics of Globalization; Politics 331 Politics of International Hierarchy; Politics 338 North-South Relations; Politics 378 Transnationalism.
Electives: Take 12 additional credits in politics. At least eight of these must be 300- and 400-level courses.
Senior year requirements: Take the following: Politics 490 Senior Seminar; Politics 497 Senior Thesis or Politics 498 Honors Thesis; Environmental Studies 488 Senior Project or 498 Honors Project.
No more than eight credits earned in off-campus programs, transfer credits, and/or credits from cross-listed courses may be used to satisfy major requirements. Of these eight credits, no more than four may count toward 300- and 400-level courses. Courses taken P-D-F may not be used to satisfy the course and credit requirements for the major.
Sociology 117 Principles of Sociology; Sociology 207 Social Research Methods; Sociology 229 Environmental Sociology; Sociology 367 History of Sociological Theory; one course chosen from either Sociology 348 Technology and Society, or Sociology 349 Environmental Social Movements, or Sociology 353 Environmental Justice; one course chosen from Economics 177 Principles of Microeconomics and the Environment; or Politics 119 Whitman in the Global Food System, or Politics 124 Introduction to Politics and the Environment, or Politics 228 Political Ecology, or Politics 309 Environment and Politics in the American West*; one additional four-credit course in sociology; Sociology 490 Current Issues in Sociology; and Sociology 492 Thesis or Sociology 498 Honors Thesis; Environmental Studies 488 Senior Project or 498 Honors Project.
* Offered only to students admitted to Semester in the West
Environmental studies majors are encouraged to study for a semester or a year in a program with strong environmental relevance. Particularly appropriate are Whitman College’s field program in environmental studies, Semester in the West; and the School for Field Studies. See the Special Programs section in this catalog. Also, consider the University of Montana’s Northwest Connections Field Semester.
120 Introduction to Environmental Studies
4, 4 Fall: Bishop, Carson; Spring: Bishop, Parker
An introduction to interdisciplinary themes in environmental studies, including perspectives from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Emphasis is placed on understanding local and regional environmental problems as well as issues of global environmental concern. Students enrolling in this course also will be required to enroll in Environmental Studies 120L Environmental StudiesExcursions. The weekly afternoon excursions cover the length of the Walla Walla drainage basin, from the Umatilla National Forest to the Columbia River. Excursions may include the watershed, the water and wastewater treatment plants, energy producing facilities, a farm, a paper mill, different ecosystems, and the Johnston Wilderness Campus. This course is required of all environmental studies majors. All environmental studies majors must pass this course with a minimum grade of C (2.0). First-year students and sophomores only or consent of instructor.
207 Methods of Environmental Analysis
3, 3 A. Molitor
An introduction to analytic methods and tools utilized to address environmental issues and problems. Building on a basic understanding of elementary concepts in statistics (variables, descriptive and inferential statistics, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, effect sizes, etc.), students will learn to read, interpret, and critically evaluate environmental data and literature. Additionally, students will become familiar with environmental analysis procedures and surveys such as environmental assessment (Environmental Impact Statements); environmental risk assessment; land, soil, water, wildlife, agricultural, and mineral surveys. Lastly, given the inherent spatial nature of environmental data, students will utilize Geographic Information Systems software to assess spatial relationships between variables. Two hours of lecture per week plus one three-hour laboratory. Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 120; declared environmental studies major, or consent of instructor.
217 Classical Foundations of the Nature Writing Tradition
x, 4 Shea
The Western nature writing tradition is deeply rooted in models from classical antiquity. In order to appreciate more fully the tradition we will explore the relationship between ancient literature and the natural environment. In our literary analysis of ancient works, we will examine approaches to natural description in several literary genres, which may include the poetic genres of epic, lyric, pastoral, and elegiac, as well as the prose genres of ethnographic history, natural history, and travel-writing. Authors may include Homer, Herodotus, Theocritus, Vergil, Ovid, and Pliny. We will consider how these ancient approaches influenced the development of natural description in the modern period and may read works by later authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Thoreau. May be elected as Classics 217.
220 Internship Project
1-2, 1-2 A. Molitor
Engage in an internship with a college, local, regional, national, or international environmental organization. Prior to the beginning of the semester, students must present an internship proposal outlining specific goals, responsibilities, and time commitment. From this proposal, the internship coordinator, along with input from the student’s internship supervisor, will determine the appropriate number of credit hours. In addition to the internship proposal, students are required to maintain an internship journal, submit a midterm and final internship report, and present their intern experience in a poster or oral presentation. May be repeated for a maximum of four credits. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
226 Concepts of Nature in Greek and Roman Thought
4, x Burgess
The Greek term “physis” and the Latin word “natura” refer to what has come to be, as well as to the process of coming into being. This course will consider a broad range of texts which develop important concepts of Nature. Philosophic texts may include the pre-Socratics, Aristotle, the Stoics, and Lucretius. Literary texts may include Theocritus, Virgil, and the early-modern European pastoral tradition. In addition, we will encounter other texts in various genres that contribute some of the ideas which inform the complex and changing concepts of Nature. This course may be used by environmental studies-humanities students toward their critical thinking requirements in the major. All other environmental studies students may use this course to fulfill humanities requirements for their combined majors. May be elected as Classics 226.
247 The Literature of Nature
4, x Snow
Students will examine the tradition of nature-writing and literary natural history. Readings will be drawn from classics in the field (Gilbert White, Darwin, Emerson and Thoreau, Burroughs and Muir, Leopold, Rachel Carson, Loren Eiseley, Mary Hunter Austin), and from the best contemporary nature-writers (Terry Tempest Williams, Ed Abbey, Annie Dillard, Ellen Meloy, Wendell Berry, David Quammen). Lectures and discussions will trace how nature-writing has mirrored the evolution of social, cultural, political, and scientific perspectives on nature.
260 Regional Studies
A study of a specific geographical region using a multidisciplinary approach. Regions covered may include Alaska, western Canada, the northwest or southwest U.S., Hawaii, or Latin America. Lectures, readings, and discussions in various disciplines, concentrating mainly in the natural and social sciences, will precede a one- to three-week field trip. One or more examinations or papers will be required. May be repeated for credit with focus on a different region. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Any current offering follows.
260W Regional Studies: Northwestern Wyoming
x, 1 Carson
A seminar on and field trip to the greater Yellowstone ecosystem in northwestern Wyoming and adjacent Montana. Focus on forests, wildlife, and the geologic record from Precambrian through the Cenozoic, including glaciation and volcanism. Field trip in late May/early June. Corequisite: Geology 158W. Fee:$775, possible scholarships available.
319 Landscape and Cityscape in Ancient Rome
x, 4 Shea
Despite Rome being one of the greatest cities in the ancient world, its identity was fundamentally rooted in its natural landscape. In this course we will explore how the realms of urban, rural, and wild were articulated in Roman culture, conceptually and materially. We will investigate both how the Romans conceived of the relationship between the built environment of urban space and the natural environment that supported and surrounded it and how they dealt with the real ecological problems of urban life. Central to our study will be an examination of the ways in which the rural and the wild were simultaneously the “other” and a fundamental aspect of Roman self-identity and memory. Ancient authors that we will read in this course may include Cicero, Vergil, Livy, Horace, Ovid, and Vitruvius. May be elected as Classics 319.
x, 4 Parker
This class will place the concept of biodiversity in historical, ethical, biological, and social context. Students will trace the history of the concept of biodiversity from before the coinage of the term through today. They will learn about different biological definitions of diversity, and the ecological and evolutionary factors responsible for controlling diversity. Students will then consider the scientific evidence for an anthropogenic biodiversity decline, and they will identify components of biodiversity most at risk. The class will evaluate, from ethical, social, and scientific perspectives, various arguments that have been advanced to justify the conservation of biodiversity. We will assess government and nongovernmental actions that serve or strive to protect biodiversity. Students also will come to understand social implications of biodiversity conservation, including both convergence and divergence between the perspectives of local people and those of conservationists and managers. Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 120 and 207.
329 Environmental Health
x, 4 Cordner
Environmental health issues are inherently interdisciplinary. This seminar-style course will examine how the natural, built, and social environments impact human and environmental health outcomes. The course will draw on research articles, theoretical discussions, and empirical examples from fields including toxicology, exposure science, environmental chemistry, epidemiology, sociology, history, policy studies, and fiction. Particular attention will be paid to the use of science to develop regulation, the role of social movements in identifying environmental health problems, and inequalities associated with environmental exposures. This course will be reading, discussion, and writing intensive. May be elected as Sociology 329, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 329 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies. Prerequisites: Environmental Studies 120 and 207.
340 Environmental Radicals in Literature
4; not offered 2013-14
Much contemporary environmental thought provides a radical critique of industrial and postindustrial society, but in earlier times the first true environmental thinkers challenged systems of agriculture, market economics, land ownership, and urbanism. What was once radical moved toward the center. In this course, students will examine the radical tradition of environmental thought as it has been expressed in literary and other texts. Bioregionalism, ecofeminism, agrarian communalism, Luddism, Deep Ecology, eco-centrism, and other radical environmental expressions will be examined critically. Works by Hawthorne, Thoreau, Ed Abbey, Kirk Sale, Gary Snyder, Susan Griffin, Paul Shepard, David Abram, and others may be included. Offered in alternate years.
347 The Nature Essay
x, 4 Snow
The class will be conducted as a nonfiction prose writing workshop in which students read and comment on each other’s writing. After examining published works chosen as models, students will write essays in the nature-writing tradition, selecting approaches from a broad menu. Nature-writing includes literary natural history; “science translation writing”; essays on current environmental issues; personal essays based on engagement with land, water, wildlife, wilderness; travel or excursion writing with a focus on nature; “the ramble”; and other approaches. Students will learn how contemporary nature-writers combine elements of fiction, scientific descriptions, personal experience, reporting, and exposition into satisfying compositions. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
349 Regional Literatures of Place: The West and the South
4; not offered 2013-14
The literatures of both the American West and the American South often reflect political struggles. Issues of federalism and states’ rights, economic dependency on the land, the rapid and radical transformation of an indigenous economy and ecology, and the stain of history stand in the foreground. This seminar will examine literary regionalism by focusing on southern and western writers whose works emanate from and reinforce the ethic and spirit of place. Several of the “Southern Agrarians” may be included along with William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor. Western writers may include Bernard DeVoto, Wallace Stegner, Mary Clearman Blew, John Nichols, Larry Watson and William Kittredge. In addition, films may be used to illustrate the peculiar burden of the contemporary western writer. Offered in alternate years.
353 Environmental Justice
4; not offered 2013-14
How are environmental problems experienced differently according to race, gender, class and nationality? What do we learn about the meaning of gender, race, class, and nationality by studying the patterns of environmental exposure of different groups? Environmental justice is one of the most important and active sites of environmental scholarship and activism in our country today. This course integrates perspectives and questions from sciences, humanities, and social sciences through the examination of a series of case studies of environmental injustice in the United States and worldwide. Biology and chemistry figure centrally in links between environmental contaminants and human health. Systematic inequalities in exposure and access to resources and decision making raise moral and ethical questions. Legal and policy lessons emerge as we examine the mechanisms social actors employ in contesting their circumstances. This course will be reading, discussion, and research intensive. May be elected as Sociology 353, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 353 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
4; not offered 2013-14
This course explores the emergence of ecocriticism in the 1990s and its subsequent evolution as a recognizable school of literary and social criticism. Students will analyze foundational texts underpinning ecocritical theory, beginning with Joseph Meeker’s The Comedy of Survival, then move on to more recent texts that seek to expand ecocriticism beyond the boundaries of nature-writing. Students will discuss, present, and write ecocritical analyses of various literary works. Offered in alternate years.
360 Environmental Writing and the American West
4; not offered 2013-14
This course explores how writers and others conceptualize and portray various aspects of the American West. Emphasis is placed on the analysis of a variety of genres, including nature writing, political journalism, creative writing, poetry, and writing for interdisciplinary journals in environmental studies. We will write daily, and we will often read aloud to one another from our work. Goals include developing a voice adaptable to multiple audiences and objectives, understanding modes of argument and effectiveness of style, learning to meet deadlines, sending dispatches, reading aloud, and moving writing from the classroom to public venues. The course will be sequentially team-taught in the eastern Sierra Nevada region of California and southeastern Utah. Required of, and open only to, students accepted to Semester in the West. This course can be used by environmental studies majors to satisfy environmental studies-humanities credits within the major. Prerequisite: acceptance into the Semester in the West Program.
367, 368 Special Topics
An investigation of environmentally significant issues centered on a common theme. The course may include lectures by off-campus professionals, discussions, student presentations, and field trips. Any current offerings follow.
369 Food, Agriculture, and Society
4; not offered 2013-14
Why does the food system work the way it does, and how can it be changed? This advanced reading seminar draws together classic texts from political theory, geography, literature, sociology, anthropology, history, political economy, and agroecology to explore the workings of the global food system. It builds on Politics 119, but previous completion of this course is not required. May be elected as Politics 369, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 369 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 207.
4; not offered 2013-14
In this discussion and research seminar we will explore both critical and practical approaches to the concept of sustainability. What is being sustained, why, and for whom? Students will engage in individual and collaborative research on topics associated with sustainability, including energy, climate, development, water, design, agriculture, and natural resources. Our objective will be to link our critical discussions with our empirical research, resulting in a more nuanced understanding of sustainability and the wide range of environmental claims made in its name. May be elected as Politics 387, but must be elected as Environmental Studies 387 to satisfy the interdisciplinary course requirement in environmental studies. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 207.
390 Independent Study
1-4, 1-4 Staff
A series of readings or a program of individual research of approved environmental topics. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
408 SW Western Epiphanies: Integrated Project
4; not offered 2013-14
In this course students will be responsible for developing a final project based on Semester in the West experiences with the objective of integrating knowledge from courses in politics, ecology, and writing. Each student will produce a final project that sheds light on a substantive issue addressed on Semester in the West. Students must also present their project in a public forum and publish it as an audiovisual podcast on the Semester in the West website. Required of, and open only to students accepted to Semester in the West. Prerequisite: acceptance into the Semester in the West Program.
459 Interdisciplinary Fieldwork
Students may earn credit for interdisciplinary fieldwork conducted on programs approved by the Environmental Studies Committee. Fieldwork must integrate knowledge from at least two areas of liberal learning, including the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. This course may be used to satisfy the interdisciplinary coursework requirement for environmental studies majors. The current offerings follow. Prerequisite: admission to field program approved by the Environmental Studies Committee for interdisciplinary credit. Any current offerings follow.
479 Environmental Citizenship and Leadership
2, 2 Brick
An intensive course in environmental problem-solving, with an emphasis on developing skills necessary for effective environmental citizenship and leadership. Students will first engage in readings and discussions to enhance their understanding of environmental decision-making processes and institutions. Then they will work individually and in teams to study active environmental disputes, with the ultimate aim of recommending formal solutions. This course is required of, and open only to, environmental studies majors in their senior year. Field trips and guest presentations may be included.
488 Senior Project
1-3, 1-3 Staff
The student will investigate an environmental issue of his or her own choice and prepare a major paper. The topic shall be related to the student’s major field of study and must be approved by both major advisers.
498 Honors Project
1-3, 1-3 Staff
An opportunity for qualified environmental studies senior majors to complete a senior project of honors quality. Requires the student to adhere to application procedures following the guidelines for honors in major study. Students enrolled in this course must also participate in and meet all requirements of the Environmental Studies 488 course.
The following are course titles of required and/or recommended environmental studies courses. See detailed descriptions under the relevant departmental heading in this catalog.
Biology 122 Plant Biology
Biology 125 Genes and Genetic Engineering
Biology 127 Nutrition
Biology 130 Conservation Biology
Biology 215 Plant Ecology
Biology 277 Ecology
Biology 327 Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles
Biology 350 Evolutionary Biology
Chemistry 100 Introduction to Environmental Chemistry and Science
Chemistry 388 Environmental Chemistry and Engineering
Economics 177 Principles of Microeconomics and the Environment
Economics 277 Global Environmental and Resource Issues
Economics 347 Transportation and the Environment
Economics 477 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Geology 130 Weather and Climate
Geology 210 Environmental Geology
Geology 250 Late Cenozoic Geology and Climate Change
Geology 301 Hydrology
History 262 People, Nature, Technology: Built and Natural Environments in U.S. History
Philosophy 120 Environmental Ethics
Philosophy 127 Ethics
Philosophy 241 Environmental Aesthetics
Philosophy 345 Animals and Philosophy
Physics 105 Energy and the Environment
Politics 119 Whitman in the Global Food System
Politics 124 Introduction to Politics and the Environment
Politics 147 International Politics
Politics 287 Natural Resource Policy and Management
Politics 309 Environment and Politics in the American West
Politics 339 Nature, Culture, Politics
Religion 227 Christian Ethics
Sociology 229 Environmental Sociology
Sociology 348 Technology and Society
Sociology 349 Environmental Social Movements
Sociology 353 Environmental Justice