Academic Catalog 2022-2023

Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Faculty

Jonathan M. Steinwand, co-director
Joseph C. Whittaker, co-director

J. Elijah Bender
Thelma S. Berquó
D. Bryan Bishop

Michael Bush
Gregory B. Carlson
Kenneth W. Foster
Matthew L. Lindholm
Jennifer L. Sweatman
C. Tess Varner
Meredith G. Wagner
Leila Zakhirova

Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program Mission Statement

The environmental and sustainability studies program equips students with an interdisciplinary framework for analyzing, assessing and responsibly engaging contemporary environmental issues and problems affecting earth systems and human societies across the world. Responding to the call to take care of creation, the program develops students who are ecologically literate citizens of the globe, able to understand and conduct science, to develop policy and to provide moral leadership based on an in-depth understanding of the complexity of contemporary environmental issues and concerns.

Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in environmental and sustainability studies pursue diverse programs of study depending on which concentration they choose and which particular courses they take as electives within their concentration. However, the program provides all students with learning experiences that prepare them to achieve a common set of goals and learning outcomes.

The environmental and sustainability studies program provides learning experiences that prepare students to achieve the following outcomes:

  1. Understand the ecological connectivity (interactions and relationships) of the living and nonliving systems on earth, from the organismal to the global scale;
  2. Understand how cultures shape human attitudes toward the natural environment;
  3. Understand the social, economic and political dimensions of environmental issues, both locally and globally;
  4. Synthesize the many perspectives needed to explore and articulate sustainable solutions to local and global environmental problems;
  5. Engage responsibly in providing greater environmental sustainability in the world beyond Concordia.

The program is administered by two co-directors who consult with a faculty steering committee. Each student seeking the major or minor should contact one of the program chairs for advisement in the environmental and sustainability studies program.

Programs Offered

Majors

The Contract Major provides students the option to shape a program for their particular interests and aspirations, while still meeting program learning objectives. Students might propose programs, for example, to emphasize Sustainability Leadership, Environmental Education, Sustainable Design, Sustainable Architecture, Sustainable Agriculture, Ecofeminism, Environmental Activism, Indigenous and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Climate Justice, Animal Studies, and more.

The Environmental Humanities Concentration is an interdisciplinary track in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program that attends to how human communities portray their relationship to nature and face ecological challenges throughout time. This concentration engages students in rigorous inquiry into and reflective practice of the cultural strategies, arts, theories, beliefs, and ideas that move people to connect or disconnect from the environment. The environmental humanities provide historical and cultural context for environmental concerns while insisting on how the environmental context grounds historical and cultural questions.

The Environmental Policy Concentration is an interdisciplinary track in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program that focuses on how public policy is negotiated. The concentration provides students the tools necessary to contribute to policy decision making and change. Some of the upper-level science options are listed as suitable substitutions for students who have the prerequisites because they are double majoring. 

The Natural Science Concentration provides a strong foundation in interdisciplinary environmental science with an emphasis on the natural and physical sciences. This concentration draws perspectives from environmental policy, humanities, and arts.

The Sustainability Studies Concentration is an interdisciplinary track in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program that examines the ecological, ethical, and economic forces of human–environment interactions and how organizations design their activities to mitigate human impacts with ecological sustainability in mind. The concentration provides students with the tools necessary to contribute to the development of resilient human-natural systems and organizations in a changing climate.

Minor

The interdisciplinary minor provides students with the opportunity to pursue a pathway through their core curricular and disciplinary coursework that emphasizes environmental and sustainability questions and concerns.

Courses

ENVR 103  -  Ecosystems and Human Influence,  4 credits.  

Consideration of basic ecological principles and human influences on ecosystems, emphasizing major environmental problems. This course can also count toward the global studies program.

Frequency: Every Semester  
Core designations: International-Global Prspct G, Natural Science N  
ENVR 107  -  Islands as Microcosms of Our World,  4 credits.  

This course will use island living and the theory of island biogeography to provide students with a foundation in ecological principles needed to understand global environmental problems and frame long-term solutions. Students will work as scientists, acquire a nuanced understanding of biodiversity and current environmental challenges, and consider how they can be responsibly engaged as travelers in the world. This course meets the Natural Science core requirement (N) for Santorini only.

Frequency: Not offered on a Regular Basis  
Core designations: International-Global Prspct G, Natural Science N  
ENVR 250  -  Pre-May Seminar,  2 credits.  
Frequency: Not offered on a Regular Basis  
ENVR 265 / ENG 265  -  Animal Stories,  4 credits.  

An exploration of literature written about animals and from animal points of view. Topics will include animal consciousness, animal rights, anthropomorphism, anthropocentrism, environmental history, and the human interaction with animals over time as companion species, totems, rivals, and food sources. The course includes excursions, visits, and research with community partners who work with animals.

Frequency: Every Year - First Semester  
Corequisites: PEAK 400  
This course is PEAK Required  
ENVR 300  -  May Seminar,  4 credits.  
Frequency: May Seminar  
ENVR 310 / HIST 310  -  Nature's Place in U.S. History,  4 credits.  

Nature's Place in U.S. History will investigate the relationship between human beings and the natural world and how this relationship has changed over time. The key premise is that nature is an active force shaping U.S. history. This course will integrate nature, place and environmental justice into the more familiar narratives of the American Past. This course can also count toward the environmental and sustainability studies program.

Frequency: Every Year - Second Semester  
Core designations: U.S. Cultural Diversity U, Humanities H  
ENVR 312 / BUSN 312 / SOC 312  -  Global Development Issues,  4 credits.  

Students are introduced to the social scientific approaches used to understand how demographic, institutional, cultural, economic and ecological factors influence, and are influenced by, societal development. Comparative case studies enable students to understand the structure and dynamics (e.g., population change) of human populations as they relate to socioeconomic development. This course can also count towards the Environmental Studies Program.

Frequency: Every Year - First Semester  
Core designations: International-Global Prspct G, Social Science S  
ENVR 327 / BIOL 327  -  Conservation Biology,  4 credits.  

Students will develop their understanding of biodiversity, the skills needed to participate in the science and management of Earth's biological systems, and individual perspectives on responsible engagement in the world as scientists and as citizens. Three hours of lab per week or, in alternate years, a ten-day field trip to Florida during Spring Break (an additional fee will be required for the Florida years).

Frequency: Every Year - Second Semester  
Prerequisites: BIOL 221 and CHEM 127  
ENVR 335 / PSC 335  -  Climate Change and Conflict,  4 credits.  

This course will challenge our traditional understanding of what causes armed conflict. We will investigate the possible linkages between climate change and violent conflict. As the 21st century climate deteriorates, will conflict propensity increase around the world? If so, where and why? Special attention will be devoted to the rise of water wars.

Frequency: Alternate Years - 1st Semester  
Core designations: Social Science S  
ENVR 339 / PHIL 339  -  Environmental Ethics,  4 credits.  

This course draws on the world's philosophical traditions, both Eastern and Western, to understand our place within and responsibility for the natural world. The course will consider major theories of ethics (consequentialism, deontologism, virtue ethics) as well as major approaches to environmental philosophy (Social Ecology, Ecofeminism, Deep Ecology). In addition to broad theoretical approaches to the environment, students will use philosophical resources and methods to examine specific environmental issues and controversies.

Frequency: Every Year - First Semester  
Core designations: Humanities H  
ENVR 350 / PSC 350  -  Environmental Policy- Politics,  4 credits.  

One of the greatest challenges of our time is determining how to generate global prosperity while ensuring that the ecological environment in which we live remains healthy enough to continue to support thriving human populations. This course focuses on environmental politics and policy at the national and sub-national levels, examining how various perspectives and interests intersect in the struggle to develop the policies that govern the interaction between humans and the natural environment. It is for all students who wish to prepare themselves to engage with the environmental challenges that will increasingly dominate public life in the coming decades. This course can also count toward the global studies program and the environmental studies program.

Frequency: Every Year - First Semester  
Corequisites: PEAK 400  
This course is PEAK Required  
ENVR 355 / PSC 355  -  Petroleum Politics & Planet,  4 credits.  

This course explores the links between energy, politics, and the environment through several critical topics of global importance associated with our expanding use of energy and its impact on our environment. Alternatives to fossil fuels, such as renewable and efficient energy, will be examined as solutions to our current fossil fuel-based economy, which is unsustainable.

Frequency: Every Year - Second Semester  
ENVR 360 / BIOL 360  -  Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS),  4 credits.  

Students will develop a basic understanding of a GIS and how it is used to make geospatial decisions using the software ArcGIS. Students will learn the use of spatial analytical tools to answer questions and solve problems concerning spatial data, and present their results in professional quality maps. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Three lectures and four hours of laboratory per week. This course can also count toward the global studies program and the environmental and sustainability studies program.

Frequency: Every Year - Second Semester  
ENVR 363 / GER 363  -  Sustainability in Germany,  4 credits.  

This English-language course will focus on sustainability in public discourse in Germany, past and present. Historical overview of the exploitation of natural resources in Germany, followed by examination of contemporary environmental issues. Counts toward German or environmental and sustainability studies majors. Readings in German required only for German credit.

Frequency: Not offered on a Regular Basis  
Core designations: Humanities H  
ENVR 365 / PSC 365  -  Global Sustainability Issues,  4 credits.  

This course examines two general categories of global issues - sustainable development and ecological sustainability - and the various interpretive perspectives that offer understandings of each. Integrating the contributions of several disciplines, we examine the historical origins and future trends of these problems, their causes and consequences, and their potential solutions. In addition, students will learn a variety of transferable skills, including the ability to construct policies and negotiate differences among competing interests.

Frequency: Every Year - First Semester  
Core designations: International-Global Prspct G  
ENVR 380  -  Special Topics,  0-4 credits.  

Courses covering various topics of interest in this particular discipline are offered regularly. Contact department or program chair for more information.

Frequency: Not offered on a Regular Basis  
Repeatable: Yes  
ENVR 390  -  Cooperative Education,  1-8 credits.  
Frequency: Not offered on a Regular Basis  
Repeatable: Yes  
ENVR 475  -  Interdisciplinary Research,  4 credits.  

This course examines and applies principles of interdisciplinary research on currently relevant environmental topics of interest to the class. This class is a seminar and is intended to serve as a capstone course for the program.

Frequency: Every Year - Second Semester  
Corequisites: PEAK 400  
This course is PEAK Required  
ENVR 480  -  Independent Study,  1-4 credits.  

This course provides an opportunity for individual students to conduct in-depth study of a particular topic under the supervision of a faculty member. Contact the department or program chair for more information.

Frequency: Not offered on a Regular Basis  
Repeatable: Yes  
ENVR 483 / HIST 483  -  Sustainable Communities,  4 credits.  

This course explores the ways human communities are responding to a changing climate. It examines the historical contexts of the problem and emphasizes the strategies communities are adopting to meet the challenge. This course includes vibrant experiential learning opportunities that allow students numerous opportunities to BREW. Open to any major. This course can also count toward the environmental and sustainability studies program.

Frequency: Every Year - First Semester  
ENVR 487  -  Directed Research,  1-4 credits.  

This course provides an opportunity for individual students to conduct research in a specific area of study, completed under the direction of a faculty mentor. Specific expectations of the research experience to be determined by the faculty. Repeatable for credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

Frequency: Not offered on a Regular Basis  
Repeatable: Yes