Courses

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

SENV 3120 - Intro Environmental Analysis      

Introduction to Environmental Analysis

Using a case study method, students in this course will explore deeply a number of key environmental issues through science, policy, and the humanities with the goal of learning how our understanding of the roots, consequences, and solutions to environmental problems require integration of multiple perspectives. Cases will include those related to agriculture and food systems; energy and climate change; conservation of endangered species; and water pollution. Students will come away from this course with a solid background in both how to approach a holistic understanding of environmental issues and the importance of interdisciplinary thinking in shaping environmental solutions. Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3210 - Systems Thinking Practicum      

The world can be thought of as a set of inter-related systems, or collections of parts that interact with one another to create a larger pattern of behavior. A farm is a system, as are the cars in a parking lot, a nation's energy grid, or the factors that influence global climate. Being able to describe how systems work is the first step to identifying how to influence their behavior, either to improve their performance (such as increase food production) or minimize their failures (such as decrease water pollution). In this practicum, students will learn the fundamentals of systems thinking and apply their skills in analyzing specific problems, and both proposing and promoting solutions. Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3301 - Wicked Environment Problems      

Wicked problems are those that have no clear “right” or “wrong” solutions, or technical fixes. Rather, finding the single best solution to these dilemmas is a matter of perspective and the interconnectedness among scientific and social elements means that any resolution carries advantages and disadvantages for stakeholders. As a consequence, wicked problems often include intractable forces that make “solving” these problems all but impossible. Therefore, “management” becomes the default objective for stakeholders involved in environmental governance of wicked problems. This course explores the environmental governance of wicked problems in environmental policy and politics. We will use the lenses of systems theory, policy networks, and adaptive governance and management among others to explore the emergence of wicked problems as well as the current management approaches used by governance institutions to cope with these challenges. Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3302 - Religion, Nature, and Justice      

Religions have often been understood by academics as belief systems about the sacred or communities and institutions oriented around sacred things. More recently, scholars have turned to examine how religions are “lived,” engaged and embodied in the world and interacting with other social, cultural, political, and environmental factors. Looking broadly, it becomes evident that religious values and practices have greatly influenced diverse conceptions of nature (what constitutes the “natural” and what obligations, if any, do humans have toward it?) and justice (what defines a just society and what laws, rules, behaviors or beliefs are needed to bring it about?). This course examines how distinct religious communities as well as more diffuse religious values and worldviews have influenced perceptions of and behavior toward the natural world and visions of and work toward just societies. Along with engaging interdisciplinary theories related to religions, nature, and justice, we will explore several case studies of specific religious communities encountering environmental problems and struggles for justice (recognizing, of course, that these regional examples are inevitably tied to global factors), including Hindu and Buddhist responses to pollution and deforestation in South and Southeast Asia; the struggles of American Indian and other indigenous communities for sacred land rights; Muslim, Christian, and traditional religious responses to development and international conservation efforts in Africa; and finally, religion in North American visions of issues such as climate change and environmental policy, including evangelical debates on environmentalism. We will also evaluate the debate on the “greening of religion.” Will religions really be needed to remediate and bring just solutions to ecological crises, and if so, what would such work look like in an increasingly globalized and pluralistic world? Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3303 - Environmental Pollution      

An unfortunate reality of our time is that society has been unable to fully mitigate or understand the consequences of pollution in our air, soil, water, ecosystems, and bodies. We have made significant progress in reducing certain pollutants, but nevertheless the types, complexities, and quantities of pollutants released to the environment continue to expand. This field- and lab-based course explores the sources, transport, fate, and remediation of specific environmental pollutants. The course will focus on air, soil, and water pollution in the field and lab in addition to classroom discussions and computer simulations. We will use Middlebury's research-grade instruments and boat facilities to conduct a water quality analysis of Lake Champlain, and study stream water quality by comparing chemical water analyses to macroinvertibrate populations. Air quality will be evaluated in light of historical and current practices in motor vehicle fuel combustion, industrial manufacturing, and energy production. And computer simulations will help predict and visualize the fate and transport of pesticides under various meteorological conditions. Although this is primarily a science course, the study of pollution is inherently interdisciplinary. Thus, global and local environmental justice, economic, and political issues will also be explored. Specifically, we will discuss the broad, interconnected factors that have led to the current pollution conditions we face, including climate change and major oceanic issues. We will also discuss specific local issues, such as Vermont's 2012 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. Most importantly, we will develop interdisciplinary solutions for the prevention of future pollution by analyzing past social movements and political regulations related to pollution prevention. These solutions, in conjunction with the leadership skills developed in Middlebury’s School of the Environment, will allow students to make a shift from talking about pollution to making beneficial changes across multiple societal levels. Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Required Text:
Vigil, Kenneth M. Clean Water: an introduction to water quality and water pollution (2nd edition). Oregon State University Press (2003)

Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3304 - Environmental Video Production      

In this course students will gain hands-on experience in video production and create short video works that draw on other aspects of the environmental studies curriculum. Video can be a powerful tool for research and creative expression, and has the potential to deeply enhance how we perceive and understand the environment. The course will explore aesthetic and philosophical approaches to video production, and creative techniques for communicating information and producing artistic works. The aim of this course is to develop skills and perspectives that demonstrate how video can provoke profound discourses on issues and ideas. Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3410 - Sustainability Practicum      

This course will explore, through reading, discussion, and direct engagement, an issue associated with sustainability, such as energy, food production, land management, and environmental justice. Using a case study approach to analyzing sustainability initiatives in the local area, students will explore—and eventually practice—the process of advancing a project from inception to launch. This class will involve team-based research projects focused on identifying and analyzing solutions to real sustainability challenges confronted by government, business, or individuals. The course will emphasize training in critical leadership skills, including project management, team building and team leading, persuasive communication, networking, fundraising, conflict resolution, understanding diverse communication styles, human-centered design, and emotional intelligence. Much of your work in this course will take place within small (3-5 students) research teams. 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Required Text: Ehrenfeld, John and Hoffman, Andrew. Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability, Stanford Business Books, 2013.

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment, Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3420 - Understanding Place      

Manifesting solutions to environmental challenges requires a deep understanding of "place," by which we mean a sense of the history, culture, economy, and ecology of a location. Facing environmental challenges cannot be divorced from understanding either the people or the ecological realities of the location where the challenge is situated or from where the solution is to emerge. This is true everywhere, but it is best understood by focusing on a single place. This course will explore a specific place through both ecological and cultural narratives (in other words, through history, biology, literature, geology, and political science) to understand how this place came to be in the condition it is today and how to improve conditions for both itself and the human communities associated with it. This course will involve use of the college's science research facilities, GIS technology, and interviews with numerous people involved in the use and management of the selected location. Credit: 1 Unit (3 semester-hours).

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment, Summer 2015 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3451 - International Env Negotiation      

International Environmental Negotiation

This course will introduce students to the exciting world of negotiations that address environmental issues that cross international borders. Negotiated agreements are the primary approach to managing complex, transboundary environmental issues and are becoming increasingly important as countries, intergovernmental organizations and non-state actors engage with and craft policies to address issues as far-ranging as climate change, land use change, wildlife conservation, food insecurity, water management and marine pollution. There is still a lot of work to be done! Some of these negotiations are ongoing, while other treaties have been concluded and are being renegotiated. This course will integrate general concepts and cases related to negotiation and the crafting of international agreements with negotiation simulations designed to help students develop their own negotiating skills. Students will learn about addressing issues particular to environmental negotiations, such as scientific complexity and uncertainty, as well as issues common to all multiparty negotiations, including different sources of power and coalition dynamics.

Required Text:

Susskind, Lawrence E., Environmental Diplomacy: Negotiating More Effective Global Agreements, Oxford University Press, 1994.

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment

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SENV 3452 - Environmentalism & the Poor      

Environmentalism and the Poor

Environmentalism used to be understood as the privilege of affluent “first worlders,” an exercise in protecting nature from those too uncivilized or too ignorant to care for it by themselves. But this is no longer the case. In the past several decades, environmentalists — and environmental historians who study the history of human-nature relationships—have begun to acknowledge and account for the diverse “environmentalisms” that are practiced by both “first worlders” and “third worlders,” by both rich and poor, by both workers and capitalists, between the global north and the global south as well as within small-town communities, villages, and cities across the world. That class is one of the key determinants in how different people experience and care for the environment is gaining acceptance among social scientists and is inspiring exciting new research in the field of environmental history. This course will explore the relationships among environmentalism, class, and power in human history, as well as the consequences of these relationships for poor and working class peoples. A class-conscious history of globalization—in which “globalization” is understood as the rise of a globally interwoven capitalist economy over the past two centuries—reveals the various ways in which “environmentalism” has served the powerful while impacting the less powerful. At the same time, we will examine the resistance strategies of working class peoples the world over, to see how environments can be reclaimed by and for the poor. We will work collectively in this class towards developing a “poor people's environmentalism”: a blueprint for thinking about global nature and the responsibilities of the powerful and privileged in alleviating poverty and supporting poor people's rights to, and in, the environment.

Required Text:

Guha, Ramachandra. Environmentalism: A Global History, Longman, 1999.

Davis, Mike. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World, Verso, 2002.

Summer 2014 Sch of Environment

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