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Course Descriptions 2011-2012


FALL 2011
WINTER 2012
SPRING 2012
SUMMER 2012


FALL 2011

ENVS 410/510 Soil Science (4 cr) Syllabus
Instructor: Bridgham

Syllabus

Chemical and physical characteristics and classification of soils, field soil identification, soil degradation. (Fall)

ENVS 455/555 Sustainability What is it?  (4cr)
Instructor: Walker

After 20 years in the public spotlight, the concept of “sustainability” has arguably become the dominant framework for understanding environmental challenges today. Yet, this term is so widely used to describe such greatly differing ideas and practices (with only loose – or even contradictory – definitions) that some have questioned whether this term means anything at all. Is sustainability just a fuzzy (if appealing) buzzword? Those who have attempted to define sustainability have in some cases come to wholly incompatible conclusions about its meaning– such as vigorous and ongoing debates between certain economists and ecologists over whether economic growth is compatible with sustaining ecological systems.

A careful examination of the competing definitions of sustainability reveals disagreements about core social, cultural, and ecological assumptions, such as: what is to be sustained (economic growth? ecosystems ‘services’? ecosystems and species independent of their economic value?); who is to benefit (humans alive today? which humans? future generations? what about other species?); whose values (or ‘needs’) are to be sustained? (Is American consumer culture a ‘need’? can materially wealthy societies deny similar aspirations to others in a rapidly globalizing culture and economy?); and what time frame is appropriate? (A short time frame may make ‘sustainability’ too easy, whereas in the face of today’s rapid ecological and technological change a long time frame may make sustaining current conditions impossible, or even undesirable). In short, an examination of ‘sustainability’ is nothing less than of an examination of what we desire to be as a society, what values and cultures we prioritize, how we understand our biophysical interactions with the planet, and what ethical obligations we have.

The course then ‘unpacks’ the competing social, cultural, economic, and ecological assumptions and priorities that are often quietly but powerfully promoted in the push for ‘sustainability’. A concept that means all things to all people can too easily come to mean little or nothing. The purpose of this course is to enable students to move beyond fuzzy buzzwords by critically examining these multiple meanings and encouraging more explicit definitions and efforts to understand and reconcile the ambiguities, tensions, and contradictions in the concept of sustainability. This is a ‘tough love’ course for sustainability: by examining this important concept with a highly critical eye, students will be better positioned to move sustainability forward with more rigorous definitions and goals that are ecologically sound, socially effective, ethically and culturally defensible, and technologically achievable. (Fall)

ENVS 631 Environmental Studies Theory and Practice (4 cr)
Instructor: Dickman

Syllabus

Introduction to various disciplinary perspectives that contribute to environmental studies, including their research methods, vocabularies, and core concepts.  (Fall)

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WINTER 2012

ENVS 425/525 Environmental Education: Theory & Practice (4 cr)
Instructor: Lynch

Syllabus

In-depth examination of environmental education in theory and practice.  Topics include learning theories, environmental literacy, and how to successfully plan, implement and evaluate educational programs.  We will also examine how EE is practiced in Oregon, nationally and around the globe.  A major focus is the group project, in which you will work in collaboration with a community partner to help develop EE materials. (Winter)

ENVS 435/535 Environmental Justice (4 cr)
Instructor: Norgaard

Syllabus

Environmental justice and its impact on current decisions. Focus on civil rights law, perception of risk, and relation of sustainability and equity. (Winter)

ENVS 465/565 Wetland Ecology and Management (4 cr)
Instructor: Bridgham

Syllabus

Examines management, law, and policies related to wetlands in an ecological framework; includes wetland type definitions, classification, distribution, formation and development, and restoration.  (Winter)

ENVS 607 Seminar: Political Ecology (4 cr)
Instructor: Walker

Political ecology examines the politics (in the broadest sense of the word) of the environment.  Whereas environmental politics courses often focus on the role of government and interest groups in shaping specific environmental policies, political ecology expands our understanding of ‘politics’ to examine the roles of: 1) environmental rhetoric (‘discourse’), ideology, and knowledge; 2) politics and environmental change; 3) economic systems (including ‘globalization’); 4) gender-based dimensions of resource ownership and use; 5) and everyday struggles within communities and households (including ‘community’-based resource management) as they shape human relationships with nature. Although much of the political ecology literature comes from studies of the less-developed ‘third world,’ this course also examines the political ecology of the ‘first world.’ (Winter)

ENVS 610 PhD Seminar
Instructor: TBA

Pending course description (Winter)

ENVS 632 Environmental Studies Research Methodology (2 cr)
Instructor: Bridgham

Syllabus

Identifying a clear and concise research problem, developing methodology to address that problem, and engaging the process of developing a thorough knowledge of relevant literature.  (Winter)

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SPRING 2012

ENVS 411/511 Topic: Sustainable Agriculture (4 cr) Syllabus
Instructor: Martin

Examines traditional non-industrialized, modern industrialized, modern organic, and genetically modified crop-based systems through the lens of sustainability.  (Spring)

ENVS 633 Thesis Development (3 cr) Syllabus
Instructor: Westling

Interdisciplinary readings in environmental studies focused on student thesis topics.  Preparation for presentations at the Joint Environmental Conference and preparation to complete the MA/MS thesis/terminal project proposals.  (Spring)

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SUMMER 2012

ENVS 411/511 Topic: (4 cr)
Instructor: TBA

(Pending course description) (Summer)

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