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Check out our ENVS Summer Course Offerings!


Summer 2020 Courses

ENVS 201 Intro Environmental Studies: Social Sciences (4 cr) ( >2)  Walker
This course introduces some of the major contributions of the social sciences to understanding how and why environmental problems happen & the social ‘root causes’ of these problems. Environmentally harmful human behavior is not simply a fact of life: it is a product of specific social conditions, which can be studied, understood, and changed. This course also examines social approaches to resolving environmental problems, including ideas such as ‘sustainability’, ‘market-based’ environmental policies, reforms of property systems, and social movements that promote concepts such as environmental justice, ecofeminism, and deep ecology. In this course students practice applying these conceptual approaches by using them to analyze the root causes, consequences, and possible solutions to specific environmental topics. In previous years, the course has focused on topics such as global warming, energy, and the Pacific Northwest salmon crisis. Sample Syllabus

ENVS 202 Intro Environmental Studies: Natural Science (4 cr) ( >3)  Bothun
This is an introductory course in environmental natural sciences. It is part of the core sequence in Environmental Studies and is required for the Environmental Studies and Environmental Science majors. It is an introductory course, designed for freshmen and sophomores, and satisfies University general education breadth requirements for natural sciences. The only prerequisite is Math 95 or equivalent. Course goals include to promote understanding of the value and limitations of science in understanding environmental issues; to increase familiarity with scientific concepts underlying selected environmental issues and quantitative techniques that scientists use to evaluate them; to promote an understanding of how science is used to manage natural resources to promote a sustainable economy; to enhance ability to think creatively, analytically, and without bias (i.e. to think critically); and to understand how environmental science issues pervade our lives and gain confidence to understand these issues and make decisions based on your understanding and values. Four environmental issues are examined in some depth: human population growth, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and energy use. Syllabus

ENVS 203 Intro Environmental Studies: Humanities (4 cr) (>1)  Otjen

In this online class we’ll examine how the humanities contributes to environmental studies and to our understanding of the environment. We’ll begin with the emergence of modern U.S. environmentalism and trace how literary, cultural, and artistic responses to pollution shaped environmental activism and thought. Drawing from this early awareness of toxicity, we’ll then examine the rise of environmental justice and study recent resistance movements from a humanities perspective. Finally, we’ll look at new attempts to include other species within justice frameworks, examining recent efforts within the humanities to resist extinction and settler colonialism.

All students from all backgrounds and interests are welcome in this course. As we will see, a diverse collection of thoughts and approaches are necessary to strengthening and shaping humanities approaches. The material covered in this class is not comprehensive, but rather provides an introduction to some of the topics most important to environmental thought and practice at the University of Oregon and to the field of environmental studies, more broadly. 

 This course fulfills the Arts and Letters Group Requirement and is a core course requirement for Environmental Studies and Environmental Science majors. 

ENVS 203 Syllabus (Otjen)

ENVS 345 Environmental Ethics (>1) Meier
Imagine yourself in the following situation: you are in a room where you can press a button that says “If you press it, the Grand Canyon will be blown away”. What ethical reasons would you have to refrain from pressing that button? Is it morally wrong to destroy something we (humans) deem beautiful? Some philosophers believe that there is no moral value without a valuator. So, what if you were the last person on Earth and you would not care about the Grand Canyon, would it still be wrong to press the button? What if you were not the last person, would it suffice to appeal to the idea that you might deprive future generations from experiencing such ineffable scenery? Imagine the button says, “it you press it, the Grand Canyon will be blown away, but in doing so, you save x human lives.” How many human lives would justify blowing away the Grand Canyon? What if those lives are the lives of some people you will never know/meet with? Does it have to be a human life? What about a non-human animal life? What about an ecosystem? Sample Syllabus

ENVS 411 Ecohorror-Ecocide: The Environmentalist Rhetoric of Fear Maggiulli
Visual renditions present an apocalyptic future New York City that has been flooded by the effects of climate change; playful “creature features” introduce Pacific Northwest youth to the threats of non-native species invasions; Mother Nature fights back in a film where plants release toxins to kill off the human species. The generic structures of the horror genre are harnessed to frame revenge of nature narratives and to garner attention for the immediacy of environmental problems. While constructed with the best of intentions, these narratives often represent troubling conceptions of the “natural” that widen the separation between humans and their environment (or other species) and reinforce problematic conceptions of race, gender, ability, and sexuality.  This course will take a cultural studies approach to identifying where, and how, the genre of ecohorror appears by exploring a broad set of contemporary U.S. cultural artifacts ranging from blockbuster movies to comics and climate activism videos. We will be particularly attentive to horror’s role in science communication by analyzing texts such as USFWS outreach publications, documentaries, news articles, and popular science writing.  We will consider what horror’s generic tropes do for a broader cultural imaginary of environmental degradation and explore potentially productive applications of these tropes. This course should be a generative space for not only students in the environmental humanities and those interested in the social life of science but also for environmental science students who must consider communicating their work to the public.  

ENVS 411 Water Justice Fink
Water Justice is an online interdisciplinary course that explores environmental justice issues related to water, such as the Flint water crisis and #NoDAPL, using a Critical Environmental Justice (CEJ) framework. Following the four pillars of CEJ as outlined in David Naguib Pellow’s 2018 book What Is Critical Environmental Justice?, this course includes 1) analysis that attends to multiple intersecting categories of identity, such as race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, citizenship, ability, and species, 2) analysis that brings multiple spatial and temporal scales together, with attention to the body, 3) interrogation of the role of the state in water issues, and 4) recognition of the indispensability of all human and more-than-human actors. It invites students to explore their local watersheds and reflect on how water acts as an agent that affects the lived experiences of their communities. ENVS 411: Water Justice provides an opportunity to learn and practice digital scholarship by creating a digital final project. This course will be of special interest to undergraduate students interested in pursuing nonprofit work or graduate studies. Contact Lisa Fink at for more information.  

Course Posters (click to enlarge)