Environmental Policy Major

The major in Environmental Policy brings together core courses in Environmental Studies with relevant coursework in related fields including Economics and Political Science. The goal of the Environmental Policy major is to combine scientific literacy with an understanding of the economic, political and cultural structures involved in institutional decision–making on environmental matters.

Seven courses are common to all Environmental Policy majors; there are also three distinct tracks through the major, each of which entails an additional theory/methods course and two electives. The three tracks through the major are a) Political Economy, b) Political Theory and Law, and c) Society and Culture. Environmental Policy majors are also encouraged to take GEOS 214 Remote Sensing and GIS.

Students majoring in Environmental Policy should investigate the courses required for their chosen track and consult their advisor to plan an appropriate schedule for completing the major, including any prerequisites not listed below. Courses cannot be double–counted within the major; for example, a course used to fulfill the theory/methods requirement cannot also be used as an elective. The availability of required courses may vary slightly from year to year, and substitutions may be authorized occasionally by the Director of CES. Environmental Policy majors will be exempt from taking Econ 110 if they received a score of 5 on the Microeconomics AP exam, a 6 or 7 on the higher–level Economics IB examination, or an A or B in economics in A–levels. Students seeking exemption from ENVI 102 on the basis of exam results should consult the Director of CES.

Core Courses (Required)

ENVI 101(F)Nature and Society: An Introduction to Environmental Studies

This course introduces environmental studies as an interdisciplinary field of learning. It will provide a survey of a broad range of environmental problems, cases, and questions, from climate change to sustainable agriculture, from toxic waste to species extinction. We will also examine the intellectual traditions, authors, and historical developments that have most profoundly shaped our understanding of these issues. Keeping a constant eye on the complexities of life in the twenty-first century, we will explore the many different theories and methods that inform environmental scholarship, activism, and policy-making in a variety of cultural arenas and across geographical scales. Along the way, we will read works by philosophers, economists, journalists, historians, sociologists, and many others. [ more ]

ENVI 102(S)Introduction to Environmental Science

Environmental science is the interdisciplinary study of the Earth's systems through the synthesis of physical, chemical, geological, and biological perspectives. This course introduces students to the scientific methods used to assess human impacts on the environment. Weekly readings on local, regional and global issues will include scientific literature. Part of each class will be spent on the discussion of scientific data and any related policy issues. While class time will focus primarily on a broad range of environmental issues, in the lab students will focus on the local Hoosic River Watershed. Field and laboratory exercises will generate data that students will analyze, interpret and compare to historic data sets. As the Hoosic River is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Hudson River, knowledge gained through the exploration of the local watershed in the lab will be applied where possible to other regions of the world in class. Examples of topics explored are: the hazards of everyday things, climate change, human impacts on water quality and quantity, atmospheric pollution, tracing pollution through the environment, water use, waste treatment, ocean resource management, and how science happens/works. Students will design and complete an independent project on one of these subjects as it pertains to their hometown. There will be an all-day field trip through the Hoosic River Valley early in the semester. [ more ]

ECON 110(F, S)Principles of Microeconomics

This course is an introduction to the study of the forces of supply and demand that determine prices and the allocation of resources in markets for goods and services, markets for labor, and markets for natural resources. The focus is on how and why markets work, why they may fail to work, and the policy implications of both their successes and failures. The course focuses on developing the basic tools of microeconomic analysis and then applying those tools to topics of popular or policy interest such as minimum wage legislation, pollution control, competition policy, international trade policy, discrimination, tax policy, and the role of government in a market economy. [ more ]

BIOL 203 / ENVI 203(F)Ecology

This course combines lectures with field and indoor laboratory exercises to explore factors that determine the distribution and abundance of plants and animals in natural systems. The course begins with an overall view of global patterns and then builds from the population to the ecosystem level. An emphasis is given to basic ecological principles and relates them to current environmental issues. Selected topics include population dynamics (competition, predation, mutualism); community interactions (succession, food chains and diversity) and ecosystem function (biogeochemical cycles, energy flow). [ more ]

ENVI 302(F)Environmental Planning Workshop

This interdisciplinary course introduces the theories, approaches, methodologies, and legal framework of environmental planning and provides students with experience in the planning process through project work in the Berkshire region. The first part of the course introduces the students to planning literature through analysis and discussion of case studies. In the second part of the course students tackle an actual planning problem. Small teams of students, working in conjunction with a client in the community and under supervision of the instructor, conduct a planning project, using all the tools of an environmental planner. The project work draws on students? academic training, extracurricular activities, and applies interdisciplinary knowledge and methodologies. The course includes several class presentations and culminates in a public presentation of each team's planning study. This course also includes field trips, town meetings, interviews, survey work, and computer mapping labs. [ more ]

ENVI 307 / PSCI 317(F)Environmental Law

We rely on environmental laws to make human communities healthier and protect the natural world, while allowing for sustainable economic growth. Yet, despite 40 years of increasingly varied and complex legislation, balancing human needs and environmental quality has never been harder than it is today. Environmental Studies 307 analyzes the transformation of environmental law from fringe enterprise to fundamental feature of modern political, economic and social life. ENVI 307 also addresses the role of community activism in environmental law, from local battles over proposed industrial facilities to national campaigns for improved corporate citizenship. By the completion of the semester, students will understand both the successes and failures of modern environmental law and how these laws are being reinvented, through innovations like pollution credit trading and "green product" certification, to confront globalization, climate change and other emerging threats. [ more ]

ENVI 402 / MAST 402(S)Senior Seminar: Perspectives on Environmental Studies

TThe Environmental Studies and Maritime Studies programs provide students with an opportunity to explore the myriad ways in which humans interact with diverse environments at scales ranging from local to global. As the capstone course for Environmental Studies and Maritime Studies, this seminar will bring together students who will have specialized in the humanities, social studies and/or the sciences and will provide an opportunity for exchange across these disciplinary streams. Readings and discussion will be organized around a common theme. Over the course of the seminar, students will develop a sustained independent research project on a topic of their choice with numerous opportunities for collaboration. [ more ]

Political Economy

Theory/method courses

POEC 253(F)Empirical Methods in Political Economy

This course introduces students to common empirical tools used in policy analysis and implementation. The broad aim is to train students to be discriminating consumers of public policy-relevant research. The emphasis in the course is on intuitive understanding of the central concepts. Through hands-on work with data and critical assessment of existing empirical social scientific research, students will develop the ability to choose and employ the appropriate tool for a particular research problem, and to understand the limitations of the techniques. Topics to be covered include basic principles of probability; random variables and distributions; statistical estimation, inference and hypothesis testing; and modeling using multiple regression, with a particular focus on understanding whether and how relationships between variables can be determined to be causal--an essential requirement for effective policy formation. Throughout the course, the focus will be on public policy applications relevant to the fields of political science, sociology, and public health, as well as to economics. [ more ]

ECON 255(F, S)Econometrics

An introduction to the theory and practice of applied quantitative economic analysis. This course familiarizes students with the strengths and weaknesses of the basic empirical methods used by economists to evaluate economic theory against economic data. Emphasizes both the statistical foundations of regression techniques and the practical application of those techniques in empirical research. Computer exercises will provide experience in using the empirical methods, but no previous computer experience is expected. Highly recommended for students considering graduate training in economics or public policy. [ more ]

Political Economy electives group A

ECON 204 / ENVI 234Economics of Developing Countries

Not offered this year

This course is an introduction to the economics of development. The central question is: why are some people and nations poor? And what can governments (or donors) do to reduce poverty? Possible topics include agricultural productivity, health, education, microfinance, child labor, corruption, resource utilization and pollution, and intellectual property rights. We shall also discuss the extent to which market-friendly reforms (such as trade liberalization) can reduce poverty. [ more ]

ENVI 208Science and Politics in Environmental Decision Making

Not offered this year

This course explores the relationship between science and politics in environmental decision-making. How do legislators know when a species is endangered and warrants protection? What precautions should be applied in allowing genetically modified foods onto our plates? Can we, and should we, weigh the risks of malaria against the impacts of pesticides used to control those mosquitoes that transmit the disease? How has the global community come together to understand the risks from global climate change, and how has this understanding shaped our policy responses? What are some of the limits of science in shaping policy outcomes? In addressing these and other questions, we will pay particular attention to how power relations and existing institutions shape what knowledge, and whose knowledge, is taken on board in decision-making, be it at the local, national or global level. We will delve into how these dynamics shape policy outcomes and we will also examine novel approaches for incorporating the knowledge of traditionally disempowered groups, including indigenous and local communities. [ more ]

ECON 213 / ENVI 213(S)Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resources Economics

Economists love free markets, but many people fear that market-driven economic growth and consumption are endangering the natural environment. In fact, core economic theories predict that people and firms, left to their own devices, will often tend to pollute too much, conserve too little, overfish common waters, and cut down too many trees. These predictions seem to be borne out by the world's environmental problems. Fortunately, economics offers tools to address these issues, and these tools are increasingly gaining attention in the policy world. In this course, we will survey environmental and natural resource economics, fields that work to inform policy with attention to both natural assets and human needs. We will focus on real-world problems, mostly from a microeconomic perspective. Underlying issues in these fields include: why markets might be inefficient where the environment and natural resources are concerned; whether and how to value the benefits we receive from the environment; and how to carefully evaluate policies. We will study the economists' perspective on sustainability and we'll discuss how sustainability, growth, and human wellbeing relate to each other. We will study the use of non-renewable resources (like oil) and renewable resources (like trees and fish), and we will spend some time talking about energy and energy policy. We will examine issues related to pollution, looking at traditional "command and control" regulations and at market-based pollution control policies. Climate change is a pressing global problem, and we will study current and proposed climate policies and the role economics can play. We may cover other topics, including international development, food, agriculture, and water. [ more ]

ECON 228 T / ENVI 228(S)Water as a Scarce Resource

For a variety of reasons including environmental pollution, urbanization, changing agricultural techniques, resource mismanagement, and the consequences of climate change, water is becoming a scarce resource even in places where it was relatively plentiful in the past, and it is likely to become an increasingly scarce resource over the coming decades. In this course we will use basic economic models to consider policy issues relating to water: Is access to water a basic human right, and if so, what market and non-market mechanisms should play a role in water allocation? Does public ownership of water improve the way it is provided and used? Why do societies differ in their approaches to allocating water and are some systems better than others? What does it mean to have a property right to water? Could private property rights to water help address the water pollution problem? How can societies change their water-related property rights, regulations and social institutions when individuals have implicit or explicit rights to the institutional status quo? Who has the right to water that crosses international boundaries? How should societies allocate water across generations? [ more ]

ECON 229(F)Law and Economics

This course applies the tools of microeconomic analysis to private (i.e., civil) law. This analysis has both positive and normative aspects. The positive aspects deal with how individuals respond to the incentives created by the legal system. Examples include: how intellectual property law encourages the creation of knowledge while simultaneously restricting the dissemination of intellectual property; how tort law motivates doctors to avoid malpractice suits; and how contract law facilitates agreements. The normative aspects of the analysis ask whether legal rules enhance economic efficiency (or, more broadly, social welfare). Examples include: what legal rules are most appropriate for mitigating pollution, ensuring safe driving, and guaranteeing workplace safety? The course will also cover the economics of legal systems; for example, what are the incentives for plaintiffs to initiate lawsuits and what role do lawyers play in determining outcomes. The course will also consider potential reforms of the legal system. In the 2014-15 academic year, the course will place more emphasis on intellectual property law as part of the campus-wide initiative, "The Book Unbound," associated with the opening of the new library. [ more ]

ENVI 283 / PSCI 283Dirty Politics: Regulating Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes

Not offered this year

Since consumers were first introduced to the promise of "better living through chemistry," society has had to wrestle with the impacts, often far removed in place and time, resulting from a rapid proliferation of hazardous chemicals and wastes. Policy responses, be they at the local, national or global scale, are often limited to reactionary efforts to counter releases into the environment, are constrained by the prevalent use of the technologies in question, and further bring to the fore key challenges of environmental justice and risk management. How then are we to regulate DDT without adversely affecting our fight against mosquito-borne malaria? How might we preserve the ozone layer while still maintaining the benefits of food preservation through refrigeration? How can we reap the benefits of the electronic age without condoning the steady flow of electronic waste affecting workers' health and environments in developing countries? Emphasis will be placed on understanding the politics that bring about, and allow us to address, these problems. We will be examining in particular novel policy responses, including Europe's precautionary safe use law, citizen science initiatives and consumer driven certification schemes. [ more ]

SCST 309 / PSCI 301 / ENVI 309 / HSCI 309(S)Environmental Politics and Policy

This course will provide an overview of environmental policy-making, with an emphasis on the ways in which policies are developed and implemented at the local, state and national level. Special attention will be paid to the variety of actors that shape environmental outcomes, including legislators, administrators, the science community, civil society and the private sector. Following an examination of different models of environmental policy-making, this course will focus on several case studies, including on the management of public lands, air and water pollution, climate change and endangered species protection. [ more ]

ENVI 328 / PSCI 328Global Environmental Politics

Not offered this year

This seminar draws on the last four decades of international efforts to regulate the environmental commons. The process of negotiating and implementing international environmental treaties will be a core focus of the course, yet emphasis will also be placed on emerging non-state means of addressing global environmental challenges. A variety of challenges faced in global environmental policymaking (compliance, participation by civil society and industry, incorporation of science, efficiency.) will be examined through the study of several international regimes, including on climate change, endangered species, biodiversity, biosafety and chemicals management. [ more ]

MAST 351 / PSCI 319 / ENVI 351(F, S)Marine Policy

This seminar utilizes the interdisciplinary background of the other Williams-Mystic courses to examine national and international contemporary issues in our relationship with ocean and coastal resources. This seminar takes a topical approach to the study of marine law and policy, examining fisheries, harbor development, coastal zone management, admiralty law, law of the sea, marine pollution, and shipping. [ more ]

HIST 371 / ENVI 371The History of U.S. Environmental Politics

Not offered this year

The politics surrounding the environment today are a super-heated source of conflict, at the same time that most opinion polls show that Americans widely embrace many environmental protections. While environmental concerns have long been a part of local politics in America, this course will largely explore the emergence and prominence of environmental issues in national politics from the first organized conservation efforts in the late nineteenth century to the present-day concerns with the global environment. Throughout the course, we will investigate both how changes in the environment have shaped American politics and how political decisions have altered the American, as well as the global environment, with particular attention to which groups of people have had, or have not had, access to political processes and institutions. [ more ]

ECON 383(F)Cities, Regions and the Economy

Cities and urbanization can have significant impacts on the economy. In many developed economies, a process of regional decline is associated with older, industrial cities. In developing countries, the process of economic growth is generally associated with increasing urbanization. Urbanization, with its increasing concentration of population and production, puts particular pressure on markets to allocate resources for provision of land, housing, transportation, labor and public goods. Urbanization can alter the productivity of land, labor, and capital in ways that can improve the welfare of residents and the performance of the broader economy. In this course we will examine these conflicting economic forces and examine some recent research that contributes to our understanding of the difference between regional growth and decline, and the role that the urban structure plays in these processes. We will examine the function of land, housing, transportation, and labor markets in the urban context, and the scope for public policies to improve the performance of the regional economy. [ more ]

ECON 386 / ENVI 386Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management

Not offered this year

Policymakers in developed and developing countries struggle to manage natural resources and to protect the environment from excessive degradation while attending to pressing human needs. Economics has a rich body of advice to help achieve these goals. In this course, we will study environmental policy and natural resource management from a microeconomic (and, to a lesser extent, macroeconomic) perspective. We will explore relevant economic theory, look for empirical evidence in scholarly studies, and study actual policies as they have been implemented. The course is undergirded by concepts like sustainability, welfare within and across generations, market failure, and valuation of environmental assets. We will continually emphasize issues of efficiency and equity. Again and again we will see that the challenges are both technical and ethical, as society is forced to make troubling tradeoffs. Topics in the class will include pollution (with a focus on climate change and on incentive-based policies like tax and "cap-and-trade"), management of nonrenewable and renewable resources (including resources like oil, forests, and fisheries), and energy (with its obvious links to resource use and climate change). We will also examine the relationship between development and the environment, touching on controversial topics such as the "natural resources curse" and the relationship between economic growth and the demand for environmental quality. [ more ]

ECON 457Public Economics Research Seminar

Not offered this year

In this class, students will learn how to read, critically evaluate, and begin to produce empirical research on important and interesting public policy questions. Topics will be selected from across the spectrum of public economics issues and may vary from year to year. Examples of specific topics that may be covered include education, environmental policy, taxation, income inequality, anti-poverty policy, health care policy, the economics of crime and corruption, and the implications of behavioral economics and psychology for public policy (we will typically only cover a subset of these topics). Applications will be drawn mostly from the United States but we will also consider some issues and evidence from other industrialized and developing countries. The course will especially emphasize the critical analysis of empirical evidence on public policy questions. [ more ]

Political Economy electives group B

ENVI 209 / AMST 209 / ANTH 209(F)Ecologies of Place: Culture, Commodities and Everyday Life

This course will explore the environmental implications of everyday life in modern America. It will ask how cultural, political, economic, and ecological systems interact to produce ordinary places and vernacular landscapes, from campuses to cul-de-sacs, farms to forests, nation-states to national parks. Combining approaches from cultural geography, environmental history, and political ecology, it will focus on the hidden lives of "things"--the commodities and technologies that form the basic building blocks of place: food, oil, water, wood, machines. With strong emphasis on local-global relations, it will look beneath the surface of the ordinary to reveal the complex networks of power, meaning, and matter that connect "here" to "there," "now" to "then," and "us" to "them." In so doing, it will pursue parallel goals: to understand the socio-spatial processes shaping today's global environment; and to explore the cultural systems through which those processes are understood and contested. Topics will include the bottled water controversy, factory farming and local agriculture, the political economy of lawns, and the cultural politics of invasive species. [ more ]

ANTH 210 / ENVI 210 / JLST 210(S)Governing Nature

This course analyzes the regulation of natural resources, primarily in today's United States. We will study how shared definitions of nature and, hence, nature's resources are instituted in law and policy and the extent to which these legal mandates shape actual landscapes. We will examine the workings of government bureaucracies--for example, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service--to see how their understanding and administration of natural resources operate on the ground and affect local communities. We will consider an array of questions: What is the relationship between nature and what anthropologists call "the State"? Does scientific expertise command authority? When is the governance of natural resources synonymous with the governance of people? To what extent are taken-for-granted terms like "endangered" in reality social and legal constructs? In order to unpack these and other puzzles, we will turn to historical works and ethnography, focusing on insights from political and environmental anthropology. We will also read legal doctrine, such as the Wilderness Act of 1964 and judicial opinions regarding tribal sovereignty and fishing rights. Our case studies will range from rivers and national forests in the American Southwest to local conservation issues in the Berkshires, including land trusts. [ more ]

ECON 229(F)Law and Economics

This course applies the tools of microeconomic analysis to private (i.e., civil) law. This analysis has both positive and normative aspects. The positive aspects deal with how individuals respond to the incentives created by the legal system. Examples include: how intellectual property law encourages the creation of knowledge while simultaneously restricting the dissemination of intellectual property; how tort law motivates doctors to avoid malpractice suits; and how contract law facilitates agreements. The normative aspects of the analysis ask whether legal rules enhance economic efficiency (or, more broadly, social welfare). Examples include: what legal rules are most appropriate for mitigating pollution, ensuring safe driving, and guaranteeing workplace safety? The course will also cover the economics of legal systems; for example, what are the incentives for plaintiffs to initiate lawsuits and what role do lawyers play in determining outcomes. The course will also consider potential reforms of the legal system. In the 2014-15 academic year, the course will place more emphasis on intellectual property law as part of the campus-wide initiative, "The Book Unbound," associated with the opening of the new library. [ more ]

Political Theory and Law

Theory/method courses

SCST 309 / PSCI 301 / ENVI 309 / HSCI 309(S)Environmental Politics and Policy

This course will provide an overview of environmental policy-making, with an emphasis on the ways in which policies are developed and implemented at the local, state and national level. Special attention will be paid to the variety of actors that shape environmental outcomes, including legislators, administrators, the science community, civil society and the private sector. Following an examination of different models of environmental policy-making, this course will focus on several case studies, including on the management of public lands, air and water pollution, climate change and endangered species protection. [ more ]

ENVI 328 / PSCI 328Global Environmental Politics

Not offered this year

This seminar draws on the last four decades of international efforts to regulate the environmental commons. The process of negotiating and implementing international environmental treaties will be a core focus of the course, yet emphasis will also be placed on emerging non-state means of addressing global environmental challenges. A variety of challenges faced in global environmental policymaking (compliance, participation by civil society and industry, incorporation of science, efficiency.) will be examined through the study of several international regimes, including on climate change, endangered species, biodiversity, biosafety and chemicals management. [ more ]

MAST 351 / PSCI 319 / ENVI 351(F, S)Marine Policy

This seminar utilizes the interdisciplinary background of the other Williams-Mystic courses to examine national and international contemporary issues in our relationship with ocean and coastal resources. This seminar takes a topical approach to the study of marine law and policy, examining fisheries, harbor development, coastal zone management, admiralty law, law of the sea, marine pollution, and shipping. [ more ]

ECON 386 / ENVI 386Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management

Not offered this year

Policymakers in developed and developing countries struggle to manage natural resources and to protect the environment from excessive degradation while attending to pressing human needs. Economics has a rich body of advice to help achieve these goals. In this course, we will study environmental policy and natural resource management from a microeconomic (and, to a lesser extent, macroeconomic) perspective. We will explore relevant economic theory, look for empirical evidence in scholarly studies, and study actual policies as they have been implemented. The course is undergirded by concepts like sustainability, welfare within and across generations, market failure, and valuation of environmental assets. We will continually emphasize issues of efficiency and equity. Again and again we will see that the challenges are both technical and ethical, as society is forced to make troubling tradeoffs. Topics in the class will include pollution (with a focus on climate change and on incentive-based policies like tax and "cap-and-trade"), management of nonrenewable and renewable resources (including resources like oil, forests, and fisheries), and energy (with its obvious links to resource use and climate change). We will also examine the relationship between development and the environment, touching on controversial topics such as the "natural resources curse" and the relationship between economic growth and the demand for environmental quality. [ more ]

Political Theory electives

PSCI 201(F, S)Power, Politics, and Democracy in America

Begun as an experiment over 200 years ago, the United States has grown into a polity that is simultaneously praised and condemned, critiqued and mythologized, modeled by others and remodeled itself. This course introduces students to the dynamics and tensions that have animated the American political order and that have nurtured these conflicting assessments. Topics include the founding of the American system and the primary documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers), the primary institutions of national government then and now (Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court) and the politics of policy-making in the United States. We study structures, processes, key events, and primary actors that have shaped American political development. In investigating these topics, we explore questions such as these: How is power allocated? What produces political change? Is there is a trade-off between democratic accountability and effective governance? How are tensions between liberty and equality resolved? Do the institutions produce good policies, and how do we define what is good? [ more ]

ECON 204 / ENVI 234Economics of Developing Countries

Not offered this year

This course is an introduction to the economics of development. The central question is: why are some people and nations poor? And what can governments (or donors) do to reduce poverty? Possible topics include agricultural productivity, health, education, microfinance, child labor, corruption, resource utilization and pollution, and intellectual property rights. We shall also discuss the extent to which market-friendly reforms (such as trade liberalization) can reduce poverty. [ more ]

ENVI 208Science and Politics in Environmental Decision Making

Not offered this year

This course explores the relationship between science and politics in environmental decision-making. How do legislators know when a species is endangered and warrants protection? What precautions should be applied in allowing genetically modified foods onto our plates? Can we, and should we, weigh the risks of malaria against the impacts of pesticides used to control those mosquitoes that transmit the disease? How has the global community come together to understand the risks from global climate change, and how has this understanding shaped our policy responses? What are some of the limits of science in shaping policy outcomes? In addressing these and other questions, we will pay particular attention to how power relations and existing institutions shape what knowledge, and whose knowledge, is taken on board in decision-making, be it at the local, national or global level. We will delve into how these dynamics shape policy outcomes and we will also examine novel approaches for incorporating the knowledge of traditionally disempowered groups, including indigenous and local communities. [ more ]

ENVI 209 / AMST 209 / ANTH 209(F)Ecologies of Place: Culture, Commodities and Everyday Life

This course will explore the environmental implications of everyday life in modern America. It will ask how cultural, political, economic, and ecological systems interact to produce ordinary places and vernacular landscapes, from campuses to cul-de-sacs, farms to forests, nation-states to national parks. Combining approaches from cultural geography, environmental history, and political ecology, it will focus on the hidden lives of "things"--the commodities and technologies that form the basic building blocks of place: food, oil, water, wood, machines. With strong emphasis on local-global relations, it will look beneath the surface of the ordinary to reveal the complex networks of power, meaning, and matter that connect "here" to "there," "now" to "then," and "us" to "them." In so doing, it will pursue parallel goals: to understand the socio-spatial processes shaping today's global environment; and to explore the cultural systems through which those processes are understood and contested. Topics will include the bottled water controversy, factory farming and local agriculture, the political economy of lawns, and the cultural politics of invasive species. [ more ]

ANTH 210 / ENVI 210 / JLST 210(S)Governing Nature

This course analyzes the regulation of natural resources, primarily in today's United States. We will study how shared definitions of nature and, hence, nature's resources are instituted in law and policy and the extent to which these legal mandates shape actual landscapes. We will examine the workings of government bureaucracies--for example, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service--to see how their understanding and administration of natural resources operate on the ground and affect local communities. We will consider an array of questions: What is the relationship between nature and what anthropologists call "the State"? Does scientific expertise command authority? When is the governance of natural resources synonymous with the governance of people? To what extent are taken-for-granted terms like "endangered" in reality social and legal constructs? In order to unpack these and other puzzles, we will turn to historical works and ethnography, focusing on insights from political and environmental anthropology. We will also read legal doctrine, such as the Wilderness Act of 1964 and judicial opinions regarding tribal sovereignty and fishing rights. Our case studies will range from rivers and national forests in the American Southwest to local conservation issues in the Berkshires, including land trusts. [ more ]

ECON 213 / ENVI 213(S)Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resources Economics

Economists love free markets, but many people fear that market-driven economic growth and consumption are endangering the natural environment. In fact, core economic theories predict that people and firms, left to their own devices, will often tend to pollute too much, conserve too little, overfish common waters, and cut down too many trees. These predictions seem to be borne out by the world's environmental problems. Fortunately, economics offers tools to address these issues, and these tools are increasingly gaining attention in the policy world. In this course, we will survey environmental and natural resource economics, fields that work to inform policy with attention to both natural assets and human needs. We will focus on real-world problems, mostly from a microeconomic perspective. Underlying issues in these fields include: why markets might be inefficient where the environment and natural resources are concerned; whether and how to value the benefits we receive from the environment; and how to carefully evaluate policies. We will study the economists' perspective on sustainability and we'll discuss how sustainability, growth, and human wellbeing relate to each other. We will study the use of non-renewable resources (like oil) and renewable resources (like trees and fish), and we will spend some time talking about energy and energy policy. We will examine issues related to pollution, looking at traditional "command and control" regulations and at market-based pollution control policies. Climate change is a pressing global problem, and we will study current and proposed climate policies and the role economics can play. We may cover other topics, including international development, food, agriculture, and water. [ more ]

PSCI 216(F)American Constitutionalism I: Structures of Power

How has the American Constitution been debated and understood over time? What is the relationship between constitutional and political change? This course examines the historical development of American constitutional law and politics from the Founding to the present. Our focus is on structures of power -- the limits on congressional lawmaking, growth of presidential authority, establishment of judicial review, conflicts among the three branches of the federal government, and boundaries between the federal and state and local governments. The specific disputes under these rubrics range from secession to impeachment, gun control to child labor, waging war to spurring commerce; the historical periods to be covered include the Marshall and Taney Court years, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Warren Court, and the conservative ascendancy of the late twentieth century. Readings are drawn from Supreme Court opinions, presidential addresses, congressional debates and statutes, political party platforms, key tracts of American political thought, and secondary scholarship on constitutional development. Throughout the semester, our goal will be less to remember elaborate doctrinal rules and multi-part constitutional "tests" than to understand the changing nature of, and changing relationship between, constitutional power and constitutional meaning in American history. [ more ]

ECON 228 T / ENVI 228(S)Water as a Scarce Resource

For a variety of reasons including environmental pollution, urbanization, changing agricultural techniques, resource mismanagement, and the consequences of climate change, water is becoming a scarce resource even in places where it was relatively plentiful in the past, and it is likely to become an increasingly scarce resource over the coming decades. In this course we will use basic economic models to consider policy issues relating to water: Is access to water a basic human right, and if so, what market and non-market mechanisms should play a role in water allocation? Does public ownership of water improve the way it is provided and used? Why do societies differ in their approaches to allocating water and are some systems better than others? What does it mean to have a property right to water? Could private property rights to water help address the water pollution problem? How can societies change their water-related property rights, regulations and social institutions when individuals have implicit or explicit rights to the institutional status quo? Who has the right to water that crosses international boundaries? How should societies allocate water across generations? [ more ]

ECON 229(F)Law and Economics

This course applies the tools of microeconomic analysis to private (i.e., civil) law. This analysis has both positive and normative aspects. The positive aspects deal with how individuals respond to the incentives created by the legal system. Examples include: how intellectual property law encourages the creation of knowledge while simultaneously restricting the dissemination of intellectual property; how tort law motivates doctors to avoid malpractice suits; and how contract law facilitates agreements. The normative aspects of the analysis ask whether legal rules enhance economic efficiency (or, more broadly, social welfare). Examples include: what legal rules are most appropriate for mitigating pollution, ensuring safe driving, and guaranteeing workplace safety? The course will also cover the economics of legal systems; for example, what are the incentives for plaintiffs to initiate lawsuits and what role do lawyers play in determining outcomes. The course will also consider potential reforms of the legal system. In the 2014-15 academic year, the course will place more emphasis on intellectual property law as part of the campus-wide initiative, "The Book Unbound," associated with the opening of the new library. [ more ]

PSCI 235 / ENVI 235(F)Environmental Political Theory

What is the relationship between politics and nature? Today, this question has been given special urgency by the reality of environmental degradation and the efforts of social movements that seek a more sustainable future. But the nature-politics relationship is also a longstanding source of controversy and insight within the history of political thought. In this class, we will consider the efforts of both canonical and contemporary political theorists to fashion political principles suited to organizing the comportment of human communities towards non-human nature. The texts we read will prompt us to question common presuppositions about human nature and the material settings of political life. They will also challenge us to reconsider the actors, spaces, and knowledge that constitute politics. By putting contemporary scholarly and activist visions of environmental justice and sustainability into dialogue with works by Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, and others, we will become more familiar with the theoretical roots of contemporary debates about the environment and better equipped to notice elisions in both past and present conceptions of nature and politics. The course will primarily be driven by discussion, often introduced by 15-20 minute lectures. [ more ]

PSCI 273 / ENVI 273(F)Politics without Humans?

Are human beings the only beings who belong in politics? And is political involvement a unique or defining aspect of what it means to be human? Such questions are increasingly complex as the boundaries of "the human" become blurred by the rise of artificial intelligence, robotics, and brain implants: shifting attitudes towards both animal and human bodies; and the automation of economic and military decisions (buy! sell! attack! retreat!) that used to be the prerogative of human actors. How do visions of politics without humans and humans without politics impact our thinking about longstanding questions of freedom, power, and right? Can and should the link between humans and politics survive in an age in which "posthuman" or "transhuman" entities become central characters in the drama of politics? This class will consider these questions through readings, films and artifacts that bring political theory into conversation with science fiction, popular literature on the so-called "singularity" (the merger of humans with computers), science and technology studies, evolutionary anthropology, "new materialist" philosophy, and feminist theory. [ more ]

ENVI 283 / PSCI 283Dirty Politics: Regulating Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes

Not offered this year

Since consumers were first introduced to the promise of "better living through chemistry," society has had to wrestle with the impacts, often far removed in place and time, resulting from a rapid proliferation of hazardous chemicals and wastes. Policy responses, be they at the local, national or global scale, are often limited to reactionary efforts to counter releases into the environment, are constrained by the prevalent use of the technologies in question, and further bring to the fore key challenges of environmental justice and risk management. How then are we to regulate DDT without adversely affecting our fight against mosquito-borne malaria? How might we preserve the ozone layer while still maintaining the benefits of food preservation through refrigeration? How can we reap the benefits of the electronic age without condoning the steady flow of electronic waste affecting workers' health and environments in developing countries? Emphasis will be placed on understanding the politics that bring about, and allow us to address, these problems. We will be examining in particular novel policy responses, including Europe's precautionary safe use law, citizen science initiatives and consumer driven certification schemes. [ more ]

SCST 309 / PSCI 301 / ENVI 309 / HSCI 309(S)Environmental Politics and Policy

This course will provide an overview of environmental policy-making, with an emphasis on the ways in which policies are developed and implemented at the local, state and national level. Special attention will be paid to the variety of actors that shape environmental outcomes, including legislators, administrators, the science community, civil society and the private sector. Following an examination of different models of environmental policy-making, this course will focus on several case studies, including on the management of public lands, air and water pollution, climate change and endangered species protection. [ more ]

ENVI 328 / PSCI 328Global Environmental Politics

Not offered this year

This seminar draws on the last four decades of international efforts to regulate the environmental commons. The process of negotiating and implementing international environmental treaties will be a core focus of the course, yet emphasis will also be placed on emerging non-state means of addressing global environmental challenges. A variety of challenges faced in global environmental policymaking (compliance, participation by civil society and industry, incorporation of science, efficiency.) will be examined through the study of several international regimes, including on climate change, endangered species, biodiversity, biosafety and chemicals management. [ more ]

PSCI 331Knowledge and Politics

Not offered this year

Is there a form of knowledge proper to politics? What are the risks and promise of turning to the sciences to supply or guarantee that knowledge (as we do, in different ways, when we call the study of politics "Political Science" or when we call for "science-based policies")? In this class, we will engage several recent works at the intersection of political theory and science studies that reopen the question of science's proper relationship to politics. These works challenge critical theory's traditional assumption that scientific knowledge is, at best, impotent and, at worst, imperious in the context of politics. Yet in defining a more productive role for the sciences in politics, they do not take for granted that science is what its traditional advocates often took it to be: objective, dispassionate... in short, a-political. Works we will consider may include William Connolly's Neuropolitics, Isabelle Stengers The Invention of Modern Science, Karen Barad's Meeting the Universe Halfway, Bruno Latour's Politics of Nature, Mark Brown's Science in Democracy, and Joseph Rouse's Knowledge and Power. [ more ]

PSCI 333(F)The Sublime in Politics and Political Thought

This course examines discourses on terror, wonder and awe from the Enlightenment to the present, using the idea of the sublime to rethink important events like the French Revolution and the recent War on Terror. The sublime has meant different things to a great number of thinkers in the Western philosophical tradition, going back to a treatise attributed to Longinus, a 1st century Greek rhetoretician. Longinus was concerned with the power of great poets to "elevate" their audiences, transporting them beyond the limits of their comprehension through mixtures of terror, wonder and awe. How did this old text focusing on experiences beyond the rational come to hold such fascination for philosophers and political thinkers during the Age of Enlightenment? What is the relationship between current events in politics and public culture and the recent revival of scholarly interest in the sublime? Beyond revolution and war, course readings will explore the limits of human comprehension and apprehension in environmental politics, debates over fetal rights, and the fear of confronting people different from ourselves. Though we will regularly take up examples drawn from the worlds of art, literature, politics, and the mass media, our central focus will be on the careful reading of philosophical and critical texts, including Kant's Critique of Judgment and writings from among the following authors: Edmund Burke, Friedrich Schiller, G.F.W. Hegel, Slavoj Zizek, Hannah Arendt, Bonnie Mann, Christine Battersby, and Jean-Francois Lyotard. [ more ]

MAST 351 / PSCI 319 / ENVI 351(F, S)Marine Policy

This seminar utilizes the interdisciplinary background of the other Williams-Mystic courses to examine national and international contemporary issues in our relationship with ocean and coastal resources. This seminar takes a topical approach to the study of marine law and policy, examining fisheries, harbor development, coastal zone management, admiralty law, law of the sea, marine pollution, and shipping. [ more ]

HIST 371 / ENVI 371The History of U.S. Environmental Politics

Not offered this year

The politics surrounding the environment today are a super-heated source of conflict, at the same time that most opinion polls show that Americans widely embrace many environmental protections. While environmental concerns have long been a part of local politics in America, this course will largely explore the emergence and prominence of environmental issues in national politics from the first organized conservation efforts in the late nineteenth century to the present-day concerns with the global environment. Throughout the course, we will investigate both how changes in the environment have shaped American politics and how political decisions have altered the American, as well as the global environment, with particular attention to which groups of people have had, or have not had, access to political processes and institutions. [ more ]

ECON 386 / ENVI 386Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management

Not offered this year

Policymakers in developed and developing countries struggle to manage natural resources and to protect the environment from excessive degradation while attending to pressing human needs. Economics has a rich body of advice to help achieve these goals. In this course, we will study environmental policy and natural resource management from a microeconomic (and, to a lesser extent, macroeconomic) perspective. We will explore relevant economic theory, look for empirical evidence in scholarly studies, and study actual policies as they have been implemented. The course is undergirded by concepts like sustainability, welfare within and across generations, market failure, and valuation of environmental assets. We will continually emphasize issues of efficiency and equity. Again and again we will see that the challenges are both technical and ethical, as society is forced to make troubling tradeoffs. Topics in the class will include pollution (with a focus on climate change and on incentive-based policies like tax and "cap-and-trade"), management of nonrenewable and renewable resources (including resources like oil, forests, and fisheries), and energy (with its obvious links to resource use and climate change). We will also examine the relationship between development and the environment, touching on controversial topics such as the "natural resources curse" and the relationship between economic growth and the demand for environmental quality. [ more ]

Society and Culture

Theory/method courses

ENVI 209 / AMST 209 / ANTH 209(F)Ecologies of Place: Culture, Commodities and Everyday Life

This course will explore the environmental implications of everyday life in modern America. It will ask how cultural, political, economic, and ecological systems interact to produce ordinary places and vernacular landscapes, from campuses to cul-de-sacs, farms to forests, nation-states to national parks. Combining approaches from cultural geography, environmental history, and political ecology, it will focus on the hidden lives of "things"--the commodities and technologies that form the basic building blocks of place: food, oil, water, wood, machines. With strong emphasis on local-global relations, it will look beneath the surface of the ordinary to reveal the complex networks of power, meaning, and matter that connect "here" to "there," "now" to "then," and "us" to "them." In so doing, it will pursue parallel goals: to understand the socio-spatial processes shaping today's global environment; and to explore the cultural systems through which those processes are understood and contested. Topics will include the bottled water controversy, factory farming and local agriculture, the political economy of lawns, and the cultural politics of invasive species. [ more ]

ENVI 217 / AMST 216(S)Environmental Humanities: Theory and Practice

How does culture shape our use and imagination of the physical environment? And how does the physical environment shape culture in turn? These are the central questions of the environmental humanities. This course will explore the various ways in which scholars from a broad range of disciplines have sought to answer these questions by incorporating insights from social theory and cultural criticism. Focusing on studies of socio-environmental conflict in the United States and Latin America from the time of European colonization to the present, it will examine key works from environmental history, ecocriticism, environmental philosophy, and cultural geography, and it will survey the major methodological and theoretical commitments that unite these fields. Emphasis will be placed on environmental justice and the ideological critique of modernity. How have scholars made environmental sense of liberalism, colonialism, capitalism, nationalism, sexism, and racism? How have these "isms" influenced our relations with the natural world, and how can the humanities help us both understand and change these relations for the better? This course fulfills the Exploring Diversity requirement. [ more ]

ENVI 239 / COMP 239Introduction to Ecocriticism: North-South Dialogues on Nature and Culture

Not offered this year

This course will introduce students to the study of the relationship between literature and the environment, often referred to as 'ecocriticism,' through careful examination of Jean de Lery's 1577 History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil and related texts. Lery's fascinating account of a yearlong stay among the 'cannibals' of Brazil gets at many of the themes and debates taken up by ecocritics today: How do political, economic, religious and philosophical factors influence individual and collective conceptions of 'nature' and its value? How do acts of reading and writing inform (or deform) our understanding of the 'natural' world? What is the role of aesthetics in environmental politics, and how can unspoken assumptions about race, gender, and cultural difference influence representations of global environmental issues like deforestation and global warming? Envi 239/Comp 238 fulfills the goals of the Exploring Diversity Initiative by contextualizing current questions of international environmental policy within the long history of colonialism, challenging students to think about cultural diversity as well as economic inequality as relevant to contemporary debates about the value and distribution of natural resources. In addition to Lery's History, we will also read landmarks of ecocritical theory by scholars including Lawrence Buell, William Cronon, Candace Slater and Jorge Marcone, as well as more recent literary interventions into environmental issues in the Americas. [ more ]

Society and Culture electives group A

ECON 204 / ENVI 234Economics of Developing Countries

Not offered this year

This course is an introduction to the economics of development. The central question is: why are some people and nations poor? And what can governments (or donors) do to reduce poverty? Possible topics include agricultural productivity, health, education, microfinance, child labor, corruption, resource utilization and pollution, and intellectual property rights. We shall also discuss the extent to which market-friendly reforms (such as trade liberalization) can reduce poverty. [ more ]

ENVI 208Science and Politics in Environmental Decision Making

Not offered this year

This course explores the relationship between science and politics in environmental decision-making. How do legislators know when a species is endangered and warrants protection? What precautions should be applied in allowing genetically modified foods onto our plates? Can we, and should we, weigh the risks of malaria against the impacts of pesticides used to control those mosquitoes that transmit the disease? How has the global community come together to understand the risks from global climate change, and how has this understanding shaped our policy responses? What are some of the limits of science in shaping policy outcomes? In addressing these and other questions, we will pay particular attention to how power relations and existing institutions shape what knowledge, and whose knowledge, is taken on board in decision-making, be it at the local, national or global level. We will delve into how these dynamics shape policy outcomes and we will also examine novel approaches for incorporating the knowledge of traditionally disempowered groups, including indigenous and local communities. [ more ]

ECON 213 / ENVI 213(S)Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resources Economics

Economists love free markets, but many people fear that market-driven economic growth and consumption are endangering the natural environment. In fact, core economic theories predict that people and firms, left to their own devices, will often tend to pollute too much, conserve too little, overfish common waters, and cut down too many trees. These predictions seem to be borne out by the world's environmental problems. Fortunately, economics offers tools to address these issues, and these tools are increasingly gaining attention in the policy world. In this course, we will survey environmental and natural resource economics, fields that work to inform policy with attention to both natural assets and human needs. We will focus on real-world problems, mostly from a microeconomic perspective. Underlying issues in these fields include: why markets might be inefficient where the environment and natural resources are concerned; whether and how to value the benefits we receive from the environment; and how to carefully evaluate policies. We will study the economists' perspective on sustainability and we'll discuss how sustainability, growth, and human wellbeing relate to each other. We will study the use of non-renewable resources (like oil) and renewable resources (like trees and fish), and we will spend some time talking about energy and energy policy. We will examine issues related to pollution, looking at traditional "command and control" regulations and at market-based pollution control policies. Climate change is a pressing global problem, and we will study current and proposed climate policies and the role economics can play. We may cover other topics, including international development, food, agriculture, and water. [ more ]

ECON 228 T / ENVI 228(S)Water as a Scarce Resource

For a variety of reasons including environmental pollution, urbanization, changing agricultural techniques, resource mismanagement, and the consequences of climate change, water is becoming a scarce resource even in places where it was relatively plentiful in the past, and it is likely to become an increasingly scarce resource over the coming decades. In this course we will use basic economic models to consider policy issues relating to water: Is access to water a basic human right, and if so, what market and non-market mechanisms should play a role in water allocation? Does public ownership of water improve the way it is provided and used? Why do societies differ in their approaches to allocating water and are some systems better than others? What does it mean to have a property right to water? Could private property rights to water help address the water pollution problem? How can societies change their water-related property rights, regulations and social institutions when individuals have implicit or explicit rights to the institutional status quo? Who has the right to water that crosses international boundaries? How should societies allocate water across generations? [ more ]

ECON 229(F)Law and Economics

This course applies the tools of microeconomic analysis to private (i.e., civil) law. This analysis has both positive and normative aspects. The positive aspects deal with how individuals respond to the incentives created by the legal system. Examples include: how intellectual property law encourages the creation of knowledge while simultaneously restricting the dissemination of intellectual property; how tort law motivates doctors to avoid malpractice suits; and how contract law facilitates agreements. The normative aspects of the analysis ask whether legal rules enhance economic efficiency (or, more broadly, social welfare). Examples include: what legal rules are most appropriate for mitigating pollution, ensuring safe driving, and guaranteeing workplace safety? The course will also cover the economics of legal systems; for example, what are the incentives for plaintiffs to initiate lawsuits and what role do lawyers play in determining outcomes. The course will also consider potential reforms of the legal system. In the 2014-15 academic year, the course will place more emphasis on intellectual property law as part of the campus-wide initiative, "The Book Unbound," associated with the opening of the new library. [ more ]

ENVI 283 / PSCI 283Dirty Politics: Regulating Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes

Not offered this year

Since consumers were first introduced to the promise of "better living through chemistry," society has had to wrestle with the impacts, often far removed in place and time, resulting from a rapid proliferation of hazardous chemicals and wastes. Policy responses, be they at the local, national or global scale, are often limited to reactionary efforts to counter releases into the environment, are constrained by the prevalent use of the technologies in question, and further bring to the fore key challenges of environmental justice and risk management. How then are we to regulate DDT without adversely affecting our fight against mosquito-borne malaria? How might we preserve the ozone layer while still maintaining the benefits of food preservation through refrigeration? How can we reap the benefits of the electronic age without condoning the steady flow of electronic waste affecting workers' health and environments in developing countries? Emphasis will be placed on understanding the politics that bring about, and allow us to address, these problems. We will be examining in particular novel policy responses, including Europe's precautionary safe use law, citizen science initiatives and consumer driven certification schemes. [ more ]

SCST 309 / PSCI 301 / ENVI 309 / HSCI 309(S)Environmental Politics and Policy

This course will provide an overview of environmental policy-making, with an emphasis on the ways in which policies are developed and implemented at the local, state and national level. Special attention will be paid to the variety of actors that shape environmental outcomes, including legislators, administrators, the science community, civil society and the private sector. Following an examination of different models of environmental policy-making, this course will focus on several case studies, including on the management of public lands, air and water pollution, climate change and endangered species protection. [ more ]

ENVI 328 / PSCI 328Global Environmental Politics

Not offered this year

This seminar draws on the last four decades of international efforts to regulate the environmental commons. The process of negotiating and implementing international environmental treaties will be a core focus of the course, yet emphasis will also be placed on emerging non-state means of addressing global environmental challenges. A variety of challenges faced in global environmental policymaking (compliance, participation by civil society and industry, incorporation of science, efficiency.) will be examined through the study of several international regimes, including on climate change, endangered species, biodiversity, biosafety and chemicals management. [ more ]

MAST 351 / PSCI 319 / ENVI 351(F, S)Marine Policy

This seminar utilizes the interdisciplinary background of the other Williams-Mystic courses to examine national and international contemporary issues in our relationship with ocean and coastal resources. This seminar takes a topical approach to the study of marine law and policy, examining fisheries, harbor development, coastal zone management, admiralty law, law of the sea, marine pollution, and shipping. [ more ]

HIST 371 / ENVI 371The History of U.S. Environmental Politics

Not offered this year

The politics surrounding the environment today are a super-heated source of conflict, at the same time that most opinion polls show that Americans widely embrace many environmental protections. While environmental concerns have long been a part of local politics in America, this course will largely explore the emergence and prominence of environmental issues in national politics from the first organized conservation efforts in the late nineteenth century to the present-day concerns with the global environment. Throughout the course, we will investigate both how changes in the environment have shaped American politics and how political decisions have altered the American, as well as the global environment, with particular attention to which groups of people have had, or have not had, access to political processes and institutions. [ more ]

ECON 383(F)Cities, Regions and the Economy

Cities and urbanization can have significant impacts on the economy. In many developed economies, a process of regional decline is associated with older, industrial cities. In developing countries, the process of economic growth is generally associated with increasing urbanization. Urbanization, with its increasing concentration of population and production, puts particular pressure on markets to allocate resources for provision of land, housing, transportation, labor and public goods. Urbanization can alter the productivity of land, labor, and capital in ways that can improve the welfare of residents and the performance of the broader economy. In this course we will examine these conflicting economic forces and examine some recent research that contributes to our understanding of the difference between regional growth and decline, and the role that the urban structure plays in these processes. We will examine the function of land, housing, transportation, and labor markets in the urban context, and the scope for public policies to improve the performance of the regional economy. [ more ]

ECON 386 / ENVI 386Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management

Not offered this year

Policymakers in developed and developing countries struggle to manage natural resources and to protect the environment from excessive degradation while attending to pressing human needs. Economics has a rich body of advice to help achieve these goals. In this course, we will study environmental policy and natural resource management from a microeconomic (and, to a lesser extent, macroeconomic) perspective. We will explore relevant economic theory, look for empirical evidence in scholarly studies, and study actual policies as they have been implemented. The course is undergirded by concepts like sustainability, welfare within and across generations, market failure, and valuation of environmental assets. We will continually emphasize issues of efficiency and equity. Again and again we will see that the challenges are both technical and ethical, as society is forced to make troubling tradeoffs. Topics in the class will include pollution (with a focus on climate change and on incentive-based policies like tax and "cap-and-trade"), management of nonrenewable and renewable resources (including resources like oil, forests, and fisheries), and energy (with its obvious links to resource use and climate change). We will also examine the relationship between development and the environment, touching on controversial topics such as the "natural resources curse" and the relationship between economic growth and the demand for environmental quality. [ more ]

ECON 457Public Economics Research Seminar

Not offered this year

In this class, students will learn how to read, critically evaluate, and begin to produce empirical research on important and interesting public policy questions. Topics will be selected from across the spectrum of public economics issues and may vary from year to year. Examples of specific topics that may be covered include education, environmental policy, taxation, income inequality, anti-poverty policy, health care policy, the economics of crime and corruption, and the implications of behavioral economics and psychology for public policy (we will typically only cover a subset of these topics). Applications will be drawn mostly from the United States but we will also consider some issues and evidence from other industrialized and developing countries. The course will especially emphasize the critical analysis of empirical evidence on public policy questions. [ more ]

Society and Culture electives group B

ENVI 209 / AMST 209 / ANTH 209(F)Ecologies of Place: Culture, Commodities and Everyday Life

This course will explore the environmental implications of everyday life in modern America. It will ask how cultural, political, economic, and ecological systems interact to produce ordinary places and vernacular landscapes, from campuses to cul-de-sacs, farms to forests, nation-states to national parks. Combining approaches from cultural geography, environmental history, and political ecology, it will focus on the hidden lives of "things"--the commodities and technologies that form the basic building blocks of place: food, oil, water, wood, machines. With strong emphasis on local-global relations, it will look beneath the surface of the ordinary to reveal the complex networks of power, meaning, and matter that connect "here" to "there," "now" to "then," and "us" to "them." In so doing, it will pursue parallel goals: to understand the socio-spatial processes shaping today's global environment; and to explore the cultural systems through which those processes are understood and contested. Topics will include the bottled water controversy, factory farming and local agriculture, the political economy of lawns, and the cultural politics of invasive species. [ more ]

ANTH 210 / ENVI 210 / JLST 210(S)Governing Nature

This course analyzes the regulation of natural resources, primarily in today's United States. We will study how shared definitions of nature and, hence, nature's resources are instituted in law and policy and the extent to which these legal mandates shape actual landscapes. We will examine the workings of government bureaucracies--for example, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service--to see how their understanding and administration of natural resources operate on the ground and affect local communities. We will consider an array of questions: What is the relationship between nature and what anthropologists call "the State"? Does scientific expertise command authority? When is the governance of natural resources synonymous with the governance of people? To what extent are taken-for-granted terms like "endangered" in reality social and legal constructs? In order to unpack these and other puzzles, we will turn to historical works and ethnography, focusing on insights from political and environmental anthropology. We will also read legal doctrine, such as the Wilderness Act of 1964 and judicial opinions regarding tribal sovereignty and fishing rights. Our case studies will range from rivers and national forests in the American Southwest to local conservation issues in the Berkshires, including land trusts. [ more ]

AFR 211 / AMST 211 / ENVI 211 / SOC 211(F)Race and the Environment

In contemporary societies, race remains an enduring impediment to the achievement of equality. Generally understood as a socially meaningful way of classifying human bodies hierarchically, race manifests itself in a number of arenas, including personal experience, economic production and distribution, and political organization. In this course, we will explore how race emerges in local and global environmental issues, like pollution and climate change. We will begin with a review of some of the landmark texts in Environmental Studies that address "environmental racism," like Robert Bullard's Dumping in Dixie and David Pellow's Garbage Wars. We will examine how and to what extent polluting facilities like landfills, oil refineries, and sewage treatment plants are disproportionately located in communities of color; we will also pay attention to how specific corporations create the underlying rationale for plotting industrial sites. After outlining some of the core issues raised in this scholarship, we will turn to cultural productions--like literature, film, and music--to understand how people of color respond to environmental injustice and imagine the natural world. [ more ]

ENVI 212 / AMST 214 / AFR 218(F, S)African American Environmental Culture from Slavery to Environmental Justice

Until the environmental justice movement rose to prominence over the past few decades and invited a more critical perspective on the connection between race and the environment, popular understanding of the American environmental (and environmentalist) tradition had effectively been whitewashed. But why? This course will work to find answers to that question while unearthing the deeper roots of African American environmental culture in conversation with key moments in African American history; from slavery to sharecropping, from migration and urbanization to environmental justice. With an interdisciplinary approach that considers sources as diverse as slave narratives, fiction, poetry, songs, photographs, maps, and ethnographies, we will consider African American intellectuals, writers, and visual and musical artists not always associated with environmental thought, from W.E.B. Du Bois and Zora Neale Hurston to the Black Panthers and Marvin Gaye. Evaluation considers active, informed participation in class discussion based on assigned readings, midterm and final exams, and three 5-7 page essays. Students are also expected to research and respond to one news article exploring some aspect of the intersection between race and the environment over the course of the semester, and to share your findings with the class for discussion. This course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiative requirement by examining the themes of empathetic understanding and power and privilege. Among many other paths of inquiry, we will examine how African American environmental culture has evolved in conversation with an historical context of discrimination, racism, and inequality. [ more ]

ENVI 219 / ANTH 218(F)Topics in Sustainable Agriculture

What does sustainability mean in the context of agricultural practice, food production, and consumption? This course encourages students to think analytically and critically about the meanings and practices of sustainability in the context of food and agriculture. We examine diverse regional and historic contexts to explore how concerns about sustainability in relation to agricultural production and food consumption emerged, and explore the contemporary incarnations of sustainable agriculture in organic, fair trade, and local agriculture as well as in debates around food miles, biofuels, and genetic modification. Cutting across each of these individual topics, we will think about the connections between production and consumption, ecology and society. By the end of this course, it is expected that students will develop a multifaceted understanding of the social, political and cultural dimensions of sustainable food and agriculture. [ more ]

LATS 220 / AMST 221 / ENVI 221Introduction to Urban Studies: Shaping and Living the City

Not offered this year

Generally, cities have been described either as vibrant commercial and cultural centers or as violent and decaying urban slums. In an effort to begin to think more critically about cities, this course introduces important topics in the interdisciplinary field of Urban Studies. Specifically, we will discuss concepts and theories used to examine the peoples and structures that make up cities: In what ways do socio-cultural, economic, and political factors affect urban life and development? How are cities planned and used by various stakeholders (politicians, developers, businesses, and residents)? How do people make meaning of the places they inhabit? We will pay particular attention to the roles of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in understanding and interpreting urban communities. Texts include works by anthropologists, historians, sociologists, cultural critics, cultural geographers, and literary writers. [ more ]

MAST 231 / ENGL 231(F, S)Literature of the Sea

Taking advantage of our maritime museum, coastal setting, and three field seminars, we study canonical and lesser-known American novelists, travel writers, and poets who set their works in the watery world, often in the exact places where we travel as a class. We read, for example--depending on fall or spring semester--Hemingway when sailing on the Straits of Florida, Steinbeck when exploring Cannery Row on Monterey Bay, and Twain on a steamboat on the Mississippi. We read Rachel Carson beside the Mystic River estuary, Chopin on the sands of the Gulf of Mexico, Kipling out on Georges Bank, and Melville's masterpiece Moby-Dick aboard Mystic Seaport's historic whaleship, the Charles W. Morgan, a vessel nearly identical to the vessel he climbed aboard at age twenty-one. In the classroom we examine these works through a mixture of lecture, small-group discussion, and formal and creative writing. To further appreciation and analysis, this interdisciplinary course uses students' emerging knowledge of maritime history and marine science. Other authors and poets include, depending on fall or spring: Richard Henry Dana, Jr., Walt Whitman, Jack London, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop, Frederick Douglass, Timothy Egan, and Ursula K. Le Guin. [ more ]

PSCI 235 / ENVI 235(F)Environmental Political Theory

What is the relationship between politics and nature? Today, this question has been given special urgency by the reality of environmental degradation and the efforts of social movements that seek a more sustainable future. But the nature-politics relationship is also a longstanding source of controversy and insight within the history of political thought. In this class, we will consider the efforts of both canonical and contemporary political theorists to fashion political principles suited to organizing the comportment of human communities towards non-human nature. The texts we read will prompt us to question common presuppositions about human nature and the material settings of political life. They will also challenge us to reconsider the actors, spaces, and knowledge that constitute politics. By putting contemporary scholarly and activist visions of environmental justice and sustainability into dialogue with works by Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, and others, we will become more familiar with the theoretical roots of contemporary debates about the environment and better equipped to notice elisions in both past and present conceptions of nature and politics. The course will primarily be driven by discussion, often introduced by 15-20 minute lectures. [ more ]

PHIL 236Contemporary Ethical Theory

Not offered this year

Is sacrificing an individual's welfare for the sake of the community ever justified, or does each individual have an inviolable status that must be respected? Should moral considerations always take priority over personal projects and intimate relationships, or are there some spheres in which we should be free to pursue our goals without concern for morality? We will explore these and related questions by systematically comparing the two dominant ethical theories of the 20th century, consequentialism and deontology. While both find their roots in earlier thinkers -- consequentialism in Mill and Sidgwick, deontology in Kant -- our focus will be on contemporary developments of these views. We'll conclude by examining contractualism, which attempts to transcend the divide between consequentialist and deontological views. Readings include works by Bentham, Mill, Nozick, Railton, Brink, Williams, Wolf, Taurek, Rawls, Smart, Scheffler, Nagel, Kant, Kamm, Quinn, Kagan, Ross, and Scanlon. [ more ]

HSCI 240 / HIST 295(F)Technology and Science in American Culture

Although technologically dependent, the American colonies slowly built a network of native scientists and inventors whose skills helped shape the United States' response to the Industrial Revolution. The interaction of science, technology, and society in the nineteenth century did much to form American identity: the machine in the garden, through the "American System of Manufactures" helped America rise to technological prominence; the professionalization and specialization of science and engineering led to their becoming vital national resources. Understanding these developments, as well as the heroic age of American invention (1865-1914), forms the focus of this course: how science and technology have helped shape modern American life. [ more ]

ENVI 252 / AMST 252(S)A Perfect Storm: How Economic and Environmental Disaster Defined America During the Depression

What happens to environmental priorities and perspectives when the economy crashes? Since 2008, the "Great Recession" has been disastrous not only for Americans' financial well-being, but also for the political will to take action on climate change (to name just one environmental issue). But it wasn't always this way. The 1930s, one of the most traumatic decades of the twentieth century in America, actually spurred environmentally-conscious action in an economic context far worse than what we are experiencing today. Why? This class will explore the many ways Americans understood their diverse local environments and took action to save them during the Great Depression. Although the Dust Bowl is perhaps the most iconic of these environmental upheavals during the 1930s, this course will explore diverse geographical regions: from the Appalachian mountains to the (de)forested Upper Midwest, from the agricultural South to the Dust Bowl plains and the water-starved West. In each region, we will trace the impacts of economic turmoil on the environment and the people who depended on it for their livelihoods, as well as the way the economic disaster paved the way for the federal government's unprecedented intervention in environmental matters. Key texts will include John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (along with the John Ford film adaptation) and Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. [ more ]

PSCI 273 / ENVI 273(F)Politics without Humans?

Are human beings the only beings who belong in politics? And is political involvement a unique or defining aspect of what it means to be human? Such questions are increasingly complex as the boundaries of "the human" become blurred by the rise of artificial intelligence, robotics, and brain implants: shifting attitudes towards both animal and human bodies; and the automation of economic and military decisions (buy! sell! attack! retreat!) that used to be the prerogative of human actors. How do visions of politics without humans and humans without politics impact our thinking about longstanding questions of freedom, power, and right? Can and should the link between humans and politics survive in an age in which "posthuman" or "transhuman" entities become central characters in the drama of politics? This class will consider these questions through readings, films and artifacts that bring political theory into conversation with science fiction, popular literature on the so-called "singularity" (the merger of humans with computers), science and technology studies, evolutionary anthropology, "new materialist" philosophy, and feminist theory. [ more ]

REL 287 / ENVI 287The Dynamics of Globalization: Society, Religion and the Environment

Not offered this year

This course offers a theoretical reflection on the social, cultural and environmental dynamics of globalization and their consequences for the nature and place of religion. Rather than argue for or against globalization, we first examine the nature of this new configuration and its relation to (post)modernity, asking questions such as: What are the cultural and social dynamics of globalization? What are the effects on the nature of the state and the political practices that take place in the global world? What are its environmental consequences? We then shift to examining the role of religion, arguing that its renewed relevance is a function of the socio-cultural transformations that globalization brings about, particularly the loss of community and the increasing atomization of individuals. We conclude by examining some of the perspectives created by the new religious expressions that attempt to respond to this situation, from personal spiritual quests as manifested in interest in Buddhism, ecology or mountain climbing, to various forms of fundamentalism, such as Evangelicalism, the fastest growing religious movement in the Americas, and the most radical forms of Islamicism. Reading list: Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity; Castells, The Rise of the Network Society; Bauman, Globalization; Kivisto, Multiculturalism in a Global Society; Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World; Ortner, Life and Death on Mt. Everest; Matthews, Global Cultura/ Individual Identity; Shuck, Mark of the Beast; Roy, Globalized Islam. [ more ]

ENVI 291 / REL 291 / SOC 291Religion and the American Environmental Imagination

Not offered this year

This course examines the relationship between religious and environmental thought in the modern United States. Focusing on the complex and closely linked legacies of Christianity, secularism, and popular spirituality, we will explore the religious and anti-religious roots of contemporary environmental discourse. Along the way, we will pursue a set of vexing questions about environmental thought: Is environmentalism a religion? If so, what kind of religion is it? If not, why not (and why do we even ask)? Is anti-environmentalism religiously motivated? Could religion be the cause of our ecological crisis? Could it be the solution? For answers, we will look to the writings of thinkers such as John Muir, Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold, and Wendell Berry, as well as a number of lesser-known authors. We will read these authors alongside recent scholarship in the social sciences and humanities to understand how their thinking was influenced by social and environmental trends such as urbanization, industrialization, immigration, and globalization. We will also ask how religion has intersected with gender, race, class, and ethnicity to shape environmental politics in the twenty-first century. Finally, we will pay particularly close attention to episodes of conflict and cooperation between the environmental movement and religious conservatives during the past forty years, and we will analyze popular religious media from this period alongside the writings and visual productions of environmentalists. [ more ]

AMST 302 / PSCI 335Public Sphere/Public Space

Not offered this year

The "public sphere," one of the core concepts of modern democratic thought, has taken on renewed significance in intellectual life today. This writing-intensive seminar looks briefly at the evolution of the term, but concentrates on its relevance to contemporary politics. Our investigations will center on the character and meanings of public space. We will look at space both as a key metaphor in political theory and as a medium of everyday practical struggle: that is, we will examine not only some of the most influential conceptions of public life, but also the political forces shaping and shaped by the practical design and use of the built environment. These examinations will combine critical reading and analytical writing with field observations, group work, and oral presentations. Our primary focus will be on the following topics: the relationship between ideas of citizenship and models of the public; the racing, gendering, and class-stratification of spaces (civic, residential, commercial, etc.); urbanity and suburbanization; the kinds of spaces and politics opened and closed by the internet and contemporary mass media; the effects of contemporary processes of globalization on political identity and democratic practices. Likely authors include Arendt, Berman, Davis, Delany, Foucault, Fraser, Gamson, Habermas, Hall, Harvey, Holston, Sennett, Sunstein, Virilio. [ more ]

ANSO 305(F)Social Theory

An introduction to social theory in anthropology and sociology, with strong emphasis on enduring themes that cut across disciplinary divides. What is modern about modern social theory? How do social thinkers construe "society"? How and why does "society" become an object of reflection and intervention by anthropologists and sociologists? Do society and culture have organizing rules? What role does human agency play in the unfolding of social life, and where does that sense of agency come from in the first place? What are the forces that animate social interaction on the level of individuals, social groups and complex units like nation states? What are the possibilities and limits of systematic approaches to the study of human social experience? The course emphasizes major differences between interpretive frameworks as well as the common elements that contribute to a deeper understanding of the social world. [ more ]

ENVI 313 / AMST 312 / LATS 312Chicago

Not offered this year

"The city of big shoulders has plenty of room for diversity," reads the official visitor's website for the City of Chicago. Focusing on this claim, this course asks students to think critically about what kind room has been made for diversity--social, spatial, and ideological. Additionally we examine the ways in which diverse social actors have shouldered their way into the imagined and physical landscape of the city. Working with ethnography, history, literature, critical essays, and popular culture, we will explore the material and discursive constructions of Chi-Town and urban life among its residents. Appreciating these constructions we also consider how Chicago has served as a key site for understandings of urbanity within a broader national and global context. [ more ]

ENVI 320 / ANTH 320(S)Cultivating the Local: Place-based Productions of Food and Agriculture

This course explores the relation between ideas and practices relating to nature, food and agriculture, and specific formations of place, locality and region. Through this course we will lay conceptual and theoretical foundations for understanding the productions of place, nature, food and agriculture, and the interconnections among them. How do socially constructed ideas about nature, agrarian landscapes, and even particular environmental qualities such as soil and water, shape the formation of categories such as city, country, and region or even of specific food products? Through what processes do particular food products come to be distinctively place-based? How do we understand the seeming shift to place-based agriculture and food production, in the context of an industrialized and increasingly intricate global food system that has often homogenized and standardized food production? How is locality produced through food and agriculture, and how are food and agriculture produced through claims to locality and place? These interconnections, and the relations of power interlaced in them, are salient in contemporary praxis, and the course builds on grounded, conceptual understandings to explore contemporary phenomena such as the appellation d'origine controlee in France's wine producing regions, the development of Geographic Indication within the World Trade Organization, the formation of "Organic Uttarakhand" that is the subject of my own research, and the affective economies generated through artisanal food production. Through an interdisciplinary approach that brings together scholarship in anthropology, social and cultural history, sociology, and cultural geography, this course aims to foster expansive, grounded and critical understandings about the connections among nature, food, agriculture and place-making. [ more ]

COMP 328 / AMST 318 / ENVI 318 / LATS 318 / REL 318California: Myths, Peoples, Places

Not offered this year

"Now I wish you to know about the strangest thing ever found anywhere in written texts or in human memory...I tell you that on the right-hand side of the Indies there was an island called California, which was very close to the region of the Earthly Paradise." As far as we know, the name "California" was first written in this passage by Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo, ca. 1510. Within a few decades, it came to be placed first on the peninsula of Baja California and then upon a region stretching up the Western coast of North America. What aspects of this vision are still drawn upon in how we imagine California today? How did certain narratives of California come to be, who has imagined California in certain ways, and why? What is the relationship between certain myths, the peoples who have imagined them, and the other peoples who have shared California dreams? In this course, we will examine some of the myths that surround California by looking at a few specific moments of interaction between the peoples who have come to make California home and the specific places in which they have interacted with each other. Of special interest will be imaginations of the Spanish missions, the Gold Rush, agricultural California, wilderness California, California as "sprawling multicultural dystopia," and California as "west of the west." [ more ]

PSCI 334Theorizing Global Justice

Not offered this year

While economic exchanges, cultural convergence, and technological innovations have brought people in different parts of the world closer together than ever before, globalization has also amplified differences in material wealth and social inequalities. Ill health, inadequate sanitation, and lack of access to safe drinking water are increasingly common. Yet, more than ever before, the means exist in affluent regions of the world to alleviate the worst forms of suffering and enhance the well-being of the poorest people. How are we to understand this contradiction as a matter of justice? What is the relationship between justice and equality, and what do we owe one another in a deeply divided world? Course readings will engage your thinking on the central debates in moral philosophy, normative approaches to international political economy, and grassroots efforts to secure justice for women and other severely disadvantaged groups. Key theorists include John Rawls, Onora O'Neill, Thomas Pogge, Paul Farmer, Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, Manfred Steger, Saskia Sassen, Susan George, Vandana Shiva, Majid Rahnema and Gustavo Esteva. [ more ]

PSYC 346 / ENVI 346(F)Environmental Psychology

This is a course in social psychology as it pertains to the natural environment. We will consider how the environment influences aspects of human psychology (e.g., the psychological implications of humans' disconnect with nature), as well as how human psychology influences the environment (e.g., why some people engage in environmentally destructive behaviors despite holding proenvironmental attitudes). At the core of this course is an attempt to examine various ways in which research and theory in social psychology can contribute insights to understanding (and encouraging) environmentally responsible behavior and sustainable practices, both here at Williams and globally. Because human choice and behavior play such an important role in environmental problems, a consideration of human psychology may therefore be an important part of the solution. [ more ]

MAST 352 / HIST 352(F, S)America and the Sea, 1600-Present

This course focuses on the history of America's relationship to the sea from the age of discovery through the heyday of merchant sail to the triumph of steam and the challenges of the twentieth century. Readings in primary sources and secondary works on the social, economic, and diplomatic implications of maritime activities culminate in a research paper. Topics such as shipbuilding, whaling, and fisheries are studied through museum exhibits and artifacts in the material culture component of the course. [ more ]

ENVI 353 / AMST 353(F, S)Apocalypse in Post-War America: Environmental Fear From the Atomic Age to Climate Change

One dominant strain of the postwar American environmental imagination has been fear, from diffuse anxiety to paralyzing terror. This course will explore this culture of fear through a variety of topics in postwar American environmental consciousness, including the specter of atomic annihilation, the anti-ecotoxics and environmental justice movements, food security, and climate change. We will also explore issues surrounding the idea of wilderness, the relation of native peoples and other minority groups with the landscape, the natural environment in urban spaces, human labor in the natural environment, and the ways in which a variety of disciplinary perspectives such as law, politics, and public health inform our historical understanding of environmental fear. Key texts will include Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road. [ more ]

SOC 368(F)Technology and Modern Society

With widespread use of new social media, controversial developments in such bio-technical practices as the cloning of mammals, rapid advances in various forms of telecommunication, and the increasing sophistication of technological weaponry in the military, the triumph of technology remains a defining feature of modern life. For the most part, modern humans remain unflinchingly confident in the possibilities technology holds for continuing to improve the human condition. Indisputably, technology has benefited human life in innumerable ways. However, as with other features of modernity, technology has also had significant, albeit largely unanticipated, social consequences. Working within a sociological paradigm, this course will focus on the less often examined latent functions of technology in modern society. It will consider, for example, the social effects of technology on community life, on privacy, and on how people learn, think, understand the world, communicate, and organize themselves. The course will also examine the effects of technology on medicine, education, criminal law, and agriculture and will consider such counter-cultural reactions to technology as the Luddite movement in early nineteenth century England, Amish agrarian practices, and the CSA (community supported agriculture) movement. [ more ]

SCST 401Senior Seminar: Critical Perspectives on Science and Technology

Not offered this year

A research-oriented course designed to give students direct experience in evaluating and assessing scientific and technological issues. Students initially study particular techniques and methodologies by employing a case study approach. They then apply these methods to a major research project. Students may choose topics from fields such as biotechnology, computers, biomedical engineering, energy, and other resource development. Students will apply their background of historical, philosophical, and technological perspectives in carrying out their study. [ more ]

LATS 408 / AMST 408Envisioning Urban Life: Objects, Subjects, and Everyday People

Not offered this year

What is the relationship between real life in urban communities and the multiple ways in which they are imagined? What does it mean to be "urban," to live in an "urban community," or to be the product of an "urban environment"? Who do we think the people are who populate these spaces? This course takes a critical look at specific populations, periods, and problems that have come to dominate and characterize our conceptions of the quality, form, and function of U.S. urban life. A few of the topics we may cover include historical accounts of the varied ways in which poverty and "urban culture" have been studied; race, class, and housing; the spatial practices of urban youth and the urban elderly; and gendered perspectives on social mobility and community activism. Finally, this course will explore how diverse social actors negotiate responses to their socio-spatial and economic circumstances, and, in the process, help envision and create different dimensions of the urban experience. The course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiative requirement as it explores how various forms of urban inequality affect the collective experience of social actors in diverse race and class categories. It focuses on the complex and contradictory ways in which urban residents confront, negotiate, and at times challenge social and structural inequalities and the changing political economy of U.S. cities. [ more ]

HIST 478 / AMST 478 / ENVI 478(S)Cold War Landscapes

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union set in motion dramatic changes to the natural and built environments of many nations between 1945 and 1991. Nuclear test and missile launch sites, naval installations, military production operations, and border securitizations are just a few of the most obvious ways in which the stand-off between the two countries altered rural and urban landscapes around the world. But one can also see the Cold War as setting in motion less immediately direct but nonetheless profound changes to the way that many people saw and planned for the environments around them, as evidenced, for instance, by the rise of the American suburb, the reconstruction of postwar Europe, and agricultural and industrial initiatives in many developing nations. We will begin this seminar by exploring several distinct "Cold War landscapes" in the United States, then move on to examining others in Europe and the Soviet Union. We will spend the final weeks of the semester discussing examples from other parts of the world. Our approach to our topics will be interdisciplinary throughout the semester, and students are welcome to write their research papers on any geographical area of the world. [ more ]