The Center for Environmental Studies

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Environmental issues call upon citizens, organizations, and governments to grasp complex scientific concepts, address conflicting human values, and make difficult economic, political and ethical choices. The three curricular options in Environmental Studies—the major in Environmental Studies and the concentrations in Environmental and Maritime Studies—are designed to prepare students to effectively address these issues by integrating perspectives and methodologies from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the arts and humanities.

The program is administered by the Center for Environmental Studies (CES), located in the Class of 1966 Environmental Center. Founded in 1967, CES was one of the first environmental studies programs at a liberal arts college. In addition to the academic program described below, CES is the focus of a varied set of activities in which students lead and participate, often with other members of the Williams community. CES offers extensive resources including databases, funding for student-organizations, and student initiated activities, and generous support for summer research and internships. The Class of 1966 Center, a Living Building and the Program’s home, includes a classroom, living room, study rooms, kitchen, as well as student gardens. The CES manages the Hopkins Memorial Forest, a 2600-acre natural area northwest of campus, in which there are field-study sites and a laboratory, and where passive-recreation opportunities may be found in all seasons. CES also operates the Environmental Analysis Laboratory in Morley Science Center. The Maritime Studies concentration builds on the course offerings of the Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies Program at Mystic Seaport.

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Department News

CES releases “Confronting Climate Change” with Elizabeth Kolbert

Confronting Climate Change (24min) with Elizabeth Kolbert, Van Jones, James Hansen, Bill McKibben, Rob Nixon, Maxine Burkett, Stephen Gardiner and Mark Tercek. Produced by Sarah Gardner. Directed by Dave Simonds.

Glenn Gordinier on “Epiphany: From Surfer to Activist, Inspirational Lives from the Surf Zone.”

On Friday, May 5, Glenn Gordinier, Associate Professor of History at Williams College Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies and lifelong surfer, spoke to Log Lunchers about what he calls the surfer-activist “epiphany.”

Les Beldo on “Whales and Other Fish”

Les Beldo admitted that the title of his talk is a “cheap provocation,” since, technically, whales are not fish. However, Beldo said, in the eyes of the US federal government, they are.

Bill McKibben on Global Grassroots Movements, Divestment

“Were losing badly,” he said. “We’re way behind.”

Benjamin Downing on “Why Politics Matters”

Friday, April 22, former Massachusetts State Senator Benjamin Downing spoke with Williams College students, faculty and community members at Log Lunch. Mr. Downing grew up in Pittsfield, MA and was told that the town’s best days were behind it. Inspired...
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