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Environmental Studies

The Environmental Studies Program provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human interactions with the environment. Of central concern are the impact of technology on natural environments and its implications for human welfare. The program seeks to apply the different perspectives of the humanities, social sciences, biology, and the physical sciences to environmental and natural resource issues. These perspectives, combined with complementary training in a traditional discipline, will prepare students for graduate work and careers in the environmental sciences, law, public health, public policy, or public administration.

Because careful course selection is necessary to achieve specific objectives, students are urged to consult as early as possible with the program director and other members of the Environmental Studies Program Committee (names available in the Environmental Studies office). Students should consult the course descriptions for prerequisites and plan accordingly. Descriptions of new program courses and activities in addition to those listed below may be found in supplements to this catalog issued by the Registrar, and the Environmental Studies Course Description Supplement available in the Environmental Studies office. New students are encouraged to begin the social science component of the major with ENVS 101.

Advanced Placement. While Advanced Placement credit in Environmental Science applies toward college requirements, it does not apply for Environmental Studies credit.

Students who wish to major in Environmental Studies should:

1. Consult with a member of the Environmental Studies Program Committee or with the Program Director.

2. Pick up a checklist of major requirements form from the Environmental Studies office.

3. Select an advisor who is a member of the Environmental Studies Program Committee (names listed in the Environmental Studies office).

4. In consultation with advisor, complete the Registrar's Declaration of Major form along with the checklist of major requirements.

5. Submit these forms, signed by advisor, to the Program Director for approval. The proposal, when approved, constitutes an agreement between the student and the Environmental Studies Program as to the content of the student's major. Please consult with your advisor for approval before making any changes to avoid any problems at graduation time.

Deadline. Deadline for major proposal submission is normally the end of the student's sophomore year. If ENVS is the student's second major, it may be submitted at the end of the student's junior year.

Major. The major consists of a minimum of 15 hours of course work in the Natural Sciences, 18 hours (six courses) in the Social Sciences and Humanities, and a statistics course. In addition, some of the courses have prerequisites that are not listed here. At least 20 of the credit hours counted toward the major must be taken at Oberlin. Courses must be selected to meet the following requirements (N.B. - If the ENVS requirements change after the major is declared, students can choose to comply with either the requirements in place at the time of their declaration of major or the revised requirements.)

Please consult individual departmental listings for full course descriptions and availability in a given semester and year. Not all of these courses are offered every year.

Social and Behavioral Sciences/Arts and Humanities Requirements. Majors must take six courses totaling at least 18 hours in Social Sciences and Humanities consisting of the following:

1. Environmental Studies 101 (Environment and Society) is required of all majors. It is normally to be taken during the first two years.

2. A total of five additional courses in the Social Sciences and Arts and Humanities to be chosen from the following list. ENVS 208 (Environmental Policy) OR ENVS 231 (Environmental Economics) MUST be one of the five, and no more than two of the five courses may be cross-referenced with a single department or program. ENVS 208 may count as an elective Environmental Studies course. Majors may take POLT 237 and 321 in addition to ENVS 208. At least one Humanities course is highly recommended.

Social Science Courses:

231 Environmental Economics
331 Topics in Environmental Economics

431 Seminar: Environmental and Resource Economics

Environmental Studies
101 Environment and Society

208 Environmental Policy

145 Waterways and History
252 American Environmental History

338 Colloquium in U.S. Urban Environmental History

446 Seminar: The City and Social & Environmental Policy

Humanities Courses:

048 Visual Concepts and Processes: What's Natural Isn't Real
065 Problems in Painting: What Is Real Isn't Natural

Emerging Arts
204 Eco-Arts

366 Transcendentalism
435 Seminar: Nature Writing in America

212 Environmental Ethics

329 Literature and the Land: Writing Nature in Russia and America

Also, majors may choose TWO courses from the following list (see program courses listing) that counts toward major credit: ENVS 291, 310, 490, and 491. (ENVS 490 and ENVS 491 combined counts for three hours.)

Certain courses previously offered can also be counted towards the ENVS major. These include ANTH 237, ECON 241, ENVS 210, 212, HIST 251, 267, 324, 329, 330, 423, POLT 204, 237, 321, ENGL 378, EXWR 103, 114, PHIL 225.

Natural Sciences Requirements. Majors must take at least 15 hours of coursework in the Natural Sciences from the following list. Biology 120, either Geology 160 or 162, and either Chemistry 101, 102, 103 or 151 MUST be included among these 15 hours. The balance of the 15 hours in natural science must be selected from courses in the Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and/or Physics Departments, and they must EITHER count towards one of those four majors OR be cross-referenced with Environmental Studies.

120 Genetics, Evolution and Ecology
205 Community Ecology

318 Evolution

411 Seminar: Conservation Biology

101 Structure and Reactivity
102 Chemical Principles

103 Topics in General Chemistry

151 Chemistry and the Environment

163 Origins and Treatment of Cancer

Environmental Studies
316 Systems Ecology

340 Environmental Systems Modeling

115 Biology, Geology and Politics of Reefs
160 Physical Geology

162 Environmental Geology

242 Groundwater Hydrogeology

330 Sedimentary Geology

055 Principles of Solar Energy

Additional Requirement. Majors must take ONE course in statistics or research methods selected from the following: Biology 206 or 318, Chemistry 211, Mathematics 090, 100, 113, or 114, Sociology 211. (N.B. - of these courses, only those in Biology and Chemistry can also be counted as part of the 15 hours in natural science).

Minor. A student may pursue a minor in Environmental Studies by submitting a plan of study for approval (the minor form is available from the Registrar's Office) and a one-page rationale to the program director. A minor must include a minimum of 15 hours in at least five Environmental Studies courses, including two or more components of work at the non-introductory level. There must be at least seven hours of work in the natural sciences and at least seven in social sciences and/or humanities. At least ten hours must be taken at Oberlin.

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General. In addition to course work, the following opportunities are available to students interested in environmental problems.

1. Internships with government agencies (e.g., public schools, Forest Service, EPA) or private organizations (e.g., Nature Conservancy, International Audubon Society, National Science Foundation) involved in some aspect of environmental research, regulation, or advocacy may be a valuable learning and career planning experience. Internships may be undertaken during Winter Term, an off-campus semester, or in the summer. Normally these internships do not earn academic credit. Files of volunteer and paid internships are maintained in the Resource Center of the A.J. Lewis Center for Environmental Studies.

2. During Winter Term the Environmental Studies Program often sponsors an on-campus group project which provides an opportunity for students to earn Winter Term credit as either participants, group leaders, or coordinators. In recent years projects dealt with architecture and ecological design, Black River Watershed education, and community gardens.

3. A detailed description of the Honors Program is available in the Department office. Interested students should discuss their plans with the Program Director, or a member of the Program Committee by the beginning of their sixth semester. In order to demonstrate potential to undertake independent research, honors candidates should enroll in a research seminar or private reading that same semester. (In exceptional cases they may show this potential by some equivalency to the junior project). Candidates must then submit a 3-5 page proposal for a senior thesis to the ENVS Program Committee by September 20 of their senior year. This is a substantial project of independent, interdisciplinary research in environmental studies, undertaken in consultation with at least two Honors advisors from different departments, at least one of whom must be a member of the Environmental Studies Program Committee. Upon submission of the thesis on or around April 30, a one hour oral examination will be scheduled for the first week of May.

4. The program sponsors a series of public lectures by guest speakers and faculty members.

5. Students may schedule a private reading course during their junior or senior years. In the past, students have taken private readings in ecological design, ecological economics and eco-feminism.

Joyce Gorn Memorial Prize. In the spring semester, the Program Committee awards the Joyce Gorn Memorial Prize to one or more students for outstanding work on an extracurricular or off-campus environmental project.

Ann Schaening Memorial Fund. Funds are available to assist students with Winter Term projects in Environmental Studies. Interested students may submit a project proposal to the Program Chair for approval by the Environmental Studies Program Committee.


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Courses in Environmental Studies

101. Environment and Society 3 hours

An introduction to social, economic, technological, and political aspects of environmental problems with emphasis on major theorists and ideas that have influenced the environmental movement. Different schools of thought on the relationship between humankind and nature will be discussed with the aim of providing students with a broad understanding of issues, causes, and possible solutions to the array of environmental problems. Enrollment Limit: 50. Open to first- and second-year students, including consent seats.
Sem 1 ENVS-101-01 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Mr. Orr

Sem 2 ENVS-101-01 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Mr. Petersen

208. Environmental Policy 3 hours

An introduction to national environmental policy with emphasis on major issues of climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the issues of growth. The course includes discussion of regulatory policies, taxes, market solutions, and other policy options applied to energy policy, transportation policy, endangered species, and materials use. Recommended Preparation: One course in politics or environmental studies. Identical to POLT 208. Enrollment Limit: 25.

Sem 1 ENVS-208-01 TuTh 3:00-4:15 Mr. Orr

231. Environmental Economics 3 hours
3SS, QPh

Identical to ECON 231.

Sem 1 ENVS-231-01 MWF 11:00-11:50 Ms. Gaudin

291. Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture 3 hours

Next offered 2002-2003.

310. Ecological Design 3 hours

Next offered 2002-2003.

316. Systems Ecology 4 hours

The ecosystem concept provides a framework for understanding complex interactions between life and the physical environment and the role of humans as dominant agents of biogeochemical change. We will apply systems concepts governing flows of material and energy to compare the structure and function of a variety of 'natural' and human controlled ecosystems. Students will explore primary literature, will learn field and laboratory methods of analysis, and will develop group projects. Credit can be counted towards either biology or environmental studies majors. Prerequisites: Biology 120, Chemistry 101, 102, 103 or 151, and consent of instructor.

Sem 1 ENVS-316-01 TuTh 7:30-9:30 pm Mr. Petersen Limit: 24

ENVS-316-02 M 1:30-4:30 Mr. Petersen Limit: 12
ENVS-316-03 W 1:30-4:30 Mr. Petersen Limit: 12

331. Topics in Environmental Economics
Identical to ECON 331.
Sem 2 ENVS 331-01 MWF 10:00-10:50 Ms. Gaudin

340 Environmental Systems Modeling 3 hours

Simulation models are powerful tools for organizing information, gaining insight into underlying dynamics, and predicting the behavior of complex systems. Students will design and construct models as a means of building understanding of a variety of environmental phenomena. Models developed will cover topics ranging from physiology to community dynamics to large-scale flows of material and energy. These examples will provide students with skills and a library of analogies that can be broadly applied to problems in the natural and social sciences. Credit can be counted towards either biology or environmental studies majors. Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 16.

Sem 2 ENVS-340-01 TuTh 7:30-9:30 p.m. Mr. Petersen

401, 402. Honors 3-5 hours

Consent of instructor required.

431. Seminar: Environmental and Resource Economics 3 hours

Identical to ECON 431

Sem 2 ENVS 431-01 TBA Ms. Gaudin

490. Introduction to the Black River Watershed 2 hours
2 EX

This course will introduce students to our local watershed, the Black River, through a combination of lectures, field trips, and discussions. Topics covered will include local geology, ecology, natural and social history, and contemporary political and economic issues. Students will also be introduced to the principles of place-based, interdisciplinary watershed education designed to promote appreciation for environmental challenges among students in the local public schools. Each participating Oberlin College student will develop a lesson plan on a specific aspect of the watershed preparatory to testing their skills in a local classroom under the supervision of a public school teacher during the following semester. This course is required for enrollment in ENVS 491. Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 24. Restricted to juniors and seniors. Preference given to Environmental Studies majors.

Sem 1 ENVS-490-01 W 7:30-9:30 p.m. Ms. Wolfe-Cragin

491. Practicum in Environmental Education 2 hours
2 EX

Students will apply what they learned in ENVS 490 by working intensively with a selected teacher in one of the local elementary, middle or secondary schools to develop curricula and special projects centered on the local watershed and the environmental challenges it faces. Students will continue to learn about the dynamics of the Black River Watershed as they gain first-hand teaching experience. The practicum will involve one classroom session per week in addition to one weekly discussion with other participants. Prerequisites: ENVS 490 or equivalent. Notes: CR/NE grading. Consent of instructor required. Enrollment Limit: 16. Discussion group format.

Sem 2 ENVS-491-01 Th 7:30-9:30 p.m. Ms. Wolfe-Cragin

995. Private Reading 1-3 hours


Consent of instructor required.

London Program

915. Environmental Problems and Human Behavior 6 hours

For full course description see section entitled "London Program"
Sem 2 ENVS-915-01 To be arranged Mr. Orr, Mr. Mayer

917. Land and Food: Sustainable Agriculture in Britain 6 hours

Sem 2 ENVS-917-01 To be arranged Mr. Orr

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Resource Faculty

Art: Ms. Schuster
Biology: Mr. Benzing, Ms. Garvin, Mr. Laushman
Chemistry: Mr. Elrod, Ms. Stoll
Economics: Ms. Gaudin
English: Mr. Hobbs, Mr. McMillin, Mr. Young
Environmental Studies: Mr. Orr, Mr. Petersen, Ms. Wolfe-Cragin
Expository Writing: Ms. McMillin
Geology: Ms. Parsons-Hubbard, Mr. Simonson
History: Ms. Stroud
Philosophy: Mr. Ganson, Mr. Love
Politics: Mr. Kahn, Ms. Sandberg, Mr. Wilson
Russian: Mr. Newlin
Sociology: Mr. Norris

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