ENV 110: Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies (Water)

Syllabus (Fall 2008)

Viewed from space, our planet is mostly blue. We are taught that water is a renewable resource, yet we frequently hear of water crises not only in faraway places, but also in our own backyard. Will water really be the reason for the next world war? Does half the world’s population really lack reliable access to fresh water? Is fresh water really the greatest challenge for the 21st century? How have humans attempted to engineer, control, and commodify the world’s water over time? This course will tackle these questions and others, examining water from the perspective of its intrinsic value for sustaining human and ecological systems, and exploring contentious debates and thorny challenges about this most unruly of resources. We will begin with that thirstiest of cities, New York, and move to the western United States and the North American context. From there, we will then move to a global-scale analysis of water issues.

ENV 110: Introductory Topics in Environmental Studies (Energy)


ENV 120: Human Geography & the Global Economy

Syllabus (Fall 2008)

Geography is not simply about naming country capitals or coloring maps, but is concerned with understanding the why of where. In particular, geographers are interested in recognizing spatial patterns and understanding how they come to be. Whereas physical geographers tend to focus on patterns and processes occurring naturally, human geographers focus more on patterns in human society (culture, language, urban and rural settlements, political, etc.). Recognizing spatial patterns is only part of geography; explaining them is the more interesting challenge. In this lecture- and discussion-based course we explore the various facets of human geography within the context of globalization.

ENV 203: Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems (co-taught with E. Arima)

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has been used in a multitude of environmental applications because it aids in the collection, storage, analysis, and visualization of spatial information and it helps users to make informed decisions regarding the use, management, and protection of the environment. This course will cover the theory of GIS with hands-on experience in a multitude of environmental applications including: geographical data entry and acquisition, data conversion, database query and site selection, vector and raster modeling, and integration with global positioning system (GPS).

ENV 204: Geography of Garbage

Syllabi    Spring 2008    Spring 2009    Spring 2011    Fall 2011    
Course Blog (Spring 2011)

You probably know where your t-shirt or computer was made, but do you know where they go when you throw them “away”? Each day, big trucks bring of load after load of waste to sorting and landfill facilities near Geneva, while sewage sludge from the Big Apple’s toilets heads as far south as Georgia and Texas. Similar scatterings of urban detritus occur across the country and around the world: waste and scrap are major exports from the US, and boatloads of computers “recycled” in North America sail for Asia and Africa to be dismantled in dangerous conditions so that small amounts of valuable metals may be recovered. Some experts have even begun mining landfills to recover metals, combustible materials, plastics, and other materials that can be remanufactured or used as industrial feedstocks.

This class, part lecture and part discussion, will examine the geographies of garbage with special attention to environmental, human health, and human rights implications. We’ll start in our backyard with the city that each day throws “away” some 14,000 tons of trash. Most of the course will focus on the United States. We will, however, explore the flip side of globalized production – globalized disposal and dismantling – that is becoming an increasingly significant component of international trade, and which poses serious environmental and human health threats and raises important questions about human rights and our behavior as consumers. 

ENV 215: Environment and Development in East Asia (cross-listed as ASN 215)

Syllabi    Spring 2009    Spring 2010    Spring 2011    Spring 2012

Rapid development in East Asia has brought prosperity to many individuals but has also created serious environmental problems. Rivers and lakes suffer from eutrophication and algal blooms; groundwater levels have dropped dramatically; farmland has been polluted by industrial chemicals and over-fertilization; and cities choke on pollution from industry and automobiles. This course explores the environmental and human health challenges in East Asia as well as how governments and other groups are addressing them through various approaches to “sustainable development.” Special emphasis is placed on China, given its regional and global importance.

This class is part lecture, part discussion. The first half will cover Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. The second half will focus on China. Students are expected to take an active role in learning the material and, more importantly, in thinking critically about the interrelations of environment and development in East Asia. The course begins with an overview of historical, geographic, socioeconomic, geopolitical, and cultural issues in East Asia, in order to provide the grounding for a more specific and detailed examination of questions of environment and development in the region.

ENV 234: Sustainable China (Summer Field Course in China)

ENV 301: Group Senior Integrative Experience (SIE)

ENV 340: Water and Energy in China

Syllabi    Spring 2012