Special Topics courses are elective courses related to a faculty member’s specific area of interest. A number of special topics courses are offered every semester. All Special Topics courses count toward the major and minor elective requirements, even though they are not listed in the regular College Course Catalog. For a list of Special Topics courses being offered currently, follow this link.
Spring 2011 Special Topics in Environmental Studies
ESS 191 & ECON 130 / Advanced Topics in ESS: Consumption, Well-Being, the Economy, & the Environment – Professor: Fred Curtis
Elective for ESS major and minor. No pre-requisites .This course examines the relationship of consumption to both ecological footprints and human well-being. Participants will explore the possibilities and impacts of green consumerism and green marketing among other topics such as down-sizing, simple living, eco-villages, and shared consumption. The economic and political forces that support consumerism and thereby undermine social and environmental sustainability will be examined.
ESS and ANTH / Wildlife and Culture – Professor: Marc Boglioli
This class will be a interdisciplinary, cross-cultural exploration of the ways that human beings think about and interact with other animals. We will ponder abstract philosophical questions like “What is an animal?”, “What is wildlife?” and “What’s the difference between a domestic and wild animal?” As an ESS offering, this class will pay special attention to the ways that different perspectives on animals influence larger global concerns, such as biodiversity, invasive species, animal conservation, and animal rights. Case studies from Kenya (elephants and rhinos), Wyoming (wolves), and the Great Lakes (double-crested cormorants) will be used to illustrate the conceptual issues discussed in the class.
Spring 2010 Special Topics in Environmental Studies
Environmental Aesthetics (ESS 144 / Philosophy 144) – Professor Erik AndersonAn exploration of questions centered at the intersection of aesthetics and environmental philosophy. Of primary concern are the relation between the aesthetic appreciation of nature and the aesthetic appreciation of art; the roles played by scientific knowledge, emotional engagement and imagination in the aesthetic appreciation of nature; the thesis that all of wild nature has positive value; and the theoretical role aesthetic considerations play in the rationale behind environmental conservation.
Sustainable Harvests: Food Justice & 20th Century U.S. Literature (ESS 191, sec. 1/English 118) -Prof. Sarah WaldWhat should you eat? How did your dinner get to your plate? This class examines contemporary politics around food, including hunger, health, and agriculture. We will ask how to make food production and consumption sustainable. Yet we will also examine a longer culture of concern for what we eat and how we farm. This class uses Food Justice as a window into 20th Century U.S. literature. We will read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906) alongside Ruth Ozeki’s My Year of Meats (1999). We will read John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (1939) alongside Cherrie Moraga’s Heroes and Saints (1994) and Willa Cather’s O Pioneers (1913) alongside Wendell Berry’s “Mad Farmer Liberation Front” (1999). Our readings will include poems, novels, essays, and one play as we examine 20th Century U.S. literature through debates around farming, food, and land.
Environmental Justice (Anth 135 and ESS 191/sec.2) – Professor Joslyn Cassady
Over the last twenty years, there has been a ground swelling of national and international attention on environmental justice and protection. These movements, however, have not resulted in dramatic changes in public policy or corporate accountability toward the socially marginalized and poor. Incidents of state and corporate-sponsored environmental degradation and environmental racism continue to cripple the lives of an ever-increasing number of people nationally and internationally today. In this class, we will learn about, and confront, this disheartening reality head on. Through case studies of mountain top removal in Appalachia, toxic waste in the Arctic, and the Dow chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, we will develop anthropologically-informed understandings of environmental justice, environmental racism, and cultural survival. We will also learn about the struggles for environmental justice in New Jersey through fieldtrips and guest lectures by local activists and leaders.
Economics of Climate Change and Peak Oil (Econ 129/ESS 191, sec. 3) – Professor Fred Curtis
Climate change and the burning of fossil fuels that contribute to it is not the only energy challenge to our economy, environment and society. The other is peak oil or oil depletion which will lead to increasing energy costs over time. This course examines climate change and peak oil as inter-connected issues that must be understood and solved together. Proposed solutions to peak oil include turning coal into liquid fuels, an option that increases greenhouse gas emissions. This course considers both problems together as well as technological and policy alternatives, with a focus on their impacts on the economy and society. We will also discuss the impact of both on globalization and consumption and relocalization solutions. The course is open to all students having sophomore or higher standing.