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Environmental Humanities: All Courses

Environmental Humanities at Princeton

Princeton offers variety of courses addressing topics at the intersection of the environment and the humanities. The following list profiles courses offered over the past several years. Topics include: environmental history, art of sustainability, climate ethics and justice, eco-urbanism, literature and the environment, environmental theater, and communicating sustainability.

For scheduling and to plan a course of study, students should reference the listing of current ENV course offerings.

Course Course Title
AAS 350/ ENV 350/ POL 338 African American Studies: Environmental Justice: This seminar explores the intersection of social justice and environmental stewardship, with particular attention to issues of environmental justice. We focus on New Orleans as a key case study. Course goals include: learning about the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the political and ethical issues involved in rebuilding; developing the ability to reflect on and reason about issues of environmental justice; becoming familiar with the social science literature and methods used to study environmental justice; understanding how studying the social sciences can help you become a more effective citizen. K. Smith/M. Harris-Lacewell
AMS 307/ ENV 317 Art of Sustainability: This course explores the central role of the arts in the creation of sustainable communities and asks students both to analyze art works and to create art projects of their own (no prior art experience required). We examine three hotspots--urban nature writing, landscape painting/photography, and public art actions that involve the audience as participants. How do these artists envision sustainable places? How can artists enact communities in which we live in nature more equitably as well as with more ecological sense? And how can students use art to encourage sustainability on the campus where they live and work? J. Price
AMS 353/ ENG 355/ ENV 353 Moby-Dick Unbound: This seminar undertakes a close reading of Melville's major tales and Moby-Dick (1851), often acclaimed as the greatest American novel. Why was this story of a tragic sea voyage so neglected in its day, and so celebrated by later generations? To explore its twin lines of action--Ahab's drive to kill a white whale versus Ishmael's quest to know it--we use the methods of history, literature, art, religion, economics, philosophy, and ecology. We will especially note how Melville anticipates recent environmental thought, depicts a globalized culture, and dramatizes the national struggle to reconcile faith and fact, race and justice. W. Howarth
ARC 304 Cities of the 21st Century: This course examines different crises confronting cities in the 21st century. Topics range from immigration, to terrorism, shrinking population, traffic congestion, pollution, energy crisis, housing needs, water wars, race riots, extreme weather conditions, war and urban operations. The range of cities include Los Angeles, New Orleans, Paris, Lagos, Caracas, Havana, New York, Hong Kong, Baghdad among other cities. M.C. Boyer
ARC 305 Urban Studies: Analysis of Contemporary Urban Form: This course studies the contemporary problems and process of urban design and physical planning. It includes an analysis of the design and organization of space, activities, movement, and interaction networks of the urban physical environment. Prerequisites: ARC 203 is recommended background. Sarah Whiting
ARC 306 Research Seminar: Eco-Urbanist Architecture: This course attempts to define how future cities can address problems of waning fossil fuels, global warming, population growth and expanding landfills through a fusion of the ecological, the architectural, and the urban. Developments in both the ecological sciences and in urban planning - from Jefferson's checkerboard city to today's Bed Zed - are presented. Students propose new architectural typologies that bridge the two disciplines such as garages for cars that can power houses or living machine-parks... Ultimately, we create a series of generic guidelines to define a theoretical eco-city of tomorrow. Dan Wood
ARC 401 Theories of Housing and Urbanism: The seminar explores theories of urbanism and housing by reading canonical writers who have created distinctive and influential ideas about urbanism and housing from the nineteenth century to the present. The writers are architects, planners, and social scientists. The theories are interdisciplinary. One or two major works are discussed each week. We critically evaluate their relevance and significance for architecture now. Topics include: modernism, functionalism and social change; technological futurism; social critiques of urban design, the New Urbanism; the networked city; and sustainable urbanism. Andrew Laing
ARC 406/ ENV 406 Energy and Form: This course familiarizes participants with the basic theories and practices of ecological design in architecture. It promotes professional practices that foster environmentally sound design decision-making and achieve beneficial social and economic outcomes. It investigates how designing within the matrix of natural systems and processes can enhance both the experiential and poetic dimensions of architecture. Dan Wood
ARC 515 The Environmental Engineering of Buildings Part II: Study and evaluation of mechanical and electrical system applications for different building types, including air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and telecommunications. Emphasis on design integration with architecture and structure within the construction process including sustainable design and energy conservation. Introduction to vertical transportation, life safety systems, and intelligent buildings. Emphasis on a conceptual approach using case studies and field trips. Mahadav Raman
ART 332 The Landscape of Allusion: Garden and Landscape Architecture, 1450-1750: The concept of nature from the Renaissance through the 18th century as seen in European gardens and landscape architecture is explored in this course. Major consideration is given to the Italian villa-garden complex, the French classical garden, and the English romantic garden and park as evidence of large-scale planning. John Pinto
ATL 496/ THR 496/ ENV 496 Princeton Atelier: Environmental Documentary and Music Theater: Theater director Steve Cosson and composer/lyricist Michael Friedman lead an Atelier on investigative and musical theater. They develop a new project, The Great Immensity, through a network of collaborative partnerships with scholars and researchers at the Princeton Environmental Institute as well as with directors, writers, actors, designers, choreographers and composers, and Atelier students. The Great Immensity tackles the monumental topic of the environment and our planet's future, exploring themes of climate change, deforestation, and extinction by using interviews with researchers working in these areas. Steve Cosson & Michael Friedman
ATL 497/ VIS 497/ ARC 497 Princeton Atelier: Princeton Colony: Art, Ecology, and Architecture: With artist and ecologist Fritz Haeg and architect Dan Wood, students colonize and temporarily domesticate the New South Lawn on Princeton's campus to create an evolving laboratory/stage/lounge/platform/headquarters for the presentation and performance of fundamental human activities such as cooking, composting, dancing, eating, exercising, gathering, gardening, meeting, moving, napping, performing, recycling, socializing, stretching, talking, walking, washing. Dan Wood & Fritz Gaeg
COM 317/ART 356/EAS 317 Gardens in China and Japan: "Gardens in China and Japan," including a spring break class trip to Kyoto, studies gardens in a historical, religious, artistic, and literary framework so that students learn about their broad-ranging signifigance in traditional East Asia. In their underlying theory, siting construction, and relations with architecture and agriculture, gardens offer rich areas for investigation and present insights about the view of nature, life of the imagination, articulation of religious and philosophical values, distrubution of weath, and human impact on the environment. T. Hare & J. Silbergeld
EAS 230/ ANT 230/ ENV 230 Culture and Environment in East Asia: This lecture addresses the cultural, social, and political dimensions of human-environment relations with specific reference to East Asia. East Asia represents a hotspot for environmental debates, where China, Japan, and Korea simultaneously face international criticism over over-exploitation and animal rights, as well as praise for developing new "green" technologies. Drawing from anthropological and environmental literatures and from the popular media, we connect the region's environmental issues to broader anthropological themes, such as religion, gender, urban-rural relations, development, nationalism, and globalization. Satsuki Takahashi
EAS 302/POL 300/ANT 384/SOC 316/ENV 384 Dilemmas of Development in Asia: East Asian development has been arguably the most important social, economic, and political phenomenon of the past half century. It has posed, and continues to pose, monumental challenges. These have included intellectual debates over the proper way to build national wealth, struggles over democracy and rights, environmental crises, and the changing demands and expectations of citizens themselves. In this course, we survey some of the dilemmas facing countries of East and Southeast Asia, drawing attention the myriad connections between economic growth and political, social, cultual, and environmental transformation. D. Leheny & J. Sata
EAS 313/ ENV 313 The Ecological Worlds of Japanese Culture: This course examines products of Japanese culture (live-action films, anime, literary texts, music, etc.) and asks how these products can help us think about ecology in the context of what might be called a planetary rather than global context. How do our modern ways of thinking affect the way we treat the environment and all forms of life on this planet? What would a planetary ethics look like? We will venture beyond commonly accepted divisions of knowledge (for example, modern-pre modern, high culture-popular culture, global-local, human-machine) to question the validity and origins of the act of making such divisions in the first place. H. Richard Okada
ENG 373/ ENV 373 Forms of Nonfiction
ENG 386/ ENV 386 Literature and Environment: How is our understanding of nature and the environment conditioned by the ways in which writers have imagined it? This course examines how literature, especially that of 19th-century America, has laid down roots for our own attitudes towards the natural world. At a time when eco-criticism has been termed "the only ethical stance toward literature," we explore what it means for readers--and writers--to be interested in geography, ecology, and biology; in questions of space, place, and region; in forms of life that are not human; and in the political and ethical stakes of such interests. B Gleason
ENV 305 Topics in Environmental Studies: Writing About Nature: Jonathan Weiner
ENV 305 Topics in Environmental Studies: Environmental Science Writing: Anne Walker
ENV 305 Topics in Environmental Studies: Building American Style: Land-Use Policies and Rules: Americans have built and preserved an astounding variety of environments. The course examines the evolving complex of incentives and regulations that drove the choices of where and how places developed. It focuses on the emergence of land-use and environmental planning as a way to encourage or discourage growth and to mitigate or intensify its environmental, social, and economic effects.We examine the latest tools for building and protecting the American landscape. Case studies include Southern California, New Haven, the American Great Plains, and others. Analysis will be from historical, policy-oriented, and predictive perspectives. D. Popper, F. Popper
ENV 306 Topics in Environmental Studies: American Environmental History: Explores the diverse connections between America's national development and natural environment. It examines how the U.S. originated, then expanded to cover a continental land mass, and the ways that expansion changed the nation. It analyzes how, why, and with what consequences major parts of the U.S. economy--for instance, farming, energy, services and government--have grown or in shrunk. It looks at how and with what results the U.S. has incorporated different ethnic and racial groups. It shows how, why, and with what outcomes it has historically globalized and conducted its foreign policy, and offers insights into current landscapes. D. Popper, F. Popper
ENV 308 Environmental Journalism for Writers and Readers: James Woolf
ENV 309 Historic American Gardens and Designed Landscapes: Art Meets Environmentalism: To understand the history of environmentalism, one must look to gardens and parks, where many important ideas were first broached. This course examines the design of landscapes in America from the colonial period to the present, giving equal emphasis to art ideas and environmental thought, in true interdisciplinary spirit. Students read treatises by leading theorists and designers as well as accounts by travelers and other visitors. Specific places are studied in detail, including the great gardens and parks of the Mid-Atlantic, such as Longwood Gardens and Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. W. B. Maynard
ENV 316 Climate Science Communications: In order to assess and address the risks of climate change, people need accurate information. Most of this information comes from the world of science and requires translation. The role of trained science communicators is crucial. The goal of this course is to give students the technical, narrative and critical-evaluation skills needed to communicate climate science across a variety of media - print, graphical, podcast, and video. The course begins with an overview of the state of climate science and communications. We then discuss critical elements of journalism. The last weeks focus on video production using Final Cut. M. Lemonick, H. Cullen
ENV 337/ REL 337 Religion, Ecology, and Cosmology: This course explores religions within the horizon of interdependent life and the cosmos. It investigates the symbolic and lived expressions of this interconnection in religious texts and practices. The course draws on science for understanding the dynamic processes of the universe, Earth, life, and ecosystems. In part I, we explore ecological perspectives from Indigenous traditions, Christianity, and Confucianism. In part II we survey environmental ethics. Finally, we examine the scientific story of the unfolding universe as a cosmological narrative orienting human-Earth relations. M.E. Tucker, J. Grim
ENV 346/AMS 347

The Environment Can Be Funny: Why isn't it? - and what if it were? While we'll examine the first question (why does environmentalism tend to be so pious and self-serious?), this course will focus on the second, and on the creation of original work. How might we deploy the powers of humpor to persuade, to cajole, to break down defenses - but also to expose hypocrisy and to challenge our own assumptions? Students will put their own powers of comedy to work - in op-eds, cartoons, skits to address climate change, water pollution, environmental justice, and other critical issues. J. Price

ENV 352/ CHV 352 Environmental, Ecological and Climate Justice: This class surveys conceptions and practices of environmental, ecological, and climate justice. After a brief history of the US environmental justice movement, we explore the multifaceted and pluralistic notion of justice employed by the movement, as well as other movements that use environmental justice as an organizing theme. These conceptions of environmental justice arel then used to understand and broaden existing notions of ecological justice--or justice between humans and the rest of the natural world--as well as recent discussions regarding climate justice. David Schlosberg
ENV 388/ ENV 388/ ENG 377 Topics in Literature and the Environment: Environmental criticism, also known as ecocriticism and "green" criticism, is a rapidly emerging field of literary study that will be crucially important in upcoming decades, especially as our present environmental crisis unfortunately worsens. This course explores a range of works from modern environmental critics, beginning in the 1960s and ending with the ongoing explosion of interest in the field in the 21st century. K. Hiltner
ENV 402 Environmental History: Darwin in Our Time: This seminar examines four works by Charles Darwin that revolutionized natural science and challenged Western concepts of humanity. Discussions explore Darwin's ideas of nature, choice, and language. We also consider four waves of response to Darwin: fundamentalism, social Darwinism, creationism, and intelligent design. W. Howarth
HIS 431/ ENV 431 Comparative Environmental History: The course examines the processes, causes, and effects of environmental change. Drawing on different historical periods and world regions, including Africa, the Americas, and Asia, class readings expose participants to different models and approaches to the study of environmental change. The course focuses on such themes as environmental determinism, ethno-ecology, biological imperialism, deforestation and desertification, the history of famine and food, and the impact of war, technology, population growth, market forces, and globalization on earth's ecosystem. E. Krieke
JRN 441/ ENV 441/ STC 441 The McGraw Seminar in Writing: Measuring the Green Fuse: The natural world cannot be explained without science, but writers are often inspired by a personal connection to nature. How do they fit together? We examine common ideas about nature and how we come by them. We talk about what a magazine, newspaper or website editor looks for in news, feature and essay writing. Our emphasis is on writing for publication. There is a visit to The New York Times. J. Gorman
JRN 449 International News: The Journalism of Energy and Global Warming: This class focuses on the craft of narrative journalism and apply it to the conjoined issues of oil consumption, global warming, and alternative energy. Students learn how to write lively works of journalism that explore the problems of fossil fuels and the prospects for greener forms of energy. Peter Maass