Earth Science & Society

The following appears in the current Vassar College Catalogue

I. Introductory

100a. Earth Resource Challenges (1)

(Same as Earth Science, Environmental Studies, and Geography 100) This course combines the insights of the natural and social sciences to address a topic of societal concern. Geographers bring spatial analysis of human environmental change, while earth scientists contribute their knowledge of the diverse natural processes shaping the earth's surface. Together, these distinctive yet complementary fields contribute to comprehensive understandings of the physical limitations and potentials, uses and misuses of the earth's natural resources. Each year the topic of the course changes to focus on selected resource problems facing societies and environments around the world. When this course is team-taught by faculty from earth science and geography, it serves as an introduction to both disciplines.

Topic for 2013/14a: Water and Cities. With the explosive urbanization of the modern world, new and unprecedented demands are placed on the earth’s hydrological systems. A variety of environmental issues-such as water provision and drought, depletion of aquifers, pollution of watersheds, flooding, regional climate change, privatization of supply and other policy questions-arise out of the insatiable demand for water by contemporary metropolitan regions. This course combines geographical and geological perspectives on the increasingly urgent problems of urban water. Consideration is given to case studies of water problems in the New York metropolitan region, cities and suburbs of the arid U.S. Southwest, and Latin American mega-cities such as Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. Ms. Menking.

Open only to freshmen; satisfies college requirement for a Freshman Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods.

II. Intermediate

290. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

298. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (1/2)

An original study, integrating perspectives of geography and earth science. The formal research proposal is first developed in Geography 304, the senior seminar, and then is presented to a faculty member in either geography or earth science, who serves as the principal adviser. A second faculty member from the other respective discipline participates in the final evaluation.

Yearlong course 300-301.

301b. Senior Thesis (1/2)

An original study, integrating perspectives of geography and earth science. The formal research proposal is first developed in Geography 304, the senior seminar, and then is presented to a faculty member in either geography or earth science, who serves as the principal adviser. A second faculty member from the other respective discipline participates in the final evaluation.

Yearlong course 300-301.

331. Gender, Resources and Justice (1)

(Same as Women's Studies 331) This multidisciplinary course acquaints students with the debates and theoretical approaches involved in understanding resource issues from a gender and justice perspective. It is intended for those in the social and natural sciences who, while familiar with their own disciplinary approaches to resource issues, are not familiar with gendered perspectives on resource issues and the activism that surrounds them. It is also appropriate for students of gender studies unfamiliar with feminist scholarship in this area. Increasing concern for the development of more sustainable production systems has led to consideration of the ways in which gender, race, and class influence human-earth interactions. The course examines conceptual issues related to gender studies, earth systems, and land-use policies. It interrogates the complex intersections of activists, agencies and institutions in the global arena through a focus on contested power relations. The readings, videos and other materials used in the class are drawn from both the South and the North to familiarize students with the similarities and differences in gendered relationships to the earth, access to resources, and resource justice activism. Ms. Schneiderman.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

370. Feminist Perspectives on Environmentalism (1)

(Same as Environmental Studies and Women's Studies 370) In this seminar we explore some basic concepts and approaches within feminist environmental analysis paying particular attention to feminist theory and its relevance to environmental issues. We examine a range of feminist research and analysis in 'environmental studies' that is connected by the recognition that gender subordination and environmental destruction are related phenomena. That is, they are the linked outcomes of forms of interactions with nature that are shaped by hierarchy and dominance, and they have global relevance. The course helps students discover the expansive contributions of feminist analysis and action to environmental research and advocacy; it provides the chance for students to apply the contributions of a feminist perspective to their own specific environmental interests. Ms. Schneiderman.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor; Women's Studies 130 recommended.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2013/14.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)