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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Stevan Harrell
ENVIR 495
Seattle Campus

Advanced Topics in Environmental Studies

Advanced topics in environmental studies. Offered: AWSpS.

Class description

This is a field-, reading-, and writing- intensive course on how humans modify and manipulate ecosystems to produce useful resources. Throughout, we emphasize a systems perspective, closely examining the ecological, economic, and political effects of the elements of each system on one another. We also pay attention to analysis of systems at different scales of space, time, and complexity. Our specific subject matter encompasses ecosystems in Washington State that are modified to produce and extract three kinds of resources: biofuels, shellfish, and milk products. Each three-week unit, including an all-day Saturday field trip, focuses on one of these three resource types. For each unit, students are required to read a series of articles, comment formally in class on some of them, go on the field trip, keep and turn in a field journal, and write a topical essay on an assignment dealing with problems of that type of resource system.

NOTE: THE URL BELOW IS FOR THE 2013 VERSION OF THE COURSE. THIS YEAR WILL DIFFER IN DETAIL.

Student learning goals

Understand through examples the interaction of ecology, economy and culture in the production of biological materials that we consume.

Be able to use data from reading, class discussion, and field-trip observation to make arguments about important environmental issues.

Think critically about consumer decisions and political decisions concerning consumption of resources.

General method of instruction

Two days a week of lecture/discussion, including brief student presentations on issues that arise from readings, lectures and field trips. Three all-day field trips to observe the production of biofuels, shellfish, and milk products, respectively.

Recommended preparation

A basic knowledge of current ecological and political issues as set out in introductory ENVIR courses, ecological anthropology, anthropology of food, or other environmental studies courses.

Class assignments and grading

There are readings for every class period; students will be required to post on a discussion board for most of these; small groups of students will be assigned to give presentations on some class days. These are required but not graded. 1500-2000 word essays are required for each unit.

Essays determine grades.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
See the 2011 VERSION of the course here.
Last Update by Stevan Harrell
Date: 02/07/2014