ENV 203, one of three required foundation courses for the Environmental Studies major and minor, introduces students to the humanistic disciplines in an environmental context.  Through the study of relevant forms and issues in art, history, literature, philosophy, and religion—and their intersections in interdisciplinary environmental humanities topics—students will deepen their understanding of the complexity of issues facing humans as they interact with the natural world.

So, what are the environmental humanities? What can they offer us, and why do they matter? We’ll grapple with these questions all semester by exploring how individual humanities disciplines engage with “the environment,” as well as what happens when these modes of inquiry are layered and combined. We’re going to examine a mixture of foundational and current scholarship in the environmental humanities—and we will use the modes of analysis we encounter to think through ideas about human relationships with nature in fiction, art, and journalism. Together we’ll read a brand-new book that begins in Los Angeles “after water”; a true account of a battle between a major city and the mountains above it; and a novel about identity and the sacred set at Laguna Pueblo. We’ll explore humanities approaches to the role of place in frameworks for thinking about environmental justice, and connect this scholarship to contemporary conversations about climate change, contamination, and conservation. We’ll even rethink our connections to other species: can you be friends with a mushroom? Why did this guy attempt to live like a goat? Broadly speaking, this semester we are going to think critically and imaginatively about the relationships (past, present, and possible) between ideas and practice, nature and culture, and humans and the world around us.

ENV 203: Environmental Humanities Spring 2016 syllabus here.

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B. Y. Young, A party of camera “fiends” in Yosemite Valley, Cal., U.S.A., 1902. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Stereograph Cards Collection.