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Environmental Humanities: All Courses

Princeton offers variety of courses addressing topics at the intersection of the environment and the humanities. The following list profiles courses offered currently and 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 all 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 and M. Harris-Lacewell
ALT 497/ENV 497 Princeton Atelier - Performing Environmental Stories: The term "social practice" refers to an increasingly popular form of public art that takes a participatory and often lighthearted approach to urgent social and political issues. In this Atelier, we will create an eco-corps that focuses on environmental issues. Students will design interactive projects--for example, tours, games, hoe-downs, dances, podcasts, installations--that encourage the audience to experience, perform, and reimagine environmental problems and solutions. K. Baum and J. Price
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. S. 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. D. 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. A. 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. D. Wood
ARC 492/URB 492/ENV 492 Topics in the Formal Analysis of the Urban Structure - Environmental Challenges of Urban Sprawl: As part of the search for solutions to climate, water and energy challenges in a rapidly urbanizing world, it is crucial to understand and reassess the role of exurban sprawl in the environment. This interdisciplinary course aims to add theoretical, pragmatic and cultural dimensions to scientific, technological, and policy aspects of current environmental challenges, in an effort to bridge the environmental sciences, urbanism and the humanities. M. Gandelsonas
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. M. Raman
ART 250/ARC 250/ENV 250 Architecture, Globalization, and the Environment: This course analyzes contemporary architecture and its relation to climate change and to social problems having to do with urbanism. Special attention will be paid to the erosion of public space, whether it is due to gentrification, gated communities, outright segregation, or to the devastating impact of war in urban zones in many parts of the world. We will study issues of sustainability, as well as climate justice and environmental racism. Architecture's complicities with regard to global warming and its squandering of fossil fuels are central to our approach. E. da Costa Meyer
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. J. 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. S. Cosson and M. 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. D. Wood and F. 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 and J. Silbergeld
COM 370/ENV 372/GSS 370 Topics in Comparative Literature - Performing the Planet: An examination of how literature and the performing arts represent and interrogate climate change. The relationship between the human body and the earth, as seen in Classical Drama, early depictions of the New World, texts by early naturalists. The emergence of technologies of seeing and their effects on theater and dance. The relationship between conceptions of the internal body and the body of the earth (geology, landscape, maternity, the microbiome, the Sublime). Environmental theater, eco theater and dance. R. Garelick
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. S. Takahashi
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
ENG 388/ENG 377 Theories of Literature and 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 305 Topics in Environmental Studies: Writing About Nature: J. Weiner
ENV 305 Topics in Environmental Studies: Environmental Science Writing: A. 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 and 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 and F. Popper
ENV 308 Environmental Journalism for Writers and Readers: J. 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 and H. Cullen
ENV 329 Global Histoy of Plague: This course considers the global history of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach to tease out macro-and micro-histories of the pandemics associated with the pathogen-the Justinianic Plague, Black Death, and Third Pandemic-and to pin down shifts in plague's past-biological, cultural, and ecological-vital for understanding plague's inconstant pandemicity. The course spans the sixth century to the present, Alexandria to Buenos Aires, and draws on diverse sources-from Byzantine hagiography to the New York Times to plague-victim teeth-to unravel plague's complexity and assess its impact. T. Newfield
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 and 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 humor 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 347/HUM 347/ART 389/AMS 352/ENG 384

What Environmental Arts & Humanities are Good For: Is the climate blazing? Our cities have food deserts? Your groundwater supplies are contaminated with toxins? Historians, literary scholars, and artists to the rescue! This course explores how to deploy the humanities and arts to grapple with our most urgent environmental challenges--and is affiliated with a fall 2014 What Arts & Humanities Are Good For PEI series of panel events. The course asks how, exactly, we can put the indispensable methods and insights of the arts and humanities to work to create more sustainable places and to enact more equitable and effective environmental policies.

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. D. Schlosberg
ENV 357/ENG 398/AMS 457/GSS 357 Empire of the Ark: The Animal Question in Film, Photography and Popular Culture: This course explores the current fascination with animals in film, photography and popular culture, engaging central issues in animal and environmental studies. Why has looking become our main way of interacting with animals? How does rethinking animals inspire us to rethink being human? How can we transform our relations with other species and the planet? Course themes include: wilderness, national parks and zoos; the cult of the pet; vampires, werewolves and zombies; animal speech, animal emotions and rights; nature, sexuality and race. Exploring planetary crises such as extinction and climate change, and positive strategies for change. A. McClintock
ENV 363/ENG 337 Writing the Environment Through Creative Nonfiction: This workshop will expose participants to some of the most dynamic, adventurous environmental nonfiction writers while also giving students the opportunity to develop their own voices as environmental writers. We'll be looking at the environmental essay, the memoir, opinion writing, and investigative journalism. In the process we'll discuss the imaginative strategies deployed by leading environmental writers and seek to adapt some of those strategies in our own writing. Readings will engage urgent concerns of our time, like climate change, extinction, race, gender and the environment, and relations between humans and other life forms. R. Nixon
ENV 382/LAS 382/ARC 382/URB 382 Environmental Challenges and Urban Solutions: At the beginning of the 20th century, 10% of the world's population lived in cities; today, more than half live in urbanized areas. As part of our search for solutions to climate, water and energy challenges in a urbanizing world, it is crucial to understand and reassess the role of cities in the environment. This interdisciplinary course aims to add historical, theoretical and cultural dimensions to scientific, technological, and policy aspects of current environmental challenges, to bridge the environmental sciences, architecture and the humanities, and to rethink traditional city/nature dichotomies. B. Caravalho and M. Gandelsonas
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
ENV 404/ANT 414/ Human Nature: A Multispecies Relationship: Human life is shaped by diverse critters, technologies, and chemical ecologies. Multiple other species - like rice, bees, tulips, and intestinal flora - all make us who we are, and vice versa. Upending conventional knowledge, we will ask: Did humans domesticate cattle and cereals, or did these species change us? If the modern sciences of biology, chemistry, and cybernetics changed what it meant to be human in the 20th century, new transformations to the human condition are on the horizon with emergent findings about "jumping genes", epigenetics, and the microbiome. E. Kirksey
ENV 424/ARC 424/ART 492 Networks and Ecologies: An Interdisciplinary History of Environmental Design: The figures of network and ecology have been essential for visualizing social and natural systems. They have also been essential to innovation in design, and fostered connections to the natural and social sciences. This course will discuss the history of architecture in the 20th century through these connections, and trace a broad epistemological shift towards systems thinking - a mode of thought based on interdependence, feedback loops, and emergence, and rooted in interdisciplinary methods. The course does not require knowledge in any of these fields; it will also familiarize students with recent concepts examining environmental challenges. D. Barber
FRE 338/COM 332/ENV 338 The Literature of Environmental Disaster: In the Anthropocene, humanity has become, for the first time, a geological agent transforming the conditions of life on earth, but this power itself gives rise to unprecedented challenges, from air pollution and floods to nuclear fallout and plagues, from agribusiness to petro-imperialism. Literature sheds a unique light on this global crisis, highlighting in each case the lived human experience, the distinct visions of nature, and the complex social conflicts involved. Readings include novels, plays, and journalism about oil extraction, megadams and nuclear fallout from France, Russia, India, Nigeria, Japan and the US. G. M. Blix
HIS 308/HLS 308/ENV 308/ENV 322 Toward an Environmental History of the Mediterranean: The aim of this course is to introduce students to the central themes of medieval and modern environmental history and to the types of evidence that historians and scientists use to address the questions that arise. It will also serve as an introduction to a significant emerging cross-disciplinary field, that of "science and history." Focusing on the Mediterranean world from the Romans to the end of the Ottoman empire, the course provide students with a thorough overview of the environmental problems of the Mediterranean world and will also have a strong methodological focus. A. Izdebski
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
HIS 491/ENV 491 History of Ecology and Environmentalism: The word 'ecology' evokes the scientific discipline that studies the interactions between and among organisms and their environments, and also resonates with the environmental movement of the sixties, green politics, and conservation.This course explores the historical development of ecology as a professional science, before turning to the political and social ramifications of ecological ideas. Throughout the course, we will situate the history of ecological ideas in their cultural, political, and social context. E. Milam
HUM 470/ART 470/AMS 470/ENV 471 Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities - Revisiting Nature's Nation - An Ecocritical History of American Art: This course critically explores the interface of American art and environmental history while laying the basis for a groundbreaking traveling exhibition on the subject being organized by the Princeton University Art Museum. Using emerging interpretive strategies of "ecocriticism," we will approach American art as creative material that has imagined and embodied environmental issues concerning land use, species extinction, pollution, climate change, sustainability, and justice in a variety of historical contexts since the 18th century - when the foundations of "ecology" as an idea first began to materialize. A. Braddock and K. Kusserow
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. P. Maass
SPA 350/LAS 349/ENV 354 Topics in Latin American Cultural Studies - Literature of the Environment: The earliest Latin American literatures reflected both indigenous manipulation of, and exchange with, the natural environment, and European astonishment at new flora and fauna.Today Latin American writers and artists are taking on the mounting crises of climate change, deforestation, land grabs, pollution. Beginning with a colonial text, we will move to modern and contemporary readings of these problems, including oil extraction on indigenous lands, science fiction about rising oceans, writing on the Amazon, poetry about disappearing species, etc. Novels, stories, essays and documentaries by various authors. R. Price
STC 349/ENV 349 Writing about Science: This workshop-style course is designed to teach students in both science and non-science majors how to write about science "broadly defined to include physical science, biomedical science, environmental science, engineering and technology" in a way that non-scientists can follow. The goal is to instill not only an understanding of scientific results, but also their context, along with the nature of the scientific process itself. In order to do so, we'll focus on several important aspects of the writing process. M. Lemonick