Environmental Studies Website

Director, Professor HENRY W. ART

Professors: ART, K. LEE. Research Associates: FOX, GARDNER.


HENRY W. ART, Professor of Biology

DONALD deB. BEAVER, Professor of History of Science

ROGER E. BOLTON, Professor of Economics

MICHAEL F. BROWN, Professor of Anthropology

JAMES T. CARLTON, Adjunct Professor of Biology and Professor of Marine Science

RONADH COX, Assistant Professor of Geosciences**

EILEEN CRIST, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

DAVID J. DESIMONE, Lecturer in Geosciences

DAVID P. DETHIER, Professor of Geosciences

RICHARD D. DE VEAUX, Associate Professor of Mathematics

GEORGES B. DREYFUS, Assistant Professor of Religion*

JOAN EDWARDS, Professor of Biology*

ANTONIA FOIAS, Assistant Professor of Anthropology*

WILLIAM T. FOX, Professor of Geosciences, Emeritus and Research Associate in Environmental Studies

SARAH S. GARDNER, Research Associate in Environmental Studies

DOUGLAS GOLLIN, Assistant Professor of Economics**

WILLIAM K. JAEGER, Associate Professor of Economics

MARKES E. JOHNSON, Professor of Geosciences

PETER JUST, Associate Professor of Anthropology

BIRGIT G. KOEHLER, Assistant Professor of Chemistry

KAI N. LEE, Professor of Environmental Studies

KENDA B. MUTONGI, Assistant Professor of History*

FRANCIS C. OAKLEY, Professor of History

SHEAFE SATTERTHWAITE, Lecturer in Art and Planning Associate in Environmental Studies

CHERYL SHANKS, Assistant Professor of Political Science

DAVID C. SMITH, Senior Lecturer in Biology**

DAVID L. SMITH, Professor of English*

JOHN W. THOMAN, Jr., Professor of Chemistry

BRADFORD VERTER, Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion

CRAIG S. WILDER, Assistant Professor of History


The Environmental Studies Program, within the liberal arts mission of Williams College, provides students with an opportunity to explore how humans interact with the environment, including physical, biological, philosophical, and social elements. The program is designed so that students will grow to realize the complexity of issues and perspectives and to appreciate that many environmental issues lack distinct, sharp-edged boundaries. Our goal is to aid students in becoming well-informed, environmentally-literate citizens of the planet who have the capacity to become active participants in their communities ranging in scale from the local to the global. To this end, the program is designed to develop abilities to think in interdisciplinary ways and to use holistic-synthetic approaches in solving problems while incorporating the knowledge and experiences they have gained from majoring in other departments at the College.

The concentration in Environmental Studies allows students to focus some of their elective courses in an integrated, interdisciplinary study of the environment-that is, the natural world, both in itself and as it has been modified by human activity. The purpose of the program is to provide the tools and ideas needed to engage constructively with the environmental and social issues brought about by changes in population, economic activity, and values. Environmental controversies typically call upon citizens and organizations to grasp complex, uncertain science, contending human values, and ethical choices-in short, to deal with matters for which the liberal arts are a necessary but not sufficient preparation. Environmental Studies accordingly includes courses in natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts, in order to equip students with the broad educational background needed to analyze complex environmental matters and to fashion pragmatic, feasible solutions.

The program is administered by the Center for Environmental Studies (CES), located in Kellogg House. Founded in 1967, CES is one of the oldest environmental studies programs at a liberal arts college. In addition to the academic program, CES is the focus of a varied set of activities in which students lead and participate, often with other members of the Williams community. The Matt Cole Memorial Library at Kellogg House holds a substantial collection of books, periodicals, unpublished documents, maps, and electronic media. Kellogg House also houses a new Geographic Information System laboratory as well as study and meeting facilities available to students and student groups. The Center administers the Hopkins Memorial Forest, a 2430-acre natural area northwest of campus, where field-study sites, a laboratory, and passive-recreation opportunities may be found in all seasons. CES also operates an environmental analysis laboratory at the Science Center.

The Environmental Studies Program has three overlapping components:

* In order to earn the concentration in Environmental Studies, students must complete a set of seven courses.

* All students are strongly encouraged to meet the Four Places goal.

* Students are encouraged to pursue honors in Environmental Studies by planning a senior thesis.

Concentration Requirements

Seven courses are required: four are core courses to be taken by all students earning the concentration; three are distribution courses to be selected from the lists below.

Core courses

101 Humans in the Landscape

203 Ecology

302 Environmental Planning and Design Workshop

402 Senior Seminar

The core courses are intended to be taken in sequence, although there is some flexibility allowed. Environmental Studies (ENVI) 101 is a broad introduction to the field, emphasizing the humanities and social sciences. ENVI 203 is a course in ecology, offered in Biology, that provides a unified conceptual approach to the behavior of living things in the natural world. ENVI 302 (Environmental Planning) puts teams of students to work on planning projects of immediate importance in the Berkshires. ENVI 402, the senior seminar, is an opportunity for concentrators majoring in a wide variety of disciplines to draw together their educational experiences and provide a personal accounting of how they understand the interdisciplinary character of environmental studies and its connections to their future lives and careers. The core course structure affords students freedom to explore and to specialize in diverse fields of study, while sustaining a focus on environmental questions throughout their time at Williams.

An interdisciplinary course emphasizing field science, ENVI 102 (Introduction to Environmental Science), is strongly recommended for all students interested in the concentration. Note that enrollments in ENVI 102 are limited. In order to assure enrollment, students should consult with one of the instructors during autumn semester. ENVI 102 must be taken before the junior year.

Distribution Courses

In order to earn the concentration a student must take one course from each of the following three groups. Courses may be counted both toward the concentration in Environmental Studies and toward a disciplinary major.

The Natural World

American Maritime Studies 211/Geosciences 210 Oceanographic Processes

American Maritime Studies 311/Biology 231 Marine Ecology

Biology/Environmental Studies 134 The Tropics: Biology and Social Issues

Biology/Environmental Studies 220 Field Botany and Plant Natural History

Biology 302/Environmental Studies 312 Communities and Ecosystems

Biology/Environmental Studies 333 The Ecology of Biological Resources

Biology 402T/Environmental Studies 404T Current Topics in Ecology

Chemistry/Environmental Studies 304 Instrumental Methods of Analysis

Chemistry 308/Environmental Studies 328 Toxicology and Cancer

Environmental Studies 102 Introduction to Environmental Science

Geosciences 101/Environmental Studies 105 Biodiversity in Geologic Time

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 103 Environmental Geology and the Earth's Surface

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 104 Oceanography

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 200 Weather and Climate Change

Geosciences 201/Environmental Studies 205 Geomorphology

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 206 Geological Sources of Energy

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 208 Water and the Environment

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 214 Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems

Williams-Oxford 245 Geography: The Geographical Environment: Physical

Humans in the Landscape

American Maritime Studies 201/History 255 History of the Sea

American Maritime Studies/English 231T Literature of the Sea

ANSO 214/Environmental Studies 224 The Rise and Fall of Civilizations

Anthropology 102/Environmental Studies 106 Human Evolution: Down from the Trees, Out to the Stars

Anthropology/Environmental Studies 209 Human Ecology

ArtH/Environmental Studies 201 American Landscape History

ArtH/Environmental Studies 252 Campuses

ArtH 302/Environmental Studies 320 Three Cities (Deleted 2000-2001)

ArtH/Environmental Studies 303 Countryside Planning (Deleted 2000-2001)

ArtH 304/Environmental Studies 324 American Transport History (Deleted 2000-2001)

ArtH/Environmental Studies 305 North-American Suburbs

ArtH 306/Environmental Studies 326 North-American Dwellings

ArtH 307/Environmental Studies 327 The North-American Park Idea

ArtH/Environmental Studies 310 American Agricultural History

Economics 201T/Environmental Studies 207T Cities

Economics/Environmental Studies/Women's and Gender Studies 223 Gender and Economic Development

Environmental Studies/American Studies 405 Automobiles and American Civilization

History 102 (formerly 116)/Environmental Studies 116 Environmental History of Africa

History 392 (formerly 220)/Environmental Studies 222 Nature: The History of an Idea

History of Science 305/History 292 Technology and Culture

Philosophy/Environmental Studies 23 Environmental Philosophy

Religion/Anthropology/EXPR 273 Sacred Geographies

Religion/Environmental Studies 276 Grounding the Sacred: Religion and Ecology in the United States

Religion/Environmental Studies 287 Inhabiting Nature: Religious, Philosophical, and Sociological Perspectives (Deleted 2000-2001)

Sociology 308T Property: A Social Analysis of Material Goods (Deleted 2000-2001)

Williams-Oxford 246 Geography: Human Geography

Environmental Policy

American Maritime Studies/Environmental Studies 351 Marine Policy

Economics 204/Environmental Studies 234 Economic Development in Poor Countries

Economics/Environmental Studies 212 Sustainable Development

Economics/Environmental Studies 218 Population Economics

Economics/Environmental Studies 238 The Regions of America

Economics/Environmental Studies 369 Agriculture and Development Strategy

Economics/Environmental Studies 377 Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management

Environmental Studies 211 Global Trends, Sustainable Earth

Environmental Studies/Economics 228 International Population Issues (Deleted 2000-2001)

Environmental Studies/History 393 (formerly 306) Urban Theory

Environmental Studies 307/Political Science 317 Environmental Law

Environmental Studies/Political Science 308 Environmental Policy

Variations from the requirements of the concentration must be approved in writing by the director of the program. Students are urged to consult with program faculty and the director as soon as they develop an interest in the concentration.

In addition to courses fulfilling the concentration requirements, the following electives and related electives are offered:

Environmental Studies 397, 398 Independent Study of Environmental Problems

Environmental Studies 493-W031-494 Senior Research and Thesis

ArtS 329 Architectural Design II

Winter study courses play an important role in the program, offering opportunities to experiment in fields unfamiliar to the student, and for interdisciplinary topics to be developed by faculty working alone and in teams. Students are urged to review each year's winter study offerings bearing in mind their interests in the environment.

Rationale for Course Numbering

The numbering sequence of the four required courses reflects the order in which they should be taken, although Environmental Studies 302 may be taken in the senior or sophomore year if a student is away junior year. Cross-listed courses are assigned the same number as the departmental number whenever possible.

Four Places-A Goal

The human place in natural landscapes is intrinsically geographic, and learning about humans in particular places is an essential part of environmental studies. By the time each student in Environmental Studies graduates, she or he should have developed intellectual insight into and personal experience of four places: "Home"; "Here"-the Berkshires; "There"-an alien place; and "The World"-a global perspective. For practical purposes, There is a place where the geography is unusual in the student's experience (e.g., developing country, inner city, arctic), so are the socioeconomic circumstances (for example, per capita income might be a small fraction of a year's tuition at Williams), and the working language is not standard English. Although this goal is not a requirement for the concentration, it is a significant aspect of the program, and CES resources are aimed in part at enabling all students to meet this goal. For example, students are encouraged to pursue summer internships in their "Home" communities, or to do semester or winter study courses at locations outside the temperate zones ("There"); field courses in natural science or history courses emphasizing New England can deepen familiarity with "Here." Students concentrating in Environmental Studies should plan winter study courses and summer work or study experiences with the Four Places goal in mind, particularly the experiences "There" and at "Home." Courses not in the list of electives for the concentration may be considered as substitutes, on a case-by-case basis, if they also meet the Four Places goal in a way not otherwise available in the program. Students should see the program director for further information.

Honors in Environmental Studies

A student earns honors in Environmental Studies by successfully completing a rigorous, original independent research project under the supervision of two or more members of the faculty, including at least one member of the CES faculty. The research project should be reported and defended both in a thesis and orally. A student may undertake an honors thesis and submit it to both his or her major department and Environmental Studies; petitions for a joint honors project should be approved by the department chair and the director of the program no later than the beginning of the student's senior year. Students who pursue honors in Environmental Studies alone should enroll in Environmental Studies 493-W031-494, Senior Research and Thesis, in addition to completing the requirements for the concentration.

Because most research requires sustained field, laboratory, or library work that is difficult to combine with conventional coursework, students are strongly encouraged to spend the summer before senior year doing honors research. Funds to support student research are available from restricted endowments of the Center, and an open competition is held each spring, to allocate the limited resources. Some departments also provide limited support for summer thesis research. Students and their faculty sponsors should plan the thesis with the possibility of summer research in mind.

A faculty recommendation for honors in Environmental Studies will be made on the basis of the academic rigor, interdisciplinary synthesis, independence, and originality demonstrated by the student and in the completed thesis. In contemplating an honors thesis, students should take into account their mastery of the basic materials and skills (often in more than one academic discipline), their ability to work independently, and their commitment and desire to pursue a sometimes arduous but typically rewarding process that combines intellectual achievement with tests of character and fortitude.