Center for Environmental Studies Website


Director, Professor HENRY W. ART
Assistant Director, Lecturer SARAH S. GARDNER

Professors: ART, K. LEE. Lecturer: S. GARDNER. Research Associates: BOLTON, FOX.


HENRY W. ART, Professor of Biology

LOIS M. BANTA, Visiting Associate Professor of Biology

DONALD deB. BEAVER, Professor of History of Science

ROGER E. BOLTON, Professor of Economics, Emeritus

MICHAEL F. BROWN, Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies

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

RONADH COX, Associate Professor of Geosciences

DAVID P. DETHIER, Professor of Geosciences and Mineralogy

GEORGES B. DREYFUS, Professor of Religion

JOAN EDWARDS, Professor of Biology

JENNIFER L. FRENCH, Assistant Professor of Spanish Language

ANTONIA FOIAS, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Sociology

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


DOUGLAS GOLLIN, Associate Professor of Economics

MARKES E. JOHNSON, Professor of Geosciences

KAI N. LEE, Professor of Environmental Studies

KAREN R. MERRILL, Assistant Professor of History

MANUEL MORALES, Assistant Professor of Biology

FRANCIS C. OAKLEY, Professor of History, Emeritus

DAREL E. PAUL, Assistant Professor of Political Science


STEPHEN C. SHEPPARD, Professor of Public Affairs

DAVID C. SMITH, Senior Lecturer in Biology

DAVID L. SMITH, Professor of English

JOHN W. THOMAN, Jr., Professor of Chemistry

PETER D. VAN OOT, Visiting Professor of Environmental Law


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 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 the local and global community. To this end, the program is designed to develop abilities to think in interdisciplinary ways and to use synthetic approaches in solving problems while incorporating the knowledge and experiences gained from majoring in other departments at the College.

The concentration in Environmental Studies allows students to pursue an interdisciplinary study of the environment by taking elective courses in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities and the arts. 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 2500-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:

* The concentration in Environmental Studies, which consists of a set of seven courses.

* The Four Places goal. (See below.)

* Honors in Environmental Studies, a senior thesis is encouraged but not required.

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 207/Environmental Studies 217 Biology of Conservation and Extinction (Deleted 2003-2004)

Biology 302/Environmental Studies 312 Population and Community Ecology

Biology 402T/Environmental Studies 404T Current Topics in Ecology: Biological Resources

Chemistry 341/Environmental Studies 341 Toxicology and Cancer

Chemistry/Environmental Studies 364 Instrumental Methods of Analysis

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 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

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 215 Climate Changes

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 218T The Carbon Cycle

Geosciences/Environmental Studies 253T Coral Reefs

Williams-Oxford 245 Geography: The Geographical Environment: Physical

Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

American Maritime Studies 201/History 352 America and the Sea, 1600-Present

American Maritime Studies/English 231T Literature of the Sea

American Studies/Environmental Studies/Women's and Gender Studies 408 Race, Gender and Nature (Deleted 2003-2004)

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

Anthropology/Environmental Studies 209 Human Ecology

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

ArtH/Environmental Studies 201 American Landscape History

ArtH 302/Environmental Studies 320 Plans, Planners, Planning

ArtH/Environmental Studies 305 North-American Suburbs

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

ArtH/Environmental Studies 308 Three Cities

ArtS 329 Architectural Design II

Economics 366 Rural Economics of East Asia

English/Environmental Studies 107 Green World

History 102/Environmental Studies 116 Environmental History of Africa (Deleted 2003-2004)

History/Environmental Studies 371 American Environmental Politics (Deleted 2003-2004)

History/Environmental Studies 474 The History of Oil

History of Science 303/Environmental Studies 315/History 292 Technology and Culture (Deleted 2003-2004)

Religion/Anthropology/INTR 273 Sacred Geographies

Religion/Environmental Studies 287 The Dynamics of Globalization: Society, Religion and the Environment

Religion 302 Religion and Society

Sociology 368 Technology and Modern Society

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 213 The Economics of Natural Resource Use

Economics/Environmental Studies 221 Economics of the Environment

Economics 369/512 Agriculture and Development Strategy

Economics/Environmental Studies 377 Environmental Economics and Policy

Economics 383 Cities, Regions and the Economy

Economics 386/515 Environmental Policy and Resource Management

Environmental Studies 231/Political Science 226 Globalization and the Environment (Deleted 2003-2004)

Environmental Studies 232/Political Science 220 Managing Global Commons (Deleted 2003-2004)

Environmental Studies/Political Science 270T Environmental Policy

Environmental Studies 307/Political Science 317 Environmental Law

Environmental Studies 313 Global Trends, Sustainable Earth

Political Science 229 Global Political Economy

Political Science 264 Politics of Global Tourism

Political Science/Environmental Studies 328 The International Politics of Oil

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

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.