Environmental Systems Science
ENVST-UA 100 Offered in the fall. Killilea, Volk. 4 points.
A comprehensive survey of critical issues in environmental systems science, focusing on human population; the global chemical cycles; ecosystems and biodiversity; endangered species and wildlife; nature preserves; energy flows in nature; agriculture and the environment; energy systems from fossil fuels to renewable forms; earth's waters; earth's atmosphere; carbon dioxide and global warming; urban environments; wastes; and paths to a sustainable future. This course is a gateway to the environmental studies major and minor, and one of its core courses. It covers a very significant amount of demanding material, to prepare students for upper-level courses. This course is challenging, and students should expect a steep learning curve. Teaching assistants are available to help students along the way.
Environment and Society
ENVST-UA 101 (or ENVST-UA 9101 at NYU Berlin) Offered in the spring at Washington Square; offered every semester at NYU Berlin. Damon, Jerolmack, Rademacher. 4 points.
A systematic survey of central concepts and issues relating to environment and society, including environmental history and concepts of nature and the environment; the rise of environmentalism; environmental skepticism; anthropogenic global change; population and consumption, ecological footprint analysis, and other environmental indicators; environmental justice; public goods and collective action problems; regulatory regimes; environmental politics; environmental movements; environmental values; environmental protest and disobedience; and the future of environmentalism. This course is a gateway to the environmental studies major and minor, and one of its core courses. It covers a very significant amount of demanding material, to prepare students for upper-level courses. This course is challenging, and students should expect a steep learning curve. Teaching assistants are available to help students along the way.
Internship in Environmental Studies
ENVST-UA 800 (or NODEP-UA 9981 at NYU Washington, D.C. only) Offered every semester. Schlottmann. 4 points.
The internship, which is only completed during the junior year, prepares students for their professional lives by providing them with experience in environment-related organizations such as nonprofits, research institutes, and governmental organizations. At the beginning of the internship, students and the internship adviser agree to a learning contract that establishes specific goals and a schedule for achieving them. Interns meet collectively during the semester to share their experiences and present brief reports.
Environmental Studies Capstone Seminar
ENVST-UA 900 Prerequisite: Internship in Environmental Studies (ENVST-UA 800). Offered every semester. 4 points.
A problem-based, project-oriented, required course for senior environmental studies majors. Students work collaboratively on a current environmental problem. Tasks include characterizing the problem, analyzing possible solutions, and publicly presenting the results. Sample topics include Air Pollution and Biofuels in New York City, Greening NYU, Greening New York City's Transportation, Greening the Gowanus Canal, Stormwater Management, and Beyond Manahattan: Historical Ecology of NYC.
Honors Seminar in Environmental Studies
ENVST-UA 950 Prerequisites: Environmental Systems Science (ENVST-UA 100), Environment and Society (ENVST-UA 101), Internship in Environmental Studies (ENVST-UA 800), senior standing, and a GPA over 3.65 both in Environmental Studies courses and overall. Offered in the spring. Rademacher, Volk. 4 points.
An advanced course for environmental studies majors in the honors track. Students pursue independent, high-level research projects and workshop them in the seminar under the supervision of a core faculty member. Projects can be continuations of work performed in the Capstone Seminar (ENVST-UA 900).
Evolution of the Earth
ENVST-UA 210 Identical to BIOL-UA 2. Restriction: Students can take only one 200-level science elective toward their science track. Offered in the spring. Rampino. 4 points.
Covers the geological and biological history of the earth, including the cosmic context of earth history, the large-scale structure of the universe, the history of the universe, the origins of stars and planets, and the Goldilocks problem, or why the earth is habitable. Major topics include the origin of the earth, highlights in the development of the planet, the geological history of the earth, and the record of the earth's climate over various time scales. Also covers the history of life on the earth; the origin of life; evolution and natural selection; the evolution of life from simple forms to complex organisms; and the origin of intelligence on the earth and possibly elsewhere in the universe. The principles and methods by which we reconstruct earth history and the evolution of life are stressed.
ENVST-UA 226 Restriction: Students can take only one 200-level science elective toward their science track. Offered in the spring. Soter. 4 points.
Equips students with the basic scientific and historical background needed to understand the causes and consequences of global warming and the proposed solutions. Topics include the nature of energy and fossil fuels; the growth of population and energy consumption per capita; weather and climate; ice ages and their astronomical cause; the greenhouse effect; evidence for abrupt climate changes in the past and their human impact; modeling and prediction of climate change; and the environmental and social consequences of unchecked global warming. Explores a range of proposed solutions, their potential capacities and limitations, and their costs and benefits. These solutions include renewable energy technologies, increased efficiency of energy use, storage and transport, carbon regulation, nuclear energy, and "advanced" technologies. Critically reviews the scientific and public debates on global warming.
Topics in Environmental Science
ENVST-UA 250 Restriction: Students can take only one 200-level science elective towards their science track. Offered every year. 4 points.
An introductory course that examines topics in environmental science. It considers a range of topics, including environmental systems, design, planning, monitoring, and modeling. Topics will vary from semester to semester.
Where the City Meets the Sea: Studies in Coastal Urban Environments
ENVST-UA 275 Identical to BIOL-UA 140. Restriction: Students can take only one 200-level science elective toward their science track. Offered in the spring. Killilea. 4 points.
Over half of the human population lives within 100 km of a coast, and coastlines contain more than two-thirds of the world's largest cities. As a result, the world's natural coastal environments have been substantially modified to suit human needs. This course uses the built and natural environments of coastal cities as laboratories to examine the environmental and ecological implications of urban development in coastal areas. Using data from multiple coastal cities, student teams will use field-based studies and Geographic Information System (GIS) data to examine patterns and processes operating in coastal cities. This course uses the local terrestrial, marine, and built environments as a laboratory to address these issues, and team projects requiring field work form a core component of the learning experience. As part of the NYU Global Network University initiative, this course is being offered simultaneously in New York and Abu Dhabi, and students collaborate extensively with students from their sister campus through the duration of this course.
Advanced Topics in Environmental Science
ENVST-UA 300 Prerequisite: Environmental Systems Science (ENVST-UA 100). Offered every year. 4 points.
An advanced course that examines topics in environmental science. It considers a range of topics, including environmental systems, design, planning, monitoring, and modeling. Topics will vary from semester to semester.
Current Topics in Earth System Science: Mass Extinctions, Geologic Processes, and Evolution
ENVST-UA 332 Identical to BIOL-UA 332. Prerequisites: Earth System Science (ENVST-UA 340) or Evolution of the Earth (ENVST-UA 210), and permission of the instructor. Offered in the spring. Rampino. 4 points.
Scientific discovery is an ongoing process, and important new findings relevant to earth system science and the evolution of life are continually reported in scientific journals. For each new scientific discovery, students read, discuss, and report on original recent journal articles (as well as articles that take conflicting views) and texts that review the subject matter as already known. The goal is to give students an understanding of the dynamic nature of scientific knowledge and a deeper understanding of current questions in earth system science and biological evolution.
Limits of the Earth: Issues in Human Ecology
ENVST-UA 333 Prerequisite: Environmental Systems Science (ENVST-UA 100). Volk. 4 points.
The growing intensity of the interaction between humanity and the natural systems of earth is leading us to a future in which we must better understand the dynamics of nature's life-support systems and the past, present, and future of our dependency on those systems. Topics covered include energy, agriculture, water, population, consumption and waste production, and indicators of sustainability. This is an inquiry-based course. There are overviews of the main topics and then student-initiated investigations of specific, focused aspects of those topics.
Earth System Science
ENVST-UA 340 Formerly ENVST-UA 200. Offered in the fall. Rampino. 4 points.
Examines our current view of the earth, in its cosmic setting, as a system involving interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, solid earth, and life. Emphasis is placed on the dynamics and evolution of these systems over time and predictions for the future. The subject matter includes new observations from space; geophysics and plate tectonics; the circulation of the oceans and atmosphere; cycles of elements essential for life; the coevolution of climate and life on earth over the past 4,500 million years; and the Gaia hypothesis. Emphasis on current global environmental problems, such as the greenhouse effect from increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and other gases, the effects of deforestation, and the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer.
The Global Carbon Cycle
ENVST-UA 345 Prerequisite: Environmental Systems Science (ENVST-UA 100). Killilea, Volk. 4 points.
The most colossal environmental perturbation in human history is in the air: CO2 is rising. This course provides a look at fossil-fuel-generated CO2 and the carbon cycle that is both detailed and big-picture in scope. We examine the dynamics of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, the circulation of atmosphere and ocean, and the soil. To project the future of atmospheric CO2, we also examine relationships among wealth, energy use, and CO2 emissions and explore how the emissions are tied to the present and future trends of the global economy. This is an inquiry-based course. Students work on a number of projects, both computational and descriptive.
Energy and the Environment
ENVST-UA 350 Prerequisite: Environmental Systems Science (ENVST-UA 100). Offered in the spring. Rugg, Soter. 4 points.
Provides a comprehensive overview of major topics in energy generation and their impact on our environment. The course is technical and requires an understanding of the vocabulary of energy, including the concepts of work, energy, and power. Some basic chemistry and thermodynamics are introduced, permitting students to perform comparative analysis of energy systems. An introduction to life-cycle cost estimation is included, and associated environmental-impact calculations for energy systems are presented.
Fundamental Dynamics of Earth's Atmosphere and Climate
ENVST-UA 360 Identical to MATH-UA 228. Prerequisite: Calculus I (MATH-UA 121) or equivalent with a B- or higher. Recommended: General Physics I (PHYS-UA 11). Smith. 4 points.
An introduction to the dynamical processes that drive the circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, and their interaction. This is the core of climate science. Lectures are guided by consideration of observations and experiments, but the goal is to develop an understanding of the unifying principles of planetary fluid dynamics. Topics include the global energy balance, convection and radiation (the greenhouse effect), effects of planetary rotation (the Coriolis force), structure of the atmospheric circulation (the Hadley cell and wind patterns), structure of the oceanic circulation (wind-driven currents and the thermohaline circulation), and climate and climate variability (including El Nino and anthropogenic warming).
Biogeochemistry of Global Change
ENVST-UA 370 Identical to BIOL-UA 66. Prerequisite: Environmental Systems Science (ENVST-UA 100), or Principles of Biology I (BIOL-UA 11 or BIOL-UA 13 [Honors] or BIOL-UA 9011 [London]) and Principles of Biology II (BIOL-UA 12 or BIOL-UA 14 [Honors] or BIOL-UA 9012 [London]), or permission of the instructor. Killilea. 4 points.
Biogeochemistry is the study of biological controls on the chemistry of the environment and geochemical regulation of ecological structure and function. This course introduces the fundamental principles of biogeochemistry. Additionally, we utilize the scientific literature from peer-reviewed journals to explore specific case studies on the global change of biogeochemistry (e.g., acid precipitation, nitrogen deposition, eutrophication of the oceans) from the field of biogeochemistry.
At the Bench: Ecological Analysis with Geographical Information Systems
ENVST-UA 372 Identical to BIOL-UA 64. Prerequisite: Environmental Systems Science (ENVST-UA 100), or Principles of Biology I (BIOL-UA 11 or BIOL-UA 13 [Honors] or BIOL-UA 9011 [London]) and Principles of Biology II (BIOL-UA 12 or BIOL-UA 14 [Honors] or BIOL-UA 9012 [London]), or permission of the instructor. Killilea. 4 points.
Being able to organize and analyze ecological data is an essential research tool. Geographic information systems (GIS) are computerized systems for the capture, storage, management, analysis, and display of geographically referenced data and their attributes. Students learn the basic principles and applications of GIS, including coordinate systems, data transformations, spatial analysis, and accuracy assessment. Laboratory exercises use ecological data and examples to provide extensive hands-on experience with ArcGIS, a professional GIS software package.
Special Topics: Introduction to Fluid Dynamics
ENVST-UA 380 Identical to PHYS-UA 800. Prerequisites: Physics I (PHYS-UA 91) and Physics II (PHYS-UA 93) and Physics III (PHYS-UA 95) and Mathematical Physics (PHYS-UA 106). Zwanziger. 4 points.
Fluid dynamics is a fundamental branch of physics. Interest in this subject has increased of late, as environmental and climate issues become more pressing. The main emphasis will be on the basic principles of fluid dynamics. Prepares students for work in any of the varied fields where fluid dynamics is important, such as astrophysics, ocean-atmosphere science, blood flow, aerodynamics and many others.
Ethics and the Environment
ENVST-UA 400 Identical to PHIL-UA 53. Offered in the fall. Jamieson. 4 points.
Environmental philosophy is a large subject that involves questions in metaphysics, the philosophy of science, and the history of philosophy, as well as in such normative areas as ethics, aesthetics, and political philosophy. This course is primarily devoted to these normative areas. Beginning with some basic concepts in value theory, the goal is not to arrive at definite solutions to specific environmental problems, but rather to improve students' ability to think critically, read closely, and argue well about environmental issues. The course also introduces students to some major controversies in environmental philosophy. The ultimate aim is to aid students in arriving at their own rational, clear-minded views about the matters under discussion.
Climate Change and Environmental Justice
ENVST-UA 405 Identical to SCA-UA 632. Ross. 4 points.
Introduces students to the basic approaches to climate change, through readings from climatologists, economists, anthropologists, geographers, cultural analysts, and activists of various stripes. Consideration is given to the “debate” about climate change that has been generated by deniers and advocates for the fossil fuel industries. The context for discussing the natural and social impact of global warming is further defined by examining the principles of climate justice. Modeled on the American-derived principles of environmental justice in the 1990s, the climate justice movement poses a legal and humanitarian challenge to champions of “natural capitalism” who place their faith in market-driven solutions. Students look at how populations are unevenly affected by climate change, and how this imbalance is being addressed by a range of advocates of decarbonization.
Economics and the Environment
ENVST-UA 410 Offered in the spring. Damon. 4 points.
Students study how the earth's scarce resources are allocated by individuals and society, and how economic tools can contribute toward solutions to environmental challenges. Broad concepts considered include market failure; sustainability; valuation of social benefits provided by the environment; estimating social costs and benefits of alternate environmental policies; determining desirable levels of pollution control and choosing policies to achieve it; and managing natural resources, both renewable (e.g., forests, fisheries, and water) and nonrenewable (e.g., oil and minerals). The course format consists of lectures, discussions, and group projects.
Environmental History of the Early Modern World
ENVST-UA 415 Identical to HIST-UA 115. Appuhn. 4 points.
From the perspective of environmental history, the early modern period (ca. 1500–1800) marks a moment of sudden and unprecedented global transformation. Rising core populations created increasing demand for food and natural resources, which in turn led to major alterations to the landscape as states and individuals sought to derive greater benefits from nature. This course analyzes the ways in which this process unfolded in different parts of the world, while familiarizing students with basic problems in environmental history, including the changing human relationship to the natural world, the relationship between environmental change and human societies, and the importance of biotic exchange in world history. The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, we consider what can be called the "Eurasian Advantage" or "Biological Conquest Model" made popular by Jared Diamond. In the second part, we consider parallel developments in other parts of the world that cast doubt on this account.
Environmental History of New York City
ENVST-UA 420 Identical to HIST-UA 275. Needham. 4 points.
This course investigates topics in the environmental history of New York City from the 17th century to the present. Environmental history is a relatively new field of history that attempts to take nature and natural forces seriously as key components of historical change. Through readings, site visits, and writing assignments, the course introduces students to the field of environmental history and investigates the history of our immediate environment. As a history-department workshop, the course also introduces students to the key elements of the discipline of history: finding and reading articles, conducting research, and evaluating primary and secondary sources.
History of Ecology and Environmentalism
ENVST-UA 425 Offered in the fall. Anker. 4 points.
Students trace the history of ecology and environmentalism back to natural history collected in the 18th century. The global history of ecological concern stays at the center of this course, which discusses environmental worries in the British, German, Scandinavian, African, and American contexts in subsequent centuries. The chief focus is on more recent U.S. experience in trying to deal with pollution, asthma, and global warming, among other issues. Various ecological understandings of human philosophy, race, gender, fear, religion, sociology, and economy are subject to critical discussion. Readings include texts by scientists such as Carolus Linnaeus, Arthur Tansley, and Julian Huxley, as well as social and philosophical writings of authors such as H. G. Wells, John Muir, Jan Smuts, and Arne Naess.
Education and the Environment
ENVST-UA 430 Offered in the spring. Schlottmann. 4 points.
This course (1) discusses major topics and schools of thought in environmental education, (2) analyzes the ethical, practical, and conceptual implications of this, and (3) assesses these various approaches for clarity and practicality. Students address four primary questions: What forms does environmental education take? What values inform environmental education? What might an ethically defensible, effective form of environmental education look like? How much do concepts and arguments matter in better understanding and implementing environmental education? The course aims to advance our integrative and practical thinking about complex and multifaceted environmental topics, as well as to understand environmental values as they relate to education.
Food, Animals, and the Environment
ENVST-UA 440 Identical to ANST-UA 440. Offered in the spring. Schlottmann, Sebo. 4 points.
Students study human interaction with both food and animals, as well as the environmental impacts and ethical issues that arise from such interaction. Focus is on the moral standing of animals, animals as food, and the environmental impacts of agriculture, transportation, and consumption. The course also surveys major thinkers in the field, including Michael Pollan, Peter Singer, Jim Mason, Wendell Berry, David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Martha Nussbaum. Students engage in collaborative research projects, and we hope to schedule field trips to local agricultural sites.
Topics in Environmental Values and Society
ENVST-UA 450 (or ENVST-UA 9450 at NYU Prague, Shanghai, and Sydney) Prerequisite: Environment and Society (ENVST-UA 101) or permission of the instructor. Offered every semester. Anker, Damon, Rademacher, Sachs, Schlottmann. 4 points.
An intermediate course for students in the major or minor in environmental studies in the environmental values and society track. The aim of the course is to advance understanding of a specific topic concerning the social aspects of environmental problems. Familiarity with social aspects of environmental problems is assumed. Topics include Thinking Globally, Acting Locally; Economics and the Environment; History of Ecology and Environmentalism; Environmental Education; and Food and Animals.
European Environmental Policy
ENVST-UA 460 (or ENVST-UA 9460 at NYU Berlin) Prerequisite: Environment and Society (ENVST-UA 101). Offered in the fall at Washington Square; offered every semester at NYU Berlin. Wazeck. 4 points.
This course offers an introduction to European environmental policy. The European Union (EU) is often seen as a leader in environmental policy, and it is a major player in international environmental policy making. But how does the EU, a unique economic and political union of 27 states, actually make and implement environmental policy? In this course, we explore these questions by focusing on different aspects of European environmental policy. The first part provides a historic overview of the emergence and development of European environmental policy and law. Who are the central actors? Which institutions are involved in policy making? What are the basic regulation principles? The second part concentrates on the EU policy-making process, and on the implementation of environmental policy in the Member States. A third part deepens these aspects by discussing case studies such as the regulation of chemicals, waste management, air pollution, and GMO. A fourth part concentrates on challenges for European environmental policy and sets it into an international context: How to cope with the enlargement of the EU? What is EU Climate Change policy, and how does the European Emissions Trading System work?
Climate and Society
ENVST-UA 470 Prerequisite: Environment and Society (ENVST-UA 101). Recommended: Climate Change (ENVST-UA 226). Offered in the fall. Schlottmann. 4 points.
An intermediate environmental studies elective about how societies understand and respond to climate change. We analyze the values, assumptions, and perceptions that contribute to our understanding of climate change. The main topics are: ethics, justice and responsibility; definitions of nature; cost-benefit analysis and the precautionary principle; geo-engineering; contrarianism; framing and communication; social engagement; and education. Central questions include: Is climate change a technical or social problem? What makes climate change uniquely challenging to understand and respond to? Which ethical and perceptual frameworks are best suited for both understanding and responding to climate change? Who is responsible, and what moral implications does this have? What assumptions about values, behavior, economics, and nature do we make when discussing climate change? How does climate change challenge our conceptions of nature, morality, society, and economics? Does climate change pose a special challenge to society, or does it simply amplify existing challenges?
Urban Political Ecology
ENVST-UA 490 Prerequisite: Environment and Society (ENVST-UA 101). Offered in the fall. Rademacher. 4 points.
Few aspirations hold the global promise, and political traction, of urban sustainability. While sustainability can be defined and measured through a host of metrics, its actual lived practice often proves somewhat more elusive. This reading intensive seminar explores the gap between aspirations for, and the enactment of, urban sustainability. Drawing from theories, methods, and research techniques associated with political ecology, we consider how contests over environmental knowledge, sociocultural ideology, and discourse shape human engagement with urban nature, and in turn influence social and natural transformation. After laying the theoretical groundwork for political ecological inquiry, the course turns to methodological techniques and research approaches designed to illuminate these dimensions of urban environmental change. Toward the end of the course, each student designs a research proposal that engages an environmental problem using political ecological techniques.
Journalism and Society: Covering the Earth (Journalism)
ENVST-UA 503 (or ENVST-UA 9503 at NYU Sydney and NYU Washington, D.C.) Identical to JOUR-UA 503. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Fagin. 4 points.
As Web-based platforms increasingly dominate mass media, what specific forms should the "new" environmental journalism take? This course traces the development of traditional environmental journalism from John Muir to John McPhee and looks closely at how the field is adapting to a fast-changing media landscape. With the help of guests and timely readings, we confront thorny questions about environmental advocacy, citizen media, issue framing, risk balancing, and the scientific process. We produce stories that matter on the biggest news beat of all. This advanced seminar includes intensive journalistic writing assignments, as well as extensive readings for in-class discussion.
Readings in Contemporary Literary Theory: Ecocriticism
ENVST-UA 510 (or ENVST-UA 9510 at NYU Sydney) Identical to ENGL-UA 735. Chaudhuri. 4 points.
An introduction to the emerging field of ecocriticism and an exploration of some of its main questions, issues, methods, and texts. We trace the origins and development of key tropes of ecological thought—such as wilderness, pastoralism, pollution, and catastrophe—in literary and cultural texts ranging from the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh to the Hollywood eco-blockbuster Avatar. We apply the lenses of environment and species to classics like Euripides' The Bacchae, Shakespeare's The Tempest, and Thoreau's Walden, as well as to works that exemplify new conjunctions between ecological thought and contemporary discourses on globalization, environmental justice, and queer theory, such as novels like Animal's People by Indra Sinha and Lives of the Animals by J. M. Coetzee, and films like Brokeback Mountain and The Yes Men Fix the World.
Animals and Society
ENVST-UA 610 Identical to ANST-UA 200 and SOC-UA 970. Jerolmack. 4 points.
Analyzes the ways that animal and human lives intersect. Specifically, this course examines how relationships with animals both reflect and shape social life, culture, and how people think about themselves. We explore the myriad and contradictory positions that animals occupy in society (e.g., as pets, pests, mascots, and food) and deconstruct the social origins of these seemingly natural categories. (After all, one society's pet is another society's dinner.) We also take a grounded look at what actually happens when humans and animals interact, which sheds new light on the nature of human and animal consciousness and troubles some of the assumptions we make about the necessary role of language and symbols in interaction. Fundamentally, students learn how the roles that animals take on in our lives, and the ways that we think about and relate to them, are inherently social processes that are patterned by geography, culture, class, gender, and so on. Central questions include: How do ideas about, and relationships to, animals vary across time and space? What roles do science, literature, and media representations play in shaping how we think about animals? How and why did pets become honorary members of the American family? Why are some animals, but not others, granted moral status and legal protection in society? How do humans and animals coordinate interaction without language?
Animals and Public Policy
ENVST-UA 630 Identical to ANST-UA 500. No prerequisites. Offered in the fall. 4 points.
Provides an overview of public policy with respect to the somewhat contradictory treatment of animals by humans, with a focus on how public policy is created and how social change occurs. We consider what public policy consists of and what actors and factors play a role in the creation of public policy; how society views animals; the capacities of animals; how ethics relates to animal treatment; how animals are currently utilized by our society; and political and other efforts to improve or alter the current treatment of animals, including the influence of science, government, business, and nongovernmental organizations in defining and influencing animal-related policies. We focus on legislation, litigation, regulation, and ballot initiative and consumer campaigns and their effectiveness, as well as other strategies that relate to improving animal welfare. We also discuss the meaning of "animal rights" and the success and impact of the modern animal protection movement.