Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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Environmental Studies and Ecology Courses

Introduction to Environmental Studies

Environmental Studies 100 | Coote, McClelland | 4 credits

This course covers ecological principles and their application to current global environmental issues, such as human population growth, global warming, ozone depletion, changes in biodiversity, and energy issues. The importance of common property resources and their management are discussed. A laboratory is included for field trips to local areas of interest as well as in-class exercises.

No prerequisites. Laboratory fee. This course is generally offered once a year.

Introduction to Agroecology

Environmental Studies 107m | Coote | 2 credits

Intro to Agroecology uses the Simon's Rock Community Garden as the focal point for exploring the application of ecologically sound practices in agriculture. It will provide students with the philosophical and scientific rationale for alternative agricultural methods, as well as the basic scientific knowledge required to understand and assess the biological and ecological processes involved. Through labor in the garden, the pursuit of independent research projects, assigned readings, and laboratory exercises students will explore and obtain a firm understanding of the challenges of producing one of our most basic necessities. Course work will include response journals, a midterm and final exam, lab reports, and a final paper.

Laboratory fee. This course is generally offered once a year.

Aquatic Ecology

Environmental Studies 108 | Coote | 4 credits

This course provides the fundamental elements and concepts in the field of aquatic ecology and investigates a variety of aquatic ecosystems found in New England. Students will learn the essential physical and biological components of freshwater systems, including basic chemical and biological sampling methods, become acquainted with ecological theory as applied to aquatic systems and will be introduced to basic statistical analysis of ecological data. During the course we will explore topics ranging from aquaculture to climate change and the diversity of freshwater organisms. Through field trips we will explore local ponds, streams, and wetlands, and visit the Hudson River, one of the largest rivers on the eastern seaboard.

No prerequisites. Laboratory fee. This course is generally offered once every two years.

Sweet History: The Science and Story of Maple Sugaring

Environmental Studies 110m  | Coote, McClelland | 2 credits

This course introduces students to the history, practice, and science of tapping maple trees for the production of maple syrup. In the greater context of global climate change the course also serves as a concrete example of what climate change means for local food production systems as well as the regional environment now and in the future. Tapping trees for maple sap is a long standing agricultural practice in New England, as well as in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. There is a small sugar bush and sugar shack on campus and this course allows students to study sugaring through literature and practice.

This course is generally offered once a year.

Apiculture: The Principles and Practices of Beekeeping

Environmental Studies 112m | McClelland | 2 credits

Undoubtedly, honey was the first concentrated sugar product known to humankind, and the practice of raising of bees dates back thousands of years. Honey bees are truly social animals with a division of labor, and a healthy hive has a single queen and as many as 60,000 workers all of which are female. In this course, students will study the biology of honey bees, their cultural importance, and management of their colonies for the production of honey, beeswax, and other products. We will also study the agro-ecological role honey bees play by examining the pollination services provided to the Simon's Rock Farm. A substantial portion of class time will be spent in the Simon's Rock Apiary working the bees. This will involve checking that the queen is present and laying eggs, screening for and treating diseases, and checking the stocks of pollen and honey. This course will end sweetly with the extraction of honey. Vive la eusocial matriarchy of Apis mellifera!

No prerequisites. This course does not fulfill the AA science requirement and is suitable for non-science students.


Environmental Studies 200 | McClelland, Snyder | 4 credits

This course examines the structure and function of ecosystems and the ecological bases of environmental problems through lectures, discussions, and laboratory work. Topics include the nature of the physical environment and its interactions with the biota, energy relationships within ecosystems, biogeochemical cycles, structures and dynamics of populations, and interactions within and among populations. Field trips to major Berkshire natural communities familiarize students with regional dominant species.

>Prerequisite or corequisite: Environmental Studies 100 or permission of the instructor. This course is generally offered once every two years (in the fall).

Principles of Environmental Management

Environmental Studies 201 | Coote, McClelland | 4 credits

Here we consider alternate energy technologies, air and water pollution, risk assessment, environmental law and impact assessment, and the ways in which this society attempts to manage our environmental issues. Frequent field trips during laboratory time are used to visit hydroelectric facilities, waste burning cogeneration plants, sewage treatment plants, and water treatment facilities.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 100. This course is generally offered once every two years.

Geographies of Nature, Wilderness, and Conservation

Environmental Studies 205 | Coggins | 3 credits

A well-known conservation theorist has noted that “Nature protection is more a process of politics, of human organization, than of ecology,” and that “although ecological perspectives are vital, nature protection is a complex social enterprise…it is the sociopolitical realm that enhances or diminishes conservation efforts.” This course examines both the “sociopolitical realm” in terms of its metaphors of nature and its conservation practices, as well as the ecologies in which it seeks its moorings. We focus on the origins of modern Western conceptions of nature, wilderness, conservation, preservation, biodiversity, land ownership, and protected area management. Focusing first on ideas of wilderness that gave rise to the “Yellowstone Model” of national park development, we discuss critical turns in conservation theory and notions of sustainable development that have led to a diverse international system of protected area management and to enduring questions regarding its efficacy. Case studies on the social and cultural dimensions of conservation in critical ecosystems within each of the earth’s major biomes describe local and regional environmental histories; rural subsistence and commercial land-use patterns; indigenous knowledge systems; local resource management practices; the making of environmental subjects (and subjectivities); and how these socio-ecological factors often render conventional preservation schemes inappropriate or even dysfunctional. As students of spatial theory and practice we also examine emerging protected area, corridor, and buffer management systems; regional conservation schemes; and theories of humans and nature that redefine the connection between biodiversity, justice, and culture. This course includes a practicum on trail building and maintenance, as well as landscape interpretation, and part of each class is devoted to work on the Simon’s Rock Interpretive Trail.

No prerequisites.

Ecology of Closed-Loop Food Systems

Environmental Studies 208/308 | Coote | 3/4 credits

This course introduces students to intensive closed-loop, food-production systems. It begins with examining issues surrounding the global exploitation of fish, traditional and contemporary fish farming methods, diminishing land based food production, and the significant environmental issues surrounding such systems. Students work closely with a hydroponic system that incorporates both fish and plants, and maintain this system as well as conduct research exploring a wide variety of questions from the biological, to the economic, to the social. Students will be introduced to the basic ecological, biological and chemical elements of such systems, explore the social issues surrounding food production, particularly fisheries, and work with live aquatic animals and plants including harvesting.

This course does not meet the science requirement. Prerequisites: 100-level science course and Math 109 or higher. Laboratory Fee. This course is generally offered once every year.

Tropical Ecology in Montserrat

Environmental Studies 209m | Coote | 2 credits

The objective of this course is to introduce the student to the field of tropical ecology with a particular emphasis on Montserrat in the Caribbean. At the end of this course the student should have a firm understanding of the basic ecological systems of the tropics and understand the interrelations of the major biological and chemical dimensions of tropical systems. During the course students will develop a research question and present it formally to the class at the end of the term. This course will also help students intending to participate in the Montserrat intercession course to develop a project for their studies in Montserrat.

No prerequisites. This course is generally offered once every year.


Environmental Studies 215/315 CP | McClelland | 3/4 credits

We wear them, eat them, build with them, use them for medicine, and indulge ourselves with them. In fact, human life is totally dependent on them, and use of and reverence for them is inseparable from human cultures. They are plants. This course explores the myriad relationships between people and these fascinating organisms. We will approach the interdisciplinary topic from a botanical perspective and use a scientific grounding to inform us about cultural practices concerning plants. Topics of study will include domestication, agricultural practices, food plants, fiber plants, dye plants, modern and traditional botanical medicines, poisonous plants, and intoxicating plants. This course includes a laboratory component with activities including processing plant fibers, making and using plant-based dyes, making paper from papyrus, producing flour from grain, and testing plants for medicinal properties.

Prerequisite: Biology 200 or permission of instructor.

Topics in Environmental Management

Environmental Studies 304  | Coote, McClelland | 4 credits

This seminar examines problem solving, planning, and management schemes in various environmental areas. Topics change yearly and include land-use planning, management of common-property resources, campus energy management, environmental impact assessment, and pest management. Emphasis is placed on individual student research projects.

Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 100 and Environmental Studies 201, or permission of the instructor. This course is generally offered once every two years.


Environmental Studies 308 | Coote | 4 credits

An introduction to the study of inland lakes and rivers, this course covers the biological, chemical, and physical factors of the aquatic environment and their interactions. Emphasis is placed on the identification of aquatic organisms, methods of chemical analysis, interpretation of data, and critique of current literature.

Prerequisites: College-level biology and chemistry, and permission of the instructor. Laboratory fee. This course is generally offered once ever three or four years.

Environmental Studies Tutorial

Environmental Studies 300/400 | Staff | 4 credits

Under these course numbers, juniors and seniors design tutorials to meet their particular interests and programmatic needs. A student should see the prospective tutor to define an area of mutual interest to pursue either individually or in a small group. A student may register for no more than one tutorial in any semester.