Environmental Studies (Introductory for Undergraduates)

Professor: Julianne Warren
Institution: NYU
Course Number: n/a

Environmental Studies Syllabus

Dr. Julianne Lutz Warren, Liberal Studies/Global Liberal Studies, Faculty of Arts and Science, New York University, Spring 2012

The most profound theme that can occupy the mind of man…..is doubtless involved in the query: What is….the relationship between the (radical, democratic) Me, the human identity….with the (conservative) Not Me, the whole of the material objective universe and laws, with what is behind them in time and space, on the other side? -Walt Whitman, 1882


Course numbers and meeting times and classrooms:

ENSTU-UF 0101.001- Environmental Studies- TR 9:30-10:45

ENSTU-UF 0101.005- Environmental Studies- R 12:30-1:45

*Note: All students taking Environmental Studies must register for and attend both the lecture and the lab components of the course. This is a credit course.


Professor contact information:

Location: Liberal Studies-Global Liberal Studies Building at 726 Broadway, Office 654 (right corner)

Email address: [email protected]

Office Hours: Tuesday 11:00-12:00 and Thursday 11:00-12:00 and by appointment


Course Materials:

Required Matierals for Purchase:

The following required books are available for purchase at the New York University Bookstore at 18 Washington Place:

Leopold, Aldo. (1949) 1968. A Sand County Almanac. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lopez, Barry. 1990. The Rediscovery of North America. New York: Vintage Books.

McKibben, Bill. 2010. Eaarth. New York: Times Books.

Peterson, R.T. 2010. Field Guide to Birds. NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Swimme, Brian and Mary Evelyn Tucker. 2011. Journey of the Universe. New Have, Yale University Press.

In addition to the above books, you must purchase a COURSE PACKET of other required readings. The Course Packet is available for purchase at Unique Copy Center at 252 Greene St. Phone: 212-420-9198.


For Reference on Blackboard:

Supplementary readings for reference will be posted on Blackboard throughout the semester.


For Reference on Library Reserve:

Barnard, E.S. 2002. New York City Trees. New York: Columbia.

Day, Leslie. 2007. Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Sanderson, Eric. 2009. Mannahatta. New York: Abrams.

Sibley, D.A. 2001. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

You may want to sign up for one of these sessions: Bobst’s Library classes on “Finding Books and Articles”: http://webapps.library.nyu.edu/classes


Course Description and Objectives:

This course is based on the definition of environmental studies as an open inquiry into the identities of and relationships between humans and the rest of nature, their consequences, and how to promote human thoughts, values, and actions that are mutually beneficial to Earth and all its life. One path of investigation is through science. We will use science and practice understanding the scientific process and the knowledge it generates as well as discuss its history. We also will consider different ways of understanding the world. Because the definition of our pursuit has an explicitly evaluative orientation, we will be learning about how the “ought”—that is, how we think about and assess the world—is related to the “is”—in other words, the real workings of the observable world.  The course is arranged over three conceptual stages: The Unfolding Earth; The Arrival of the Anthropocene; Life on Planet Eaarth.


Course Requirements and Assessment:

This course is based on the assumption that you have been accepted and chosen to attend NYU because you are smart, capable, and have the responsibility of an eager, adult learner. It covers wide ranges of knowledge and incorporates both in-class discussions and independent and cooperative lab and outdoor fieldwork. To do well in this course it is essential that you attend all lectures, which will include information not found in your assigned readings; attend all field sessions; complete all required readings before coming to class; complete all written assignments well and on time; engage in class discussions and other activities. By joining this class, you are becoming part of a community. Implicit in community membership are certain rights and obligations. I and all of your classmates will be relying on you tobe present, alert, and to contribute to discussions and group work and you will be relying on us likewise. In lecture sessions, I will assume that you have read all assignments closely. When we go outdoors, I also will assume that you are dressed properly to be comfortable in that day’s weather. In order to complete field assignments, two mornings you will be expected to meet with the class outside very early with rain dates scheduled for the Saturday after the rained out session, should that occur. Some of your homework assignments will also require you to be outside. You will also be expected to make two independent or small group trips to museums.

Attendance is mandatory for all lectures and field classes. If extenuating circumstances arise you should speak with me directly as soon as possible. Illness and religious holidays are excused absences, but you will still be responsible for work missed in classes. If you are sick and miss class, please bring me a note from the health center as soon as possible. I will not accept late assignments unless we have made an agreement at least 48 hours ahead of the initial due date.

You are responsible for checking our course’s Black Board site regularly for postings. You should also make sure that your email address is up-to-date in NYU’s system.

Cell phones and all other electronic communication devices, including laptop computers, must be turned off during class.

For assignments requiring documentation please follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Please View:  “Evaluating Internet Information,” Johns Hopkins University, The Sheridan Libraries: http://www.library.jhu.edu/researchhelp/general/evaluating/



Attendance at all classes for the lecture and field portion of the course is mandatory and assumed. You may have points subtracted from your final grade for each missed class. If you have extenuating circumstances contact me as soon as possible.


Academic Integrity

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you plagiarize your offence will be reported and kept on record. Students who plagiarize are subject to serious academic penalties, up to and including expulsion. To refresh your understanding of expectations see:http://ls.nyu.edu/page/ls.academicintegrity and http://ls.nyu.edu/page/bulletin.



Students with disabilities who believe they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities at 212-998-4980 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion. For more information, see the CSD website: http://www.nyu.edu/osl/csd.


Graded Assignments (Adding to a total of 100%):

  • Exams (3)—50% (15/15/20)
  • Discussion participation—10%
  • Field notebook—40%


Your final grade will be based on 3 exams, field notebook assignments, and class participation.

–Exams: The 3 exams will be a mix of short answers and short essay. They will test your reading comprehension and ability to think critically about the material you have thought about and discussed in class and field assignments.

–Discussion participation: You will be part of a small discussion group within the larger community of the class. Around the time of the 3 exams, you will also receive a pass/fail participation grade. Final evaluation for participation will assume attendance and be based both on how you interact with your group members and how you contribute to the class as a whole, particularly indicating that you are prepared by doing the assigned reading and written work on time and thoughtfully.

–Field Notebook: Field/written assignments will be posted on Blackboard. You will receive a final grade on all of the assignments put together in your field notebook when you turn it in at the end of the term. Leading up to that, two times during the semester you must check-in your field notebook for evaluation of up-to-date completeness and organization. You will receive a pass/fail mark at these junctures. A pass grade will be worth 6 points of your final field notebook grade at each check-in. These assignments are also geared toward helping you be prepared for class discussions and to better understand and integrate readings.


The weights assigned to the grades in computing grade point averages are as follows:

A (93-100); A- (90-93); B+ (87-90); B (83-87); B- (80-83); C+ (77-80); C (73-77); C- (70-73); D+ (67-70); D (63-67); F (<63).


READING and FIELDWORK SCHEDULE (This is a flexible document and is subject to change at the professor’s discretion).

  Reading Assignments (to be completed beforeclass) Field/Written Assignments (due dates to be announced
Part I: The Unfolding Earth   
Week 1: Tuesday, January 24 Introduction
Week 1: Thursday,Jan 26 A new origin story of science:Journey of the Universe, Chapters 1-4 Learning to SeeI. American Museum of Natural History: Journey to the Stars film, Cosmic Pathway, and Halls of Human Origins and Biodiversity
Week 2: Tuesday,Jan 31 Traditional origin stories:–The Hebrew Bible(1000 B.C.E.-2ndCentury C.E.) in R. M. Torrance (ed.). 1998. Encompassing Nature. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint Press: Genesis 1-3; Job 38, 39, 41, pp. 100-105, 110-113.


–Lao-tzu (6thCentury B.C.E.). (Transl. Arthur Waley). Torrance (ed.). 1998.Encompassing Nature. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint Press: #s 4, 6, 16, 25, 40, 43, 52, 56, 78 (pp. 166-169).


— Allen, Paula Gunn. 1992. The Sacred Hoop. Boston: Beacon Press: Cheyenne creation tale, pp. 57, 65 and Zuni Emergence and Migration Mural: “Emergence at Ribbon Falls”

Week 2: Thursday,Feb 2 The development of life’s global cycles: Journey of the Universe, Chapters 5-8:


II. Mapping Lab 1: Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Arthttp://www.metmuseum.org/connections/maps/#/Feature/


Read: Lopez, Barry. “The Mappist”

Week 3: Tuesday,Feb 7 Global cycles (ecological succession, carbon, nitrogen, hydrological cycles):–Humboldt, Alexander von. 1850.Views of Nature. London: Henry G. Bohn:

“Author’s Preface[s]” (pp. v-xiv); “Ideas for a Physiognomy of Plants,” pp. 210-215.


–Chapple, Christopher (ed.). 1993. Ecological Prospects: Scientific, Religious, and Aesthetic Perspectives. Albany: SUNY Press: Sagan, Dorion and Lynn Margulis. “Gaian Views,” pp. 3-9.

Week 3: Thursday,Feb 9 Natural selection and evolution and biodiversity:–Darwin, Charles. “Recapitulation and Conclusion” from On the Origin of SpeciesPages 741-760 in E.O. Wilson (editor)From So Simple a Beginning. New York: WW Norton, 2006.


–Sibley, D.A. 2001.The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Selection on species classification.

III. Mapping Lab 2: Mannahatta and ManhattanRead: Miller, Peter. 2009. “Before New York” http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/09/manhattan/miller-text


Reference: Sanderson, E. 2009. Mannahatta . NY: Abrams. (library reserve)





Week 4: Tuesday,Feb 14 Humanity’s global presence: Journey of the Universe, Chapters 9-11
Week 4: Thursday,Feb 16  Journey of the Universe Film 



IV. Scientific caution 1: Observing natural historyRead: Burroughs, J. (b. 1837). 1907. Introduction. In White, G. (b. 1720) Natural History of Selborne and Observations on Nature. NY: D. Appleton and Co, pp. vii-xxiii.



White, Gilbert (1720-1793) in R. M. Torrance (ed.). 1998.Encompassing Nature. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint Press: from The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne  (pp. 1086-1095).

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