All Modules Offered in Environmental Studies

1. Gateway (1000-level)

YID 1201 Introduction to Environmental Studies. An introduction to the central concerns and dominant analytic and policy approaches of scholars and activists working in the field of environmental studies. Insights from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities are used to interrogate an array of environmental problems, from climate change and energy technologies to consumerism, the formation of environmental values, and theories of social change. Special emphasis will be placed on issues of regional concern, including waste management, biofuels, escalating energy use, and competing environmental value sets, which will be used to understand and illustrate a distinctive ‘environmental studies’ approach to these challenges (Professor Maniates/Professor Montefrio). Generally offered every semester.

2. Conceptual Approaches to Environmental Studies (2000-level)

YID 2201 The Theory and Practice of Environmental Policymaking. Environmental problems frequently arise from asymmetries in political power that result in policies that benefit some groups at the cost of environmental integrity. Likewise, addressing environmental problems often involves the redistribution of power and influence, with new policies that reflect or cement these political-economic changes. How might we best understand those dimensions of political power and policy change that relate to environmental quality and human health? What models of political and social change best inform our thinking as we try to understand systems of power, policy, and politics consistent with prevailing notions of environmental sustainability? What can we learn from successful and failed attempts to implement effective and efficient environmental policies at the local, state, national, and/or transnational level?  (Professor Maniates) Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 2203 Ecology and Ecosystems. Ecology investigates the complex interactions of organisms with one another and their environment at different levels of organisation, from populations up to ecosystems. This course does not try to cover as many topics within the broad field of Ecology as possible, but rather focuses on three broad ecological questions: 1. What limits and regulates the growth of populations? 2. What drives the coexistence of species in natural communities (biodiversity)? 3. How are trophic interactions, diversity and the dynamics and resilience of ecosystems related?  We study ecological theory related to each question, after which we use our newly gained knowledge to explore the role of ecology in a range of applied topics. The questions go from the level of populations, to the level of communities and subsequently that of ecosystems. Each question introduces new concepts while explicitly building on what we learned previously (Professor Van Breugel).  Generally offered every second or third semester.  Introduction to Environmental Studies recommended but not required.

YID 2207 Social Theory and the Environment.  This foundational module in environmental studies introduces students to social theories applicable to socio-ecological problems. It equips students with the theoretical knowledge for social scientific analysis expected in upper-level environmental studies courses and the capstone project. As an interdisciplinary module, students are introduced to concepts and theories in environmental sociology, environmental anthropology, political ecology, and science and technology studies, among others (Professor Montefrio).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies, and Modern Social Thought or permission of instructor.

YID 2208 Foundations of Environmental Humanities. A survey of the contribution of humanities disciplines—literature, art, history, religious studies, and philosophy—to understanding the relationships among human beings, nonhuman beings, and the techno-natural world we inhabit. Students read influential works in ecocriticism and environmental humanities and analyse relevant texts, such as novels, films, art, and music. Specific topics include the role of art, literature and popular culture in shaping and reflecting beliefs about ‘the environment’; bioregionalism; environmental ethics and values; animals; posthumanism; climate change fiction; and the Anthropocene (Professor Schneider-Mayerson).  Generally offered every second or third semester.  Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 2209 Biogeophysical Systems. To better understand the effects humans are having on the Earth, this course explores how the Earth functions as a complex system with a solid lithosphere interacting with an atmosphere and hydrosphere in a way that sustains the biosphere.  We investigate how these different spheres interact, and how scientists measure the changes in these realms. Topics include the theory of plate tectonics, the dynamics of atmospheric circulation, and the fundamentals of biogeochemical cycling as the foundation of ecosystems. Students will engage in data collection and analysis, and compare their analyses to current knowledge as documented in the scientific literature.

3. Upper-Level Environmental Studies Electives (3000-level)

YID 3201 Conservation Biology. An exploration of the principles of conservation biology, including population, community, and ecosystem-level approaches to understanding natural systems. Students learn the fundamentals of ecology and population genetics as they pertain to conservation, interrogate classic case studies in the field, and explore relevant examples from around Southeast Asia. Generally offered every second or third semester.  

YID 3202 Special Topics. An exploration of an environmental topic or theme of relevance to upper-level students in environmental studies. The topics covered within the course will be detailed in the syllabus given to a student in advance of the course.  The faculty teaching the course will change and as such topics will change according to the faculty member’s expertise and interests.  Offered as needed.

YID 3203 Another World is Possible: Ecotopian Visions. In the era of climate change, many scholars contend that we must develop alternatives to neoliberal fossil-fueled capitalism. This course explores visions of ecotopian futures that might guide our imaginations, beliefs, and actions by examining the ways that various authors, artists, thinkers, and communities have depicted alternative ‘green’ worlds, challenging dominant ideas about human nature, gender, nonhuman nature, culture, society, politics, and the future. With a diverse range of texts, from Björk and Hayao Miyazaki to Kim Stanley Robinson and Ursula K. Le Guin, we pair literature, film, music, art, and architecture with scholarship from environmental studies, history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies (Professor Schneider-Mayerson).  Generally offered every second or third semester.  Prerequisite: Foundations of Environmental Humanities or permission of instructor.

YID 3205 Global Environmental Governance. An analysis of several transnational environmental issues with special focus on how these issues have shaped, and are shaping, domestic and international political relations. Particular attention is devoted to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary efforts to forge enduring systems of global environmental governance.  Special topics include the global climate regime, transnational biodiversity protocols, governance at various levels of scale, and analytic and activist challenges to mainstream strategies for establishing effective global environmental governance (Professor Maniates).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Theory and Practice of Environmental Policymaking

YID 3206 Agrarian Change and Environmental Transformation. This seminar focuses on changes in agriculture and environment now underway in rural areas around the world. Students are introduced to work of scholars, practitioners and activists focusing on the deepening links among rural poverty, food insecurity, social injustice, environmental degradation, and climate change. Drawing on cases from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, we explore the social, political, economic, cultural and material processes that drive change in agrarian societies and environments. Topics include the Green revolution and its legacies, neoliberalisation of agriculture, land grabbing in the 21st century, peasant movements and resistance, and the rise of “alternative” agri-food systems (Professor Montefrio).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Social Theory and the Environment.

YID 3207 China’s Sustainability Challenge: Energy, Climate and Environment. Developing solutions for global energy and climate challenges necessitates an understanding of China. This course examines China’s economic rise in the context of its energy and environment, as they relate both within China and abroad. Issues of security, the long-term sustainability of current resource consumption and growth, and the need for innovative technology and policy are all challenges China’s energy system faces. At the same time, as the world’s largest consumer of energy and emitter of greenhouse gases, China has the ability to single-handedly shape the course of the global climate system. The environmental consequences of China’s energy consumption and growth are also critical considerations, particularly as China’s air and water pollution have become transboundary in nature (Professor Hsu).  Generally offered once every academic year.  Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 3208 Environmental Movements: Past, Present, and Future. This course covers the philosophy, goals, strategy and tactics of environmental movements. Students explore case studies of a diverse array of environmental movements across time and place, such as conservationist, deep ecology, anti-nuclear, anti-consumerist, corporate social responsibility and divestment campaigns. The final project asks students to analyse an ongoing movement in detail and recommend effective strategies for increasing global sustainability (Professor Schneider-Mayerson).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 3209 Climate Science and Policy. Climate change – perhaps the defining issue of the 21st century—is a highly complex problem that requires interdisciplinary collaboration to develop policy responses. This course explores the science of climate change and uses theories from multiple disciplines, including law, political science, economics, and earth and atmospheric sciences to frame solutions to this global challenge.  Through the application of quantitative tools, such as climate modelling, atmospheric and earth sciences, and qualitative tools, such as global environmental governance theory, students will establish an understanding of the causes and impacts of climate change, as well as the policy options and responses to address it (Professor Hsu).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 3212 Risk and Geohazard.  The world is a risky place.  Every year, natural hazards affect millions of people, with increasingly expensive losses.  This course explores risk associated with geophysical phenomena.  Are there more hazardous events now than in the past?  Are these events somehow more energetic?  Or are increasing populations with increasingly disparate incomes being exposed to hazards?  What physical, economic, political and social tools can be employed to reduce this risk?  We draw on examples from recent disasters, both rapid onset (earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones), and slow onset (climate change, famine) to examine complex and interlinked vulnerabilities in the coupled human-environment system (Professor McAdoo). Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 3210 Energy Humanities. Humanity faces extraordinary challenges in an era of climate change and energy transition. These are often portrayed as technological, but they extend to every aspect of our culture and raise new questions about value, power, politics, behavior and ethics that scholars are only beginning to grapple with. This course draws upon new research across the arts, humanities and social sciences to help students better understand the cultural and social dimensions of our currents patterns of energy use, their environmental impacts, and the possibilities of different energy futures (Professor Schneider-Mayerson).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Foundations of Environmental Humanities.

YID 3211 Ecological Economics. This course examines the burgeoning inter-and trans-disciplinary field of  ecological economics, an area of scholarship that combines knowledge from ecology, physics, philosophy, ethics, behavioral sciences, public policy, and economics, among others. We explore the theoretical, philosophical and methodological foundations of ecological economics vis-à-vis “neoclassical” or “mainstream”economics, and examine the implications for environmental policy and social action (Professor Montefrio).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 3213 Environmental Conflict and Collaboration. This course provides environmental studies majors with the foundations to analyze and manage conflicts and disputes, as well as collaborative and deliberative endeavours associated with complex socio-ecological problems. It provides students with the theoretical knowledge and skills needed for the analysis, design, implementation, and evaluation of conflict management systems and collaborative decision-making processes (Professor Montefrio).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 3214 Urban Ecological Systems.  With an increasingly urbanised human population the interaction of nature with the built environment and its human inhabitants is emerging as one of the greatest sources of both opportunity and inertia to goals of sustainability. In this course you will consider the extent to which urbanisation has changed natural ecosystems and led to the rise of a new urban ecology, and consider how humans can value and manage this in a socio-ecological context. We will then address how the confluence of climate change, globalisation and urbanisation are fundamentally altering our living space and the implications for human health and wellness (Professor Pointing).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: One module in environmental studies OR one module in urban studies OR permission of the instructor.

YID 3215 Systems of Sustainable Consumption. As both a cultural norm and a driver of economic prosperity, consumerism is thought to be incompatible with environmental sustainability. Drawing on a range of scholarly and activist work, this seminar explores the emergence and spread of consumerism, interrogates the various definitions and drivers of overconsumption, and considers the political and policy requirements of material sacrifice in service of environmental sustainability. The seminar features direct engagement with a number of scholars of sustainable consumption, and thus requires close reading of text, thoughtful and analytic writing, and engaged discussion.  Special focus on emerging scholarship and policy initiatives in Asia, Europe and North America (Professor Maniates).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YSS 3229 Urbanisation and the Environment (offered in conjunction with Urban Studies).  With the majority of the global population living in cities, urbanisation has become a defining characteristic of human civilisation. This new era of urban dominance has brought a new urgency to understand how to balance the environment alongside urbanisation. Is urbanisation a problem or a possible solution to the environment and sustainable development?  Urbanisation is a not only the movement of people, but it also represents a conceptual shift: a change in how we understand the built environment as well as the environment outside of what we classify as urban areas. This course will explore contemporary urbanisation with a focus on the relationship between urban and urban growth and its implications for the planet’s biological and physical systems (Professor Hsu).  Generally offered every second or third semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

YID 3xxx Powering the Planet.  An overview of contemporary energy issues, with special focus on the engineering, environmental, political, and economic implications of competing global energy trajectories.  Patterns of energy demand and supply in Southeast Asia receive special focus.  Students complete a major research paper or project (Professor Maniates).  Generally offered every third or fourth semester. Prerequisite: Introduction to Environmental Studies or permission of instructor.

4. Compulsory Senior (4th)-Year Modules (4000-level) 

YID 4101 Environmental Studies Capstone Project. In consultation with a research advisor, Environmental Studies students will complete a two-semester (10-MC) capstone project. This project may focus on original academic research, or it may involve collaborative analysis of an environmental problem or policy. The capstone project must further develop and extend the student’s area of interest. As such, it serves as the culminating experience of the student’s work in the major.

YID 4202 Applied Environmental Studies. The seminar, restricted to environmental-studies majors, is an applied, interdisciplinary exploration of a contemporary environmental challenge. Students conduct research, perform necessary analysis, and present their findings to relevant stakeholders. The seminar heightens students’ ability to conceptualise and analyse knotty problems, fosters an ability to communicate effectively across disciplines, and develops research skills for the capstone project. The module is offered in semester one of each academic year and is required of all 3rd-year environmental-studies majors. Fourth-year majors will be admitted only under unusual circumstances (e.g. declaring the major late or an urgent need to study away in semester one of a student’s third year), subject to approval by the Head of Studies.  Offered in semester one each academic year.


Updated 6 July 2018