Looking for good ES-related courses? ES Profs offer up their best advice

Every semester we ask the faculty in environmental studies the following question:

“What modules in addition to those offered by the environmental studies programme should ES majors (or potential majors) consider when planning their schedule for next semester?”

Read on for their replies for courses offered in Semester Two of AY 2017-18.  You can also scroll down to view Prof recommendations from last semester.  And for the archivists among you, Prof recommendations for Semester One are available here.


For Semester Two of AY 2017 – 18


1. Professor Marvin Montefrio recommends the following courses:

YNC Courses

YHU 3254 Globalization on the Ground: There is a significant overlap between globalization and environmental studies. For those who are doing some work on the movement of capital, material, people, and ideas in relation to impacts on the environment, for example, this would be a great course to consider.

YSS 2220 Introduction to Urban Studies: A must for those who are doing work on related to urban environments. This course provides the fundamental theories needed in urban studies, which could complement well what students learn in their ES majors. But, Urban theory is much more preferred if you want to learn more about theory.

YSS 3202 Ethnography: If you imagine doing mostly participant observation for your capstone, this is a must.

YSS 3237 Gender Perspectives in Anthropology: If your work lies at the intersections of gender and environmental studies, this is a highly recommended course. Although mostly taken from the anthropological perspective, it will provide foundational theories/concepts in gender studies.

NUS Courses

GE 3226 Tourism Development: I know a few of you are becoming really interested in ecotourism and agritourism. This is an excellent course to introduce you to critical analysis of (sustainable) tourism in multiple contexts, including environment and agriculture.

GE 2102 Methods and Practices in Geography: For those who are embarking on their capstone project next year and have yet to take a formal course, this is another option just in case you cannot take any methods course at YNC.

GE 3216 Applications of GIS and Remote Sensing: So far we’ve had two capstone projects employing spatial analysis. If you anticipate using spatial analysis in your work, you are definitely required to take a GIS module.

GE 4216 Development and Environment in Southeast Asia: A wonderful course to understand more Southeast Asian socio-ecological problems from a political ecology perspective.

SC 2215 Sociology of Food: Those interested in doing social studies of food, Kelvin Low’s class at NUS is a great foundational course.

SC 3221 Qualitative Inquiry: Ideal for those who will be doing qualitative interviews and participant observation for their capstone project.

SC 4217 Social Movements and Collective Behaviour: We have our version at YNC focusing on Environmental social movements, but that will not be offered next sem. If you really need to take a course on social movements soon, this is an option.

PL 3261 Statistical Techniques in Psychological Research: Some of our students do environmental psychology research for their capstone project, which almost always require inferential statistics. This is an option for those who’d like to augment their QR knowledge to prepare them for quantitaive analysis for capstone.


2.  Professor Schneider-Mayerson urges you to consider these offerings:

YHU3210C. Proseminar in Literary Studies. Relevant and valuable for students who are interested in doing a capstone involving environmental literature and/or ecocriticism.

YHU4228. Oceanic Frameworks: Shifting Currents in Lit. Studies. Relevant for students who are interested in work in environmental humanities – the “blue humanities” is a new and fascinating field, and is particularly relevant given our location.

YSS2207. Introduction to Social Psychology. So much of effectively addressing environmental issues comes down to social psychology – this class would provide an excellent foundation, whether you want to do work on policy, economics, or activism. YSS2201, Understanding Behavior and Cognition, could also be relevant.

YSS4226. Migration Policy. Might be an interesting course for students interested in environmental/climate migration, which will be an increasingly important topic in the coming years and decades.

YSS4228. The Anthropology of Dreams and Sleep. This one just sounds fascinating!

YSS4230. Psychology of Mindfulness. Ditto! And, in all honesty, mindfulness is a valuable practice when you’re spending a lot of time thinking about contemporary environmental issues 🙂


3.  Also take note of these keen suggestions from Professor Brian McAdoo:

YHU2223 Documentary Photography.  Unless you have the resources to bring your own professional photographer along on your field excursions, you might as well learn some of the theory and practice behind taking good photos to tell a better story.

YHU3225 Pompeii: Art, Urban Life, and Culture in the Roman Empire.  This class delves deep into one of the most infamous environmental disasters ever.

YSS3202 Ethnography. Enough of us are working with people, and how these peoples’ cultures intersect with environment, that we should have some tools in our kit.

YSS3222 Urban Theory.  The 21st century will see the shift from our major concerns being of the impacts on rural lands to how urban environments are impacting and being impacted by planetary systems.

YSS3246 Cities of the Global South.  As Prof Zuin is teaching this class, and because cities, the environment, and the problems in each therein are intractable, this would be an excellent class to take.

YSS3269 Water and Waste in Urban Environments.

YSS3272 Urban Ecological Systems.

YSC2210 Data Analysis and Visualization (DAVis) with R.  If you think you may be using quantitative analysis in your environmental work down the road, good visualisation skills are a must.


More input from ES Professors is on the way!



From Semester One AY 2017 – 18


1. Marvin Montefrio offers the following advice:

Yale-NUS Courses

YSS2209 Anthropological Imagination

This module will provide a unique perspective that often challenges and complicates commonly accepted social science concepts. This would be a good theoretical toolkit to add to your understanding of socio-ecological problems

YSS2220 Introduction to Urban Studies

If your interest is an overlap between environmental and urban studies, you then need to take this module. Intro to Urban Studies provides the foundational theories and concepts needed in making sense of urban issues. It would enrich what you learn from Intro to ES and most likely provide good grounding for urban-related ES majors.

YSS2224 Introduction to Global Affairs

This module is a good introduction to the structure of international systems, mainstream theories in development, and approaches to resolving transboundary issues. This is where you learn about the roles of the UN, Bretton Woods institutions, and regional associations (e.g. ASEAN), which are all relevant to our understanding of contemporary environmental issues (e.g. climate change, SDGs, transboundary haze, etc.)

YHU2270 Contemporary Egalitarianism

Those who are interested in developing a specialization in environmental justice or political ecology (i.e. fields in environmental studies that directly deal with inequalities, equity, and justice), this would be a great course to take. There is always so much we can learn from philosophy to enrich our understanding of social-environmental issues.

YSS3202 Ethnography

Highly recommended for those who think they will be using participant observation in their capstone project. Ethnography is a great addition to the methodological toolkit of any environmental scholar.

YSS3207 Advanced econometrics

Quite a few environmental scholars use statistical and econometric methods in their analysis. The application of this method in environmental studies is extensive, even if the area of inquiry is not directly related to economic concerns. For example, students can use econometric approaches in understanding how an individual’s environmental values and belief systems influence actual environmental practices or biophysical changes, in relation to other social variables (e.g. class, ethnicity, gender, education).

YSS3203 Behavioral Economics

Behavioral economics is a fast evolving and developing area of scholarship that provides an alternative to mainstream economic approaches to policymaking. Currently, behavioral economics is being applied in a plethora of social concerns, including environmental problems. If your interest is in environmental policy and economics, this module is highly recommended.

YSS3243 Public Economics

Public Economics is the closest to environmental economics. If you are specializing in environmental policy, public economics pairs well with ecological economics (take note: ecological economics is a critique of public and environmental economics). In this module, you will learn about taxes, tariffs, subsidies, and how to deal with externalities, all related to market-based approaches to environmental governance.

YSS3255 International Development

If your interest is in global environmental governance and politics, you might want to bolster your knowledge of development that takes place in the international arena. This module will provide with a better understanding of how intergovernmental organizations and multilateral agreements work, how transnational non-profit organizations operate, how international aids flow, etc. As we all already know, “sustainable development” is part of the international development agenda.

NUS Courses

GE3235 Geographies of Development: A great course to introduce you to critical perspectives of development (including sustainable development). Ideal for those who want to specialize in political ecology and environmental politics/governance.

GE3226 Tourism Development: Eco-tourism is a popular development tool these days. If your interest has to do with tourism and environment, this module best provides the foundations to critical examine that relationship.

GE3210 Natural Resources: Policy and Practice: This is environmental policy but with more emphasis on issues of access and property regimes in relation to the exploitation of natural resources (fisheries, minerals, forests, etc.) The theoretical approach is more political ecology and environmental politics.

GE2215 Introduction to GIS and Remote Sensing: A must take if you foresee doing work on spatial analysis (either in the urban or rural setting) in the future. This is also a useful (and marketable) knowledge and skill to have.

GE4227 Geographies of Climate Change: A focus on learning about 1) the biophysical sciences of climate change, 2) socio-economic responses and analysis, such as vulnerability, risk, and uncertainty assessment, and 3) climate change communication.

GE4219 Development and Environment in Southeast Asia: A political ecology/political economy (i.e. critical) approach to understanding the intersections between development and environmental issues in the Southeast Asian perspective. Great course for those specializing in political ecology and/or Southeast Asian development.

GE4212 Environmental Modelling: A must module for those who plan to use formalist methods in environmental scholarship. This module provides the foundations for analytical, numerical, and biophysical modelling of social-ecological systems.


2. Professor Schneider-Mayerson adds these suggestions:

YHU3272 Literary Activism: Texts, Aesthetics, & Politics 

Interesting course on the power of literature to influence politics. If you’re interested in the way that discourse and narrative moves audiences, this could be a great choice.

YHU2202 Introduction to Creative Nonfiction 

Learning to write well is one of the skills that will stay with students for the rest of their lives and will be critical to any career they might go into. Yale-NUS students are not getting enough writing instruction from the Common Curriculum, so a class in writing would be an excellent choice. Sign up early, this one fills up fast.

YHU2222 Digital Narratives 

Conveying complicated information through digital narratives is a valuable skill! Learn how to do it here.

GEK2008, Environmental History (NUS)

Environmental history is a critical element of environmental studies that is not currently offered by Yale-NUS faculty.

GEK2031, Environmental Philosophy (NUS)

Environmental philosophy is a burgeoning subfield of philosophy. You might check with the instructor to make sure this will not repeat work you’ve already done for other ES courses.

SSA2215, The Biophysical Environment of Singapore (NUS)

Learn all about Singapore’s geology, soils, river systems, water supply, natural reserves, green areas, land reclamation and coastal environments.


3. Michael Maniates chimes in with these ideas:

LKY School of Public Policy courses (http://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/admissions/graduate-programmes/electives/)

PP 5149:  Big Data, Official Statistics, and Public Policy.  Worth checking out.  Not sure if it’s offered next semester.  Prof. Maniates can check if you’re interested.

PP5185: Energy Policy and Politics.  Professor Valentine is a friend of our programme and is definitely offering this course in Semester One of AY 2017-18.  He looks forward to working with Yale-NUS ES students!

PP5257: Water Policy and Governance.  A great course, but not sure if it’s offered next semester.  If you’re interested in it let Prof. Maniates know and he can check on when it is offered.

PP 5281: Business and the Environment.  Another good course.  Prof. Maniates can check on its availability if you’re interested.

You may find other courses of interest at the LKY website.  Please note that PP5163 The Economics and Governance of Climate Change is not recommended, as we cover this material via existing YNC ES courses.

Yale-NUS Courses not already mentioned

Just one course additional course: YHU 3265: Democratic Theory – Recommended for the same reasons that Prof. Montefrio provides in support for YHU 2270.


4. Brian McAdoo rounds out the field with these tips:

YHU3216.  Intro to Photojournalism.  Good skills for field documentation, taught by a master!

YHU3278.  Globalization in Southeast Asian History.  Globalisation has far-reaching implications on how both business and government make policies that affect the environment in any number of ways.

YSC2221. Introduction to Python.  Good coding skills will go a long way, whether you code in Python, R, C++, Matlab or whatever comes your way.  Data helps highlight many challenges we are facing in the environment, and having the coding skills to work with them is nothing but helpful.


That’s it!  Prof. Hsu reviewed this list and gives it two thumbs up.  No replies from Profs. Sheridan or Van Breugel.