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Take These Sustainability Related Classes Next Fall!

SIS with leavesClasses for Fall 2018 are live on SIS! The classes below not only fill a variety of distribution requirements, but also address the environment and climate change from interdisciplinary perspectives. 

Featured Course:

ENV 0195-02 Sustainability in Action

Worried about climate change? Wondering how to help? Curious about careers  in sustainability? Take ENVS 195-02: Sustainability in Action on Wednesdays from 6-9 PM to learn about the many ways you can address environmental problems and build your career in this introductory sustainability course. Find more info at!

EOS-0131 Groundwater

(Cross-listed as CEE 113 and ENV 113). The geology and hydrology of groundwater. Topics include: hydraulic properties of soils, sediments, and rocks; physics of groundwater flow; flow nets, modeling groundwater systems; geology of regional flow; aquifer exploration and water well construction methods; well hydraulics and aquifer testing; applications in the geosciences and in civil /geotechnical/environmental engineering. Recommendations: EOS 1 or 2, and MATH 32.

ANTH-0026 Anth of Socialism & Post-Soc.

Anthropology of socialism and postsocialism, analyzing political, economic, and sociocultural transformations in the former Soviet Union and other socialist states. Takes a global approach; juxtaposes post-socialism with post-colonial and post-industrial processes. Explores power and resistance; ethnicity and nationalism; gender and body politics; health and illness; commodification and consumption; religion, magic, and rationality; resource extraction; environmental changes; and criminal economies. No prerequisites.

PAI-0033 Interdisciplinary Practices

This course is a studio + seminar course that investigates the role of art in communicating and reflecting upon current science particularly related to intersections of environment. The course acts as a survey of methodologies for incorporating scientific material into a creative practice as well as a time for students to develop their own processes for making creative work about a topic of their interest. This course is designed to allow students with existing artistic skill to develop a practice of integrating scientific material into their work, or for students engaged in studies related to scientific fields to find new ways to think about their existing studies. The course contends with knowledge construction and encourages both the integration of current scientific information into artistic discourse while simultaneously allowing for productive critique of existing epistemological structures. Non-SMFA students will receive a letter grade.

BIO-0144 Prin Conservation Bio

(Cross-listed as ENV 144.) Learning and application of principles from population ecology, population genetics, and community ecology to the conservation of species and ecosystems. Focus on rare and endangered species, as well as threatened ecosystems. Includes applications from animal behavior, captive breeding, and wildlife management. Readings from current texts and primary literature. Recommendations: BIO 14 or equivalent.

ANTH-0174 Thinking with Plants

Explores use of plants as material resources (food, medicines, licit/illicit drugs, infrastructure) and as symbolic resources. Topics include circulation of plants; colonial cultivation, extraction, and power; place of plants in different lived environments and symbolic ecologies; plants, capitalism, and commodity chains; indigenous knowledge, tourism, and biopiracy; commercialization, criminalization and legality; multi-species approaches to living with and among botanicals.

CSHD-0143 Special Topics: School Gardens Public Schools

Group seminar study of an approved topic that is not covered by a regular course in the department. Please contact the department for detailed information.

AMER-0194 Special Topics: Earth Matters

Courses offered on an ad hoc basis and open to graduate and advanced undergraduate students. Please see departmental website for specific details.

PHIL-0191 Seminars: Environmental Ethic

The course explores the values, rights, responsibilities and status of entities underlying alternative ethical approaches to environmental issues. Subjects include: anthropocentric vs. biocentric frameworks to natural resource protection; precautionary principle; ethics of cost-benefit analysis; equity and risk management; status of “rights” of non-human species and future generations; ethical considerations of sustainable development & energy use; genetically modified crops; transgenic animals; deep vs. narrow ecology; economic and non-economic value of wilderness & sacred lands. Recommended: Two courses in philosophy.

EC-0030 Environmental Economics

(Cross-listed as ENV 30.) An examination of the uses and limitations of economic analysis in dealing with many of the environmental concerns of our society. Public policies concerning the environment will be evaluated as to their ability to meet certain economic criteria. Prerequisite: Economics 5 or Economics 8.

PS-0138 Topics In Compar Pol: Politics Of Oil & Energy

This course examines how oil, energy, and other natural resources have shaped economic and political outcomes in countries around the world. It begins by exploring research on how oil and natural resources affect political regimes and the risk of civil war and international conflict. The economic effects of oil and natural resources are then considered through an analysis of the “resource curse” hypothesis. We will evaluate this hypothesis by investigating the experiences of countries in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, and North America. The final part of the class takes a public policy focus by looking at how governments design and implement policy related to oil and energy, how oil and energy industries respond to this policy, and how this affects consumers and the public as a whole. We examine topics such as the role of OPEC, regulation, and energy policy in the United States.

SCP-0156 Advanced Sem: Shelter & Land

This advanced seminar takes an in depth look at topics related to “shelter” and “landscape” and explores crossovers with architecture, sculpture, function and design, as well as relationships between culture, nature and the crisis of sustainability. From the failures of the public housing projects to the contemporary innovations of the engineered natural world, artists have explored these ideas from the Land Art of the 1960s and 1970s to the sustainable design emphasis of today. Non-SMFA students and MAT Art Education students will receive a letter grade.

ENV-0167 Environmental Toxicology

(Cross-listed as CEE 157.) This course is designed to present the basic scientific principles of toxicology and the relationship of toxicology to health-based risk assessment and hazardous materials management. The toxic effects of hazardous substances on specific organ systems are described, as well as the mechanisms of action of some frequently encountered environmental contaminants. Specialized topics related to the field of toxicology are also discussed, including animal to human extrapolation of data, mutagenicity/carcinogenicity, and teratogenesis. Recommendations: Senior standing or consent of instructor.

VISC-0129 The Greening of Art

(Cross-listed w/ENV 129) “The Greening of Art: Ecology, sustainability and sculpture since 1960” explores the impact of theories for sustainable development on contemporary sculpture. We will cover the history of the ecology movement since the 1960s, as well as the development of ideas of sustainability since the late 1980s, highlighting the difference between ecology and sustainability in concept, context and reception. We will study artists whose work contributes to shape current perceptions of ecology, such as Hamish Fulton, Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison, Joseph Beuys and Mark Dion. Furthermore, the socio-political implications of recent definitions of sustainability will be considered and framed within the discourse on globalization: in this context, we will look at the work of Rirkrit Tiravanija, Eteam, Andrea Zittel, Marjetica Potrc, Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas, among many others. We will finally consider local practices, such as artist Julie Stone’s commitment to community gardening, which blurs the boundaries between environmental activism and sculpture.

BIO-0010 Plants & Humanity

(Cross-listed as ENV 10.) Principles of botany accenting economic aspects and multicultural implications of plants, their medicinal products, crop potential, and biodiversity. Emphasis placed on global aspects of this dynamic science, with selected topics on acid rain, deforestation, biotechnology, and other applications. Also covered are medicinal, poisonous, and psychoactive species, as well as nutritional sources from seaweeds and mushrooms to mangos and durians. Three lectures.

EOS-0051 Global Climate Change

Introduction to Earth’s climate system to better understand causes of present and future climate change. Emphasis placed on processes that control Earth’s modern climate, such as global energy budgets, the behavior of greenhouse gases, and features of global and regional climate systems such as El Nino South Oscillation. Lectures and problem-based classroom exercises. Prerequisite: EOS 1, 2 or 5. May be taken by grad students as EOS 151 with extra assignments.


What to pack for spring break

Are you traveling next week? Remember to pack these items to reduce waste on your trip!

Eating: Bring a fork, spoon, and knife. Or, to save space, bring a spork or chopsticks! Make sure you only bring a knife in your checked luggage. In addition, bring a few cloth napkins – they double as handkerchiefs.

Drinking: Definitely remember to pack a reusable water bottle. You may even want a travel mug for coffee and tea, too.

Transporting: Once you’re done eating, you’ll need Tupperware for leftovers. Carry the Tupperware and your Tufts Office of Sustainability reusable sandwich bag in a reusable shopping bag.

Toiletries: Invest in small reusable containers to bring small amounts of shampoo, sunscreen, and face wash on your trip instead of buying the travel size toiletries. Also, pack a wash cloth and a menstrual cup.


Last, but not least, bring mindfulness about your waste and consumption on your trip! As a visitor, treat your destination with respect.

Wolves Impact Ecosystem and Geography of Yellowstone Title Image, background has phases of moon cycle.

In 1995, Yellowstone brought the wolves back to the park. After 70 years without wolves, the reintroduction caused unanticipated change in Yellowstone’s ecosystem and even its physical geography. The process of change starting from the top of the food chain and flowing through to the bottom is called trophic cascades.  According to Yellowstone National Park, here are a few ways the wolves have reshaped the park:

Deer: It’s true that wolves kill deer, diminishing their population, but wolves also change the deer’s behavior. When threatened by wolves, deer don’t graze as much and move around more, aerating the soil.

Grass and Trees: As a result of the deer’s changed eating habits, the grassy valleys regenerated. Trees in the park grew to as much as five times their previous height in only six years!

Birds and Bears: These new and bigger trees provide a place for songbirds to live and grew berries for bears to eat. The healthier bear population then killed more elk, contributing to the cycle the wolves started.

Beavers and other animals: Trees and vegetation also allowed beaver populations to flourish. Their dam building habits provided habitats for muskrats, amphibians, ducks, fish, reptiles, and otters.

Mammals: Wolves also kill coyotes, thereby increasing the populations of rabbits and mice. This creates a larger food source for hawks, weasels, foxes, and badgers.

Scavengers: Ravens and bald eagles fed off of larger mammal’s kills.

Most surprisingly, the land: Soil erosion had caused much more variation in the path of the river. But with elk on the run and more vegetation growing next to rivers, the river banks stabilized. Now, the wolves have changed Yellowstone’s physical geography.

The story of wolf reintroduction demonstrates how crucial every member of an ecosystem is important to a landscape.

Learn more about the wolves in Yellowstone, background wolves in grass


Overconsumption in the Global North

Graph showing global carbon dioxide emissions: 50% from the richest 7% and 7% from the poorest 50%

A common scapegoat for global warming is overpopulation. Skyscrapers drowning in a sea of smog in China certainly point to the country’s detrimental impact on the environment.  It’s true that growing populations, especially ones undergoing industrialization like China, hurt the environment. However, many people are not aware that richer countries’ contributions to climate change are much greater than the Global South’s.

Fred Pearce’s article, “Consumption Dwarfs Population as Main Environmental Threat,” highlights several statistics that point to wealthy countries’ abuse of privilege:

  • The richest 7% of Earth’s population emit 50% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Conversely, the poorest 50% are responsible for only 7% of emissions.
  • The average American’s footprint, or the area of the earth required to provide each of us with food, clothing, and other resources, is 9.5 hectares. For comparison, the world average is 2.7 hectares. China is still below that figure at 2.1 hectares, while India and most of Africa are at or below 1.0.
  • The factory farming of meat is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. Americans eat more than 120 kilograms of meat a year per person, while Indians consume 6 kilos.

Before you claim that people in the Global South are having “too many babies,” consider your own carbon footprint. In fact, try this carbon footprint calculator.  Our per capita emissions eclipse countries with larger populations. It’s time to challenge the Global North’s culture of overconsumption.

Earth Lovers

Happy Valentine’s day from the Office of Sustainability! Who is your special Valentine this year? This year (and every year) our valentine is the Earth! We love the Earth, because it is our home and like any home, we have to care for it and show our appreciation every day. The Earth gives so much to us and asks for so little in return, but every now and then, our beautiful home could use some help and appreciation.

Valentine’s Day may only be one day a year, but you can show the Earth how much you love it every day!

These are just some of the things we do to show Earth love today and every day:

  • Conserve energy: turn off the lights!
  • Grab a reusable mug to get some coffee.
  • Bundle up, instead of turning up the heat.
  • Be prepared: carry a reusable shopping bag everywhere!
  • Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot
  • Compost: turn spoil into soil.
  • Unplug all electronic devices and spend time with friends and family.

How do you show your love for the Earth?

We asked the Eco-Reps to send us their thoughts about loving the Earth. Here are a couple of their responses:

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