Reed College | Reed Magazine

The Environmental Studies program currently offers more than two dozen courses. Here is a small sample.

April 9, 2021

Bio 303 – Leaves with landscapes

This field course examines the structure, function, diversity and underlying ecology of the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Students go into the forest to explore topics such as the relationships between plant water and carbon, the history of plant life and resource use, the resilience of trees and forests to disturbance and responses. from plants to global change, observing how our forests function as complex socio-ecological systems.

Chemistry 230: Environmental chemistry

An introduction to the chemistry of natural and polluted environments. Fundamentals of chemistry are used to understand the sources, reactivity and fate of compounds in the Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere. Topics covered include the stratospheric ozone layer, photochemical smog and particulate air pollution, climate change and energy use, toxic substances and water treatment, and agricultural modification of the surface environment.

Econ 351: Environmental economics

This course introduces students to the methods used by economists to analyze environmental problems. Students discuss positive and normative aspects of environmental economics, techniques used to enhance the environment, and approaches – such as regulations and incentive programs – that are used to control pollution.

History 338: Crisis and catastrophe in modern Europe

Between 1720 and 1870, a series of natural and man-made crises forced Europeans to question the purpose of violence in a supposedly ‘improving’ society and the role of rational individuals in a world that was sometimes out of control. their control. This course examines the political, religious, intellectual, and cultural ramifications of disasters and crises, including financial collapse, revolution, war, earthquakes, disease, and famine. These crises have disrupted the political and intellectual landscape of Europe, threatening and transforming ideas about risk, progress, religion and political authority, and restructuring the relationship between man and the natural world.

Story 310: Water and the American West

This course uses the environmental and political history of America’s rivers, streams, reservoirs, and aquifers to introduce students to important questions in the history of water and contemporary water policy. Students begin by exploring a series of different frameworks for understanding the complex relationships between water, labor, land and political power, these relationships having evolved over time. By developing a deeper understanding of water as a natural, cultural and political entity, they see how history has helped shape the way we allocate and regulate water. Armed with the double weapon of history and basic legal doctrine, they tackle some of the key issues of 20th century U.S. water policy, including groundwater, water commercialization and the implications of global warming.

Political Science 374: Science, Technology and Politics

Why and when should science play a role in policy debates? Why are some scientific findings accepted over others in these debates? How can society manage the introduction of new technologies and deal with the risks that may arise? This course explores the relationship between science and politics, how the two sometimes compete and depend on each other. Students study models of knowledge production to better understand how we can study science in politics. The implementation of science and policy is often found in choices around technology, and this course will engage ideas for dealing with emerging, risky, or uncertain technologies.

ES300: Junior Seminar

In ES300, students dive into a group project through an interdisciplinary perspective.

In 2014, they looked at PGE’s Boardman Coal-fired Power Plant, a power plant in eastern Oregon responsible for 65% of Oregon’s SO2 emissions and 7% of its CO2 emissions. The students examined whether Boardman could be converted into a biofuel plant powered by straw from local corn and wheat farms. They concluded that switching to biofuels would halve carbon emissions, but SO2 emissions would still exceed federal targets. PGE ultimately shut down Boardman last year.

In 2017, they mapped the Portland neighborhoods most exposed to climate risks such as floods, wildfires and heat waves. Then they looked at indicators of social vulnerability and resilience. By combining these maps, they identified the neighborhoods that scored high in terms of risk and low in terms of resilience. Students came up with several ways to build resilience in these areas, such as more green space, better access to public transportation, tree planting, sidewalks and community gardens.

Tags: Academics, Courses we would like to take, Climate, Sustainable development, Environment, Professors


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