Course Descriptions

  • ES 108: Environmental Chemistry
    A working knowledge of most environmental issues facing us in the twenty-first century requires a modest understanding of some key geochemical principles. This course introduces geochemistry concepts and skills as they arise in the context of current environmental issues, including chemical cycles in nature, air pollution, ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain, energy sources, water quality, and solid waste. The course will incorporate 'field' experiences: visits to water quality and/or atmospheric laboratories, as well as local sampling and analysis. Students will be asked to collect and interpret their own data, as well as to test scientific explanations of environmental issues with simple models. (Meets GEC Natural and Mathematical Sciences Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: CHEM 108
  • ES 110: Intro to Environmental Studies
    The environment is not only a natural place filled with trees and pandas, but a matrix in which all human economies and societies are embedded. Solving current environmental problems often involves closing feedback loops between political, social, and economic processes and the ecosystems from which they draw, and which they, in turn impact. For this reason, the scholarly study of environmental issues is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring a sophisticated appreciation not only of science, but also of the humanities and social sciences. This course is an introduction to the multifaceted and interdisciplinary nature of environmental problems and their solutions in today's world. It emphasizes field trips and scientific content, particularly related to understanding biodiversity and ecosystems. It also offers perspectives on environmental issues from the humanities and/or social sciences. Specific topics and content may vary with the professor(s). No prerequisites. Intended for students interested in pursuing the Environmental Studies major.
  • ES 116: Introduction to Geology
    This course will launch participants into the study of Earth's physical history, from the creation of our planet to ways in which geologic processes occur all around us today. Students will learn to identify many different types of rocks, minerals, and fossils, explain the workings of plate tectonics, interpret ancient climates and environments by identifying a single rock, and understand how geologic processes have shaped the face of today's Earth and the life on it. Students will better understand the most important environmental and economic issues facing the world today—the formation, distribution, extraction, and effects of fossil fuels—and gain insight into water movement, access, and pollution. Students will be expected to take a dynamic role in the teaching of materials through presentations and in-class activities. Field trips, including a possible weekend field trip, will be a required part of the class. (Meets GEC Natural and Mathematical Sciences Requirement.)
  • ES 117: Geography and Demography
    The most important issues facing the Earth and its people in the 21st century all have their basis in the geography of the planet, that is, the spatial distribution of land, water, languages, and economic activity. The course will address the following eight geographical concepts: the major forces driving population growth or decline; water scarcity, water pollution, and water management; food production and distribution systems; global flow of people, ideas, products, and resources; the drive toward urbanization and the response of cities to growth; global warming and the ways in which human activities in different regions contribute to greenhouse gas emissions; democratization, the history and current status of the form of government in different regions, how governmental form is tied to the geography; how gender roles influence societies in different regions. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
  • ES 203: Spring Flora of the Great Lakes
    ES 203: Spring Flora of the Western Great Lakes. This course introduces students to the identification, systematics, ecology, and natural history of the spring flora of the Western Great Lakes. This course includes extensive field work in the greater Chicago area and eastern Wisconsin. Students learn to identify between 150 and 200 species of wildflowers, grasses, trees, shrubs, and other plants, and learn the characteristics of 15 to 20 plant families. No prerequisites. (Meets GEC Natural and Mathematical Sciences Requirement.) This Summer Session I course in 2014 will be held three mornings per week plus three field trips--Saturday, May 17 from 8am-5pm, Saturday, May 24 from 8am-5pm, and the entire 3-day weekend of May 30-June 1.
  • ES 204: Summer Flora of the Great Lakes
    ES 204: Summer Flora of the Western Great Lakes. This course introduces students to the identification, systematics, ecology, and natural history of the summer flora of the Western Great Lakes. This course includes extensive field work in the greater Chicago area, eastern Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Students learn to identify between 150 and 200 species of wildflowers, grasses, trees, shrubs, and other plants, and learn the characteristics of 15 to 20 plant families. Prerequisites: No prerequisites. Corequisites: No corequisites. (Meets GEC Natural and Mathematical Sciences Requirement.)
  • ES 206: American Environmental Lit
    An historically organized survey of the various rhetorics through which nature has been understood by Americans from the Puritans to contemporary writers: the Calvinist fallen landscape, the rational continent of the American Enlightenment, conservation and 'wise use,' and preservation and 'biodiversity.'
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 206, AMER 206
  • ES 207: Literature of Place: Chicago
    This course will examine Chicago history and literature by privileging its location. In other words, we will consider the city and its environs as central characters in the stories we study, moving through the history of the region with a narrative lens. This method will suggest the ever-changing character traits of Chicago as it develops from Pottawatomie war plain to fur trading post to early mercantile settlement to booming and (for a time) busting metropolis. We will begin with accounts of the Joliet expedition along with narratives of early settlers to the region. Other readings will draw from classic works by Jane Addams, Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Richard Wright, and Saul Bellow, Thomas Pynchon, Joe Meno, and Stuart Dybek, among others. Additionally, these narratives will be read in the context of theoretical offerings in ecocriticism. Students should keep Friday afternoons free for a series of field trips, to be scheduled well in advance.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 207, AMER 207
  • ES 210: Environmental Ethics
    Examination of relationships between human beings and nature, drawing on literature, religion, and natural science as well as philosophy. What views have shaped our current perceptions, concerns, uses, and misuses of the natural world? What creative alternatives can we discover? How can these be applied to the practical problems of environmental ethics?
    Cross-listed as: PHIL 210
  • ES 215: Environmental Psychology
    Environmental psychology is the discipline concerned with interactions and relationships between people and their environments (including built, natural, and social environments). In this course we apply psychological methods and theories to a variety of issues and behaviors, considering such topics as landscape preference, wayfinding, weather, noise, natural disasters, territoriality, crowding, and the design of residential and work environments. We also explore images of nature, wilderness, home, and place, as well as the impact of these images on behavior. The course is grounded in empirical work, and incorporates observations and experiences in the local environment. No prerequisite.
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 215
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  • ES 216: Environmental Education
    ES 216: Environmental Education. This course is based on the notion that an environmentally literate populace is important for a healthy and functioning society now and in future generations. With this in mind, this course provides students with an understanding of the environment, including natural history, biology, chemistry, and public policy, and equips them with the skills to pass this knowledge on to others in a variety of educational settings using a variety of methods. Just like the study of the environment, this course pulls from various disciplines in order to provide an introduction to environmental studies and environmental education. The course contains a service learning component that includes working with professional educators. Prerequisites: ES 110 or BIOL 220 Corequisites: No corequisites
  • ES 217: Troubled World Geography
    Human catastrophes and environmental catastrophes are usually deeply interlinked. War, disease, slavery, earthquakes, tsunamis, climate instability, desertification, and deforestation have geographical correlates that we must recognize to understand their causes, consequences, and solutions. This course provides geographic literacy for understanding the political and environmental issues of the 21st century, issues based in geography—based, that is, in the spatial distribution of land, water, languages, and economic activity. We focus on the history of the world's hotspots by examining their climates, topographies, and proximities to politically and environmentally unstable places on the globe. This course examines theories of the relationship of human cultures to geography and suggests ways to recast such theories into modern forms. The troubled spots of the world that we examine include the Middle East, all of Africa, Indonesia, and much of the Americas. The relationship between human cultures and geography is present in all of our investigations. No prerequisites. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
  • ES 220: Evolution, Ecology, and Environment
    The diversity of life — the result of evolutionary and ecological processes — is a primary focus of environmental studies. In order to understand humans' effects on other species, ecosystems, and evolutionary and ecological processes and interactions, a deep knowledge of those entities and processes is critical. This course takes an interdisciplinary, theoretical approach to the evolution and ecology of human–environmental dynamics, including species concepts and speciation, extinction, conservation of biodiversity, political ecology, evolutionary ecology, the human dimensions of global change, demography, biogeography, human and non-human population ecology, and the status of evolutionary theory in the current political arena. Three lecture hours plus one four-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: ES 110 or permission of instructor.
  • ES 225: Philosophy of Science
    Examination of issues such as the nature of scientific knowledge, what counts as a 'true' scientific theory, the basis of observation, and empirical knowledge. Consideration of ethical issues generated by scientific practice, the politics of technology, and current work on the sociology of scientific knowledge.
    Cross-listed as: PHIL 225
  • ES 240: Religious Perspectives Environment
    The current environmental crises rest on a layer of philosophical and religious assumptions that are currently being challenged. Are human beings the center of the universe? Is humankind's mandate to dominate nature? Does nature belong to human beings or do human beings belong to nature? This course will address the relationship of the divine and the human sphere of nature from various religious perspectives. Contemporary Judaic, Christian, and Islamic ecological visions and action programs will be considered. In addition, the course will include religious views and practices of certain native cultures of North and South America, the Australian aborigines, and African tribes as well as ecological perspectives derived from South and East Asian religious cultures. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 240
  • ES 260: American Environmental History
    Introduction to the historical study of the relationship of Americans with the natural world. Examination of the ways that 'natural' forces helped shape American history; the ways human beings have altered and interacted with nature over time; and the ways cultural, philosophical, scientific, and political attitudes towards the environment have changed in the course of American history, pre-history to the present.
    Cross-listed as: HIST 232, AMER 261
  • ES 261: Global Environmental History
    The Earth's environment has changed drastically over time. The first half of this course is a journey through the many phases of environment and climate on Earth in its 4.5-billion-year history from an atmosphere without oxygen to a warm lushly vegetated globe to a world with glaciers pushing toward the equator. In its second half, we will focus on the how environmental changes influenced human history. What was the world like when humans evolved and how did the Ice Ages determine where people migrated? Were the rise and fall of empires tied to the rise and fall of sea level? We will also examine humans as forces that shape and influence the environments they inhabit, for better or for worse. No prerequisite.
  • ES 263: American Cities
    The changing functions, scale, and quality of urban society from the seventeenth century to the present. A historical framework for studying modern American metropolitan problems. Some fieldwork in Chicago.
    Cross-listed as: HIST 235, AMER 263
  • ES 271: Technology & Human Values
    Conditions and processes of industrialization in the Western world; problems related to economic development in emerging nations; impact of industry on lifeways of modern humans. Prerequisite: Sociology and Anthropology 110. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 271
  • ES 273: Cultural Ecology of Africa
    In this course, we will study the relationships between African peoples and their environments. We will consider the process of globalization and its relationship to the changing landscape of Africa in a historical context. By combining environmental studies and anthropology, we will bring a unique perspective to our study of the historical interaction of African cultures and environments, from pre-colonial times through the colonial period to the current post-colonial period. No prerequisites. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 273
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  • ES 282: Lake Forestry
    The subjects of Lake Forestry are the trees and forests of the Midwest. You will learn the ecology of individual trees and of the forest assemblages that they are part of. Also included in this course are forest history and the history of forestry, the relationship between forest ecosystems and urban and agricultural ecosystems, and current forest conservation and restoration efforts. All classes will be held outside. In 2014, there will be three mandatory weekend field trips: August 30 throughout Lake County, September 26–28 to Northern Wisconsin, and October 17–20 (Fall Mid-Semester Break) to Southern Illinois. (Meets GEC Natural and Mathematical Sciences Requirement.)
  • ES 287: Sustainable Food Systems
    Modern food systems have been shaped by complex political, economic, and ecological forces. This course will take a hands-on approach to examining the origins of these forces; understanding their effects on the environment, human health, and the economy; and considering alternatives to the prevailing system. Focusing on a practical as well as theoretical approach to food systems reform, students will participate in extensive hands-on learning in the campus garden, visit alternatives to conventional food production and distribution, and contribute to in-class debates and workshops. (Not open to students who have completed ES 289.)
  • ES 288: Botanical Imperialism
    From corn and sugar cane to opium and nutmeg, from quinine and rubber to pineapples and potatoes, the desire for plant products and the subsequent movement of plants around the globe has been both a cause and a consequence of imperial expansion. This course will examine the impact that plants and their products have had on human political history. The desire for spices, medicines, and crops has driven, and continues to drive, the people and governments of more developed nations to subjugate the people and governments of other, less developed nations, usually with disastrous results. We will spend most class sessions outside the classroom: at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Field Museum, and in Lake Forest's own vegetable garden. Students will be responsible for learning plant science—the morphology, evolutionary biology, and chemistry of the plants we study—in addition to the history and politics. No prerequisites.
  • ES 289: Biodiversity and Agriculture
    Defining agriculture in the broad sense, to include fishing and animal husbandry, this course provides a foundation of knowledge of agricultural history and the present state of food production, distribution, and consumption. The course will include basic biology, concentrating on the diversity of plants and animals that have given rise to the crops in use today. We will also look at the changes in ecosystems caused by agriculture and the different types of new ecosystems that agriculture has given rise to. The relationship between agriculture and conservation will be an important theme in this class. The course will be interdisciplinary, with readings from biology, history, literature, law, economics, and politics. The experiential component to this course is critical, and students will visit the proposed campus agricultural initiative, local farms (City Farm, Angelic Organics), and the Chicago Botanic Gardens. To complement the local/place-based understanding, we will explore the origins of agriculture and farming in the developing world. (Not open to students who have completed ES 287.)
  • ES 315: Soc Ethics Energy Production & Use
    Course description: the course will explore the ethical implications of possible future energy initiatives. Emphasis will be given to the global implications of interdependency on primary resources and the technological initiatives of nuclear power and alternative sources. Students will focus on independent research projects, with both domestic and international components, surrounding the environmental, social, and ethical issues of future energy production and use. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor.
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 315, PHIL 315
  • ES 316: The Science of Human Energy Use
    The Science of Human Energy Use: Exploration, Production, Delivery, and Consumption. This course examines the science of human energy use and its economic and environmental regulation. It begins with the basic physics, chemistry, geology, and biology necessary to understand oil, gas, coal, nuclear, wind, air, and biofuel energy. Topics include the exploration for, production of, delivery, and consumption of each of these energy resources. Also covered are the environmental problems related to energy use and economic development (e.g., nuclear waste disposal, accumulation of atmospheric greenhouse gases, land degradation). (This course satisfies a GEC natural science requirement.) Prerequisites: ES 220, BIOL 220, ES 271, or permission of instructor.
  • ES 332: Environmental Writing
    This course focuses on writing about the environment. Students will explore different approaches to the environmental essay, including adventure narrative, personal reflection, and natural history. Poetry and fiction will also play a role as we explore the practice of place-centered writing. We will also use the immediate surroundings of the Chicago area as an environment for our writing. Prerequisite: English 235 or a lower-level Environmental Studies course.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 332
  • ES 340: Environ & Natural Resource Econ
    (Environmental and Natural Resource Economics) Examines different economic theories regarding optimal use of renewable and nonrenewable resources, why market responses to pollution are typically unsatisfactory, and optimal pollution control. These theories are then applied to the real world, taking into consideration political and technological constraints. The impact of past and current policy on the environment will be studied, as will the potential impact of proposed legislation. Prerequisite: ECON 210 or permission of the instructor.
    Cross-listed as: ECON 340
  • ES 344: Chicago: The Food City
    Food forms the basis for Chicago's cultural and economic success. From its efficient grid system to its waterway access, the city provided grain and livestock to the country by rail, barge, and truck for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the twenty-first century, new issues challenge national and global food systems, and Chicago stands at the forefront of innovation regarding them. This course covers the history, geography, economics, and environmental impact of food production, distribution, and consumption. We will highlight the following: population distribution, water management, food technology, transportation and storage costs, civic governance, local and regional sustainability, job creation, food deserts, urban farming, ethnic food distribution, and community development. An emphasis will be placed on how differential access to or impact of each of these factors is influenced by ethnicity, income, and education of the citizens. Prerequisite: Environmental Studies 110 or permission of instructor.
  • ES 350: Marine and Island Ecology
    This summer school course, offered by the Shedd Aquarium and the Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area, includes a field experience in the Bahama Islands. Students learn how oceanography and water chemistry affect marine habitats and island environments. Students develop identification techniques for fishes, reptiles, plants and invertebrates while gaining knowledge of field research. The capstone experience is a nine-day excursion on Shedd's research vessel, the R/V Coral Reef II, studying tropical marine and island flora and fauna and surveying marine and terrestrial communities of the Exuma Islands. Prerequisite: Biology 220. Credit: one Lake Forest College credit.
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  • ES 361: Environmental Law
    This course will explore basic issues of law and policy involved in the consumption, conservation, and regulation of natural resources. In particular, we will consider how various competing public and private interests in the use and protection of the environment affect legislative, administrative, and judicial decision making. Topics to be discussed include: agency management of environmental risk; civil suits as a means of environmental law enforcement; wilderness and the use of public land; takings and other private property rights concerns; federalism and the environment. Among other statutes, we will examine the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Wilderness Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.
  • ES 362: The Political Ecology of Things
    Things — animals, plants, genes, rivers, rocks, planets, molecules — all have the ability to exert influence on their environments. Is there such a thing as agency without intention? What are the political consequences of accepting the agency of things? This course examines the value of understanding the agency of things, also known in the literature as 'object-oriented ontology,' and how that understanding enriches justifications for environmental protection. Possible topics include cows, cotton, genes, the Mississippi River, and carbon. Prerequisites: Any 200-level course in ES, ENGL, PHIL, or POLS.
  • ES 365: Poetry and Nature
    This course explores the long history of poetry and its relationship to the natural world, from its roots in Classical Asian and European poetry to its postmodern manifestations. Understanding the natural processes that served as inspiration and subject matter of nature poetry will enrich student understanding of the poem as work of literature and also the poetry-writing process. If enrolled in ES 365, students will respond to the poems with literary and natural history analysis; if enrolled in ENGL 365, students will respond with their own poetry and creative writing. Prerequisite: One 200-level English course or 200-level Environmental Studies course.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 365
  • ES 367: Environmental Writing
    This course focuses on writing about the environment. Students will explore different approaches to the environmental essay, including adventure narrative, personal reflection, and natural history. Poetry and fiction will also play a role as we explore the practice of place-centered writing. We will also use the immediate surroundings of the Chicago area as an environment for our writing. Prerequisite: English 135/235 or a lower-level Environmental Studies course. Not open to students who have completed ENGL 332.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 367
  • ES 368: Endangered Species and Languages
    (Endangered Species and Endangered Languages). Both species and languages can become endangered and go extinct. This course examines the similarities and differences between species and languages in their formation, their evolution, their relationships to each other, and their extinction. We will ask what it means to save a species or a language. We will consider whether some species are of higher conservation value than others and whether the same is true of languages. Prerequisite: One 200-level Environmental Studies course, or one 200-level Biology course, or one 200-level Sociology/Anthropology course, or Linguistics 201.
  • ES 370: Ecology
    This course examines current concepts and research in ecology at the levels of populations, communities, landscapes, ecosystems, and global processes. Emphasis will be placed on field research methods and reading of the primary literature. Lectures, discussions, and other classroom activities will be combined with field and laboratory exercises. Three classroom and four laboratory/field hours per week. Prerequisites: Biol 220, and either Biol 221 or Junior status.
  • ES 376: Animal Conservation
    (Animal Conservation: Ecology, Behavior, and Genetics) This course examines the conservation of biodiversity – genes, species, ecosystems, and the interactions between them – through the lens of animals, and large animals in particular. Elephants, whales, rhinos, giraffes, gorillas, and bison are among the groups of animals studied. Feeding and mating ecology, mutualisms and parasitisms, and the particular behavioral and genetic problems of small population sizes are the key concepts applied to each of these groups. Political, agricultural, and socio-economic barriers to conservations are also examined. Prerequisite: ES 220.
  • ES 384: Plant Biology
    This course aims to provide a thorough knowledge and understanding of land and aquatic plants, photosynthetic protists and fungi, including: molecular biology; chemical organization and genetics; structures and functions of plant cells, tissues, and organs; principles of systematic botany, nomenclature, and classification; evolutionary relationships among the major groups; and the relationship between plants and their environments. An emphasis on hands-on experimentation will allow students to design experiments, analyze data, and present their results. Three 50-minute lectures and one 3-hour lab per week are required. Biol 220, and either Biol 221 or Junior status. Students must also register for a lab.
    Cross-listed as: BIOL 384
  • ES 387: Who Speaks for Animals?
    This course explores the aims, motives, and achievements of those who either intentionally or unintentionally speak for animals — scientists, natural historians, philosophers, animal trainers, legal scholars, veterinarians, conservationists, nature writers, and artists, among others. This course investigates the meaning of animals to humans, the meaning of humans to animals, and the meaning of animals to each other. These investigations raise questions about the nature of equality, reason, feeling, justice, language, the social contract, and sentimentality. Prerequisites: Politics 260, or any Environmental Studies or Philosophy course at the 200 level or above, or junior standing.
  • ES 393: Research Project

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  • ES 481: Biological & Social Life of Paper
    This course explores the historical origins of paper; the biological organisms - cotton, linen, trees - we get paper from; the environmental effects of the production, use, and disposal of paper; and the cultural meaning of paper.  We will follow paper from cradle to grave, cutting a tree and making paper ourselves, and learning to recycle paper.  We will consider the pros and cons of a 'paperless future.'  We will visit a plantation grown for paper-making, a paper-making factory, and the Newberry Library.  We will also consider the history, production, circulation, and use of paper in the social production of knowledge, the shared imagination of value, and the mutual relations of consumers and commodities. There will be a semester-long 20-25 page research paper.  Each student will be expected to lead one class session based on his or her research-paper topic.
  • ES 482: 2010 Blowout in Gulf of Mexico
    This course explores many aspects of the 2010 ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, including the geology of the Gulf, the engineering techniques used to drill for oil and gas, uses of and possible substitutes for oil in the past, present and future, the environmental problems created by oil spills and the various cleanup and remediation techniques used, the effect of the leak on oil markets, and comparisons to other oil spills (notably those in Nigeria). Students will spend their fall break at sites along the Gulf, observing the effects of the leak and participating in cleanup efforts. Each student will choose a semester-long research project and be responsible for leading a class session based on their project as well as submitting a significant paper summarizing their research and conclusions.
  • ES 483: Env Connections Chicago-New Orleans
    (Senior Seminar: The Environmental Connections between Chicago and New Orleans) This course explores the environmental issues associated with the greater Chicago area and compares and connects them to the environmental issues associated with New Orleans and the lower Mississippi Delta. The connection between the two areas goes back to the mid-19th century decision to reroute the Chicago River and build a canal system that effectively connected the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. This geographical change provided a trade route from Chicago to the Gulf, enabling Chicago to be a major distributing center for both major trade routes from the Midwest—the Mississippi and the Great Lakes. Other comparisons that the course will address are: energy issues of coal and oil, migration routes from the Delta to Chicago, and urbanization. Prerequisite: senior standing and a major in ES or permission of instructor. There will be a Spring Break trip down the Mississippi to New Orleans, as well as shorter field trips around the Chicago area.
  • ES 493: Research Project

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