Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE)

The Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) was developed to allow Sarah Lawrence College (SLC) students, faculty, and community partners to study a variety of environmental topics across the humanities as well as the sciences and social sciences. As multiple human and non-human induced environmental crises unfold and disproportionately affect vulnerable frontline communities, students in SLICE courses will engage in a shared dialogue about the human-environment interaction in courses that seek to understand environmental crises and their impacts on organisms and ecosystems; the social and economic forces contributing to climate and other environmental injustices; and the complex relationships between humanity, animality, race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and the natural world. The SLICE curriculum includes a unique, Mellon-funded, cross-institutional pedagogy bringing together students from Sarah Lawrence College and Bronx Community College (BCC) for events, workshops, discussions, collaborative projects, and field trips focused on climate justice and the humanities. SLICE cluster courses come together during two two-week interludes each semester to focus on interdisciplinary learning, seeking to understand, historicize, and analyze relationships between humans, animals, the land and environment from the perspectives of the arts and humanities, as well as mathematics, science, social science. SLICE-affiliated courses will also participate in events and workshops, while continuing course meetings throughout the semester. SLC and BCC students in SLICE-cluster and SLICE-affiliated courses will have the opportunity to present their research at an interdisciplinary symposium each spring.

Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) 2022-2023 Courses

Queer(ing) India: Literature, Film, and Law

Open, Seminar—Fall

What is a queer perspective on culture and society? This course aims to provide an introductory survey to queer narratives and cultural production from India and the Indian diaspora as a way to think through this question. Texts will cover a large swath of time, from the early 20th century to the present, and will range across genres such as speculative feminist fiction, political and cultural manifestos, postcolonial novels, and contemporary films. In 2018, the Supreme Court of India finally struck down from the Indian Penal Code Section 377, a colonial-era law used to criminalize homosexuality and other “unnatural” sex acts, after more than a decade of legal battles. The fight for legal rights was accompanied by growing queer representation in popular culture and literature. The supposed “coming out” of queerness into Indian social and cultural life in the last 10 years, the demand to be seen and heard, has been critiqued by some as a by-product of “Westernization” or the influence of “foreign-returned” elites inspired by the Euro-American LGBTQ movement. This has brought with it the need to understand the diversity of queer India as well as the diaspora. In the case of the diaspora, we will work to de-center the Euro-American diaspora, paying attention to long histories of migration to the African continent and indentured labor in the Caribbean and the Pacific as sites for possible South-South solidarities. Taking seriously questions of race, caste, class, nationality, and gender, we will consider what a queer orientation to those hegemonic structures might be and what it might reveal. Thinking through the ways in which experiences of gender and sexuality were iterated and experienced across times and spaces will help us think through the specifics of each text (and its contexts) while also following threads and connections beyond. By considering these questions, this course hopes to think through the contradictory realities of a moment in India during which major Bollywood studios are producing gay dramas and even rom-coms, while questions of sexuality, gender, class, caste, and religious identity are being violently weaponized by mobs with seeming impunity granted by a Hindu-nationalist state. Students will engage with a diverse set of cultural, political, and legal artifacts—such as the writings of “founding fathers” like Gandhi and B. R. Ambedkar—as well as legal briefs opposing the punitive Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019, which further stigmatizes non-normative gender identities by requiring transgender people to register with the government. We will read fiction, old and new, such as Untouchable (1935), The God of Small Things (1997), and A Life Apart (2016), as well as watch movies ranging from indie films like Chitrangada (2012) to Bollywood rom-coms like Shubh Mangal Zyada Savdhan (2020).

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Global Queer Literature: Dystopias and Hope

Open, Seminar—Spring

In this seminar, we will study queer texts and films, considering their particular articulations of queer life and its possibilities. Texts will cover a large swath of time, from the early 20th century until the present, and will range across genres such as speculative feminist fiction, first-nations narratives, postcolonial novels, and contemporary Bollywood films. We will end the course by looking at science fiction that explores life in spaces that some consider dystopian futures but are already becoming the present for many. As this arc indicates, an underlying theme of the course will be the maintaining of the creativity and vitality of everyday life while drowning in literal and discursive trash. Across the globe, queer lives have already been lived in materially and discursively toxic contexts. Engaging with text and films produced across the world—set in places such as South Africa, India, Argentina, and even galaxies yet undiscovered—we will think through the lessons that the creation of a queer life illuminate for us. Queer life within the context of this seminar refers to the multifarious ways in which marginalized and non-normative bodies and peoples create social and political lives. Carefully considering the contexts and possibilities that the characters encounter, we will explore how “queer” is a term that translates and mutates in interesting ways across time and place. In paying attention to the specificities of the texts, “queer” itself is thus a term that we will reckon with. Taking seriously questions of race, class, nationality, and gender, we will consider what a queer orientation to those hegemonic structures produces or reveals—not only in past literary texts but also as a way of imagining a hopeful future. As we encounter air and water that is more polluted, toxic even, than at any time in which homo sapiens have walked the Earth, the only response may seem to be pessimism. Rejecting pessimism, we will ask what queer futures and hope we can imagine at a moment of planetary crisis. Potential texts: Sultana’s Dream, Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain (1905); Lihaaf, Ismat Chugtai (1942); The House of Hunger, Dambudzo Marechera (1978); The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi (1990); Disgrace, J. M. Coetzee (1999); Bloodchild, Octavia Butler (1994); Animal’s People, Indra Sinha (2007); Moxyland, Lauren Beukes (2008); The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, Arundhati Roy (2017); Happy Together (film, 1997); Margarita With a Straw (film, 2014); and Pumzi (film, 2009).

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First-Year Studies: Urban Ecology

FYS—Year

Ecology is a scientific discipline that studies interactions between living organisms and their environments, as well as processes governing how species are distributed, how they interact, and how nutrients and energy cycle through ecosystems. Although we may think of these processes occurring in “natural” areas with little-to-no human development, all of these processes still take place in environments heavily modified by humans, such as cities. This course will cover fundamental concepts in the discipline of ecology and then further explore how these patterns and processes are altered (sometimes dramatically) in urban environments. We will use examples from our local environment—the New York City metropolitan area—to understand ecological concepts in light of urbanization. The fall semester will include a biweekly outdoor lab session at local parks and field stations. Biweekly individual conferences with students will be held during both the fall and spring semesters. Special attention will be paid to the ecology of local streams and rivers, including field trips and work involving the Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak. This course will also participate in interdisciplinary activities as part of the Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE).

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Viruses and Pandemics

Open, Seminar—Fall

Ebola, smallpox, influenza, rabies...these and other viruses are the smallest lifeforms on Earth, yet they are one of the most powerful and devastating biological forces ever unleashed. Throughout human history, virally-caused pandemics have periodically ravaged human populations—altering the social fabric, confounding political and medical responses, and revealing the fragility of the human species. Examples range from the Antonine Plague, which killed five-million people during the time of the Roman empire, to the 15-million deaths during the Cocoliztli epidemic of the 1600s in Mexico and Central America, to the Spanish flu pandemic of the early 20th century that claimed an estimated 50- to 100-million victims. The current COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of the dominance of viruses and exposed the challenges of confronting these microscopic pathogens on a global scale. This course will examine the biology and behavior of viruses, the role of such pathogens in inducing different pandemics throughout the course of history, and the means by which they can rapidly spread through a population. We will explore how vaccines, quarantines, and other medical, social and political responses work to mitigate and eventually overcome viral outbreaks, as well as how we track down and study pathogenic viruses. During the course, we will consider the representation of viruses through readings drawn from texts such as Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone, John Barry’s The Great Influenza, and C. J. Peters’ Virus Hunter.

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Gothic Decay: The Literature and Science of Soils, Swamps, and Forests

Open, Joint seminar—Spring

Western literature and culture deeply influence how our country negatively perceives transitional spaces, such as the spaces between cultivated land and forest or between water and land. The need for control pushes us to reshape or eliminate marshes, swamps, thickets, and other forms of overgrowth. Similarly, we feel uncomfortable considering the soils in which we bury our dead—or we ignore them completely. Yet, a closer examination of the biology of decay reveals cycles of life that follow death, with growth, reproduction, and nutrient exchange accompanying decay at every turn. We will read excerpts of literary works that have shaped our cultural perception of decay and of these transitional states and spaces, including works by Sophocles, Mary Shelley, Alice Walker, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and others. We will also explore the ecosystems themselves through lab experiments and trips to local parks and field stations (Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Untermeyer Gardens). This joint course will evaluate the divide between culture and science and explore how cultural representations may evolve with an adequate framing of scientific research and findings. This course fully participates in the collaborative interludes in the Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) Mellon course cluster.

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Virology

Advanced, Seminar—Spring

Viruses are some of the smallest biological entities found in nature—yet, at the same time, perhaps the most notorious. Having no independent metabolic activity of their own, they function as intracellular parasites depending entirely on infecting and interacting with the cells of a host organism to produce new copies of themselves. The effects on the host organism can be catastrophic, leading to disease and death. HIV has killed more than 18-million people since its identification and infected twice that number. Ebola, West Nile, herpes, and pox viruses are all well-known yet shrouded in fear and mystery. During the course of this semester, we will examine the biology of viruses by discussing: their physical and genetic properties; their interaction with host cells; their ability to commandeer the cellular machinery for their own reproductive needs; the effects of viral infection on host cells; and, finally, how viruses and other subviral entities may have originated and evolved. In addition, we will examine how viruses have been discussed in the primary research literature and other media, with readings drawn from Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague and others.

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History of Political Economy and Economic History

Open, Seminar—Year

In this yearlong seminar, the fall semester will be devoted to the study of the theoretical debates on the history of economic and legal thought. It will be shown that the study of economics is incomplete without an understanding of the relationship of the economy to law and politics. These theoretical debates will be linked to transformations in capitalism in a number of different geographic contexts, especially the United States, Europe, and Africa. The dominant approach in contemporary economics is the neoclassical school. This course will introduce students to the origins, foundational tools and questions, and analytical constructs at the heart of both neoclassical and other schools of thought in economics. In the fall, the first part of the course will deal with what is called classical political economy (primarily Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and Karl Marx). Next, given that property, contracts, and torts are at the core of markets, the course will integrate the path-breaking insights from the linked American Legal Realist and Original Institutional Economics traditions to understand the legal institutional foundations of markets. The final part of the course will deal with the perspectives of some of the major founders of the neoclassical school (Léon Walras, William Stanley Jevons, and John Bates Clark) and their debates with institutional economists during the interwar period. Finally, the contemporary New Institutional Economics framework, with its foundations in neoclassical economics, will be compared with the insights of the original institutional economists and legal realists. The spring semester will be devoted to the study of two major topics: business history (including the study of colonialism, race, and slavery) and monetary history. The goal of the spring semester is to enable students to reflect on the applicability (or otherwise) of the theoretical perspectives discussed in the fall.

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Intermediate Microeconomics: Conflicts, Coordination, and Institutions

Intermediate, Seminar—Fall

Economics was born in the 18th century, around the same time that capitalism emerged in Europe. Since then, economists have sought to understand the ways in which people allocate, produce, exchange, and distribute things in capitalist societies and how such activities impact people’s welfare. For the most part of the 20th century, microeconomics centered on the “efficiency” of the free market. Since the late 20th century, contending and critical paradigms have successfully challenged the narrow definition of “efficiency” and broadened the scope of analysis from the free market to a variety of institutions. In this course, we will examine the fundamental questions, such as: What are the incentives of individual decision making under different circumstances? How do individuals make decisions? What are the social consequences of individual decision making? We will not only learn about traditional issues such as how individual consumers and firms make decisions and the welfare properties of the market but also examine how individuals interact with each other, the power relationship between individuals, the power relationship on the labor market and the credit market and inside the firms, the situations where individuals care about other than their self-interests, the successful and unsuccessful coordination of individuals, and the institutional solutions for improving social welfare.

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Economics of Environmental Justice (Intensive Semester in Yonkers)

Sophomore and Above, Seminar—Spring

Environmental injustice is both an outcome and a process. As an outcome, environmental injustice is the unequal distribution of environmental burdens (or benefits) in a society. As a process, environmental injustice is the history and institutions that project political, economic, and social inequalities into the environmental sphere. In this course, we will focus on our immediate community: Yonkers, NY. We will first measure the disproportionate environmental burdens in the city’s low-income and minority neighborhoods. Then, we will utilize economics to examine the causal mechanisms of environmental injustice. We will focus on the evolution of the housing market, the changing demographics of Yonkers, the location choice of major pollution sources, and zoning policies. We will draw knowledge from multiple fields—economics, politics, sociology, geography, etc. We will examine the issue using multiple methodologies and assess different policy options for improving environmental and climate justice in Yonkers. There will be service-learning opportunities at local community organizations.

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Natural Hazards

Open, Lecture—Fall

Natural hazards are Earth-system processes that can harm humans and the ecosystems on which we rely. These processes include a wide variety of phenomena, including volcanoes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, heat waves, and hurricanes. The terms “natural hazard” and “disaster” are often used interchangeably. There have been many examples of natural hazards that have resulted in catastrophic loss of life, socioeconomic disruption, and radical transformation of natural ecosystems; however, through improved understanding of these phenomena, we can develop strategies to better prepare for and respond to natural hazards and mitigate harm. In this course, we will use case studies of natural-hazard events to explore their underlying Earth-system processes, covering topics such as plate tectonics, mass wasting, weather, and climate, along with the social and infrastructure factors that determined their impact on people. We will also explore related topics—such as probability, risk, and environmental justice—and the direct and indirect ways that different types of natural hazards will be exacerbated by global climate change. Students will attend one weekly lecture and one weekly group conference, where we will discuss scientific papers, explore data, and work on a collaborative project to investigate a potential natural-hazard event.

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Watersheds

Open, Seminar—Year

A watershed is an area of land (and the soils that underlie it) that drains to a common outlet. But this simple concept provides a critically important framework for understanding our most important water-management issues, along with many processes in environmental science and ecology. Watersheds can be defined across a range of spatial scales—from a suburban parking lot to the drainage basin of the Amazon River—and their diverse forms and characteristic represent a variety of climates, land uses, and topographies. In this course, we’ll learn how watersheds are delineated and explore the flow of water through watersheds, covering topics such as precipitation, evapotranspiration, infiltration, stream and river networks, and groundwater flow. During the second semester of the course, we’ll build on this foundation to study topics in watershed management, including water infrastructure, urbanization, interbasin transfers, flooding, water quality, and the impacts of global climate change. The course will include a weekly lab session, with indoor data-analysis activities along with field visits to sites in the Hudson River and Bronx River watersheds. No prior experience in earth or environmental science is required; however, students should be prepared to draw on the math skills they learned in high school for the water analyses that we’ll perform in this course.

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Pollution

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

The pollution of our air, water, and soils is responsible for millions of deaths across the globe each year, along with immeasurable harm to natural ecosystems. In this seminar, we will study the chemistry of environmental pollutants that are most salient today—including lead, soot, pesticides, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), sewage, nutrients, and greenhouse gases—and learn about how their chemistry influences their fate and their transport through the environment and, in turn, their impacts on human health and natural ecosystems. We will also study basic techniques of pollutant monitoring and strategies to remediate different types of pollution and restore healthy ecosystems and communities. Beyond this, we will explore the broader concept of pollution, considering how compounds that can be vital to our survival can also harm our environment, as well as how thresholds for when a compound becomes a “pollutant” are determined. Course work will include both chemistry problem-sets and diverse readings about historic and current pollution issues. Conference work will allow students to develop a case study of a pollution incident or ongoing pollution hazard.

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International Law

Open, Lecture—Fall

In a global landscape pocked by genocide, wars of choice, piracy, and international terrorism, what good is international law? Can it mean anything without a global police force and a universal judiciary? Is “might makes right” the only law that works? Or is it true that “most states comply with most of their obligations most of the time”? These essential questions frame the contemporary practice of law across borders. This lecture provides an overview of international law—its doctrine, theory, and practice. The course addresses a wide range of issues, including the bases and norms of international law, the law of war, human-rights claims, domestic implementation of international norms, treaty interpretation, and state formation/succession.

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Plundered: Tales of Extractivism and Resistance

Open, Small Lecture—Spring

First, it was gold. Then, it was silver, sugar, oil...bananas, avocados. Taking as its point of departure Eduardo Galeano’s foundational study, The Open Veins of Latin America, this course will explore the centuries-long history of plunder—and resistance—in Abya Yala through fiction and nonfiction, feature films, and documentaries. We will look at some of the most pressing environmental and social-justice issues in the region—including deforestation, industrial pollution, and access to water—with an eye toward the relationship between activism and artistic expression. Our contextualized readings and viewings will include public statements and creative works from land defenders; Pablo Neruda’s condemnation of neoimperialism in his poem, The United Fruit Company; Samanta Schweblin’s gothic novel about the horrors of agrochemicals; a narrative film set against the successful uprising against water privatization in Bolivia; and frontline journalism. This course will focus on the lands colonized by Spain and Portugal and the intersecting forms of neocolonial violence to which they continue to be subjected but will not lose sight of the resonances between these histories and those that took, and are taking, place across the continent. This interactive small lecture will fully participate in the collaborative interludes and other programs of the Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) Mellon course cluster.

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Indigeneity and Environmental Crisis

Open, Seminar—Fall

Settler colonialism might be described as a colonialism that lasts, meaning that settlers come to stay and attempt to permanently dispossess Indigenous peoples of their lands and waters. This course proposes that settler colonialism is, itself, a form of environmental crisis that Indigenous peoples have been weathering and resisting for more than 400 years. Using environmental humanities methods, students will be encouraged to think of both crisis and resistance in expansive terms. Topics to be addressed include (but are not limited to) location-based research, kinship relationships and responsibilities, environmental injustice in a settler colony, gender-based violence and resource extraction, Indigenous petrocultures, pipeline blockades, nuclear colonialism, and coalitional environmental resistance. The course begins by locating us in Lenapehoking—the lands of the Lenape—and, in subsequent weeks, we will consider case studies in environmental crisis and Indigenous resistance across local, continental, and global scales. The syllabus includes a range of literary, artistic, and critical texts, including works by Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, Nick Estes, and Warren Cariou.

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Gothic Decay: The Literature and Science of Soils, Swamps, and Forests

Open, Joint seminar—Spring

Western literature and culture deeply influence how our country negatively perceives transitional spaces, such as the spaces between cultivated land and forest or between water and land. The need for control pushes us to reshape or eliminate marshes, swamps, thickets, and other forms of overgrowth. Similarly, we feel uncomfortable considering the soils in which we bury our dead—or we ignore them completely. Yet, a closer examination of the biology of decay reveals cycles of life that follow death, with growth, reproduction, and nutrient exchange accompanying decay at every turn. We will read excerpts of literary works that have shaped our cultural perception of decay and of these transitional states and spaces, including works by Sophocles, Mary Shelley, Alice Walker, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and others. We will also explore the ecosystems themselves through lab experiments and trips to local parks and field stations (Center for the Urban River at Beczak, Untermeyer Gardens). This joint course will evaluate the divide between culture and science and explore how cultural representations may evolve with an adequate framing of scientific research and findings. This course fully participates in the collaborative interludes in the Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) Mellon course cluster.

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Care Work, Climate Adaptation, and the Settler Colony

Open, Seminar—Spring

How might we care for each other in the midst of accelerating planetary change? This course provides us with the theoretical frameworks to grasp the long and multifaceted history of environmental crisis on this continent and, likewise, to grasp the diversity of critical, careful responses to imposed disaster. The course begins with the proposition that dominant structures of care in the settler colony—afforded by the nuclear family, the state, and private enterprise—depend upon and reproduce racialized and gendered exploitation bound to the same systems that make environmental crisis inevitable. Throughout the semester, we will explore other literary and scholarly theorizations and enactments of care work that move outside dominant care regimes and that have always been responsive to environmental crisis in its long history. The reading for the course moves from Indigenous studies to queer studies to the energy and environmental humanities, illuminating critical intersections of use to a student interested in any one of those fields. Primary and secondary texts include works by José Esteban Muñoz, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Natalie Diaz, Sophie Lewis, Kim TallBear, Sheena Wilson, Imre Szeman, Samuel R. Delany, and Dean Spade, among others. Assignments for the course encourage students to take inspiration from the texts on our syllabus. In other words, you may present your work in creative as well as critical forms. Podcasts, manifestos, websites, –zines…are all more than welcome.

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An Introduction to Statistical Methods and Analysis

Open, Lecture—Fall

Variance, correlation coefficient, regression analysis, statistical significance, and margin of error—you’ve heard these terms and other statistical phrases bantered about before, and you’ve seen them interspersed in news reports and research articles. But what do they mean? And why are they so important? Serving as an introduction to the concepts, techniques, and reasoning central to the understanding of data, this lecture course focuses on the fundamental methods of statistical analysis used to gain insight into diverse areas of human interest. The use, misuse, and abuse of statistics will be the central focus of the course; specific topics of exploration will be drawn from experimental design theory, sampling theory, data analysis, and statistical inference. Applications will be considered in current events, business, psychology, politics, medicine, and other areas of the natural and social sciences. Statistical (spreadsheet) software will be introduced and used extensively in this course, but no prior experience with the technology is assumed. Group conferences, conducted in workshop mode, will serve to reinforce student understanding of the course material. This lecture is recommended for anybody wishing to be a better-informed consumer of data and strongly recommended for those planning to pursue advanced undergraduate or graduate research in the natural sciences or social sciences.

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Animal Ethics

Open, Seminar—Fall

This course explores philosophical questions related to contemporary issues regarding our moral and political relations with nonhuman animals. We will begin with more theoretical questions about the source of value and moral standing, examining some influential texts that are foundational to the contemporary Western animal-rights movement. In the latter half of the semester, we will spend a great deal of time examining contemporary issues and animal advocacy, including the connections between social movements for the liberation of humans and nonhuman animals.

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Environmental Ethics as Liberatory Theory and Practice

Open, Seminar—Spring

Historically, Western environmental movements have placed an emphasis on the idea of “wilderness” and have been characterized by a striving for a “return” to a nature that never existed outside collective imagination. This course examines some of the foundations of Western environmental ethics and critiques of those by feminist, Black, Indigenous, and queer scholars. Through this engagement, students are encouraged to analyze their own values and assumptions related to value, climate, and our environments and to bring the contemporary issues that are most important to students into conversation with these texts. This course aims to examine the possibilities of decolonizing environmental ethics and to work toward a future of environmental ethics as an academic endeavor that is able to better meet the ethical, social, and political needs of our current ecological crises.

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Deranged Democracy: How Can We Govern Ourselves if Everyone Has Lost Their Minds?

Open, Lecture—Fall

Many of us are struck by what seems to be the growing irrationality of contemporary democratic politics to the point where we despair of our capacity to address problems like global climate change or pandemics that could pose existential threats to our species, not to mention a whole range of urgent but more mundane policy issues. In this class, we will seek to understand disturbing trends like populism, polarization, and disinformation in part on their own terms but also by asking whether they are deeply rooted in human nature—at least on our current best understandings of ourselves. More specifically, democracy seems to rely on at least a minimum degree of rationality and self-control on the part of the citizens whose votes and opinions guide government policy. But is this reliance foolhardy in light of what recent history, psychology, evolutionary theory, philosophy, and cognitive science teach? Do aspects of our current social and technological circumstances make us less rational and self-controlled today than our Enlightenment progenitors hoped we were becoming 200-odd years ago in the era of democratic revolutions—the era from which ideas and institutions that continue to inform our politics today emerged? In this course, we will survey aspects of the political history of recent centuries, as well as our own historical moment, to ask if they should temper confidence in the power of reason in politics? We will also examine recent research in cognitive science and philosophy that conclude that it is hard to sustain a model of human behavior that places reason and rationality in the driver’s seat. What alternative accounts of human nature are emerging from recent research? And what are their political implications, especially for democratic societies? This course will survey these issues by examining the intersection of cognitive science, philosophy and political science, history and theory to ask whether the Enlightenment’s faith in democracy was misplaced. Or, instead, are there reasons to believe that democracy can maintain its claim to legitimacy even after reason has been demoted in our understandings of human nature?

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First-Year Studies: Urban Health in a Multicultural Context

FYS—Year

This FYS/community-partnership course will focus on the health of humans living within physical, social, and psychological urban spaces. We will use a constructivist, multidisciplinary, multilevel lens to examine the interrelationship between humans and the natural and built environment, to explore the impact of social-group (ethnic, racial, sexuality/gender) membership on person/environment interactions, and to explore an overview of theoretical and research issues in the psychological study of health and illness across the lifespan. We will examine theoretical perspectives in the psychology of health, health cognition, illness prevention, stress, and coping with illness. And we will highlight research, methods, and applied issues. This class is appropriate for those interested in a variety of health careers or for anyone interested in city life. The community-partnership/service-learning component is an important part of this class; for one morning or afternoon per week, students will work in local community agencies to promote health-adaptive, person-environment interactions within our community. Students will have an individual conference every other week and a group conference on alternating weeks. In the group conferences, we will discuss the nature of academic work in general and practice research, reading, writing, and editing skills.

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Critical Urban Environmentalism, Space, and Place

Intermediate, Seminar—Spring

In North American countries, 83.6 percent of residents live in cities as of 2020, and 56 percent of the world’s population is urban. Traditional environmental movements focus on the “natural” world, and the built environment tends to be undertheorized and perhaps underanalyzed. Yet, urban spaces are also sites of resistance, as residents create community gardens from vacant lots, paint public-housing project exterior walls, and lobby for city government support of the built environment. This course explores paths toward humanistic urban revitalization and civic engagement through community partnership. We will read in three main domains: knowledge of local and global urban environments; physical, mental, and social/community health; and theory and philosophies of urban environments. The relationship between urban sustainability and social dynamics, such as ethical decision-making and sociopolitical power relations (Sze, 2020), seem to lead to a particular set of public-private solutions. These are implemented from the top downward, without input from stakeholders and residents, with serious implications for resident health. In turn, health is strongly affected by the urban physical environment, infrastructure, pollution, population density, and the concomitant social environment (Galea and Vlahov, 2005). And as development occurs, long-time residents of neighborhoods are being displaced. How can we ensure that the health and welfare of all denizens are developed as well as purported positive economic change? The community-partnership/service-learning component is an important part of this class. For one morning or afternoon per week, students will work in local community agencies to promote health-adaptive, person-environment interactions within our community.

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Sociology of the Built Environment

Open, Lecture—Fall

This course begins with a question: What is nature? Over the course of one semester, we will answer this question—drawing on insight from science and technology studies and the tools of ethnographic methods. Lectures will explore key concepts in the sociology of nature—including Karl Marx’s reproduction, Michael Bell’s natural conscience, and William Cronon’s second nature—in addition to substantive topics like the human ability to act on nature, the politics of land ownership, the relationship between humans and animals, and the conception of humans and cities as natural spaces. Group conferences will be devoted to training in ethnographic methods and peer review of ongoing ethnographic work. For their final conference work, students will craft an ethnographic portfolio of weekly ethnographic fieldnotes, memos reflecting on connections to course concepts, and a final analysis that summarizes key findings.

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Advanced Intermediate Spanish: Political Creativity

Open, Seminar—Year

This course looks at ways that individuals and communities across the Spanish-speaking world have gotten creative about politics and political about creativity. Students will develop analytic skills and explore social-justice issues through literature, film, music, and visual art by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Sara Gómez, Samanta Schweblin, Yásnaya E. Aguilar Gil, Lia García La Novia Sirena, and many more. We will also study the politically creative actions of communities and organizations working outside the structures of the nation-state. An important aspect of this course will involve following activist movements in real time and working with social-justice initiatives in Yonkers and its surroundings. Students will produce both critical and creative written work. This discussion-based course will be conducted in Spanish and is intended for students who wish to further hone their communication and comprehension skills through advanced grammar review.

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After Nature: On Writing the Environment

Open, Seminar—Year

The philosopher Glenn Albrecht coined the term “solastalgia” to refer to the distress caused by climate change. In this yearlong writing seminar, we will attempt, in a collective way, to write through our feelings about the changing world. Students will keep weekly notebooks about paying attention to plants, animals, weather, and place, culminating in writing through their encounters with the outside world. These responses will be catalyzed by reading ecological meditations that function, in many ways, as elegies that think through landscape, time, and our kinship with the nonhuman. The project is for our reading and writing to somehow counter, but also work through, despair with radical hope and imagination. The final conference project for each semester will be a finished piece of writing that has been critiqued in several drafts in conference, collaborative small groups, and a full-group workshop over the semester. This course fully participates in the collaborative interludes in the Sarah Lawrence Interdisciplinary Collaborative on the Environment (SLICE) Mellon course cluster.

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