Over the past four years studying to become a full fledged Environmental Studies graduate, I have taken classes that have helped to develop skills and learn other aspects of the natural and environmental activist world. These were considered breadth courses within the major and required for the ENVS major as a whole. A quick note about these types of classes before I go into a few. They were easily some of my favorite and most enjoyable classes because of the more niche topics that they were about. The core ENVS classes were more broad and encompassed a whole variety of topics, with more of a focus on developing the information that we have learned from other classes and putting that down in research papers and portfolios. There are three breadth classes that I want to discuss, these are Philosophy and the Environment and Global Environmental History.
Philosophy and the Environment
The first class is Philosophy and the Environment, taught by Jay Odenbaugh. This is the class that I believe everyone believes that ENVS 160 is when first starting the major. This class teaches you a great deal about the philosophical origins of the environmental movement. This started all the way back in the early 20th century around and after World War II. After some context has been given about specific scientists, philosophers, and the language that is used when talking about environmentalism, the class moves into more specific case studies that throws your brain for a loop about what truly is right and wrong. This is the best part of the class in my opinion because of how Professor Odenbaugh allows the students to discuss opinions and virtues of topics. Some of these include radical environmental activism in the Pacific Northwest, culling of invasive species in Oregon and Hawaii, and individual action. I found myself, not only having fun in the discussions and topics, but really wanting to learn as much as I can about the individual and community views about such hard topics in environmentalism.
Global Environmental History
The second class was Global Environmental History, taught by Andrew Bernstein. Now this class is tough. Mainly because it is a history class. The tests were downright big and a solid day of studying is necessary to do good on it. This class however was fun and allowed me to read books, essays, poems, and stories that I would have never read otherwise. The class starts at the beginning of mankind with evolution and all the way to today. This allowed me to gain a wealth of knowledge of the environment in almost every single way possible, from environmental degradation, to environment in religion, to Moby Dick, to an immense section of Asian environmental history, and to a different understanding of the pioneers conquering the great west of the United States. This class pushed me to write about environmental issues in the context of history, where things are more black and white because it is history, it cannot be changed.
These two breadth courses made me fall in love with Lewis and Clark all over again. It also prepared me for the thesis that I have written in my final year. Environmental theories and philosophies are what I built my thesis topic around and historical documents helped me to create the data I needed to develop an outcome.