Course Development

EnviroLab Asia encourages teaching and learning on environmental issues in Asia through offering course development or redevelopment awards to faculty. The courses advance the guiding principles of EnviroLab Asia, establish innovative pedagogical models for studying environmental issues in East and Southeast Asia, and integrate closely with related and disparate courses, initiatives and projects across the Claremont Colleges. EnviroLab Asia also aims to advance Asian-language learning about environmental issues. 

EnviroLab Asia integrates language learning with environmental issues. Students at the Japanese Conversation Table at Oldenborg Center discuss environmental issues in Japanese.
Professor Kyoko Kurita’s Research Assistants teach vocabulary that would enable students to discuss environment-related issues in Japanese at the Japanese Conversation Table at Oldenborg Center.


Previous Course Development Recipients

The following faculty have received course development awards to redevelop their courses according to the principles and objectives of EnviroLab Asia.

Spring 2016

Minju Kim, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures: Korean 100: Readings in Korean Literature and Culture

This course is designed for advanced students of Korean who would like to improve their Korean through readings of various modern Korean texts. Reading materials are selected from short stories, newspapers, journals, and TV programs. This course will utilize extensive reading of Korean as an opportunity for students to better understand Korean culture and to hone their critical perspectives on culture and cultural differences. For this purpose, the texts for this course have been selected to cover three major aspects of Korean culture: politics, society (with a focus on environmental issues), and literature.

Paul F. Steinberg, Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy and Malcolm Lewis Chair of Sustainability and Society, Harvey Mudd College: Comparative Environmental Politics

This course examines one of the most remarkable political developments of the past century: the rise, within a single generation, of environmental concern and associated social movements and public policies in far-flung societies around the globe. What was once the preoccupation of small numbers of citizens in wealthy countries has become a major global trend inspiring political action from Rio to Budapest, Hong Kong, Lagos, and Tehran.

This affords us several opportunities. First, we will switch from the wide-angle lens of “Saving the Planet” – symbolized by the image of Earth seen from outer space – to take a closer look at the political challenges faced by environmental advocates in diverse domestic settings. Specific topics include comparative political systems, policymaking styles, changes in values, environmental movements, state-society relations, authoritarian regimes, democratization, resource conflicts, decentralization, policy reform, gender analysis, and European unification. We will also use the environment as a window into broader themes in comparative politics – the subfield of political science that compares domestic politics around the world. Students will learn how to work more effectively in foreign settings by assessing the political context in which technological and policy innovations are applied. Finally, the subject allows us to study one of the leading edges of environmental research as it unfolds, lending insight into the practice of professional research.

Melinda Herrold-Menzies, Associate Professor of Environmental Analysis, Pitzer College: EA 162 Gender, Environment, and Development

In this course we will examine the intersection of theories of environmental degradation, economic development, and gender. This seminar asks students to critically analyze and reassess competing explanations of environmental degradation in lower-income and middle-income nations, with case studies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, East Africa, and Latin America. We examine theories explaining the root causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, soil erosion, and species extinction in the developing world. Are certain forms of environmental degradation caused by a lack of economic development? Too much economic development? The misapplication of a development model? A legacy of colonialism? Imperialism? Globalization? Patriarchy? Environmental vulnerability? To what extent might climate change play a role in making marginalized populations increasingly vulnerable to deforestation and natural hazards such as flooding and fires? To address these questions, we will study different social theories and their feminist interpretations that have been used to understand environmental problems in developing countries. Topics and/or social theories to be examined include: modernization theory, dependency theory, women in development vs. women and development, controversies over economic globalization, cultural ecology, ecofeminism, political ecology and gender and the environment, natural hazards, and issues around climate justice. The purpose of the readings is to understand theories as tools that help us to understand some aspects of some situations, but perhaps not all aspects of all situations. Students are expected to actively participate in discussion, co-lead three seminar sessions, and write a brief case study and five 5-7-page analytical papers that apply theory to a real world situation.


Fall 2015

Anne Harley, Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department: Mobilizing Art: Creating Activist Performances

The course will examine twentieth-century and twenty-first-century activist and political art performance in the U.S. and Asia, as it played out in visual art, theatre, music, dance and multimedia.  The first half of the course will examine past practice focusing attention primarily on four forums:  the U.S. civil rights movement, AIDS activism, the women’s rights movement, and the global environmental justice movement (including a focus on the U.S., Fukushima (Japan), China, Borneo (Malaysia) and Vietnam). We will examine the various strategies, theories and case studies. In the second half of the course, reflecting on the successes and failures of past activist artists, we will construct a toolbox of techniques for addressing current issues and then students will create their own own political and activist art performances. The course culminates in the creation of student-directed and student-performed activist art works coordinated by members of the class and presented publicly, and for the students of the Scripps College Academy.

There will be a particular emphasis on art focused on environmental issues and activist practices in Asia, and on working with visiting lecturers, faculty and students from related disciplines in the 5Cs to address current environmental crises in Asia. These topics will include: ecosystems, climate change, energy and food production, land resources, pollution, sustainable development and indigenous resistance, and how they relate currently to colonialism, and capitalism, among other issues.

Kyoko Kurita, Professor of Japanese in the Dept. of Asian Languages and Literatures: Time & Space in Modern Japan

Are we the products or the producers of our environments? This course offers an interdisciplinary, comparative approach to the literary expression of Japanese temporal and spatial concepts from the 8th century onward, with some reference to China and Korea. The focus, however, is on modern Japan, which in some ways “left Asia,” looking ahead to a very foreign time-space but trying to comprehend it with a language that does not even have a future tense. How have these transitions been negotiated conceptually in media such as literature? Some consideration of other cultural sources, such as cinema and the arts, will enrich the discussion; more practical factors such as urban design, maps, and transportation networks will also be examined.

Marc Los Huertos, Stephen M. Pauley M.D. ’62 Associate Professor of Environmental Analysis and Coordinator of Environmental Analysis: Introduction to Science and the Environment, EA10/30L

This course is designed so that students learn a variety of di fferent frameworks for analyzing environmental issues. Students should understand how human societies interact and evolve with their environment from historical times to the present. This coevolution of human society and the environment can also be understood through ecological concepts such as ecosystems, biomes, food webs, limiting factors, and biodiversity. Students should be knowledgeable on how human societies commonly impact the ecology around them through changes in soils, air quality, and water quantity and quality. Also, students should gain an understanding of how pollution or changes in air, soil and water resources a ffect the health and well-being of individuals. Students will learn how pollution and environmental degradation often a ffect low-income and marginalized groups to a greater degree than others. These resource and pollution issues are caused by the production and consumption choices of societies, and one lens to understand these choices is environmental economics. Students should understand the key concepts of choice under scarcity and externalities in this framework. Then, students should learn the various regulatory and political approaches to controlling pollution. Finally, we focus on the science and policy of climate change, and the environmental justice issues inherent in the policy choices.

Claire Li, Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures: Chinese 125: Modern Chinese Literature

Chinese 125: Modern Chinese Literature is a fourth-year Chinese language class designed to advance comprehension of and critical reflection on modern and contemporary Chinese literature and cultural literacy. In terms of the content, the class will focus on three thematic units that are involved with the birth and the development of modern and contemporary Chinese literature and how the works articulate with the socio-political changes in China and other Sinophone communities. The three unites are “Nation-state, Modernization and the Vernacular Movement,” “Urbanization and Individualism,” and “Environmental Issues, Nature Writing and Ecocriticisms.” Worksheets will be provided to initiate students to do online research, to guide students to do close reading on selected texts, and to consolidate learning of new vocabulary words and sentence patterns. A few speed-reading practices and video clips will be used to sharpen reading and listening comprehension skills. Linguistically speaking, the class is designed to strengthen students’ communicative ability such that they are able to describe and narrate in the form of organized paragraphs and discourse, which ACTFL equates with advanced language proficiency. While fastening the floor of advanced-level proficiency, the class also includes tools and tasks, strategically implemented throughout the semester, to prepare students to reach the next superior level, which requires them to be able to discuss abstract topics, support their opinions, and provide solutions in hypothetical situations using abstract vocabulary and extended discourse.

Tamara Venit-Shelton, Associate Professor of History: Freshman Humanities Seminar 10.10: Nature and Society

This class explores how societies have interacted with the natural world from roughly the fifteenth century to the present day. We consider nature not only as physical forces and spaces but also as the meanings and values ascribed to them. We will ask how nature has affected practices and policies and vice versa as a departure point for thinking about the historical roots of contemporary environmental thinking and problems. As part of the class, students will conduct research on Southeast Asia and its current environmental challenges. The class will divide into teams, each of which will study one major issue and compile research into a Sakai project site to be shared with other students and faculty participating in EnviroLab Asia.

Branwen Williams, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science: Science and the Environment (EA30L)

“Science and the Environment” is an introduction to the principles of environmental science with applications in chemistry, ecology, physics, and geology. Fundamentally, this class is about the dynamic world around you: how the ‘living’ planet works, how our activities affect natural systems and human society, and how the careful practice of science can help solve or mitigate environmental problems. Over the next four months, we’ll discuss an array of topics to illustrate the fascinating and vital linkages between ecosystems, climate change, energy and food production, land resources, pollution, and sustainable development. In many cases, we will discuss these topics in the context of current and historical environmental science issues in Asia.