The following courses will be available in the academic year 2022-2023, and will count towards the DE in Environmental Humanities. This list is not final. As other courses that satisfy DE requirements become available, we will add them to the list.
DE in Environmental Humanities: Courses for 2022-2023
EVH 200, Introduction to the Environmental Humanities
Taught by Marisol de la Cadena and Tobias Menely
EVH200 is the core seminar for graduate students from various disciplinary backgrounds in the humanities and beyond with an interest in pursuing the Designated Emphasis in Environmental Humanities. In this course we will discuss key issues, concepts, questions, and debates in the environmental humanities through discussions of classic and contemporary readings in the main disciplines that have contributed to EH scholarship.
LDA 205 Urban Planning & Design (Taught by Steve Wheeler) Regulation, design, and development of the built landscape, planning and land development processes, zoning and subdivision regulation, site planning, urban design goals and methods, public participation strategies, creatively designing landscapes to meet community and ecological goals. (Same course as GEO 233.) We emphasize a humanistic approach to these topics, asking questions such as how can communities become more sustainable and inclusive?
ANT 210, Matter, Mattering, Materiality.
This seminar will explore concepts and experiments with matter, mattering, materiality in relation to the environmental humanities. None of these terms have predefined properties, capacities, or coherence. And this seminar will venture into what possibilities await their occurrences in relational compositions of becoming. Rather than understanding the world as made of discrete entities, the scholars we will read entertain the space of matter, mattering, and materiality as worlds constituted through enfoldings, dissolvings, emergings, and tracings that ever entreat processes of change. This seminar seeks to take time to metabolize what these scholars are proposing around ecologies of concern and how we might think about this ethnographically.
ENL 233: Contemporary Ecopoetics
In this course, we will read widely in contemporary works of ecopoetics in a hemispheric context alongside key recent theories and concepts in the environmental humanities. We will consider some of the important genres, forms, and themes central to ecologically-oriented poetry in the present, while placing these concerns into relation with the longer literary and cultural histories of environmental poetics.
CRD 243: Critical prehistories of environmental justice in the Central Valley.
This course will use in-depth case studies of California’s Central Valley to explore the historical roots of current EJ crises, including the dynamics of settler colonialism, racial capitalism, immigration, and state capture in the development of agriculture, water, oil and gas, and land development industries. It will analyze the production of social, economic, political, health, and environmental disparities as well as social movement actions to intervene in these processes.
ENL258: Early American Environments
A seminar on Anglophone interactions with the more-than-human world before the 20th century as they are mediated by history, literature, and other cultural forms. Fulfills the Early National graduate requirement for the English program as well as the counting for the Environmental Humanities DE.
HIS 202H Violence, Settler Colonialism, and Environment in U.S. Expansion
Louis S. Warren
Readings at the intersection of settler colonialism, Indigenous history, and environmental history in the 19th- and 20th-century United States. Requirements include class participation and term paper.
LDA 215—WHAT IS INFRASTRUCTURE?: CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE STUDIES (3)
Taught by Brett Milligan
Seminar—3 hour(s). Open to graduate standing or consent of instructor. Introduction to interdisciplinary scholarship and design on expanding conceptions of infrastructure, that include social, technical, ecological, political and aesthetic dimensions of the medium. Focus on application of theory to case studies and thinking through landscape as infrastructure. (Same course as GEO 215.)
Expanded Course Description
This course will investigate theory and design practices associated with new and expanding notions of infrastructure that integrate social, technical, ecological, political and aesthetic dimensions of the medium. This work questions what infrastructure was, is and can be. Central to these investigations are concerns about social and ecological justice, and adaption to a world radically altered by past infrastructural effects, including climate change. Particular focus will be placed on thinking through landscape as infrastructure. Through readings, discussion sessions, presentations, guest lectures and field trips, participants will have the opportunity to test and apply these concepts on specific landscapes of their own choosing, as well as those provided by the instructor. Students from a variety of disciplines are encouraged to participate, as the course is structured to allow students to customize their research focus and methods of geographic analysis, while being exposed to practices and approaches of other disciplines.
NAS 212. International Community Development for Sovereignty and Autonomy
To establish common conversations amidst our diversity of disciplinary interests, the course begins with introductory texts on the basic history of international development. We then examine some of the core paradigms and assumptions of colonial development theory and discourse: universality, standardization, and growth. We will reflect upon how each of our disciplinary backgrounds abetted the aid industry in service to empire. The middle part of the course delves into the history of how mainstream development practitioners have treated Indigenous people as obstacles to progress. In the last stretch of the course, we turn to Indigenous and postcolonial critiques of development with a focus on advocacy at the United Nations. Finally, we will read texts and case studies about emergent, alternative visions for Indigenous development—e.g. buen vivir—and discuss practical strategies to develop, finance, and implement autonomous, endogenous, and/or sovereign forms of governance. Throughout the quarter as a collective, we will be following related current events, curiosities, and other contemporary topics related to more liberatory processes of development and Indigenous movements for self-determination.
SOC 295. Social and Cultural Values of Nature
In the past two decades, there has been more awareness as to the “services” that nature provides for
people, with attention given to the climate crisis and the depletion and degradation of natural resources
such as clean air and water, as well as the tragic loss of natural habitats and species extinction.
Ecologists have come together with social scientists to address issues such as nature conservation, social
mobilization for environmental causes, and other urgent socio-ecological challenges that face society
today. As part of this process, increasing attempts have been made to understand the non-tangible
benefits that nature offers people, especially local and indigenous communities. These benefits include
social, spiritual, and cultural values, which are also at risk of disappearing and are potentially
These values, and the ways we can evaluate and understand them, will be the main theoretical topics
that the course will address, and students will discuss them through class discussions as well as through
experiential learning in the “field”. A main part of the course is an active learning project that will
address nature experiences, explored by the students themselves, with the UC Davis Arboretum and/or
other campus-adjacent areas acting as the course laboratory. Students will also examine what is termed
“the extinction of nature experience”, which has been a repercussion of an increasingly urbanized
society that gradually detaches itself from nature. The phenomenon has been linked with societal and
psychological problems, as well as with a lower sense of nature-relatedness, which has had notable
environmental repercussions. We will discuss these repercussions, as well as discover (and try for
ourselves) new methods of reconnecting people with nature. Students will also explore and experience
examples of urban nature and share their experiences and advocate for their favorite designs of “urban
nature” in their final project. The course will thus include in-person sessions as well as on or near-
campus excursions and outdoor learning (health regulations and weather permitting).
Students will lead a multi-stage project that will include socio-ecological theories, case studies from
around the world, and embodied experiences, and will focus their final paper on their chosen methods
or designs for enhancing nature experiences, as well as societal and cultural values of nature. While
some course materials might be available online, students should plan to attend all or most classes in
person. Student evaluation will be based predominantly on project assignments and weekly reflections
stemming from personal experiences, class discussions, and readings.
SPA 232: Latinx Speculative Fiction and the Planet
Emily Celeste Vázquez Enríquez
Speculative fiction envisions alternative timescales that challenge the current social and environmental harm permeating the planet. When situated in the present, speculative fiction tends to intensify the contemporary realities that shape human and non-human lives, thus making existing injustices and inequalities hyper-visible. When imagining the times to come, as Sherryl Vint contends, “such alterative futures are a sign of capacities for speculative dreaming and anticipation of the future that exceed and escape what Mark Fisher calls “capitalist realism” and deﬁnes as the erosion of our capacity to imagine the future as anything other than a continuation of current hegemonies.” In this class, we will analyze Latinx speculative literature and film that seek to reimagine present and future realities. Through a speculative lens, we will explore the planetary futures that Latinx authors and filmmakers aim to materialize, and the present issues that they seek to transform. We will study representations of ecological horror, ghosts, spectral landscapes, haunted houses, technology, monsters, witches, and zombies to address issues related to climate change, colonialism, racism, speciesism, and gender-based violence.