Courses Taught         Dr. Patrick T. Hurley ><> Asst. Professor ><> Environmental Studies

Globalization Overview Readings Field TripsUrbanization Readings Field Trips
Ecological Change Overview Readings Field Trips Landscape EthnographyForests & People Overview Readings Field Trips
Political Ecology Overview Readings Field TripsEnvironmental Planning Overview Readings Field Trips

Globalization and the Environment

Course Overview  Many of the world’s environmental problems are increasingly seen as either global in scope and/or resulting from increasing global affluence and the cultural, political, and economic linkages this entails.  Indeed, the globalization of resource use has had a profound effect on local people, cultures, and places. Concepts like the ecological footprint attempt to assess the environmental consequences of these linkages in ways that capture variations in consumption patterns. But what are the specific places that are being transformed in the process and how do the peoples in these places experience these changes? And how do different cultures view increasing affluence? This class explores the diverse ways in which people and environments are linked through and shaped by the increasing cultural, political, and economic linkages that characterize globalization.  In the process, students examine the role of consumption in producing environmental problems in particular environments, the ways these problems are experienced by local peoples and cultures in faraway places, and the ways that particular global ideas about environmental management interface with this complexity. Students consider consumption more broadly as well as specific cases focusing on famine, mining, conservation and ecotourism, local experiences with climate change, and fair trade in places from diverse areas, such as Africa, South America, East and Southeast Asia, and Australia.

Selected Course Readings

  • Nature Unbound (Igoe et al. 2008)

  • Late Victorian Holocausts (Davis 2001)

  • Moving Mountains (Evans et al. 2002)

  • Brewing Justice (Jaffee 2007)


Other Class Activities

  • Critical film analysis

  • Course discussions in sites where the local economy intersects with fair trade

  • Research Paper


Urbanization and the Environment

Course Overview  At the beginning of the 21st Century, the world has entered new territory. Unlike previous centuries, the majority of people on the globe now live in urban areas.  While some observers see this shift as an opportunity for dealing with critical environmental problems, others worry about the often dramatic consequences urban areas have for local environments. This course examines the process of urbanization and the role that 1) this process plays in transforming the environment and 2) the environment plays in constituting diverse urban spaces and social interactions.  We will explore historical, ecological, political, and economic aspects of these diverse human-environment interactions, examining their manifestations in urban, suburban, exurban, and even rural places.  Readings will introduce students to central concerns in the evolving fields of urban environmental history and urban ecology, among others, with special emphasis on the implications these insights have for thinking about environmental management and planning.  This course includes field trips to nearby neighborhoods, towns, and cities,  where we will conduct field work to compare practice with theory.

Selected Course Readings  
  • Nature's Metropolis (Cronon 1991)

  • Unnatural Metropolis (Colten 2005)

  • Concrete and Clay (Gandy 2001)

  • Last Harvest: How a Cornfield became... (Rybczynski 2008)

  • Restorative Commons (Campbell and Wiesen 2009)

  • Country in the City (R. Walker 2008)

Field Trips

  • Brooklyn, New York City (Edible Plants Tour in Prospect Park ) and Manhattan, New York City (Central Park), 2009; Edible Plants Tour in Prospect Park & Red Hook Community Gardens, 2010 - This field trip explores the place of nature in the city and the diverse ways that humans interact with these spaces.

  • New Urbanism and Chester County (2010)/New Daleville (2009) - This field trip explores the link between land-use decision-making and  design in shaping different types of residential spaces in urbanizing areas outside the city.

  • Urban Farming in West Philadelphia (2010) - This field trip explores the role of urban greening, particularly in the form of community gardens and urban farming, in parts of West Philadelphia.

Ecological Change in Historical Perspective

Course Overview This course explores a range of human-environment interactions, drawing upon readings in the fields of environmental history, historical ecology, and historical geography.  Students will consider these interactions within the long-term context of human social, political, and scientific development, including human migrations, agricultural revolutions, European colonialism, among others.  In doing so, students will investigate the ecological exchanges and transformations that accompanied these interactions and their implications for contemporary environmental issues.  In the process, students will explore diverse biomes and ecological dynamics, changing management systems, and evolving knowledge and technologies. 

Selected Course Readings

  • Discovering the Chesapeake (Curtin et al., 2001)

  • Where there are Mountains (Davis, 2003)

  • Bulldozer and the Countryside (Rome, 2001)

  • Seeking Refuge (Wilson, 2010)

  • The Fishermen's Frontier (Arnold 2008)

  • Irrigate Eden (Fiege 1999)

Field Trips

  • Quakertown Swamp and Tohickon Creek Watershed (2011)

  • Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site/French Creek State Park (2009, 2011)

  • Nottingham County Park (National Landmark) (2009, 2011)

  • Landis Valley State Historical Park

Conservation Landscape Ethnographies  Students in this class complete a final project, in which they develop a case study of a conservation landscape in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The resulting conservation landscape ethnography blends a class field trip and tour with secondary readings on local environmental change, oral history interviews with long-time residents and government officials, and the use of air photos across several decades to tell a distinctive story about the study area.

Forests & People

Course Overview  Forests comprise a significant portion of the Earth's land surface. This course explores a range of human-forest interactions, including timber extraction, forestry conflicts, non-timber forest product use, and carbon sequestration, drawing upon the fields of geography, anthropology, forestry, rural sociology, ecology, and urban ecology.  The class considers these interactions within the context of sustainability and the long-term human needs for fuel, fiber, food and ecosystem services, paying particular attention to the changing social and ecological understandings of forests as ecosystems. Readings introduce students to the ecological and social dimensions of management, such as community forestry, non-timber forest product harvest, and urban forestry, associated with a diversity of forest biomes, management systems, and evolving knowledge bases from around the world.

Selected Course Readings
  • Rich Forests, Poor People (Peluso 1994)

  • Looking for Longleaf (Earley 2006)

  • Nontimber Forest Products in the United States (Jones et al. 2002)

  • In Timber Country (Brown 2008)

Other Course Activities
  • Selected field visits

  • Social analysis

  • Case studies of regional forests from around the world

Political Ecology

Course Overview  This course is neither a traditional class in political science or environmental politics, nor is it a traditional class in ecology. Rather, political ecology is about the politics of environmental degradation and the environmental management approaches that emerge to address the resulting environmental “problems.” Whether one is talking about protecting the Amazonian rainforest, endangered species in the United States, or climate change, the environmental changes that underlie these issues and the efforts to address the resulting degradation are often discussed in scientific and managerial terms. Yet our understanding of changing environments and the efforts to control their use are intimately tied to social and cultural processes that are often highly political. Moreover, humans have been managing their environments for centuries through a multitude of practices, institutions, and different knowledges. Through the course of the semester, we will investigate the ways in which new forms of environmental management are constituted and the extent to which these are embedded within both ecological and politicized processes. We will seek to clarify explanations of environmental change and their implications for finding better types of management, policies, and solutions.

Selected Course Readings

  • Lawn People (Robbins 2007)

  • Fate of the Forest (Hecht & Cockburn 2011)

  • Understories (Kosek 1995)

  • Imposing Wilderness (Neumann 1998)

  • Conservation Refugees (Dowie 2009)


Other Course Activities

  • Vegetation management and social analysis

  • Critical film analysis

  • Research paper


Environmental Planning

Course Overview  This project-based course is one of three capstone courses in the Environmental Studies Program, in which students learn about key aspects of environmental planning through an applied project in the local area. Course activities focus on engagement with key conceptual issues, ranging from site design to regional planning, and their application in a real world, problem-solving contest. Data collection, analysis, and outreach are key features of project deliverables. 

Selected Course Readings

  • As appropriate to the selected project


Other Course Activities

  • Field visits

  • Key informant interviews/Focus groups

  • Site analysis

  • Social analysis

  • Landscape analysis


Last Updated 12/07/2011 09:59 AM