ES 375 Case Studies in Environmental Sustainability

Spring 2009

Monday 2:20-5:30 p.m., Dana 285

Wednesday 2:30-3:30 p.m., Dana 285


Bob Turner                                Cathy Gibson

Ladd 315                                  Dana 178    

Phone:  x 5251                           Phone:  x 5213


Course Description:

ES 375 is a research-oriented capstone course required of all Environmental Studies (ES) majors during their senior year.  During the course, teams of students conduct community-based research focused on a single, local environmental issue.  Each team uses a different disciplinary perspective and approach to investigate the issue, and hence the class as a whole is immersed in an interdisciplinary exploration as they compare literature, methodologies, and findings.  Through lectures, discussions, and the team research projects, students will:



Community-Based Research Project for Spring 2009:

The Water Resources Initiative (WRI) is a major interdisciplinary curricular and research effort within our Environmental Studies (ES) program.  WRI integrates coursework, team-based research, and engagement with local, regional, national, and international concerns for the availability, distribution, uses, and quality of water.  Water has historically shaped human societies and culture, and, as our most limiting natural resource, continues to dictate development today.  Through the WRI, we explore the complexities of human relationships to water in our community and also place local water issues in a global context.  The focus of WRI is the Saratoga Lake watershed because it typifies the historical and contemporary weight of water on contemporary social structures. The Saratoga Lake watershed encompasses over 200 square miles of lands characterized by different geologies, ecologies, human-land use types, and histories.  Saratoga Lake and the Kayaderosseras Creek, the largest feeder to Saratoga Lake, are historically and economically important to the region and yet have garnered little public attention or policy aimed at their conservation and preservation. 


ES 375 is the culmination of your academic career in Environmental Studies at Skidmore.  You will be conducting original research on an important environmental issue in the Saratoga Lake watershed that will be presented to the Greater Saratoga Springs community at Academic Festival.  You are expected to be self motivated, independent, creative, inquisitive, and rigorous in your research.  In addition to being evaluated for your own work, you will also be evaluated by your contributions to your classmates’ projects for two reasons.  First, learning how to work collaboratively across disciplinary boundaries is an important skill for Environmental Studies majors.  Second, the credibility of your projects and the WRI and ES program as a whole is affected by the quality of all of the presentations.



·        Weekly Appraisal 20%

·        Final Capstone Paper  25%

·        Final Oral Presentation 20%

·        Group/Peer Evaluations  5%

·        Class Participation  10%

·        Peer Review Critiques 10%

·        Archival Quality 5%

·        Research Op-ed 5%



Wednesday, January 21  Introduction


Monday January 26 Individual Team Meetings


Wednesday, January 28 Saratoga Lake Documentary


Mon, Feb 2 Individual Team Meetings


Wed, Feb 4 Thinking about watersheds


Fri, Feb 6 Peer Critiques of Research Design are due via email.


Mon, Feb 9 Stories from the Field


Wed, Feb. 11 Thinking about watersheds


Mon, Feb 16 Individual team meetings about data collection


Wed, Feb 18 Thinking about watersheds


Mon, Feb 23 Group team meetings


Wed, Feb 25 Thinking about watersheds


Mon, Mar 2 Resume Critiques/ Group Team Meetings Presentations of Data Analysis


Wed, March 4 Group Team Meetings Presentations of Data Analysis

    * Present preliminary data analysis

    * Draft of data analysis due, email to reviewers.


March 7-15  Spring Break – Study water issues in warmer climate


Monday, March 16 Conveying your research to the masses

·        Why Bubba Can’t Swim? 

·        Making an Elevator Speech


Wednesday, March 18 Interdisciplinary Thinking Workshop


Monday, March 23 Individual Team Meetings


Wednesday, March 25 Writing Well – Michael Marx


Mon, March 30    Group Team Meetings


Wed, April 1 Thinking about watersheds


Mon, April 6 Individual team meetings 


Wed, April 8 Presentation Workshop

    Reading:  Edward Tufte, The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint


Mon, April 13  Group dry runs of team presentations


Wed, April 15, Speaking Loudly


Friday, April 17, Peer critiques of final paper due


Mon, April 20 Dry runs of team presentations


Wed, April 22 Feedback on presentations

    * Due Peer review of presentation


Mon, April 27 Dry runs of team presentations


Wed, April 29  Final thoughts

    * Due opinion editorial


The final presentations are scheduled for Thursday, April 30 as part of Academic Festival.


May 4,   *Due Archive of Data