Methods and Approaches in Environmental Studies

Syllabus • Assignments • Class Notes


Research Assignment 3 canceled. To make up the 8% of your grade this assignment would have constituted, I’ve tentatively added 2% to each of the first two Research Assignments and 4% to the “Contributions to the Learning Community” part of your grade. We can discuss in class Tuesday whether this feels fair to everyone and if not explore other ways to reallocate the points.

Research Assignment 3 due date has been changed to Nov. 20. A description will be available by end of next week on the Assignments page.

Here’s the article on Whole Foods’ new produce rating program: Whole Foods to Rate Its Produce and Flowers for Environmental Impact We’ll talk on Tuesday about the “conscious consumption” assumptions built into such a program and how one might design research to test some of these assumptions.

Readings for Oct. 16, our next class meeting, are now available on the syllabus. I have also added a description of your second short research assignment on the assignments page. Have a great Fall Break.

I mentioned in class today a visualization of the growth of megacities over time. It’s available here along with a number of other “story maps” such as one about the growth of farmers markets in the U.S. These are pretty good examples of the power of mapping to demonstrate longitudinal change.

Click here for the Midterm Review Guide. It will also be linked under Class Notes.

Please read the following blog post for Tuesday’s (9/30) class: Breaking Out of the Performance Measurement Trap It’s an excellent illustration of the approach that the Hewlett Foundation (which does extensive grant making in environmental areas and in the SF Bay Area) is taking to the project evaluation they ask their grantees to conduct.

REMINDER: Thursday, Oct. 2, your first assignment is due. Details here.

As an example of observing “social artifacts” as data sources, Tuesday in class I mentioned the concept of “desire lines.” Here’s a great image illustrating what a “desire line” is and how it is a type of social artifact:

Excellent example of “desire lines” (originally posted by New Urbanism Film Festival at

Thursday, September 25, 2014

12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
McLaren Conference Center 251

“Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: The Plight of Migrant Farm Laborers”

Seth M. Holmes PhD, MD
Martin Sisters Assistant Professor, Health and Social Behavior, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley

Dr. Holmes is currently investigating social hierarchies and health disparities in the context of US-Mexico migration and the ways in which these inequalities become understood to be natural and normal. This project draws on approximately eighteen months of full-time participant-observation, during which time Dr. Holmes migrated with undocumented indigenous Mexicans in the United States and Mexico, picked berries and lived in a labor camp in Washington State, pruned vineyards in central California, harvested corn in the mountains of Oaxaca, accompanied migrant laborers on clinic visits, and trekked across the border desert into Arizona. An article from this work has been awarded the Rudolf Virchow Award from the Society for Medical Anthropology. Concurrently, he is conducting research into the processes through which medical trainees learn to perceive and respond to social difference. In addition, Dr. Holmes is exploring new interdisciplinary research into the social, cultural, and political processes producing high HIV death rates among specific groups of people, notably Latino day laborers and other ethnoracial minorities, homeless people, and sexual minorities. This new project addresses the ways in which political economic structures and social categories affect individual behavior and vulnerability.

Some rapid-fire announcements to prepare you for the next three classes…

  • Reading questions for Tuesday’s class (9/9) have been posted in the syllabus. Sorry for the delay. Take at a look at them as there will be a quiz on Tuesday (9/9).
  • There will be no reading questions posted for 9/11, 9/16 or 9/18 (your reading assignment is the grant writing book which is written in a very accessible style with extremely practical recommendations).
  • Even though I will not be in class on 9/11, 9/16 or 9/18, I have planned guest lectures and attendance is mandatory.
  • On 9/11, you will have a guest lecture on GIS and spatial analysis delivered by David Saah, PhD and director of USF’s new Spatial Analytics Laboratory. Meet as usual in Cowell 316.
  • On 9/16 you will meet in the lobby of Gleeson Library (between the Circulation and Reference Desks) where Research Librarian Sherise Kimura or Carol Spector will escort you to the Electronic Classroom for a lesson on how to access environmental statistics through the library’s databases and other public online data portals.
  • On 9/18, Laurie Treleven of USF’s Office of Sponsored Projects will guest lecture on how to identify grant sources and how to write a statement of need. Meet as usual in Cowell 316.
  • When I return to class on 9/23, we will have another quiz on that day’s assigned reading and you’ll debrief me on what you learned during the guest lectures. Based on this feedback we will finalize the research design proposal and grant writing assignments.

In class on Thursday (8/21) I promised occasional prompts or “reading guides” to help focus your attention as you tackle the assigned readings. I decided I will add the prompts to the syllabus. I will stay just ahead of where we are in the class schedule, posting a question or two related to each reading several days before a reading must be completed for class.

Welcome the the course homepage for Methods and Approaches in Environmental Studies. All the information you need for the course will be available here. Announcements and updates will be posted right here. Below are links to the syllabus and to a separate page where the assignment descriptions will be posted.

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