Asian Environmental Studies


ARTH 302: Arts of the Landscape and the Garden in China and Japan (Blanchard)
In China and Japan, the natural landscape becomes a primary theme of artistic expression, and the cultivated garden is perceived as a related entity. This course will examine East Asian traditions of landscape painting, pictorial representations of gardens, and the historic gardens (often understood as microcosmic landscapes) of Suzhou and Kyoto. We will explore how these diverse works of art play upon the dichotomy between nature and artifice and consider their social, political and religious implications. Students will read landscape and garden texts from both cultures in translation, as well as selections from the secondary literature dealing with these themes. Prerequisites: previous coursework in art, Architectural Studies, Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, or permission of the instructor.

ENV 215/ASN 215: Environment and Development in East Asia (Magee)
Rapid development in East Asia has brought prosperity to many but has also created serious environmental problems. Rivers and lakes suffer from pollution and algal blooms; water tables have dropped dramatically; farmland has been polluted by industrial chemicals and over-fertilization; and cities choke on pollution from industry and automobiles. This course explores the environmental challenges facing East Asia as well as how governments and other groups are addressing them through various approaches to “sustainable development.” Special emphasis is placed on China, given its regional and global importance, and the Four Little Dragons (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea).

ENV 234/ASN 234: Sustainable China (summer field course in China) (Magee)
his three-week summer study-abroad course allows students to learn first-hand about China’s environmental challenges and the measures various organizations (government, non-governmental organizations, industries, etc.) are taking to address those challenges. In Beijing, students visit the Ministry of Environment, key academic institutions, legal aid organizations, and other groups working to address environmental and health concerns. In Yunnan, students learn more about rural China and the particular economic development challenges and opportunities facing one of China’s most biologically and culturally diverse provinces, including energy systems, waste management, agriculture, and ecotourism. Through numerous site visits, lectures, discussion sessions, and in situ assignments, students examine the meaning of sustainability from a variety of perspectives within the Chinese national context.

ENV 330: Sustainability, Commodities, and Consumption (Lewis)
In light of increasing calls for sustainable development, complex geographies of production and consumption continue to emerge from global economic relationships. In tracing a range of everyday commodities from their points of origin to the consumers who purchase these products, this course introduces students to the relationship between consumption trends, market forces, and natural resource extraction. In particular , students will pay special attention to food, fiber, and forest products in Asia.

ENV 340/ASN 340: Water and Energy in China (Magee)
Water and energy are at the heart of China’s environmental challenges, and addressing those challenges (or failing to) has very real human and ecological implications now and in the future. This is so not only for the people of China, the most populous country on Earth, but also for the rest of the world: pollution from China’s coal-fired power plants brings acid rain and heavy metals to the Koreas, Japan, and even the western US, and manufactured products (including foodstuffs) tainted with industrial toxins have made their way to store shelves around the world. Yet the roots of many of China’s environmental challenges are global: just as more developed countries have outsourced many of their manufacturing activities to China, so, too, have they outsourced the pollution of water, air, soil, and bodies resulting from those activities, along with the energy and other resource demands necessary to carry them out. This course explores the challenges and opportunities of sustainability in China from ecological, socioeconomic, and geopolitical perspectives through a close examination of the country’s water and energy resources.




Darrin Magee
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies
Director, AES Initiative
Phone: (315) 781-3364


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.