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The EUS Practicum

The Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) Practicum is a course that combines knowledge and practice. The practicum moves beyond the classroom to local cities and ecosystems and challenges students to work on “real-world” projects. The practicum helps students in an interdisciplinary major like EUS encounter the multitude of academic and career paths available to them by opening up potential internships, senior projects, or jobs. The EUS Practicum usually covers a new topic each semester it is offered, with recent topics including urban ecology, food systems, urban planning, and green architecture.

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Tom O'Dowd
Executive Administrator of Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS)
todowd [at] bard.edu
(845) 752-4852 (office)

Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) Program
Bard College
PO Box 5000
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504

Spring 2017: Environmental Education

Environmental Education is of pivotal importance in a world seeking sustainable solutions for the future. Environmental questions require knowledge, skills, and communicative ability to reach the many audiences involved in implementing solutions. This class will explore the theoretical literature and the methodology of environmental education, behavior change, and civic engagement. Students will examine Environmental Education both as an intellectual inquiry — what it means to be environmentally educated, and as a practice of civic engagement — the multiple ways in which environmental education manifests. Examples include citizen science, civic engagement, and service-learning. Texts include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Rachel Carson, and Richard Louv among others. We will focus on three projects involving watershed education: 1) The Saw Kill Watershed Community; 2) Other Hudson River Estuary Program grant-funded projects; and 3) The US-Russia Waterway Protection Toolkit. In each of these projects, students will plan, implement, and evaluate environmental education programs, with the goal to produce a final report. We will be using the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) to define best practices.

Spring 2017: Hudson Valley Cities and Environmental (In)Justice

How do urban processes of growth, decline, and revitalization affect different groups, particularly along dimensions of race, class, and gender? This place-based research seminar course looks closely at this question by examining the historical, political, and social landscape of Hudson and Kingston. We will use these nearby cities as cases to explore theories on urban transformation and the contemporary challenges that face small urban centers. In particular, the course will use the lens of environmental inequality, or the ways in which some people are more likely to be exposed to environmental hazards than others, to examine the effects of historical processes, as well as to investigate how residents and government officials are addressing pressing problems. The course will look specifically at issues of food justice, pollution, access to resources, and environmental decision-making processes. We will visit these cities as a class, and students will develop and carry out their own research project about one or both places. (Students should be moderated into their program of study; the course fulfills the practicum requirement for moderated EUS students.) Admission by permission of the instructor.

Fall 2016: Farm to Bard: Transforming Our Food System

Fall 2016: Farm to Bard: Transforming Our Food System
Complex cultural, political, regulatory, and economic forces shape the chain of food production from farm to table to compost. This course explores the structure and functions of the contemporary food system, focusing on Bard’s foodshed. Students will work across disciplines to analyze quantitative and qualitative arguments addressing social, economic, environmental, or health questions. We will work with computer programs designed to navigate purchasing from farm to school. We will examine Bard’s dining service procurement strategies and engage with local food producers. We will conduct site visits to community partners such as Montgomery Place, Bard Dining Service, and local food purveyors including Hudson Valley Fresh, Bread Alone, Hudson Valley Harvest, and Saw Mill and other farms. Research teams will present and defend specific proposals to strengthen Bard Dining’s relationship with regional food producers and to bring more sustainable products into the institutional buying framework. Class size: 15

Spring 2016: Cities & Climate Change

Spring 2016: Cities & Climate Change
Cities are our social, cultural, and economic centers, but in a climate-changed world, many cities are living on the edge. Climate change is affecting the frequency and severity of storms, floods, and other natural disasters, and also raising sea levels. These changes have significant impacts on the natural, built, and social environments of our large and small cities (from New York City to the Hudson Valley and beyond). This course will explore how urban areas can prevent (or adapt to) the worst impacts of Climate Change using: urban planning; environmental science, green infrastructure/ architecture; outreach, education, participation, and the political process.

Fall 2015: Sustainable Trail Design

Fall 2015: Sustainable Trail Design
Walking and biking are some of the most sustainable forms of transportation and great ways to interact with nature and neighbors. How can we design trails/paths/sidewalks that work for pedestrians, communities, and the environment? What does this look like “on the ground”? These are questions we will be answering in a real way in this EUS Practicum. Working with the Director of Bard’s Landscape and Arboretum program and Bard’s Sustainability Manager, as well as several campus and community partners, class members will develop, implement, and evaluate projects that enhance Bard’s landscape and other Hudson Valley locations. Examples may include Bard’s trail system, the Tivoli Bays trail system, trails in Red Hook, and rail trails in Kingston. The course will touch on and develop projects related to the diverse interests of EUS students (conservation, environmental education, historic preservation, landscape architecture, parks, public health, site design, stewardship, sustainability, urban planning, water quality, wellness, etc.) and will provide a stepping stone to EUS-related senior projects, internships, and careers. 

Spring 2014: Sustainable Development in Red Hook and Beyond

Spring 2014: Sustainable Development in Red Hook and Beyond
The Sustainable Development in Red Hook and Beyond Practicum will investigate why “development” is not necessarily an unfortunate reality.  Properly regulated and controlled development patterns are essential for positive economic growth, increased revenues for the maintenance of vital services, reinforcement of community identity, preservation of productive farmland and open spaces, and the protection of cultural and natural resources.  Locating potential development in “priority growth” areas allows for community benefits and demographic inclusion while protecting crucial and irreplaceable resources.  Properly designated and designed priority growth areas, integrating walkable residential neighborhoods in or adjacent to commercial centers, must also be considered and planned to balance the use and protect the natural resources they may affect.  Providing quality drinking water, removing generated wastes, revitalizing and expanding mixed-use residential/commercial districts, identifying and supporting local community groups are essential, and required, aspects of a well planned resilient community.
Course website.

Fall 2013: Opportunistic Architecture: The Social Art of Building

Fall 2013: Opportunistic Architecture: The Social Art of Building
This was an applied course that involved students in multiple stages of environmentally sustainable and cost-effective design, using a real-world project scheduled for completion in 2014. The challenge was to develop effective classroom and creative co-working spaces on the Bard campus, based on a design strategy using repurposed shipping containers. The final result should be wired and adapted for innovative digital teaching methods and flexible enough to serve multiple functions. The class included readings, online research, and team projects that addressed specific elements of design. Students worked in collaborative teams to research funding mechanisms and business plans; best practice in pedagogical design; and creative design for low-cost, ecologically responsible, and highly practical furniture and fixtures. Students met with the architect in charge of the Bard project, consulted with experts in various related fields, and produced both individual papers and team-generated proposals.

Fall 2013: Urban Sanctuary: Parks, Gardens, and Nearby Nature

Fall 2013: Urban Sanctuary: Parks, Gardens, and Nearby Nature
Urban places can often be full of danger, garbage, and stress. In order to function happily and efficiently, people need places of escape, and they often find refuge in what little green space is available—gardens, parks, “abandoned” lots, or even the individual trees on their streets. This course will explore the practical implications of environmental psychology, a field that studies people and their relationship to the world around them, with a focus on personal and societal well-being. What impact do “green” spaces have on crime, school test scores, happiness, physical well-being, and a number of other seemingly unrelated social issues? How much (or how little) “nature” do we need to have an impact? How can we shape our environment to suit our cognitive needs? Students will investigate community, hospital, and meditation gardens; street trees and parks; and lifestyle choices, all in order to develop projects that use environmental psychology to solve urban problems.
(http://eus305urbansanctuary.wordpress.com/)

Spring 2013: Food Practicum

Spring 2013: Food Practicum
Over the last 30 years, food has become ever present in our daily consciousness.  Spurred by celebrity chefs, the rise of food media, health issues, and an increasing awareness of the production system, food is taking on new meaning as we think about  how we connect to what we eat. This leads us to consider questions about the cultural, economic, political, and ethical characteristics that underly this system.   For instance, how is food a part of our identity? What methods are used to produce our food? How is it being distributed?  Who has access?  Our objective in this course is to experience and think about these concerns, resulting in the development of a heightened awareness.
(http://foodpracticum.wordpress.com/

Fall 2012: Fallkill Practicum

Fall 2012: Fallkill Practicum
The complexity of the contemporary landscape imbues places with multiple meanings. A site can have great wealth whether cultural, historical, environmental or economic, or it can be a void that has long been forgotten. In this course we are going to both physically and mentally engage in a unique conversation about how the landscape becomes present. How do people see, think and know about a place? How does a site go from being nothing to something? What are the implications and impacts of this transformation?
(http://fallkillpracticum.wordpress.com/)