Grace, originally from Philadelphia, is currently completing her junior year at Bard. She is attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of the EUS program and therefore takes a wide variety of classes related to the major “to see how they all connect back to each other, even if on the surface they seem to be in such entirely different realms.” Her focus, however, is in urban studies because of an interest fostered by her upbringing in Philadelphia’s diverse and continually transforming urban landscape. After taking EUS classes at Bard, Grace has become interested primarily in sustainable community development and urban agriculture. She says she was attracted to the program because she, “wanted to learn how and why things in America's cities came to be the way they are (and contrast this with the development of cities around the world), how cities are transforming in the modern landscape, and how urbanism and environmentalism are not opposing forces, but are complementary.” Grace’s favorite classes at Bard so far have been American Urban History with Professor of History, Myra Armstead and Architecture since 1945 with Art History Professor Noah Chasin. Both these classes gave her a sense of the formation of American and international cities and architecture within the context of societal, cultural, and environmental changes. Outside of class, Grace has worked with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, which is a non profit organization that revitalizes the social and economic situations of Philadelphia neighborhoods. This non profit work further informed Grace’s sense of the interdisciplinary nature of the knowledge required for sustainable urban development. Grace is also co-head of Bard’s Environmental Collective: “It's kind of a more free form club where people interested in environmental issues can meet, talk, and plan activities, workshops, and speakers. My goal for the club is basically for it to serve as a really collaborative platform for people who are passionate on various levels and issues concerning the future of our environment and sustainability. We also do fun stuff like lead apple sauce and pumpkin butter making workshops!” Grace also works for an EUS partner, Bard’s Office of Sustainability.
Two summers ago, I interned at the Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station as an Odum intern. I did research with fern biologist and Colgate professor Eddie Watkins and three other interns. After learning about fern reproduction and physiology, we designed a research project to compare the physiology of ferns to understory angiosperms. We collected data on photosynthetic rates (using a machine called a LI-COR), root and leaf mass, the number of stomata, and mineral composition. We compared these data of three ferns with three analogous understory angiosperm plants.
I also worked with the director of conservation and research Dawn O’Neal on the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Program. Every two weeks, we would go out by the lake around 5am to set up mist nets and wait for the birds. After birds flew into the nets, we would untangle them and document the species of bird, sex, length, and wing length, and then set the birds free. These data were compiled with those across the nation to help better analyze the effectiveness of bird conservation efforts and to monitor bird populations.
At Bard, I have volunteered and worked at Hudsonia, a non-profit ecological research organization. I first did research on the potential fracking effects on biodiversity, and I published a paper on this research with Dr. Erik Kiviat in the journal Environmental Practice. This past summer, I worked with Erik Kiviat and an intern studying the state-threatened Blanding’s turtle. I have also volunteered with many Bard-affiliated ecological programs, like glass eel monitoring and helping salamanders migrate across roads. As an EUS major, I want to integrate knowledge about conservation, wildlife biology, economics, and urban development to become a naturalist and ecologist who understands that the urban and “natural” world are not inherently separate. The preservation of biodiversity is dependent not only on biological knowledge, but also on economic policies, urban sprawl, land development, state and federal laws, and so much more.
Logan is completing his senior year at Bard College. His major interests lie in the social sciences, history, anthropology, and urban theory. This year, he has elected to take courses that explore the ecological history of the earth, the cultural politics of animals and the history of capitalism. Though the courses vary greatly in subject matter and method of study, Logan says, they are all related under "the broad umbrella" of Environmental and Urban Studies. And that's what he loves about the major: Because the EUS program is interdisciplinary, majors have the opportunity to explore a variety of subjects that all gear towards understanding human and environmental ecology. "What systems brought us to this place and what does it mean to be an environmentalist today? An environmentalist ought to understand the complexity of the earth's systems and how they interact: communications, histories, anthropological cultures. I look at every course I take through the lens of EUS. In a way, everyone is an environmentalist. [Environmentalism,] it's a practice of love."
Logan runs the Bard Bike Co-Op, a service that uses parts from discarded or used bikes to build and fashion new bikes. Logan believes it provides students with a place to build some practical skills and do some hands on work outside of their more academic, writing and reading intensive classes. The co-op also encourages students to use their bikes as their main form of transport on and off campus. Recently, Logan delivered relief items to victims of hurricane Sandy on his bike. Last summer, he rode his bike across the country from Bard's campus to his native town of San Francisco, California, taking interviews along the way on American governance, citizens' roles in their community and the natural environment, and the economic situation. He says he discovered that "everyone I talked to pretty much said that people just need to help each other forward."
Natalie Cuomo, originally from Queens, NY, is completing her junior year at Bard. Though she is focusing on environmental economics, she says she is also interested in environmental ethics and technology. Natalie first became interested in Environmental and Urban Studies when she took an introductory class with economics professor and department chair Kris Feder, who exposed her to tied social, political, and ecological issues she had previously been unaware of. Since then, Natalie’s favorite EUS class at Bard has been Environmental Ethics with philosophy professor, Daniel Berthold. “I learned about various inspirational and corrupt environmental movements. I now feel more historically grounded when discussing environmental issues.” Outside of class, Natalie has spent a summer working on a farm that inspired her to explore a variety of agricultural practices and assess their effects on the environment. During the school year, Natalie works on the Bard Farm to produce fresh, local food for campus dining services, ensuring the students’ access to food produced by sustainable practices. Additionally, Natalie worked for Hudsonia, a non profit organization located on campus that is dedicated to the conservation of the Hudson valley and neighboring regions. There, she helped out by cataloguing specimens and conducting research. She plans on moderating into the EUS program this year.
Isaac is currently a sophomore at Bard College. His interests lie in policy surrounding food and fracking. He believes younger people should have more of a say in the way the American food system is shaped. Graduating from a rigorous two year environmental studies program in high school gave Isaac a clear picture of his career goals. "But getting to those goals -- that's why I'm at Bard. Everyone should have the right to real food and good water. Food, water, soil, nitrogen, carbon systems: everything is linked. Having the scientific knowledge makes it easier to understand the larger picture but I'm looking forward to getting deeper into the issues and their interrelationships. Plus, I'm looking forward to working internships in the city."
Isaac has already worked with Charity Water in the past, presenting the political and environmental issues surrounding water to his classmates in high school and fundraising money for the charity. He has also worked in New Orleans, repairing and painting homes, where he learned first hand about the degradation of the wetlands, the infrastructure of levies, and the energy costs of the city. Isaac hopes to pursue Bard Center for Environmental Policy's 3+2 program through which qualified Bard undergraduates can earn an M.S. in environmental policy or climate science in an accelerated period of time.
Tom is currently completing his junior year at Bard College. He is primarily interested in the social sciences, and says that his work at Bard thus far has been focused on the various ways humanity can sustain itself through what he calls "responsible stewardship practices" in farming, fishing, and hunting. He is currently enrolled in classes that explore environmental science, history, ethics, and architecture. Though he was originally interested in practicing law, Tom came to Bard in order to continue exploring the ways in which humans structure their developments in relation to the environment. "What I like most about Bard's EUS program," he says. "Is its flexibility. EUS, as an interdisciplinary major, fits perfectly with Bard's moderation system and my hope, when I moderate, is that this system will help me to identify and define my particular areas of interest as well direct me towards the classes that will help me reach my goals. I love that the EUS program accommodates such a wide range of interests and this diversity, reflected in class discussions, has broadened my overall perspective."
Tom has been both a student and teacher of wilderness education, studying Native American traditions and practices. This education involved fire making, shelter building, and food hunting or gathering. More recently, Tom has taken initiative to get involved with local food production. He spent last summer working at Taft Farms, a 200 acre IPM farm in Great Barrington, MA, where he learned about farming techniques, agricultural marketing, and was exposed to the intricacies of the American industrial food system. This has led him to his interest in faming practices and philosophies. Tom is also the proud founder and owner of a small portabello and button mushroom growing operation that he started in order to learn about mushroom cultivation and to "experience first-hand the way small growers fit into our food system."
"In addition, my free time allowed me to pursue my interests in apiculture (or beekeeping). I have been making and selling pure beeswax candles to local businesses. During intercession, my plan is to get involved with a local, community-based subsistence movement. Great Barrington uses a local currency, BerkShares, and action is being taken to use this monetary system to promote Community Supported Industry. This movement is just beginning and I am very excited for the opportunity to help my own community through what I have learned, in college and on my own ... I hope to leave Bard with a well-rounded understanding of my role in my ecosystem and my community. My dream is to use this understanding to give back to my community by helping people live sustainably, appreciate their natural surroundings, and fill their niche in the ecosystem. I believe that the impending global crises must be solved through localized solutions and I intend to bring my ideas for these solutions to my community."