Course overview (ENVS 350)


This upper-level undergraduate course at Lewis & Clark College titled Environmental Theory (ENVS 350) had three broad aims: first, to introduce environmental theory as a subject in itself usually neglected in environmental studies & sciences programs across the United States (Proctor et al. 2013); second, learn to critique various environmental theories; and third, to build theoretical frameworks for upcoming thesis research.

I enrolled during the first semester of my last undergraduate year at LC and I was inspired to continue making environmental theory some of my lifelong work (which lives on here); this page, then, is a portfolio of work completed Fall 2019 in ENVS 350.

Critiquing environmental theories

Critiquing entries in Companion to Environmental Studies (Castree et al. 2018) taught me that communicating theory is difficult! I found a few entries to be compelling, like that on political ecology (linked via the image below), and others to be less so. Navigate to one featured below, or  select from them all from my summary page here.

Political Ecology
Limits and planetary boundaries
interdisciplinary environmental inquiry

Building a research framework

Click the image to go to research framework page.

Two possible criteria for weaving an effective interdisciplinary research framework are inclusivity and coherence. Inclusivity refers to the breadth of theoretically resources involved: does a framework draw, for example, on theory from across the natural & social sciences, and humanities? Coherence, then, refers to the successful weaving of multiple ways of knowing, so that the final research framework makes a novel scholarly contribution, but also makes sense to a reader!

The image included above demonstrates my framework design as it stood in December 2019 after a completed fall semester (find the older version, weaving topics from theory critiques above, here!). It will likely not go through any big changes, but will definitely undergo small changes—for the better!—with continued work in spring of 2020 as my thesis research project is completed.

posts & outcomes

For ten weeks during the fall semester, I authored regular update posts chronicling the progress of course content as well as research framework development. For example, in this post and also this one I reflect on course content; in this and this one I discuss my changing project; all posts are available here.

My research framework developed via assignment outcomes: a topic proposal, annotated bibliography, outline, and finally a short framework paper (available Dec 18, 2019) and poster presentation.

Topic proposal
Poster presentation


Featured photo by Kara Scherer (see other work here).


Castree, Noel, Mike Hulme, and James D. Proctor, eds. 2018. Companion to Environmental Studies. London ; New York: Routledge.


Proctor, James D., Susan G. Clark, Kimberly K. Smith, and Richard L. Wallace. 2013. “A Manifesto for Theory in Environmental Studies and Sciences.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 3 (3): 331–37.