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Landscape Studies

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Examine the relationship of people to natural and built environments by studying landscapes, from parks and palaces to sidewalks and backyards. The Landscape Studies Program at Smith, the first in a liberal arts undergraduate college in the United States, joins architecture, landscape architecture, landscape history and theory, art, art history and literature with the sciences and social sciences to investigate critical issues in the built environment.


Fall 2022 -- Presentation of the Landscape Studies Program


Please join the Landscape Studies faculty on Tuesday, October 25, 2022 at 12:15 pm in Burton 406 

to discuss the unlimited possibilities within the Landscape Studies Proram

Landscape Studies T-Shirts

... are finally here! All sizes, $10 each. Come get one!


Students study the design, history and politics of landscapes in the United States and abroad. We read histories, theory and literary texts that express the great range of ways in which people inhabit, shape and understand the landscape. In classrooms and in studios, we explore physical landscapes and design working plans.

The Landscape Studies Program links faculty, students and courses in architecture, engineering, and environmental science and policy. Together, these people and programs produce a study of the design, ecology, politics and human relationship to the environment that we believe is unique in the United States.

Smith’s resources make this possible. The campus is a botanic garden and an arboretum, a historic landscape designed by the firm of Frederic Law Olmsted, the creator of Central Park. Smith's museum, libraries, Rare Book Room and the campus itself, together with the curriculum, form a unique, rich archive and laboratory for the study of human interactions with the spaces and places we inhabit.

The Five Colleges—Amherst, Hampshire and Mount Holyoke colleges, and the University of Massachusetts—are collectively a hotbed of academic, artistic and activist involvement with the environment. University professors of landscape architecture and regional planning welcome our students in their courses. Under an agreement between Smith and the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning at the University of Massachusetts, Smith students can choose courses here and at the university that will permit them to receive the professional degrees of master in architecture and master of landscape architecture in two years instead of three.

In addition, our landscape of the Connecticut River Valley is one of the most fertile agricultural landscapes in the country and is a center for innovation in design, recovery and use of the environment.

Advisers: Reid Bertone-Johnson; Steven Moga

The Minor

The minor consists of six courses (24 credits or more), to be chosen in consultation with a landscape studies adviser.

Requirements for all minors include:

1. A one-semester introductory course: LSS 105 or an equivalent approved by the program, such as FYS 141, FYS 151, LSS 100 with LSS 200, or LSS 100 taken twice

2. LSS 245, LSS 255, or an equivalent methods course approved by the program.

3. One course in arboriculture, botany, ecology, geomorphology, horticulture, or hydrology, or an equivalent approved by the program.

4. LSS 300, LSS 315, LSS 389, or an equivalent 300-level seminar or advanced studio course approved by the program.

 Students select at least two other courses from the of cross- listed and related courses, in consultation with the LSS minor adviser. We encourage students to identify one of the following focus areas, in consultation with the minor adviser:

• Arts, Literature, and the Built Environment

• Cultural Landscapes and Heritage Conservation

• Environmental Planning and Sustainability

• Landscape Architecture and Ecological Design

• Urban Studies and Planning


LSS 100 Landscape, Environment and Design

Through readings and a series of lectures by Smith faculty and guests, we examine the history and influences out of which landscape studies is emerging. We look at the relationship of this new field with literary and cultural studies, art, art history, landscape architecture, history, biological and environmental sciences. What is landscape studies? Where does it come from? Why is it important? How does it relate to, for instance, landscape painting and city planning? How does it link political and aesthetic agendas? What is its role in current sustainability debates and initiatives among architects, landscape architects, planners and engineers? Students may take this course twice for credit. S/U only. {A} {H} {S} Credits: 2 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

 LSS 200 Landscape, Environment, and Design

 LSS 200 is a credit linked colloquium to complement the LSS 100 series. Students will engage with the LSS 100 lectures more deeply via weekly class discussions, writing of synthesis papers, and presentations. LSS 200 is intended to provide interested students with an opportunity to grapple critically with topics raised in LSS 100 lectures and thoughtfully make connections between disparate lectures and their broader academic experiences. {A} {S} Credits: 2 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

LSS 105 Introduction to Landscape Studies

This introductory course explores the evolving and interdisciplinary field of landscape studies. Drawing upon a diverse array of disciplinary influences in the social sciences, humanities and design fields, landscape studies is concerned with the complex and multifaceted relationship between human beings and the physical environment. Students in this course learn to critically analyze a wide variety of landscape types from the scale of a small garden to an entire region, as well as to practice different methods of landscape investigation. It is a course designed to change the way one sees the world, providing a fresh look at everyday and extraordinary places alike. Priority given to first-year students, sophomores and LSS minors. Enrollment limited to 30. {A} {H} {S} Credits: 4 Steven Thomas Moga Normally offered each fall

LSS 110 Interpreting New England Landscape

 Spend one week of your J-term at the Smith College Ada & Archibald MacLeish Field Station in Whately, Mass. This course will encourage students to experience the natural cultural history of the New England landscape and to develop educational activities that explore ways of sharing the significance of MacLeish (and the broader New England landscape) with a variety of audience types. The week concludes with a visit by local 6th graders eager to learn from you! This course is ideal for anyone interested in learning more about the ecology of New England and its history and those with interests in environmental and experiential education. Enrollment limit of 10. (E) Credits: 1 Members of the department Normally offered each interterm

 LSS 230 Urban Landscapes

Students in this course investigate the production of the built environment and the landscape of cities, focusing on key actors such as neighborhood activists, real estate developers, city officials, and environmentals, among other advocates and interested parties. Organized thematically and supplemented by readings in urban theory and related fields, the course tackles questions of how urban places are made, why different cities look and feel the way they do, and who shapes the city. Prerequisites: LSS 100 or LSS 105 or by permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 20. {A} {H} {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

LSS 240 Cultural Landscapes and Historic Preservation

Debates over the meaning, interpretation and management of unique, artistic, historic and/or culturally significant places take center stage in this course. Students consider how and why some landscapes and buildings get preserved and protected while others are redesigned, ignored, neglected or demolished. Major themes in the course include continuity and change in the built environment, notions of cultural heritage and the concept of authenticity. Readings include theoretical and historical perspectives on the topic supplemented by case studies and field investigations. Prerequisites: LSS 100 or LSS 105 or by permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 20. {A} {H} {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

LSS 245 Place Frames: Photography As Method In Landscape Studies

 Photography and landscape are intertwined. Scholars, design professionals, artists, and journalists use photographs as evidence, as a means of representing sites, as a design tool, as source material for project renderings, and as documentation. This course focuses on how photography is a part of field observations and research techniques, how photographs are used in landscape studies, and how text and image are combined in different photographic and scholarly genres. Students will take photographs and examine the photographs of landscape architects, urbanists, artists, and journalists. Field exercises are combined with workshops, discussions, and research at the Smith College Museum of Art. Enrollment limit of 15. {A} {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

 LSS 250 Studio: Landscape and Narrative

Landscapes guide their use and reveal their past. This landscape design studio asks students to consider the landscape as a location of evolving cultural and ecological patterns, processes and histories. Students work through a series of site-specific projects that engage with the narrative potential of landscape and critically consider the environment as socially and culturally constructed. A variety of media are used in the design process including drawing, model-making, collage and photography. Priority given to LSS minors and ARCH majors. Enrollment limited to 14. {A} {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

LSS 255 Art and Ecology

Environmental designers are in the unique and challenging position of bridging the science of ecology and the art of place-making. This landscape design studio emphasizes the dual necessity for solutions to ecological problems that are artfully designed and artistic expressions that reveal ecological processes. Beginning with readings, precedent studies and in-depth site analysis, students design a series of projects that explore the potential for melding art and ecology. Enrollment limited to 14. {A} {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years


LSS 260 Visual Storytelling: Graphics, Data and Design

Communicating with images is different than communicating with words. By learning how the eye and brain work together to derive meaning from images, students take perceptual principles and translate them into design principles for effective visual communication. Course lectures, readings, and exercises cover graphic design, visual information, information graphics and portfolio design. Students are introduced to graphic design software, online mapping software and develop skills necessary to complete a portfolio of creative work or a visual book showcasing a body or research. By permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 12. (E) {A} Credits: 4 Reid W. Bertone-Johnson Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

 LSS 300 Rethinking Landscape

This capstone course in the study of the built environment brings history and theory alive for those students with interests in diverse fields such as art, architecture, American studies, engineering and the natural sciences. Designed as an advanced-level seminar, it explores key concepts and theoretical debates that have shaped the interdisciplinary field of landscape studies. In particular, students investigate how the field has changed over time and critically consider where it is likely to go in the future. Classic texts from thinkers such as J.B. Jackson, Yi-Fu Tuan, John Stilgoe, Anne Spirn and Dolores Hayden are paired with contemporary critiques and new approaches to the study of space and place. Independent research work and participation in class discussion are strongly emphasized. Prerequisite: one 200-level course in LSS or permission of the instructor. Priority given to LSS minors, and seniors and juniors. Enrollment limited to 12. {H} {S} Credits: 4 Steven Thomas Moga Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

 LSS 315 Urban Ecological Design

This advanced-level seminar course examines how designers and planners have theorized the interaction of natural processes and human-constructed systems in cities. Major themes include: how planners, architects, landscape architects, and engineers put ecological knowledge and scientific expertise into action to address complex problems; how an ecologically-based reading of the urban landscape differs from typical approaches to city design; relationships between land form, land use, and built environment; and, critiques, challenges, and adaptations of ideas of urban nature and “design with nature” over time. Topics may include waterfront planning and sea-level rise; urban infrastructures; access to parks and open spaces; combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and urban water quality; and heat, health, and urban forestry. {H} {S} Credits: 4 Steven Thomas Moga Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

 LSS 389 Broad-Scale Design and Planning Studio Same as ARS 389

This class is for students who have taken introductory landscape studios and are interested in exploring more sophisticated projects. It is also for architecture and urbanism majors who have a strong interest in landscape architecture or urban design. In a design studio format, the students analyze and propose interventions for the built environment on a broad scale, considering multiple factors (including ecological, economic, political, sociological and historical) in their engagement of the site. The majority of the semester is spent working on one complex project. Students use digital tools as well as traditional design media and physical model building within a liberal arts-based conceptual studio that encourages extensive research and in-depth theoretic inquiry. Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Previous studio experience and two architecture and /or landscape studies courses suggested. Priority given to LSS minors and ARU majors. Enrollment limited to 14. {A} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

LSS 400 Special Studies

Admission by permission of the instructor and director, normally for senior minors. Advanced study and research in landscape studies-related fields. May be taken in conjunction with LSS 300 or as an extension of design work begun during or after a landscape studies or architecture studio. Credits: 1–4 Members of the department Normally offered both fall and spring semesters



The Speakers Program is a two-credit course in Landscape studies (LSS 100). It is offered as S/NC only and may be taken twice for credit. Three short papers and weekly readings related to the speakers’ topics are required. For more information, email Reid Bertone-Johnson, or Steve Moga.

LSS 100/Speakers Program meets in the Hillyer Art Complex-Graham Hall, from 3:05–4:45 p.m. The Smith College community is welcome to attend. 
Additional information will be posted as it becomes available.

Spring 2023 Schedule

January 30, 2023

Reid Bertone-Johnson, Lecturer in Landscape Studies, Smith College

Paradise Pond: What can sediment (and how we handle it) tell you about a region's history and an institution's values?

February 6, 2023

Yancey Orr, Smith College, Environmental Science & Policy

Towards a Grammar for Experiencing Nature; The Emergence of Cognitive and Perceptual Knowledge of the Environment in Bali, Indonesia

February 13, 2023

Laura Bliss2022-2023 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT

The Quarantine Atlas: Mapping Global Life Under Covid-19

February 20, 2023     VIRTUAL EVENT

Karly and Zoë Toledo, Citizens of the Navajo Nation

Native Land and Sense of Place

February 27, 2023      VIRTUAL EVENT

Lindsay Campbell, U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station-NYC Urban Field Station

Strengthening relationships of care in urban ecosystems

March 6, 2023

Samantha Solano, UMass-Amherst, Department of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning

Landscapes Unrepresented: Visual Narratives and Critical Cartographies

March 20, 2023

David BruleAuthor, Activist, & Volunteer for the Nolumbeka Project

Wissatinnewag: Healing of an Indigenous Landscape

March 27, 2023

Alexandra LangeArchitecture & Design Critic

Getting Creative at the Mall

April 3, 2023

Signe Nielsen, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Archiitecture

The Smith College Landscape Master Plan: Perspective from the Smithie who Created It

April 10, 2023

The Mitia S. Sawhill Lecture Fund presents:

Kotchakorn Voraakhom, Porous City Network


April 17, 2023

Jonathan Lerner, Author and Journalist

What You See Is What You Write

April 24, 2023

Liz Klarich, Smith College, Archaeology

Landscape Archaeology and Clay Histories in Pucará, Peru

May 1, 2023

Elizabeth Esposito '13, APA

Housing Affordability: A Planner's Perspective


Cross-Listed Courses

The following courses are cross-listed with the Landscape Studies Program minor and count as electives. All courses are not offered every year. Check the Smith College course catalogue for current offerings.



Approved Methods Courses

The following courses meet requirement #2.


AMS 202 Methods in American Studies

What do Americans want? What do they fear? What is an “American”? How do we draw the line between those who belong and those who do not? How do we define citizenship, its rights and responsibilities? How do race, gender, class and other differences affect the drawing of these boundaries, and the contents of consciousness? This course introduces some of the exciting and innovative approaches to cultural analysis that have emerged over the last three decades. Students apply these methods to a variety of texts and practices (stories, movies, television shows, music, advertisements, clothes, buildings, laws, markets, bodies) in an effort to acquire the tools to become skillful readers of American culture, and to become more critical and aware as scholars and citizens. {A} {H} Credits: 4 Evangeline M. Heiliger, Kevin L. Rozario Normally offered each fall

ANT 200 Research Methods in Anthropology

This course introduces students to the variety of methods of inquiry used for research in anthropology. Throughout the semester, students are introduced to methods of locating and analyzing information and sources, developing research questions and writing. Normally taken in the spring of the sophomore or junior year. Prerequisite: 130 and permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 20 anthropology majors. {S} Credits: 4 Suzanne K. Gottschang Normally offered each spring

ANT 221 Thinking from Things: Method, Theory, and Practice in Archaeology

This course focuses on how archaeologists study “things” (objects, activity areas, buildings, and cultural landscapes) to gain insights into past human behavior. We explore the theoretical foundations of archaeological research, methods used to analyze and interpret material culture, and the ethical and legal considerations of practicing archaeology in the United States and abroad. Case studies illustrate the diversity of archaeological thought, interdisciplinary approaches to studying material culture, and innovative directions in the field of anthropological archaeology. Discussions of practice address the roles and responsibilities of archaeologists in heritage management, museum development, and community engagement. Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered in alternate years

ANT 249 Visual Anthropology

This course considers the unique perspectives, techniques and theories that anthropology offers for understanding the visual world. We focus on the production of visual materials (photographs and films, in particular) by anthropologists, as well as on the anthropological analysis of visual artifacts produced by other people. We consider the historical (particularly colonial) legacies of visual anthropology as well as its current manifestations and contemporary debates. Particular attention is paid to issues of representation, authority, authenticity, and circulation of visual materials. Enrollment limited to 30. {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years


 ARH 291 Topics in Art History: Streets

Both urban armature and instruments of empire, streets design and shape human existence in a multiplicity of ways.  This course will explore the street as a space for social ritual and cultural expression, the varying ideologies which have informed their planning, and their mutability over time.  Utilizing cases studies from ancient Rome to modern strip malls, from nineteenth century Paris to late twentieth century Istanbul, from contemporary Los Angeles to Osaka, the course will also consider architectural theory as it relates to urban culture.  Students will have the opportunity to do original research on streets of their choice in different chronological and cultural contexts.    

ARS 163 Drawing I

An introduction to visual experience through a study of the basic elements of drawing. Basic class materials are supplied to students of this course. Students may require additional supplies, and the individual student will be responsible for the purchase of additional supplies. Enrollment limited to 18. {A} Credits: 4 Alexis A. Callender, Katherine E. Schneider Normally offered both fall and spring semesters

ARS 264 Drawing II

An introduction to more advanced theories and techniques of drawing, including the role of drawing in contemporary art. The emphasis of the class is on both 272 Landscape Studies studio work and class discussion. A major topic is the development of independent projects and practice. Basic class materials are supplied to students of this course. Students may require additional supplies, and the individual student will be responsible for the purchase of additional supplies. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: ARS 163, 172, or permission of the instructor. {A} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered in alternate years

ARS 283 Introduction to Architecture: Site and Space

The primary goal of this studio is to engage in discourse about the inhabitation of the built environment, which is explored through the architectural design process. Students create projects to represent their ideas and observations in response to challenging questions about the art and craft of space-making. This course asks students to take risks, intellectually and creatively, to foster a keener sensitivity to the built environment as something that can be analyzed and manipulated. Prerequisite: one college-level art history, architectural history, landscape studies or architectural design studio course. Note: LSS 250 can substitute for ARS 283 in the Plan C studio art major. A required fee of $75 to cover group-supplied materials and/or printing is charged at the time of registration. Students are responsible for directly purchasing any additional supplies that may be required. Enrollment limited to 15. {A} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each fall

ARS 285 Introduction to Architecture

The primary goal of this studio is to gain insight into the design and representation of architectural space. Students gain skills in graphic communication, model making, and working in multiple media including digital modeling. We look at the architecture of the past and present for guidance and imagine the future through conceptual models and drawings. This course asks students to take risks, intellectually and creatively, to foster a keener sensitivity to the built environment as something that can be analyzed and manipulated. Prerequisite: one college-level art history, architectural history, landscape studies, or architectural design studio course. Note: LSS 255 can substitute for ARS 285 in the Plan C studio art major. A required fee of $75 to cover group-supplied materials and/or printing is charged at the time of registration. Students are responsible for directly purchasing any additional supplies that may be required. Enrollment limit of 15. {A} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

DAN 339 Movement Ecology

This course offers an opportunity to explore how place and landscape offer inspiration and opportunities for dance, performance and embodied experience. Place can include natural landscapes, buildings, parks, pathways, stairways, living rooms, and the place of our bodies. The goal of this course is to create bridges between the ecological and the poetic realms of human experience. Students will explore how creativity is in relationship to things, beings, environments, and the historical and cultural contexts. This course includes a series of public performances and is open to students interested in engaging in creative collaborative process. Enrollment limited to 18. (E){A} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years.

ENG 238 What Jane Austen Read: The 18th-Century Novel

A study of novels written in England from Aphra Behn to Jane Austen and Walter Scott (1688–1814). Emphasis on the novelists’ narrative models and choices; we conclude by reading several novels by Austen—including one she wrote when 13 years old.

ENV 101 Sustainability and Social-Ecological Systems

We have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, characterized by the accelerating impact of human activities on the Earth’s ecosystems. All over the globe, humans have transformed the environment and have sometimes created catastrophic dynamics within social-ecological systems. Scientists have studied these phenomena for decades, alerting both the general public and policy-makers of the consequences of our actions. However, despite convincing evidence of environmental degradation, humans continue to radically transform their environment. This course explores this puzzle and asks how we can remodel our social-ecological systems to build a more sustainable and resilient future.

ENV 150 Mapping Our World: An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems Same as GEO 150

A geographic information system (GIS) enables data and maps to be overlain, queried and visualized in order to solve problems in many diverse fields. This course provides an introduction to the fundamental elements of GIS and applies the analysis of spatial data to issues in geoscience, environmental science and public policy. Students gain expertise in ArcGIS — the industry standard GIS software — and online mapping platforms, and carry out semester-long projects in partnership with local conservation organizations and/or campus offices. Enrollment limited to 20. {N} Credits: 4 Reid W. Bertone-Johnson Normally offered each fall

FRN 230 Colloquium in French Studies Topics course

A gateway to more advanced courses. These colloquia develop skills in expository writing and critical thinking in French. Materials include novels, films, essays and cultural documents. Students may receive credit for only one section of 230. Enrollment limited to 18. Basis for the major. Prerequisite: 220, or permission of the instructor.

“Banlieue Lit”

 In this course, students study fiction, memoir, slam poetry, music videos and hip-hop authored by residents of France’s multi-ethnic suburbs and housing projects, also known as the banlieues and cités. We examine the question of Landscape Studies 273 whether banlieue authors can escape various pressures: to become native informants; to write rea ic rather than fantastical novels; to leave the “ghetto”; to denounce the sometimes difficult traditions, religions, neighborhoods and family members that have challenged but also molded them. Often seen as spaces of regression and decay, the banlieues nevertheless produce vibrant cultural expressions that beg the question: Is the banlieue a mere suburb of French cultural life, or more like one of its centers? {F} {L} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each academic year

POR 220 Topics in Portuguese and Brazilian Literature and Culture: Contemporary Cityscapes: Mapping Brazilian Culture Onto an Urban Grid

This course will address a broad range of urban, social and cultural issues while also strengthening skills in oral expression, reading, and writing, through the medium of short stories, essays, articles, images, music, and film. In order to promote a hands-on approach to understanding culture, class assignments will also encourage students to explore the Brazilian community in Boston.

SOC 203 Qualitative Methods

 Qualitative research methods offer a means of gaining insight and understanding into complex perspectives held by people about social practices and social phenomena. Whereas good quantitative research captures scale, good qualitative research reaches the depth of perceptions, views, experiences, behaviors and beliefs. Qualitative research deals with meanings; it seeks to understand not just what people do, but why they choose to do what they do. This course provides students with a theoretical as well as practical grounding in qualitative research including research ethics, research design, practicalities in research, research techniques, data analysis and theorizing and dissemination of research findings. Prerequisite: SOC 101. Enrollment limit of 35. {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each spring


Approved Courses in Landscape Sciences

The following courses meet requirement #3


BIO 122 Horticulture: Botany for Gardeners

Survey course in the fundamentals of horticulture and basic botany. Plant structure and function, nomenclature, nutrition, seed biology, propagation, pests and diseases, soils, compost and an introduction to biotechnology. Topics include growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Course requirements include exams, in-class discussions, and a book review. Laboratory (BIO 123) must be taken concurrently. Enrollment limited to 30. {N} Credits: 3 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

BIO 123 Horticulture: Botany for Gardeners

Laboratory Practical lab experiences in plant propagation, morphology, development and physiology, identification and treatment of diseases and insect pests, soils, seeds, and floral design. Use of the Lyman Conservatory, field trips, and winter/spring observation of outdoor plants are important components of the course. Course requirements include lab quizzes and an extended field observation phenology project. BIO 122 must be taken concurrently. Enrollment limited to 15 per section. {N} Credits: 1 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

BIO 125 Plants in the Landscape Practicum

Experiential, field-based course that seeks to ground students in the planted landscape and nurture a sense of place. Identification, morphology and uses of landscape plants including annuals, perennials, woody shrubs and trees, evergreens and groundcovers. Horticultural practices such as pruning, division, hybridizing, bulb planting, close observation, and design basics. Discussions will consider equity and access, local food systems, ecosystem services, urban greening, and climate/sustainability. Field trips (remote only in 2020) are an important component of the course. Projects include a field journal, short skillshare presentations, and a landscape design activity. Students who have already taken BIO 120/121 are not eligible to take BIO 125. Enrollment limited to 15 per section. {N} Credits: 2 Gaby Immerman Fall

BIO 130 Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation

Students in this course investigate the origin, nature and importance of the diversity of life on Earth; key ecological processes and interactions that create and maintain communities and ecosystems; principle threats to biodiversity; 274 Landscape Studies and emerging conservation strategies to protect the elements and processes upon which we depend. Throughout the semester, we emphasize the relevance of diversity and ecological studies in conservation. Laboratory (BIO 131) is recommended but not required. {N} Credits: 4 L. David Smith Normally offered both fall and spring semesters

 BIO 131 Research in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation

Pull on your boots and come explore local habitats that may include the Mill River, MacLeish Field Station, Smith campus Botanic Gardens, and local hemlock forests. Students will gain experience with a diversity of organisms by conducting research projects that can enhance their understanding of ecology and conservation. Students will practice the scientific process and document their work in a lab notebook. Research skills developed will include hypothesis development, data collection, statistical analysis, and presentation of results. Because research projects will vary seasonally, please see the Department of Biological Sciences website for more information. Enrollment limited to 16. BIO 130 is recommended as a prerequisite or corequisite but is not required. {N} Credits: 2 Marney C. Pratt Normally offered both fall and spring semesters

BIO 266 Ecology: Principles and Applications

This general ecology course provides a conceptual foundation for understanding ecological processesfrom population dynamics to ecosystem function. Fundamental ecological concepts are covered withinthe context of current environmental challenges arising from global change. This framing illuminateshow population dynamics, community composition and trophic interactions affect ecosystem functionand ecosystem services. Prerequisites: Bio 130 or an equivalent course in ecology or environmentalscience. {N} Credits: 4 Mariana Abarca Fall

BIO 267 Ecology: Principles and Applications Laboratory

This general ecology laboratory course provides hands-on experience in the execution of ecological experiments in the field. Students will participate in study design, data curation, analysis, and interpretation. All statistical analyses will be conducted in R. Enrollment limited to 18. Corequisite: BIO 266. {N} Credits: 1 Mariana Abarca Fall

BIO 268 Marine Ecology

The oceans cover over 75 percent of the Earth and are home to enormous biodiversity. Marine Ecology explores a variety of coastal and oceanic systems, focusing on natural and human-induced factors that affect biodiversity and the ecological balance in marine habitats. Using case studies, we study some successful conservation and management strategies, including Marine Protected Areas. This course uses a variety of readings, group activities and short writing assignments to develop vital skills such as effective oral, graphical and written communication; critical thinking; and problem solving. Enrollment limited to 24. Laboratory (BIO 269) must be taken concurrently and includes two field trips. {N} Credits: 3 Paulette M. Peckol Normally offered each fall

BIO 269 Marine Ecology Laboratory

The laboratory applies concepts discussed in lecture and uses several smallgroup projects in the field and laboratory to develop relevant skills for conducting marine-related research. Students learn to design and analyze experiments, and to write in the scientific style. Field trips to Maine and Cape Cod, Mass., provide hands-on experience with marine organisms in their natural habitats. Prerequisite: BIO 268, which must be taken concurrently. {N} Credits: 2 Graham R. Kent, Paulette M. Peckol Normally offered each fall

BIO 368 Seminar: Understanding Climate Change through Plant Biology and the Arts

Understanding human induced climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. This course approaches the topic from two different ways of knowing: plant biology and the arts. These paired approaches ground this course in the scientific underpinnings of climate change and its impact on biological life, creating a space to engage with what climate change means—for us, for the greater human community and for the earth. At the same time, we will explore how complex scientific content and deep existential challenges can be effectively communicated to the broader public. We will learn how plants physiologically interact with and respond to environmental change, read/ discuss primary literature and relevant art works, and create/workshop art, popular science articles and/or data visualizations centered on climate change and its consequences. Prerequisites: BIO 130 & 132. Enrollment limited to 15. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {N} Credits: 3 Jessica Gersony Annually, Fall

EGR 100 Engineering for Everyone

EGR 100 serves as an accessible course for all students, regardless of background or intent to major in engineering. Students develop a sound understanding of the engineering design process, including problem definition, background research, identification of design criteria, development of metrics and methods for evaluating alternative designs, prototype development, and proof of concept testing. Working in teams, students present their ideas through oral and written reports. Reading assignments and in-class discussions challenge students to critically analyze contemporary issues related to the interaction of technology and society. Organized around different themes, multiple sections. Engineering majors are required to take this course. Those students considering majoring in engineering are strongly encouraged to take EGR 100 during their first year. Enrollment limited to 20. Credits: 4

 Sustainable Water Resources

We investigate and design water resources infrastructure – for hydropower, water supply, wastewater treatment, stormwater management, and irrigation. Those technologies are introduced through historical and contemporary examples, along with a theme of the importance of place in engineering design. In contrast to design as invention, this course puts the emphasis on the adaptation of common designs to particular places, as influenced by climate, physical geography, culture, history, economics, politics, and legal frameworks. Examples include the historic Mill River, Northampton’s water resources, Boston’s Deer Island wastewater treatment facility, San Francisco’s water supply system, California’s State Water Project and the Bay-Delta system, the Colorado River, and water recycling and reclamation. {N} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

How We Engineer the Environment

 We will search, query, examine, discuss, debate (agree and disagree) - and through the process, learn about the pressing issues related engineering and our environment. We will grapple with the urgent, pressing and complex challenges and potential engineering solutions for the sustainable stewardship of our environment. {N} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

 Energy and the Environment

Through readings, discussion, labs, and lectures students learn about human activity related to energy usage and the consequences to Earth’s environment. This knowledge is applied to motivate, design and build scale models of netzero energy buildings. Through simple lab exercises, students learn to program microcontrollers that measure temperatures and control features within their model buildings, and corresponding analyses enable students to demonstrate how energy from the sun can be utilized in design to reduce carbon-based energy sources. {N} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

EGR 315 Seminar: Ecohydrology

This seminar focuses on the measurement and modeling of hydrologic processes and their interplay with ecosystems. Material includes the statistical and mathematical representation of infiltration, evapotranspiration, plant uptake and runoff over a range of scales (plot to watershed). The course addresses characterization of the temporal and spatial variability of environmental parameters and representation of the processes. The course introduces students to the Pioneer Valley, the cloud forests of Costa Rica, and African savannas. Prerequisites: MTH 112 and MTH/SDS 220. Enrollment limited to 12. Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each academic year

GEO 251 Geomorphology

The study of landforms and their significance in terms of the processes that form them. Selected reference is made to examples in the New England region and the classic landforms of the world. During the first part of the semester laboratories involve learning to use geographic information system (GIS) software to analyze landforms. During the second part of the semester laboratories include field trips to examine landforms in the local area. Prerequisite: 101, or 102, or 108 or FYS 103. {N} Credits: 5 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

HST 150 The Historian’s Craft

This course serves as an introduction to the study of History and to what historians do. It is a requirement for the History major. At the root of this course is the question of what is history and what it means to study history. Key questions driving the course are: Is history simply the study of the past? What is the past’s connection to the present? Is it even necessary to make such connections to the present and what is lost and gained in making such connections? {H} Credits: 4 Members of the department Fall, Spring


 Approved Seminar or Advanced Studio Courses

The following courses meet requirement #4.


AMS 302 Seminar: The Material Culture of New England, 1630– 1860

This seminar examines the material culture of everyday life in New England from the earliest colonial settlements to the Victorian era. It introduces students to the growing body of material culture studies and the ways in which historic landscapes, architecture, furniture, textiles, metalwork, ceramics, foodways and domestic environments are interpreted as cultural documents and as historical evidence. Offered on-site at Historic Deerfield (with transportation available from the Smith campus), the course offers students a unique opportunity to study the museum’s world-famous collections in a hands-on, interactive setting with curators and historians. Utilizing the disciplines of history, art and architectural history, anthropology, and archaeology, we explore the relationships between objects and ideas and the ways in which items of material culture both individually and collectively convey patterns of everyday life. Admission by permission of the instructor. {A} {H} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each spring


ANT 317 Seminar: The Anthropology of Landscape – Space, Place, Nature

Landscapes have long figured as a backdrop for anthropological studies, but recently the landscape has emerged as an object of deeper interest. From abandoned city blocks in Detroit, the shores of Walden Pond, the savannas of Eastern Africa, or the Chernobyl exclusion zone, landscapes are potent social and material phenomena. In this course, we explore theories of landscape from different disciplinary perspectives, and then use them to think through the ways that landscapes present themselves to anthropologists and their subjects. Topics include post-industry, colonial gardens, the US “West,” invasive species, environmental racism, time, capitalism, cartography and counter-mapping, and environmental conservation. Enrollment limit 12. {N} {S} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered in alternate years


The following cross-listed courses may also be considered as electives for the LSS minor

ANT 135/ ARC 135 Introduction to Archaeology Offered as ANT 135 and ARC 135.

This course studies past cultures and societies through their material remains and explores how archaeologists use different field methods, analytical technique and theoretical approaches to investigate, reconstruct and learn from the past. Data from settlement surveys, site excavations and artifact analysis are used to address economic, social, political and ideological questions across time and space. This course is taught from an anthropological perspective, exploring key transitions in human prehistory, including the origins of food production, social inequality and state-level societies across the globe. Relevance of archaeological practice in modern political, economic and social contexts is explored. Limited to firstyear students and sophomores. Enrollment limited to 30. {N} {S} Credits: 4 Annually, Fall, Spring

ANT 224/ ENV 224 Anthropos in the Anthropocene: HumanEnvironment Relations in a Time of Ecological Crisis Offered as ANT 224 and ENV 224.

Anthropology seeks to understand human life in all its complexity, but what constitutes the human is far from straightforward. This course examines the changing ways that Anthropos is being understood in an era of rapid global climate change and our planet’s sixth mass extinction event, both driven by human activities. We review perspectives on the relationship between humans and their environment from various cultural perspectives, considering how they engage notions of race, class, and gender, and what they imply for nature conservation. Topics include modernity, pets, cyborgs, kinship, symbiosis, extinction, species invasions, settler colonialism, and the Anthropocene concept. Enrollment limited to 30. {S} Credits: 4 Fall, Spring, Variable

ANT 300 Ethnographic Design

This course harnesses students’ current and previous coursework to address a real life ethnographic design problem. Working in conjunction with students enrolled in ANT 200, students will help to design and carry out a qualitative research project led by an anthropology faculty member and will gain insight into anthropology’s practical applications. Students are expected to take leadership roles, think creatively and concretely, work well collaboratively, and see projects through to completion. Regular meetings, progress reports, interim and final reports, and presentations are required. Permission of instructor required. Enrollment limited to 10. (E) Credits: 4 Spring

ARH 150 What is Architecture?

What kinds of places do people call home, and where do they choose to bury their dead? How have communities marked their territories, or cities reshaped landscapes? What does it mean to enshrine the sacred, to nurture civic gardens, or to create a consumer paradise—in 8th-century Spain or 11th-century New Mexico, 19th-century Beijing or contemporary Dubai? Working across cultures, and from antiquity to the present, this class highlights both global and distinct, local perspectives on the history of architecture and the built environment. Enrollment limited to 40. {A} {H} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each fall

ARS 264 Drawing II

An introduction to more advanced theories and techniques of drawing, including the role of drawing in contemporary art. The emphasis of the class is on both studio work and class discussion. A major topic is the development of independent projects and practice. Students may require additional supplies and are responsible for purchasing them directly. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: ARS 163, 172, or permission of the instructor. {A} Credits: 4 Katherine Schneider Alternate Years, Fall, Spring

ARS 380 Architectural Design Studio: Transient Spaces - Terrestrial Bodies

This research-based architectural design studio utilizes digital processes to analyze and reinterpret canonical architectural precedents, linking the digital to fluid conceptual ideas which are both historic and contemporary. In particular, the studio probes the spatial qualities of the moving body—as a site of both deep interiority and hyper-connectivity. In a return to the territory of the ground (see ARS 280), and within the larger context of ecologically and geopolitically induced migration and displacement, this studio investigates themes related to mobility and transience and the ways in which the body traverses territories of ground. Core studio materials are provided. Students are responsible for the purchase of additional supplies required for individual projects. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisites: ARS 280 and ARS 281 or permission of the instructor. {A} Credits: 4 Elisa Kim Annually, Fall, Spring

CCX 120 Community-Based Learning: Ethics and Practice

Service learning, civic engagement, community-based participatory research and community service are familiar terms for describing forms of community-based learning (CBL) in higher education. Theorists and practitioners continue to debate how students and faculty can best join partners to support community driven goals in areas nearby colleges and universities. Students consider these issues through exploring the literature of community engagement and learning from the experiences of those who practice its different forms. CCX 120 serves as a gateway course for the Community Engagement and Social Change Concentration. Students are introduced to the varied opportunities available at the college for engaging with communities. S/U only. Credits: 2 Denys Candy Normally offered each spring

CCX 245/ SWG 245 Colloquium: Collective Organizing Offered as SWG 245 and CCX 245.

This course is designed to introduce students to key concepts, debates and provocations that animate the world of community, labor, and electoral organizing for social change. To better understand these movements’ visions, we will develop an analysis of global and national inequalities, exploitation and oppression. The course explores a range of organizing skills to build an awareness of power dynamics and learn activists’ tools to bring people together towards common goals. A central aspect of this course is practicing community-based learning and research methods in dialogue with community-based activist partners. Enrollment limited to 18. {H} {S} Credits: 4 Fall, Spring, Variable

ENV 207 Introduction to Environmental History

This course offers an introduction to the methods and key debates in environmental history, the history of the relationship between humanity and the “rest of nature,” including climate, water, soils, landscapes, plants, animals, microbes, and others. “What is environmental history?” is in fact easier to answer than “What isn’t environmental history?” Since the 1970s, environmental historians have used an environmental lens to examine topics like politics, economy, religion, gender, race, migration, art, music, literature, and culture. In addition to typical archives of texts and other historical remnants created by people, environmental historians also avail themselves to “natural” archives, including the ice core, tree-ring, and lake sediment samples collected by climate scientists. Topics in this course will include historical conceptions of nature and the natural world, human settlement, human/animal relations, disaster, agrarian development, the adoption of carbon energy, social movements centered on the environment and environmentalism, and discussions of the Anthropocene. (E) {H} Credits: 4 Matthew Ghazarian Fall, Spring, Variable 

ENX 100 Environment and Sustainability: Notes from the Field

This 1-credit lecture series introduces students to theory and practice in fields related to the environment, sustainability and climate change. Students gain insight into how their liberal arts education and skills in critical thinking and analysis apply to a variety of environmental issues and sustainability contexts. Speakers, including distinguished alumnae, are drawn from the five colleges, the Pioneer Valley and beyond. S/U only. This course can be repeated for credit. Credits: 1 Memb

ESS 100 Playing the Game: Introduction to Exercise and Sport Studies

A beginning survey course of the disciplines that address physical activity and sport. The course takes into account the general effects of physical activity and how one studies and analyzes these experiences. Course content includes an examination of behavioral, sociocultural, and biophysical experiences and professional possibilities. Credits: 4 Fall

FRN 230bl Colloquium: Topics in French Studies- Banlieue Lit

In this course, students study fiction, memoir, slam poetry and hip-hop authored by residents of France’s multi-ethnic suburbs and housing projects, also known as the “banlieues” and “cités”. We examine the question of whether “banlieue” authors can escape various pressures: to become native informants; to write realistic rather than fantastical novels; to leave the “ghetto”; to denounce the sometimes difficult traditions, religions, neighborhoods and family members that have challenged but also molded them. Often seen as spaces of regression and decay, the “banlieues” nevertheless produce vibrant cultural expressions that beg the question: Is the “banlieue” a mere suburb of French cultural life, or more like one of its centers? Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Enrollment limited to 18. Basis for the major. Prerequisite: FRN 220 or permission of the instructor. WI {F} {L} Credits: 4 Members of the department Fall, Spring, Variable

FYS 103 Geology in the Field

Clues to over 500 million years of earth history can be found in rocks and sediments near Smith College. Students in this course attempt to decipher this history by careful examination of field evidence. Class meetings take place principally outdoors at interesting geological localities around the Connecticut Valley. Participants prepare regular reports based on their observations and reading, building to a final paper on the geologic history of the area. The course normally includes a weekend field trip to Cape Cod. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. WI {N} Credits: 4 Members of the department Expected to be offered in the next 3 years

FYS 141 Reading, Writing, and Placemaking: Landscape Studies

Landscape Studies is the interdisciplinary consideration of how we view, define, and use the land, whether it be our backyard, a moonscape or a national park. How does land become a landscape? How does space become a place? Scientists study and manipulate landscapes, and so do politicians, builders, hunters, children, artists, and writers, among others. In this course, we examine how writers, in particular, participate in placemaking, and how the landscape influences and inhabits literary texts. The course includes some landscape history and theory, visits by people who study landscape from nonliterary angles, and the discovery of how landscape works in texts in transforming and surprising ways. Enrollment limited to 16 first year students.

FYS 151 Our Mill River

The Mill River flows through campus and connects the landscapes upstream and downstream of Smith. From its headwaters in Goshen, Mass., to its mouth where it joins the Connecticut River on the Northampton/Easthampton line, the Mill River defines a region of communities that are all here as a result of its waters. Students will gain important insight into Smith’s context by exploring and reflecting on the natural and cultural landscape of the Mill River. Weekly field experiences are complemented by readings, map work, historical collections, a sampling of local delicacies, guest experts, and class discussions. This course is writing intensive and based in field experiences. Enrollment limited to 16 first-year students. WI Credits: 4

GEO 101 Introduction to Earth Processes and History

An exploration of the concepts that provide a unifying explanation for the causes of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the formation of mountains, continents and oceans. A discussion of the origin of life on earth, Landscape Studies 275 the patterns of evolution and extinction in plants and animals, and the rise of humans. Students planning to major in geosciences should also take GEO 102 concurrently. {N} Credits: 4 Sarah E. Mazza Normally offered each fall

GEO 102 Exploring the Local Geologic Landscape

The Connecticut Valley region is rich with geologic features that can be reached by a short van ride from Smith. This is a field-based course that explores geology through weekly trips and associated assignments during which we examine evidence for volcanoes, dinosaurs, glaciers, rifting continents and Himalayan-size mountains in Western Massachusetts. Students who have taken FYS 103 Geology in the Field are not eligible to take GEO 102. This class, when taken in conjunction with any other 100-level course, can serve as a pathway to the Geoscience major. Enrollment limited to 17, with preference to students who are enrolled concurrently in GEO 101 or who have already taken a Geoscience course. {N} Credits: 2 Sarah E. Mazza Normally offered each fall

GEO 104 Global Climate Change: Exploring the Past, the Present and Options for the Future

This course seeks to answer the following questions: What do we know about past climate and how do we know it? What causes climate to change? What have been the results of relatively recent climate change on human populations? What is happening today? What is likely to happen in the future? What choices do we have? {N} Credits: 4 Gregory de Wet Annually, Fall, Spring

GEO 106 Extraordinary Events in the History of Earth, Life and Climate

 A journey through the 4.6 billion-year history of global change, with a focus on extraordinary events that have shaped the evolution of Earth and life through time. These events include the earliest development of life, the buildup of oxygen in the atmosphere, the devastation of the living world by catastrophic mass extinctions, the tectonic rearrangement of continents, the alternation of ice ages and eras of extreme warmth, and the evolution of modern humans. We also examine ways in which humans are changing our climatic and biologic environment and discuss potential consequences for the future of our planet. {N} Credits: 4 Members of the department Normally offered each spring

GEO 361 Tectonics and Earth History

A broadly-based examination of tectonics, the unifying theory of geology. We discuss lithospheric plate movements, the creation and destruction of Earth’s crust, the formation of mountain belts and sedimentary basins, the dynamic coupling of crust and mantle, and how these processes have shaped the Earth through time. Emphases includes critical reading of the primary literature; communication of scientific ideas orally and in writing; and the central role of tectonics in uniting diverse fields of geology to create a cogent picture of how the Earth works. Prerequisite: any two 200-level courses in geosciences, one of which may be taken concurrently. {N} Credits: 4 Members of the department

IDP 109  Aerial Imagery and Cinematography

This two-credit course designed to immerse students in drone avionics, photogrammetry, image processing, surveying/mapping, and aerial photography and videography. The course encourages teamwork, curiosity, critical thinking, perseverance, and creativity, as well as collaboration and etiquette regarding fieldwork and community-based research We seek motivated students who want to learn practical techniques for acquiring and analyzing aerial data, and students who may be skeptical about drone technology and want to improve Smith’s approach to teaching and research with drones. Enrollment limited to 12.

IDP 316 Critical Design Thinking Studio 

This project-based collaborative studio emphasizes a design process that engages those most impacted by a given design scenario in creatively and collaboratively designing possible new scenarios that benefit both people and the planet. We will take a critical look at the impact of design on the world around us and how the field is evolving. We will develop our own perspectives on designs' role in shaping the future by investigating design narratives, contemporary practices, and emerging frameworks. Together we will explore what it means to frame and reframe challenges as opportunities, attune our awareness, practice listening with humility, heighten our observation skills, engage stakeholders, synthesize qualitative research, co-generate ideas, make those ideas tangible through prototyping, test our concepts with people in context, give and receive feedback, and communicate our designs.

Associated Faculty

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero
Associate Professor of Anthropology

Jesse Bellemare
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

Alice Hearst
Professor of Government

Tim Johnson
Director of the Botanic Garden

Barbara Kellum
Professor of Art

Elisa Kim
Assistant Professor of Art

Douglas Lane Patey
Sophia Smith Professor of English Language & Literature


Dean Flower
Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature

Ann Leone
Professor Emerita of French Studies and of Landscape Studies

Opportunities & Resources

What Can I Do With a Landscape Studies Minor?

Landscape studies minors have majors across the curriculum, from art, French and English to American studies, government, sociology, psychology, biology, environmental science and policy, and engineering. Students who want to build careers in landscape studies can pursue internships and graduate studies in a variety of fields. The Lazarus Center for Career Development offers information on internships and careers.

Applicable Fields
  • American Studies
  • Architecture and Landscape Architecture
  • Art History
  • Cultural Studies
  • Economics
  • Environmental Law and Environmental Studies
  • History
  • Public Policy
  • Regional and Urban Planning

The Susan Komroff Cohen ’62 and Paula Deitz ’59 Prize in Landscape Studies


2022 Winners
  • Emily Blackwell '22
  • Lara Brown '22
2021 Winners
  • Rachel Clendenning '22
  • Emma Krasky '21
  • Ruth Penberthy '21
  • Espy Thomson '21
2020 Winners
  • Angie Gregory '20
  • Claire McCoy '12
2019 Winners
  • Ashley Fishbein AC
  • Janan Luisa Fugel ’19
  • Katya Maritza Garcia-Israel ’20
  • Robin N. Karoway-Waterhouse AC
  • Jessica Elizabeth McKnight ’19
2018 Winners
  • Jessica McKnight ’19
  • Zoe Marie Zandbergen ’18
2017 Winners
  • Zoe Dong ’17
  • Hatya Garcia-Israel ’20
  • Camy Hines ’20
  • Zoe Zandbergen ’18


Department of Landscape Studies

Wright Hall 129
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Phone: 413-585-3145

Director of Landscape Studies: Steven Moga
Administrative Assistant: David Osepowicz