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Landscape Studies

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.

Requirements & Courses

Landscape Studies Minor

Six courses (24 credits)

  1. One introductory course: LSS 105FYS 141, FYS 151, LSS 100 and LSS 200, or LSS 100 taken twice
  2. One methods course: LSS 245, LSS 250 or LSS 255, or an equivalent methods course approved by the program
  3. One course in arboriculture, botany, ecology, geomorphology, horticulture or hydrology
  4. One 300-level seminar or advanced studio course: LSS 300, LSS 315 or LSS 389/ ARS 389
  5. Two approved electives/related courses

Students are encouraged 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 (2 Credits)

Through readings and a series of lectures by Smith faculty and guests, this course examines the history and influences out of which landscape studies is emerging. The course looks 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}


LSS 105 Introduction to Landscape Studies (4 Credits)

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}


LSS 110 Interpreting New England Landscape (1 Credit)

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 limited to 10.

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 200 Colloquium: Landscape, Environment, and Design (2 Credits)

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. Can be taken twice for credit. Corequisite: LSS 100. Enrollment limited to 15. {A}{S}


LSS 230 Urban Landscapes (4 Credits)

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 environmentalists, 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 equivalent. Enrollment limited to 20. {A}{H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 240 Cultural Landscapes and Historic Preservation (4 Credits)

Debates over the meaning, interpretation and management of unique, artistic, historic 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 equivalent. Enrollment limited to 20. {A}{H}{S}


LSS 245 Place Frames: Photography As Method In Landscape Studies (4 Credits)

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 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 limited to 15. {A}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 250 Studio: Landscape and Narrative (4 Credits)

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 ARU majors. Enrollment limited to 14. {A}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 255 Art and Ecology (4 Credits)

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}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 260 Visual Storytelling: Graphics, Data and Design (4 Credits)

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. Enrollment limited to 18. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 300 Seminar: Rethinking Landscape (4 Credits)

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. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {A}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 315 Seminar:Urban Ecological Design (4 Credits)

This 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, conceptions of urban nature and “design with nature.” Topics may include sea-level rise; urban infrastructures; access to parks and open spaces; the combined sewer overflow problem; and heat, health, and urban forestry. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {H}{N}{S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 389/ ARS 389 Broad-Scale Design and Planning Studio (4 Credits)

Offered as LSS 389 and 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. Previous studio experience and two architecture or landscape studies courses suggested. Priority given to LSS minors and ARU majors. Enrollment limited to 14. Instructor permission required. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

LSS 400 Special Studies (1-4 Credits)

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.

Fall, Spring

Crosslisted Courses

AMS 201 Introduction to American Studies (4 Credits)

This course provides an introduction to American Studies through the interdisciplinary study of American history, life and culture. Students develop critical tools for analyzing cultural texts (including literature, visual arts, music, fashion, advertising, social media, buildings, objects and bodies) in relation to political, social, economic and environmental contexts. The course examines the influence of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality and transnationality on conceptions of citizenship, and struggles over what it means to be an “American,” and how this has shaped the distribution of power, resources and wellbeing in the United States. {H}{L}


AMS 202 Methods in American Studies (4 Credits)

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. Prerequisite: AMS 201 is recommended but not required. {A}{H}


AMS 302 Seminar: The Material Culture of New England, 1630–1860 (4 Credits)

This course 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, students 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. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {A}{H}


ANT 200 Colloquium: Research Methods in Anthropology (4 Credits)

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. Anthropology majors only. Prerequisite: ANT 130. Enrollment limited to 20. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ANT 221 Thinking From Things: Method, Theory and Practice in Archaeology (4 Credits)

This course focuses on the theoretical foundations of archaeological research, the variety of methods available to analyze material culture, the interpretation of results, and ethical considerations of practicing archaeology in the United States and abroad. The course provides students with a solid foundation for evaluating and contextualizing current methodological and theoretical trends within archaeology. 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 outreach.

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ANT 249 Visual Anthropology (4 Credits)

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}

Fall, Spring, Variable

ANT 317 Seminar: The Anthropology of Landscape – Space, Place, Nature (4 Credits)

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 limited to 12. {N}{S}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ARS 163 Drawing I (4 Credits)

An introduction to visual experience through a study of the basic elements of drawing. Core studio materials are provided. Students are responsible for the purchase of additional supplies required for individual projects. Enrollment limited to 18. Instructor permission required. {A}

Fall, Spring

ARS 264 Drawing II (4 Credits)

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 or ARS 172 or equivalent. Instructor permission required. {A}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ARS 266 Painting I (4 Credits)

Various spatial and pictorial concepts are investigated through the oil medium. Core studio materials are provided. Students are responsible for the purchase of additional supplies required for individual projects. Prerequisite: ARS 163 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 18. Instructor permission required. {A}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ARS 280 Introduction to Architectural Design Studio: Analog Processes - Ground (4 Credits)

In nurturing architecture’s foundational principles of visual, material and conceptual experimentation, this course lays the foundation for subsequent studios, lifelong learning and curiosity for architectural design processes. It probes the material, organizational and spatial qualities of the ground, a shared horizontal territory inhabited by plants, people and buildings--one that is as much cultural as it is natural. Through iterative and analog processes, students integrate drawing and making to construct and reconstruct lines in the ground. Probing the physical and conceptual ground for natural or constructed patterns, students develop foundation-level design skills within the context of larger environmental and cultural discourses. Core studio materials are provided. Students are responsible for the purchase of additional supplies required for individual projects. Not open to students who have taken ARS 283. Enrollment limited to 15. Prerequisite: ARH 110 or equivalent. Instructor permission required. {A}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ARS 389/ LSS 389 Broad-Scale Design and Planning Studio (4 Credits)

Offered as LSS 389 and 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. Previous studio experience and two architecture or landscape studies courses suggested. Priority given to LSS minors and ARU majors. Enrollment limited to 14. Instructor permission required. {A}

Fall, Spring, Variable

BIO 122 Horticulture: Botany for Gardeners (3 Credits)

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. Discussions include growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. Course requirements include a field notebook, in-class discussions, independent engagement with written and multimedia resources, and a book review. Corequisite: BIO 123. Enrollment limited to 45. {N}


BIO 123 Horticulture: Botany for Gardeners Laboratory (1 Credit)

Practical lab experiences in plant propagation, morphology, development and physiology, soils, seeds, floral design, and an herbal apothecary. Use of the Lyman Conservatory, field trips, and winter and spring observation of outdoor plants are important components of the course. Course requirements include a lab journal and an extended field observation phenology project. Corequisite: BIO 122. Enrollment limited to 15. {N}


BIO 125 Plants in the Landscape Practicum (2 Credits)

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 are an important component of the course. Projects include a field journal, short skill-share presentations and a landscape design activity. Not open to students who have taken BIO 120/ BIO 121. Enrollment limited to 15. {N}


BIO 130 Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation (4 Credits)

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, and emerging conservation strategies to protect the elements and processes upon which we depend. Throughout the semester, the course emphasizes the relevance of diversity and ecological studies in conservation. Corequisite: BIO 131 is recommended but not required. {N}

Fall, Spring

BIO 131 Research in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation (2 Credits)

Students pull on their boots and explore local habitats that may include the Mill River, MacLeish Field Station, Smith campus Botanic Gardens and local hemlock forests. Students gain experience with a diversity of organisms by conducting research projects that can enhance their understanding of ecology and conservation. Students practice the scientific process and document their work in a lab notebook. Research skills developed include hypothesis development, data collection, statistical analysis and presentation of results. Because research projects vary seasonally, please see the Department of Biological Sciences website for more information. Enrollment limited to 16. Corequisite: BIO 130 recommended. (E) {N}

Fall, Spring

BIO 266 Ecology: Principles and Applications (4 Credits)

This general ecology course provides a conceptual foundation for understanding ecological processes from population dynamics to ecosystem function. Fundamental ecological concepts are covered within the context of current environmental challenges arising from global change. This framing illuminates how population dynamics, community composition and trophic interactions affect ecosystem function and ecosystem services. Corequisite: BIO 267. Prerequisite: Bio 130 or an equivalent course in ecology or environmental science. Enrollment limited to 18. {N}

Fall, Variable

BIO 267 Ecology: Principles and Applications Laboratory (1 Credit)

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}

Fall, Variable

BIO 268 Marine Ecology (3 Credits)

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. Corequisite: BIO 269. {N}


BIO 269 Marine Ecology Laboratory (2 Credits)

The laboratory applies concepts discussed in lecture and uses several small-group 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 Rhode Island and Cape Cod, MA provide hands-on experience with marine organisms in their natural habitats. Corequisite: BIO 268. Enrollment limited to 12. {N}


CCX 120 Community-Based Learning: Ethics and Practice (2 Credits)

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.


DAN 339 Movement, Ecology and Performance in the Smith Landscape (4 Credits)

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 being 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. {A}

Spring, Alternate Years

ECO 224 Environmental Economics (4 Credits)

The economic causes of environmental degradation and the role that markets can play in both causing and solving pollution and resource allocation problems. Topics include resource allocation and sustainability, cost-benefit analysis, pollution standards, taxes, permits, public goods and common property resources. Prerequisite: ECO 150. {S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ECO 230 Urban Economics (4 Credits)

Economic analysis of the spatial structure of cities--why they are where they are and look like they do. How changes in technology and policy reshape cities over time. Selected urban problems and policies to address them include housing, transportation, concentrations of poverty, financing local government. Prerequisite: ECO 150. {S}

Fall, Spring, Annually

ECO 324nr Seminar: Topics in the Economics of the Environment-Natural Resources (4 Credits)

How do we expect competitive markets to allocate natural resources? Will market systems result in excess pollution? Can market outcomes be improved in relation to the environment and natural resources? If so, what are the relative strengths and weaknesses of different approaches? This course examines these issues through discussion of the economic theories of externalities, common property and public goods, and their implications for the allocation of resources. The course explores these questions by analyzing specific policy issues and debates related to the environment and resource use including: climate change, pollution, biodiversity, energy, sustainability, land use and fishing rights. Through this exploration, the course touches upon a number of other theories and techniques including dynamic optimization and intertemporal choice, price vs. quantity regulation, nonmarket valuation, cost-benefit analysis and the use of incentive-based regulation. Prerequisites: ECO 220 and ECO 250. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and seniors only. Instructor permission required. {S}

Fall, Spring, Variable

EGR 100ee Topics: Engineering for Everyone-Energy and the Environment (4 Credits)

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 net-zero energy buildings. Through simple lab exercises, students learn to program microcontrollers that measure temperatures and control features within their model buildings, and corresponding analyses enables students to demonstrate how energy from the sun can be utilized in design to reduce carbon-based energy sources. Enrollment limited to 20. {N}

Fall, Spring, Variable

EGR 315 Seminar: Ecohydrology (4 Credits)

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 SDS 220. Enrollment limited to 12. Juniors and senior Engineering majors only.

Fall, Spring, Variable

ENG 199 Methods of Literary Study (4 Credits)

This course teaches the skills that enable us to read literature with understanding and pleasure. By studying examples from a variety of periods and places, students learn how poetry, prose fiction and drama work, how to interpret them and how to make use of interpretations by others. This course seeks to produce perceptive readers well equipped to take on complex texts. This gateway course for prospective English majors is not recommended for students simply seeking a writing intensive course. Readings in different sections vary, but all involve active discussion and frequent writing. Enrollment limited to 20. WI {L}

Fall, Spring

ENG 238 What Jane Austen Read: The 18th-Century Novel (4 Credits)

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. {L}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

ENV 101 Sustainability and Social-Ecological Systems (4 Credits)

Earth has 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 our social-ecological systems can be remodeled to build a more sustainable and resilient future. Enrollment limited to 37. {H}{N}{S}

Fall, Spring

ENV 150/ GEO 150 Mapping our World: An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (4 Credits)

Offered as GEO 150 and ENV 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 campus offices or local conservation organizations. Enrollment limited to 20. {N}


FRN 230bl Colloquium: Topics in French Studies- Banlieue Lit (4 Credits)

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". The class examines 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? Basis for the major. Students may receive credit for only one section of FRN 230. Prerequisite: FRN 220 or equivalent. Enrollment limited to 18. Course taught in French. WI {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FYS 129 Tierra y Vida: Land and the Ecological Imagination in U.S. Latino/a Literature (4 Credits)

Tierra y Vida explores the ecological imagination of U.S. Latinos/as as expressed in narratives from the early 20th to the 21st centuries. Expanding beyond dominant tropes of land/farm worker as the core of Latino/a ecological experience, students consider a range of texts that depict the land as a site of indigenous ecological knowledge; spiritual meaning; and ethnic, racial and gendered belonging. In dialogues between Latino/a writers and theorists students also explore the possibilities of ecological futures rooted in emancipation and liberation as alternatives to ecological imaginaries still fraught with colonial desires. Students in this course participate in a digital atlas and story-mapping project. Enrollment limited to 16 first years. WI {L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

FYS 141 Reading, Writing and Placemaking: Landscape Studies (4 Credits)

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 as do politicians, builders, hunters, children, artists and writers, among others. In this course, students 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-years. WI

Fall, Spring, Variable

FYS 151 Our Mill River (4 Credits)

The Mill River flows through campus and connects the landscapes upstream and downstream of Smith. From its headwaters in Goshen, MA, 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-years. WI

Fall, Spring, Variable

GEO 101 Introduction to Earth Processes and History (4 Credits)

Geology is a study of the Earth. In this course, students will examine the processes that formed the Earth and that have continued to change the planet during its 4.57 billion year history. In rocks, minerals and the landscape, geologists see puzzles that tell a story about Earth’s past. In this course, students will develop their geologic observation skills. Together, the class will investigate the origins of minerals and rocks and the dynamic processes that form volcanoes, cause earthquakes, shape landscapes, create natural resources, and control the climate—today as well as during the Earth’s past. Students learn to view the Earth with a new perspective and appreciate how the planet is constantly changing, even if at extremely slow rates. Students planning to major in geosciences should take GEO 102 concurrently. {N}


GEO 102 Exploring the Local Geologic Landscape (2 Credits)

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 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. Preference given to students taking GEO 101 concurrently and students who have previously taken a Geoscience course. Enrollment limited to 17. {N}


GEO 104 Global Climate Change: Exploring the Past, the Present and Options for the Future (4 Credits)

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}

Fall, Spring, Annually

GEO 106 Extraordinary Events in the History of Earth, Life and Climate (4 Credits)

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}

Fall, Spring, Variable

GEO 251 Geomorphology (5 Credits)

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: GEO 101, GEO 102, GEO 108 or FYS 103. Enrollment limited to 18. {N}


HST 150 The Historian's Craft (4 Credits)

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? Normally to be taken during a student's first or second year. Enrollment limited to 40. {H}

Fall, Spring

IDP 109 Aerial Imagery and Cinematography (2 Credits)

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. Students learn practical techniques for acquiring and analyzing aerial data and have an opportunity to improve Smith’s approach to teaching and research with drones. S/U only. Enrollment limited to 12.

Fall, Spring, Variable

IDP 316 [Critical] Design Thinking Studio (4 Credits)

This interdisciplinary project-based course emphasizes human-centered design process as well as critical social theory on the relationships between humans and designed things. Through hands-on, individual and collaborative making, students learn design-thinking skills such as user-experience research, rapid idea generation techniques, prototyping and iterative implementation. This learning happens alongside rich class discussions of both seminal and contemporary scholarly work on design’s role in shaping the lived experience. Perspectives include archaeology, critical psychology, civil engineering, postcolonial studies, cognitive science, sociology and art history. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission required.

Fall, Spring, Variable

PHI 238 Environmental Philosophy (4 Credits)

This course prepares students to understand and critically evaluate various ethical perspectives on human beings’ interactions with nature and these perspectives’ applications to environmental issues. The principal ethical perspectives studied are anthropocentrism, biocentric individualism, environmental holism and environmental pragmatism. We study representative descriptions and defenses of these perspectives and examine in particular whether they can validly and effectively help us resolve environmental problems. We study controversies about biodiversity, wilderness protection, global climate change and pollution. Enrollment limited to 40. {H}{S}

Fall, Spring, Alternate Years

POR 220mb Topics in Portuguese and Brazilian Literature and Culture-Mapping Brazilian Culture onto an Urban Grid (4 Credits)

This course addresses 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 also encourage students to explore the Brazilian community in Boston. Prerequisite: POR 100Y or POR 125 or the equivalent. {F}{L}

Fall, Spring, Variable

SOC 203 Qualitative Methods (4 Credits)

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 limited to 35. {S}


Additional Programmatic Information

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.

Additional Course Information

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 2024 Schedule

January 29, 2024

Laurie Sanders
“Park History in Northampton”

February 5, 2024

Gareth Doherty
“African Landscape Architecture”

February 12, 2024

Jenn Kaplan
“From LSS to Community Development”

February 19, 2024

Asrie Karma
“Shifting: People, Place & Space”

February 26, 2024

Terrance Smith
“Democracy 2.0: Designing Trustworthy and Innovative Public Institutions That Deliver”

March 4, 2024

Chris Aiken & Angie Hauser
“Movement, Ecology, and Performance”

March 11, 2024

Annis Sengupta
“But What Does It All Mean? Arts and Culture Planning As a Path to Healthy, Resilient, Equitable Places”

March 25, 2024

Mindy Fullilove
"Moral Challenges of Upheaval"

April 1, 2024

Eli Nixon

April 8, 2024

Reid Bertone-Johnson (Mill River Panel)
“Mill River Greenway: Engagement With A River”

April 15, 2024

Nick dePace
Title TBD

April 22, 2024

Sponsored by the Mitia Sawhill Lecture Fund
Maura Coughlin
“Moor, Marsh, Swamp, and Bog: Picturing Wastelands in Western France”

April 29, 2024

Carolina Miranda
“Breaking the Concrete Jacket: Reconsidering the LA Landscape”

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
  • ANT 200 Research Methods in Anthropology
  • ANT 221 Thinking from Things: Method, Theory, and Practice in Archaeology
  • ANT 249 Visual Anthropology
  • ARH 291 Topics in Art History: Streets
  • ARS 163 Drawing I
  • ARS 264 Drawing II
  • ARS 283 Introduction to Architecture: Site and Space
  • ARS 285 Introduction to Architecture
  • DAN 339 Movement Ecology
  • ENG 238 What Jane Austen Read: The 18th-Century Novel
  • ENV 101 Sustainability and Social-Ecological Systems
  • ENV 150 Mapping Our World: An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems Same as GEO 150
  • FRN 230 Colloquium in French Studies Topics course
    “Banlieue Lit”
  • POR 220 Topics in Portuguese and Brazilian Literature and Culture: Contemporary Cityscapes: Mapping Brazilian Culture Onto an Urban Grid
  • SOC 203 Qualitative Methods
Approved Courses in Landscape Sciences
The following courses meet requirement #3
  • BIO 122 Horticulture: Botany for Gardeners
  • BIO 123 Horticulture: Botany for Gardeners
  • BIO 125 Plants in the Landscape Practicum
  • BIO 130 Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation
  •  BIO 131 Research in Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation
  • BIO 266 Ecology: Principles and Applications
  • BIO 267 Ecology: Principles and Applications Laboratory
  • BIO 268 Marine Ecology
  • BIO 269 Marine Ecology Laboratory
  • BIO 368 Seminar: Understanding Climate Change through Plant Biology and the Arts
  • EGR 100 Engineering for Everyone
    Sustainable Water Resources
    How We Engineer the Environment
    Energy and the Environment
  • EGR 315 Seminar: Ecohydrology
  • GEO 251 Geomorphology
  • HST 150 The Historian’s Craft
Approved Seminar or Advanced Studio Courses
The following courses meet requirement #4.
  • AMS 302 Seminar: The Material Culture of New England, 1630–1860
  • ANT 317 Seminar: The Anthropology of Landscape – Space, Place, Nature
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.
  • ANT 224/ ENV 224 Anthropos in the Anthropocene: HumanEnvironment Relations in a Time of Ecological Crisis Offered as ANT 224 and ENV 224.
  • ANT 300 Ethnographic Design
  • ARH 150 What is Architecture?
  • ARS 264 Drawing II
  • ARS 380 Architectural Design Studio: Transient Spaces - Terrestrial Bodies
  • CCX 120 Community-Based Learning: Ethics and Practice
  • CCX 245/ SWG 245 Colloquium: Collective Organizing Offered as SWG 245 and CCX 245.
  • ENV 207 Introduction to Environmental History
  • ENX 100 Environment and Sustainability: Notes from the Field
  • ESS 100 Playing the Game: Introduction to Exercise and Sport Studies
  • FRN 230bl Colloquium: Topics in French Studies- Banlieue Lit
  • FYS 103 Geology in the Field
  • FYS 141 Reading, Writing, and Placemaking: Landscape Studies
  • FYS 151 Our Mill River
  • GEO 101 Introduction to Earth Processes and History
  • GEO 102 Exploring the Local Geologic Landscape
  • GEO 104 Global Climate Change: Exploring the Past, the Present and Options for the Future
  • GEO 106 Extraordinary Events in the History of Earth, Life and Climate
  • GEO 361 Tectonics and Earth History
  • IDP 109  Aerial Imagery and Cinematography
  • IDP 316 Critical Design Thinking Studio 


Carl Cornell


Lecturer in French Studies and Landscape Studies

Carl Cornell

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

A Landscape for Learning

Botanic Garden

A landscape for learning: The campus is a botanic garden, with thousands of plants outdoors and indoors.

Environmental Concentration

The Environmental Concentration lets students delve into complex environmental issues through the lens of their choosing.


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

Helpful Resources

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


2023 Winners
  • Emily Blackwell ’22
  • Lara Brown ’22
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

Students Talk

Tess Abbott ’20

“Some people see the landscape as something we simply move through, but with good design it can be much more than that.”

Tess Abbot ’20

Greta Mundt ’21

“Our institutional goals and values are baked into our landscape. It’s good to recognize that we have this beautiful space and a lot of people working on it.”

Greta Mundt ’21

Sophie Guthrie ’21

“Landscape studies is a cool discipline. You can approach it from a science perspective or as a sociological study of how people interact with the environment.”

Sophie Guthrie

Laura Rosenbauer ’18

“It is incredibly rewarding to know that our research will be useful to future generations of Smith students, faculty and staff.”

Laura Rosenbauer

Contact Department of Landscape Studies

Wright Hall 107
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Phone: 413-585-3414 Email:

Director of Landscape Studies: Steven Moga

Administrative Assistant: David Osepowicz