FYS 101 Environmental Activism in the Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley holds a special place in the history of the environmental movement. Many argue that modern environmental law began right here in 1965 with a federal court case over the fate of Storm King Mt. in Cornwall, NY. The Hudson River is also home to one of the most extensive ongoing environmental cleanup efforts. Several influential environmental organizations were born in Marist’s backyard, and the area boasts a vibrant advocacy community. This seminar will explore the history of environmental activism in the Hudson Valley, placing it in the context of the larger U.S. environmental movement. In addition, we will examine organizing around current environmental issues, including hydrofracking in the Catskills watershed, relicensing the nuclear power plant at Indian Point, and removing PCBs from the river. Readings will draw on literature from political science, sociology and history. In so doing, we will ask questions such as, How has the environmental movement evolved over time? How successful has it been in terms of affecting policy, public opinion, and environmental quality? Are we truly witnessing the “death of environmentalism”? If not, what is the future likely to look like? Possible field trips include sailing aboard the Hudson Valley Sloop Clearwater and a visit to the Poughkeepsie Farm Project.

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