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Sustainability in the Academic Curriculum

USF has a number of courses at the undergraduate and graduate level where concepts of sustainability are part of the curriculum. A representative sampling of these courses are presented below, organized alphabetically by department. Academic programs are constantly growing and changing and some courses are not offered every semester. You are encouraged to contact the academic department to inquire as to when the course(s) of interest will be offered.




 ARCD - 130. Community Based Urban Agriculture: Design and Management (4)

This is an introductory course to the art, science and practical implementation of community gardening techniques. Students study local community-supported agriculture programs, analyze different models for urban garden projects, and develop and hold community garden design meetings. Based on research, field trips, first-hand study of the university garden site and hosting of university-wide meetings, students will produce a draft proposal for the university garden by the end of the semester.

 ARCD - 200. Sustainable Design (4)

This course will provide an interdisciplinary overview of Sustainable Design by presenting a historical & contemporary overview of ecological living practices through lecture, readings, guest speakers, and field trips. Topics include: Bioregion assessments, Sustainable communities, Environmental & Social justice, Permaculture, Native Science, Biomimicry, Urban Gardens & Food Security, Ecoliteracy & Primary Education, Global Economies, Environmental Preservation & Restoration vs. Development, The Global Environment, Impact of Developed Countries consumptive patterns, City Planning, and Green Business & Manufacturing.

 ARCD - 340. International Projects (2-4)

International Projects provides students an opportunity to provide design assistance to international underserved communities, while gaining real world experience in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. The course combines student development of an understanding and appreciation for contextual and cultural needs with the acquisition of professional practice skills.

ARCD - 370. Construction Innovation Lab (2-4)

Construction Innovation Lab pairs student teams with real world design/build projects in local and international underserved communities, where innovation in technology and building systems is required to best serve the needs of the partnering community. The course combines student acquisition of cultural competency with professional practices.

 ARCD - 400. Community Design Outreach (4)

Student involvement in real architecture design/build projects for non-profits, schools, and municipalities in the Bay Area and internationally. In this studio class students take on a larger urban or rural design problem. Through extensive fieldwork, students obtain the requisite understanding of the role of community design in underserved communities and the larger urban forces involved. The projects may be local, national, or international and are intended to lead to student participation and leadership in a community building process.


BIOL - 100. The Science of Life (4)

A survey of selected biological concepts, including the chemical basis of life, cell structure, organismal physiology, genetics, evolution, and ecology. This course should provide the non-biologist with a working knowledge of life science that will be useful in making informed decisions on health and the environment. Two lectures and one laboratory weekly. Offered Fall and Spring.

BIOL - 102. California Ecology (4)

A course for non-majors emphasizing the principles and concepts of ecology and evolution as illustrated by California plants and animals. Two lectures and one laboratory weekly. Required Saturday field trips will replace some weekday lab sessions. Offered Intermittently.

BIOL - 319. Ecology (4)

The principles of the structure and function of ecosystems and types of data/analyses utilized in order to study, e.g., energy flow, biogeochemical cycling, and population dynamics. Four hours lecture each week. Offered intermittently. • Prerequisites: Concurrent CHEM 231 or concurrent CHEM 236 and BIOL 310 or concurrent BIOL 310.

BIOL - 335. Natural History of San Francisco + Lab (4)

A survey of San Francisco's ecology, geology, and geography and examination of San Francisco's zoological, botanical, and human cultural histories. Three hours lecture each week. • Prerequisites: Concurrent CHEM 231 or concurrent CHEM 236 and BIOL 310 or concurrent BIOL 310.

BIOL - 379. Conservation Biology  w/Lab (4)

A study of conservation biology, examining ecological methods for monitoring and maintaining biodiversity on the planet. Three hours lecture. Offered every Spring.

BIOL - 381. California Wildlife w/Lab (4)

 A study of the natural history, phylogeny and ecology of the vertebrates, especially California species. Three hours lecture each week. Offered every Spring.


BUS - 345. Introduction to Sustainable Business (4)

Sustainable businesses seek to balance the necessity of economic achievement with environmental quality and social justice. This elective is designed for students who are interested in learning about the business strategies, management tools, and systems of measurement that emerge when companies embrace sustainable principles.

MBA - 6408. Sustainable Business Models (2)

(Elective for International Business concentration.) (Elective for Leadership concentration.) This course will provide students with an understanding of the reason behind this change and offer a thorough introduction to the concept and practice of business sustainability. The course will examine important topics such as pollution prevention, product stewardship, sustainable development, the triple bottom line, brand and reputation, corporate social responsibility and stakeholder theory. The course will place a heavy emphasis on practical examples from the business world and, as such, will make extensive use of guest lecturers and case studies. • Prerequisites: MBA 614 or MBA 6103 or MBA 6104 or MBA 6105 or MBAI 5007 or MBAI 5001



CHEM - 311. Environmental Chemistry (4)

This course provides in-depth coverage of major topics in the chemistry of the environment, including tropospheric air pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion, aquatic chemistry, water pollution and water treatment, soil chemistry, and toxic organic compounds. Offered intermittently. Cross-listed with ENVS 311. Prerequisites:  CHEM 113 and one of the following: ENVS 212, CHEM 230, or CHEM 236. 


ECON - 230. Environmental Economics (4)

Significant changes to the world environment have been brought on by increasing levels of economic industrialization. This course studies both broad trends at the macro level in the quality of air, water, and land resources as well as the underlying causes of these changes at the micro level. Students will learn to apply basic economic theory to better understand phenomena such as the "tragedy of the commons," environmental pollution and resource degradation, and how we can become better stewards of creation.



ENGL - 235. Literature and the Environment (4)

A survey of poetry, fiction and nonfiction across centuries and cultures. We will examine the philosophies that underpin ideas of nature, culture and 'the wild'; and examine the nature and place of creative literature in addressing environmental issues.

ENVA - 109. Humans and Environmental Change (4)

This course introduces students to environmental studies by focusing on social science approaches to understanding the human causes of environmental change. Sociological, psychological, anthropological, historical, economic, political, and moral perspectives are examined. The concept of the "tragedy of the commons" is used to highlight the social factors underlying environmental problems. Offered every spring.

ENVA - 110. Understanding Our Environment w/Lab (4)

This course serves as an introduction to and covers broad aspects of environmental science and environmental studies. For all cases, the resulting environmental impacts are studied in detail. Specifically, this course examines the risks associated with growth in a developing world; environmental impact of population growth on natural resources; mineral and resource extraction; water resource uses; and renewable and non-renewable sources for power generation. Emphasis is placed on a holistic approach to environmental science using laboratory exercises, environmental surveys, and class discussions to reinforce scientific principles. Cross Listed With: ENVS – 110

ENVA - 210. Ecology and Human Impacts w/Lab (4)

Prerequisite: ENVA - 110. The course introduces students to biological and ecological aspects of environmental science. The course will include lectures, laboratory exercises, and field exercises. The goal of the course is to give the student an overview of basic ecology, ecological management issues, and ecosystem policy with special emphasis on local issues in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cross Listed With: ENVS - 210

ENVA - 212. Air and Water w/Lab (4)

Prerequisite: ENVA - 110. This course covers broad physical and chemical aspects of the atmosphere and water resources. Specifically, this course considers atmospheric composition, weather processes, and air pollution; water resources, regulations, and defining water quality based on intended use. For all cases, the resulting environmental impacts are studied in detail. Emphasis is placed on a holistic approach to environmental science using field trips and sampling exercises, laboratory exercises, environmental surveys, and class discussion to reinforce scientific principles. Cross Listed With: ENVS – 212

ENVA - 250. Environmental Data Analysis (4)

This course provides students with two types of mathematical tools for environmental problem solving: estimating tools and statistical tools. Students will learn how to characterize environmental problems with mathematical relationships, find necessary data and make assumptions, and estimate quantitative answers. We will use statistical tools to gather meaning from environmental data, by examining data patterns (distributions), determining relationships among data (correlations), and checking data quality. The course will address such problems as water contamination, toxic waste, noise pollution, air emissions, and climate change. Cross Listed With: ENVS – 250

ENVA - 319. Health and Environment (4)

This course explores illness due to environmental pollution. An overview of sociological perspectives on health and illness is followed by examination of the role of scientific knowledge and other social factors in identifying, treating, and preventing environmental illness. Cross Listed With: SOC - 319

ENVA - 396. Environmental Studies Internship (4)

Internship in an organization related to Environmental Studies.

ENVA - 450. Capstone Practicum in Environmental Studies (4)

• Prerequisite: ENVS 212. This course explores two primary aspects of water resource availability: surface water hydrology and water quality. Process analyses of environmental problems are used throughout this course to aid in the development of scientific knowledge and environmental impacts on water.

ENVS - 320. Restoration Ecology w/Lab (4)

• Prerequisite: ENVS 210. An overview of concepts and practices in restoration ecology. Emphasis will be on the application of ecological principles to restoration design, implementation, and monitoring. Two lectures and one laboratory session each week.

ENVS - 321. Wetland Ecology w/Lab (4)

• Prerequisite: ENVS 210 or permission of instructor. This upper-division lecture and laboratory course reviews basic concepts of ecology as they apply to wetland ecosystems. Major course topics include: wetland hydrology and soils, wetland biota and their adaptations, wetland types, and policies for wetland management.

ENVS - 331. Environmental Health -- A Toxicological Perspective (4)

• Prerequisites: CHEM 111 CHEM 113 Recommended: CHEM 236 . Environmental health is concerned with effects the environment can have on the general health and well being of humans. Environmental toxicology investigates the impacts pollutants have on the structure and function of ecosystems. Major topics will include toxicological aspects of water and air pollution, biological contaminants, heavy metals, and pesticides and other toxins as they relate to environmental health.

ENVS - 350. Energy and Environment (4)

• Prerequisites: ENVS 212 and ENVS 250. In this course, students will examine energy production and consumption as an underlying cause of multiple environmental problems. Beginning with an overview of energy-environment connections, the course will cover major fuel types and energy sources--from coal and natural gas to solar, and advanced energy carriers and storage systems (e.g., hydrogen and fuel cells).

ENVS - 360. Climate Change: Science and Policy (4)

• Prerequisites: ENVS 210 ENVS 212 and ENVS 250. In this course, students will develop a deeper understanding of the greenhouse effect and human influences on the Earth's climate. Building on this scientific base, the course will emphasize climate change mitigation--options for changing human activities and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to avert negative climate change impacts.

ENVS - 370. Environmental Remote Sensing and GIS w/Lab (4)

• Prerequisites: ENVS 110 ENVS 210 or ENVS 110 and PHYS 100. This course serves as an introduction to environmental remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It is designed to provide students with basic concepts, principles and applications of remote sensing and GIS and their use in natural resource management. This course has a corequisite laboratory.

ENVS - 410. Methods of Environmental Monitoring w/Lab (4)

• Prerequisites: ENVS 210, ENVS 212 and ENVS 250. Capstone field and laboratory methodologies class that draws upon materials presented in the foundation courses.


ENGL - 235. Literature and the Environment (4)

A survey of poetry, fiction and nonfiction across centuries and cultures. We will examine the philosophies that underpin ideas of nature, culture and "the wild"; and examine the nature and place of creative literature in addressing environmental issues. Cross Listed With: ENVA – 235


HIST - 341. Feast and Famine: A History of Food (4)

A comparative study of how food has shaped human societies and the environment. Topics include: food production, role of technology, food cultures, famine, and politics of food distribution. Case studies from Africa and the United States. Offered every other year.

HIST - 342. Environmental History of Africa (4)

Introduction to the environmental history of Africa from 1800 to the present. Topics examined include Africa's physical environment, role of natural resources in the development of African societies, demography, agriculture, desertification, deforestation, conservation, famine, and economic development. Offered every other year. Cross Listed With: ENVA – 342



MS - 301. Green Media (4)

Green Media is a media studies production class devoted to making media about making food. Throughout the semester, students will learn about the history of television cooking shows; research, cook, and share a selection of seasonal, regional recipes; and use social media like twitter, flickr, facebook, blogs, and video to make and share media about making food.


POLS - 360. International Environmental Politics (4)

Study of the North-South divide and the challenges it poses for global environmental cooperation. Focus on the politics and processes that underlie environmental negotiation and lawmaking at the U.N., international organizations and selected nation-states, including the problems of implementation and enforcement, sustainable development and the Rio conference. Offered every other year. Cross Listed With: ENVA – 360

POLS - 366. Intro to Environmental Policy (4)

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the processes, participants, and institutions that surround the making and implementing of environmental policy. It combines lectures, case studies, and some "hands on" field exercises to illustrate how these elements interact. Cross Listed With: ENVA – 366


SOC - 230. Urban Places, Faces and Spaces (4)

An introduction to the historical development and social structure of cities; their changing historical importance in the growth of social, economic, and political life; and their crucial role in the political economy of a global society. Offered in Fall. Cross Listed With: ENVA 230.

SOC - 320. Global Environments and Societies (4)

This course explores how characteristics of human societies influence human uses of, and our relationship to, the environment. Topics include: the roles of science and technology, government, the economy, and culture in shaping human impacts on the environment; the environmental movement; and environmental justice. Cross Listed With: ENVA – 320

SOC - 367. Environmental Justice (4)

This course examines how environmental "goods'' like clean air and water'and environmental "bads'' like hazardous waste and industrial pollution'come to be unequally distributed in societies, often along lines of race, class, and gender.


THEOL - 361. Religion and the Environment (4)

Explores the religious underpinnings of contemporary attitudes and practices concerning the environment, both historical and contemporary understandings of nature as expressed in various religious traditions. Offered intermittently. Cross Listed With: ENVA – 361

THEOL - 404. Environmental Ethics (4)

Provides an overview of ethical responsibilities for the natural world. The course explores the diverse ethical responses to environmental problems including contemporary philosophical and religious beliefs regarding nature. Cross Listed With: ENVA - 404