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Sustainability Courses

University of Richmond is committed to integrating sustainability into the curriculum. This can be seen in the number of sustainability courses offered. Instructors, administrators, and an independent committee have identified sustainability courses in more than 20 departments across all five schools. You can sign up for one of dozens of sustainability courses this fall.

The courses listed below represent a range of sustainability content. Both sustainability courses, which focus explicitly on sustainability or solving a sustainability challenge, and courses that incorporate a sustainability unit, activity, or issue are included. Our identification of what characterized sustainability course was guided by the nationally recognized STARS 2.1 Academic Courses guidelines.

Departments that offer at least one course focused on or related to sustainability include the following: AccountingBiologyBusiness AdministrationChemistryClassical StudiesEnvironmental StudiesEconomicsGeography and the EnvironmentHealthcare StudiesHistoryLatin American, Latino & Iberian StudiesLeadership StudiesManagementMarketingPolitical SciencePsychologyReligious StudiesSociology & AnthropologyTheatreLanguages, Literatures & Cultures, and Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Law.

We update this list regularly, but may not capture recent course changes or additions. Likewise, the amount of sustainability content may not be consistent across sections or professors. Please reach out to individual faculty members for more information on each course. If you know of other sustainability courses to bring to our attention, please contact sustainability@richmond.edu. You can also learn more about these courses through the University’s course catalog.

ACCT 328 Independent Study-Sustainability Accounting

Sustainability Related

Met with student on a weekly basis to discuss sustainability accounting issues. Our collaborative teaching work resulted in a presentation, which we delivered at the 2014 AAA Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

BIOL 109/ENVR 109 Introduction to Ecology

Sustainability Focused

Introduction to causes and consequences of ecological patterns at all scales: individuals, species, communities, and ecosystems. Terrestrial, aquatic, and marine systems are studied, as well as theories and the mathematical and graphical models used to understand them.

BIOL 111/ ENVR 111 Marine Biology of the Chesapeake Bay

Sustainability Focused

Introduction to the ecology and biological diversity of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.  Environmental issues facing the bay will be explored through direct data collection, observation, and hands-on activities.

BIOL 190 Integrated Quantitative Science

Sustainability Focused

The Integrative and Quantitative Science course (listed as BIOL190, MATH190, CHEM191, and PHYS191on transcript) integrates key concepts from the first semester of biology, chemistry, computer science, math, and physics under the overarching theme of “Challenges of a Changing Planet”. The course includes a focus and training in interdisciplinary science approaches to problems, divided into 6 modules. Of the 3 modules I teach, one of them has a significant environmental component - Role of Microorganisms in Fate of Chemical Pollutants in the Environment.

BIOL 199 Introduction to Biological Thinking: Astrobiology

Sustainability Related

Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe.  In this class, we will explore the origins of life on Earth and then look at how the scientific method has been used to generate hypotheses regarding the existence of life elsewhere in the universe.

BIOL 199 Introduction to Biological Thinking: Invasions in Biology

Sustainability Focused

Humans act as the greatest vehicle for species to move from one location to another.  Why do some organisms that are normally benign suddenly become noxious pests or do direct harm to humans when introduced into a new environment?  We will explore how scientists use approaches from diverse biological disciplines (i.e. genetics, ecology, evolutionary biology, physiology) to study invasions in biology both at the ecosystem and the microbiological levels.

BIOL 199 Introduction to Biological Thinking: Mesoamerican Ethnobotany

Sustainability Related

This course is about the plants that are useful to the peoples of Mesoamerica, considered across time from the first peopling of the Americas through multiple ancient civilizations of the region (chiefly Olmec, Maya and Aztec) to the present day.

BIOL 202 Integrated Biological Principles II

Sustainability Focused

Second of two-part series on the fundamental principles of biology. Modules on extinction risk, biodiversity, and invasive species.

BIOL 207 Ecology

Sustainability Focused

Examines forces that shape the patterns of species interactions, abundance and distribution. Three lecture and three laboratory hours a week plus overnight field trips.

BIOL 332 Tropical Marine Biology

Sustainability Focused

Ecological aspects of coral reef health in a changing climate.

BUAD 202 Statistics for Business and Economics

Sustainability Related

This course covers the traditional content and procedures in a first statistics course. Much of this is individually paced for students through publisher's software. The above approach creates time for data analysis, sometimes in group projects. Much of these data are environmentally related.

BUAD 329 Ethical, Legal, Moral and Social Responsibilities for Business

Sustainability Focused

The course addresses the role of business in society in regards to its responsibilities towards a wide range of stakeholders such as employees, customers, and the environment.

BUAD 392 Ethical, Social, and Legal Responsibilities of Business

Sustainability Focused

Ethical and legal issues in business world are discussed and analyzed from a philosophical, historical, legal, and behavioral approach. Current ethical and legal cases serve to highlight changing value choices and resulting consequences, as well as legal problems experienced by business people

BUAD 497 Strategic Management

Sustainability Related

Analysis of the external environment and internal resources of a firm leading to the development of strategies and plans for implementing them. The course also provides opportunities for students to integrate knowledge from each of the functional business disciplines through case studies and other learning tools.

CHEM 110/ ENVR 110 Pollutants in the Environment

Sustainability Focused

Sources, behavior, and effects of chemical pollutants in the air, water, and soil. Topics include global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, pesticides, and radioactive waste.

CLSC 220 Introduction to Archaeology

Sustainability Related

This class is an introduction to the theories and methods of archaeology. In a few of the class meetings, we consider human impacts on ancient environments and possible environmental causes of societal changes.

CLSC 321 Archaeology of the Middle East

Sustainability Related

This course surveys the archaeology of the Middle East, from the Paleolithic era to the Persian empire, and the significance and uses of archaeological heritage in modern identities and conflicts. At certain points of the course (parts of a few class meetings) we discuss how human actions may have caused environmental changes (such as deforestation) and how these changes affected the societies of the time.

ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics

Sustainability Related

Provides students with the analytical perspective to think critically about the market system and social objectives it may serve. Topics include supply and demand, market structure, production, market failure (e.g., pollution), and benefits and costs of government intervention.

ECON 211 Economic development in Asia, Africa, and Latin America

Sustainability Focused

Explores issues of economic growth, inequality, etc.

ECON 230/ ENVR 230 Environmental Economics

Sustainability Focused

Development and application of economic principles to understand and evaluate causes and solutions to environmental problems such as pollution and conservation. Topics include economics of biodiversity protection, global warming, natural resource damage assessment, measurement of environmental values, and alternative strategies for pollution control. Special attention given to optimal use of exhaustible and renewable natural resources.

ECON 330/ENVR 330 Environmental and Resource Economic Theory

Sustainability Focused

A rigorous treatment of environmental and resource issues, with particular emphasis on problem of designing appropriate institutions and regulations under uncertainty. Topics include emission fees and marketable permits; enforcement, risk regulation, the economics and regulation of the fishery; depletion of nonrenewable resources; and forest use.

ENVR 201 Introduction to Environmental Studies

Sustainability Focused

Overview of contemporary environmental issues, including species extinction, resource depletion, and pollution. Students examine behavior leading to environmental degradation, the scientific, ethical, and economic aspects of the resulting problems, and study policies intended to provide solutions.

ENVR 269 Topics in Environmental Ethics

Sustainability Focused

Introduces students to the moral issues and ethical approaches that characterize interaction with our natural environment. Topics will vary but will typically include issues such as our moral obligation to nonhuman species and to future human generations, and ethical analysis of contemporary environmental issues such as climate change and species extinction.

ENVR 300 Special Topics

Sustainability Focused

Selected topics about the environment

ENVR 321 Land Use Law

Sustainability Focused

A study of comprehensive plans and the planning process of land. Topics will include land use control by zoning, including history, power and purposes of zoning, types of zoning and uses. Types of zoning relief, historic and agricultural preservation, private land use controls and eminent domain will also be discussed. Particular emphasis will be placed on Virginia law and procedure and field trips to local Planning Commission and Board of Zoning hearings may be included.

ENVR 325 Global Sustainability

Sustainability Focused

Examines the twenty-five global issues that the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development has identified as the most critical global social, economic, and environmental challenges that are driving global change. Development of approaches to address the challenges.

FREN 306 French at Work

Sustainability Related

Task-based course designed to develop students' ability to interact in French situations specific to the workplace. Acquisition of business terminology and etiquette and exploration of cross-cultural differences, economic and political issues influencing business in the French-speaking world.  Unit on corporate information and websites includes discussion of how sustainability issues are discussed by corporations; unit on marketing focuses on controversies about sustainability, particularly the controversy involving palm oil and Nutella.

FYS 100 Buckwheat and Caviar: Concepts of 'Sustainability' in Russian Science and Literature

Sustainability Focused

An examination of how environmental ethos and practices arise differently across cultures, by looking at the history of Soviet/Russian answers to the question 'what are we trying to sustain, and why?'  A mixture of literary texts and science history: Vernadsky's concept of the 'noosphere,'  Vavilov's theory of biodiversity and the origins of the first seed bank, etc.

FYS 100 FYS Green Schools

Sustainability Focused

This campus sustainability seminar is divided into three parts. At the start of the semester we will analyze the foundations of environmental sustainability and each student will define their own notions of appropriate commitments in terms of the roles and missions of colleges and universities.  In the second part, students will develop sustainability profiles from schools across the US or abroad. In the final portion of the class, students will investigate an on-campus project involving green buildings or solar energy while having the support of a team of peers, student interns, and a faculty mentor.

GEOG 215/ ENVR 215 Geography of the James River Watershed

Sustainability Focused

Study of the local environments and protected areas within the James River watershed. Explores the natural and human connections that define the resource challenges and opportunities within this urban watershed.

GEOG 220/ ENVR 220 Ecotourism

Sustainability Focused

Ecotourism integrates environmental protection, education, empowerment, local livelihoods, and responsible travel. The study of ecotourism allows students to document and analyze complex interactions between society and nature.

GEOG 250/ENVR 250 Introduction to Earth Systems and Physical Geography

Sustainability Focused

Basic concepts of earth systems science and physical geography. Includes earth-sun relationships, weather and climate, environmental hydrology, landforms and geomorphology, climate change, and human-environment interactions.

GEOG 260/ENVR 260 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Sustainability Focused

Concepts of mapping and spatial analysis using the ArcGIS software package and ArcGIS Online. Includes map analysis, vector and raster data creation and presentation, cartography, and analysis of spatial relationships. In-depth look at concepts including scale, coordinate systems, projections, and metadata. Practice with data acquisition using mobile GPS technology. Demonstration of real-world applications of GIS technology.

GEOG 280 Protected Lands of the American West

Sustainability Focused

We will explore the balance between seemingly contradictory goals to leave protected lands unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations and to harness our nation’s natural resources for energy, minerals, and water.

GEOG 315/ENVR 315 Landscape Ecology

Sustainability Focused

Applied science that focuses on the development, consequences, and management of environmental patterns. These patterns include the spatial distributions of species and the environment resources upon which they depend. Attention is paid to the importance of scale in natural resource management. Landscape ecology also emphasizes the role of humans in the environment.

GEOG 320 Power, Space and Territory: Geographies of Political Change

Sustainability Focused

Analyses of and explorations into the spatial dimensions and geographic characteristics of global, regional, and local political change; and the political economy and ecology of globalization. Topics include: imperialism; world systems theory; nationalism; regionalism; electoral geography; race, class and gender; political economy of trade and foreign aid; and political ecology.

GEOG 325/LAIS 325 Latin American Geographies: Transnational and Local Connections

Sustainability Focused

Latin America is a culturally and ecologically diverse region with historical and contemporary connections to locations around the world, including Richmond, Virginia. Documenting the movement of people and flows of ideas, goods, and services, this course analyzes the political economy and ecology of transnational networks in areas such as immigration, security, transportation, communication, energy, and commerce while examining place-based consequences in local communities. In the last offering, one third of the class focused their semester long research project on sustainability.

GEOG 350/ENVR 350 Environmental Gradients

Sustainability Focused

Investigation of the approaches, key concepts, and methods of studying environmental gradients. Explores quantitative methods for describing different aspects of climate, water, nutrient, and biotic systems and their interactions. A modeling approach is introduced and different types of conceptual, statistical, and simulation models are used to explore the different systems.

GEOG 360/ENVR 360 Environmental Remote Sensing

Sustainability Focused

Concepts of image acquisition, image interpretation, and satellite remote sensing. Includes electromagnetic spectrum concepts, acquisition of image data, visual characteristics of vegetation and landforms, image interpretation, classification and transformation, and integration of remotely sensed imagery into other spatial analysis systems.

GEOG 365/ENVR 365 Advanced Spatial Analysis

Sustainability Focused

Advanced topics in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) theory, application, and analysis. Topics include use of Model Builder, analysis of aerial imagery and LiDAR data, use of 3D Analyst and ArcScene, and use of Network Analyst and topologies. Emphasis on practical and real-world applications of GIS for biological, environmental, and social science issues, culminating in student projects.

GEOG 370 Economic Geography and Globalization

Sustainability Focused

This class addresses (1) the spatial dimensions and geographic characteristics of globalization and global economic change; (2) multinational firms and the private sector; (3) consumption; (4) global food flows; and (5) sustainable development. Spatial and geographical concepts (e.g., flow, connectivity, diffusion, scale, space, place, regions, etc.) will be central to our discussions. The emphasis in this class will be on effective speaking and writing, creativity, critical thinking, and the interpretation and usage of economic concepts (e.g., comparative advantage, value added, product differentiation, marketing, branding, supply chains, etc.) as well as geographical theory and perspectives.

GEOG 401 Senior Seminar

Sustainability Focused

Topics change from year to year, primarily involving environmental issues.

GEOL 320/ENVR 323 The Geology of Disaster

Sustainability Focused

Basic geological principles as applied to help predict the occurrence and impact of natural disasters. Application of basic scientific principles to earth science. Exploration of the impact of the earth's varied internal processes on environmental change and human evolution.

GEOL 322/ENVR 322 The Global Impact of Climate Change

Sustainability Focused

Rapid climate change is causing an increase in the temperature of the atmosphere and oceans. This is a truly global problem that requires international research and collaboration to resolve. The USA is a major producer of the atmospheric "greenhouse" gases that make a significant contribution to this global "anthropogenic" warming. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the global environmental impact of anthropogenic climate change, and to challenge students to think about the possible impact of the way we live in the USA on poor, marginalized and at risk communities around the world.

HCS 100/ PLSC 363 Health Care / Global Health

Sustainability Focused

The course surveys the social and environmental determinants of health, as well as health care policy, finance and organization. May term course on environmental health in Acadia National Park, Maine.

LA 320U/ENVR 324 Environmental Law

Sustainability Focused

Survey of issues involved in the field through examination of major cases that have shaped the implementation of major federal environmental statutes since their passage beginning in the 1960s. Topics covered include the common law basis for environmental protection, constitutional and statutory authority to protect the environment, standing to bring environmental cases, the rules of judicial review, and substantive issues involving major environmental statutes and their implementing regulations. The cases are predominantly federal, but Virginia cases are used where appropriate.

LAIS 303 Spanish in the Media

Sustainability Related

Development of Spanish reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills via contact with Spanish language media, including current events (news) and entertainment,  One (2-week) module on global warming and sustainability.

LDST 102 Leadership and the Social Sciences

Sustainability Related

Course examines leadership processes from a social science perspective; the portions pertaining to sustainability examine influence constitutents and citizens to act in more pro-environmentally positive ways.

The amount of sustainability related content in this course varies by professor, please reach out to individual faculty for more details. 

LDST 250 Critical Thinking

Sustainability Related

Classes that address effective altruism, future generations, existential risk, cost benefit analysis all focus in part on climate change. Students read essays about duties to future generations, environmental externalities, philanthropic projects that focus on sustainability, and existential risks.

The amount of sustainability related content in this course varies by professor, please reach out to individual faculty for more details. 

LDST 450 Leadership Ethics

Sustainability Related

Application of moral theory to the values and assumptions of leadership, focusing especially on the ethical challenges of leaders past and present, group behavior, and leadership theory. Topics include self-interest, power, charisma, duty, obedience, and the greater good.

The amount of sustainability related content in this course varies by professor, please reach out to individual faculty for more details. 

MGMT 348 Environmental Management

Sustainability Focused

Aims to bring into contact and conflict various normative theories developed by philosophers, political scientists, and economists - that is, their different accounts of what makes acts right, outcomes good, or societies just - with significant attention paid to the implications these theories have for a specific public policy, in this case climate change.

MKT 325 International Marketing

Sustainability Related

The course covers strategies for international markets of different levels of economic development. Class addresses environmental challenges in the different target markets and various firm strategies to protect the environment.

PLSC 260 Intro to Public Policy

Sustainability Focused

Introduction to how the policy-making process works in the U.S.  I focus on four case studies: the deficit, education policy, health care reform, and climate change/energy policy.

PLSC 325 Racial Politics

Sustainability Focused

Comparative examination of the history, problems and political role of minority groups in the U.S., with a concentration on the African-American political experience. Relationship of racism and environmental justice.

PLSC 362/ENVR 362 Environmental Law and Policy

Sustainability Focused

Examines legal aspects, both regulations and case law, of environmental policy. Central issues are whether legal responses (1) effectively address the needs of the parties most affected; (2) properly weigh such facts as economic efficiency, protection of nonhuman species, and the possibility of unintended consequences; and (3) are diluted by the political process.

PPEL 261 Law and Social Order

Sustainability Related

Law and Social Order is the second course in the Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) sequence for the interdisciplinary PPEL program.  The specific focus changes from year to year.  In 2011 it was Law, Liberty, and Republicanism; in 2012 it was Property, Markets, and Justice.  Because the course frequently deals with collective-action problems, I often draw on concepts and examples from environmental theory, such as the tragedy of the commons and the problems associated with discounting for time.

PPEL 261 Seminar in Theory and Public Policy

Sustainability Related

Business ethics and political philosophy course. Addresses climate change, moral mathematics, collective action problems, and the ethics of belief formation.

PSYC 299 Integrated Topics: Wired Psych

Sustainability Related

The course examines the psychological implications of modern technology.

PSYC 317 Applied Social Psychology

Sustainability Related

Applied social psychology is defined as theory, research, and practice directed toward understanding social problems and improving social conditions.

RELG 269 Ethics, Religion, and the Environment

Sustainability Focused

This course focuses on ethical concerns related to human interactions with the non-human world. It acquaints students with a broad range of ethical theories and a variety of forms of environmental ethics. The topics include pollution control, environmental racism, the treatment of non-human animals, and sustainable agriculture.

RELG 374 Religion and the American Environment

Sustainability Focused

This advanced seminar explores representations of the natural world in American religious history from the era of contact through the nineteenth century. The topics covered will include Native American environmental practices, Puritanism and the concept of “wilderness,” the place of nature in early American travel narratives and novels, the Hudson River School of landscape painters, and American Transcendentalism.

SOC 330 Science, Technology & Society

Sustainability Focused

Students study technology in our society the ways in which humans shape and are shaped by technology. Student groups presented on various types of waste related to a technology, for example cell phone waste; medical waste.

SOC 335 Feast and Famine: Inequalities in the Agrifood System

Sustainability Focused

This class analyzes the socio-economic, political, and cultural construction of our food systems and the ways in which the institutions and individuals involved with these systems have experienced dramatic changes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  The course concludes by focusing on social movements aiming to create a more sustainable and just food system.

THTR 202 Stage Lighting Design

Sustainability Related

Teach design process and analysis of lighting design for performance, primarily theater and dance.  Includes material on decreasing waste and energy use in lighting design.

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