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Fall 2020 Sustainability Courses

During Fall 2020, there are sustainability courses being offered in many different subjects, from geography to management. Explore how sustainability plays a role in changing environmental systems, ethics, agriculture, and more. Below you will find information on each course, please contact the individual departments if you have questions about the curriculum.

If you are a professor teaching a course involving sustainability this semester and do not see it listed here, please fill out this form so your course can be added to the list.

BIOL 109 / ENVR 109: Introduction to Ecology with Lab


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. Some labs require work outside. Will not serve as basis for further work in science nor meet entrance requirements for any health profession. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week.

BIOL 120: Insects & People with Lab


BIOL 199: Invasions in Biology with Lab


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.

We will be working with Mr. Kevin Heffernan from VA-DCR to better understand the spread of Phragmites australis, an aggressively invasive wetland plant of major concern in Eastern Virginia, and much of North America. We will also work with the James River Park System’s Invasive Plant Task Force at the Huguenot Flatwater area to produce a baseline inventory and map of invasive species at that site.

BIOL 199 / ENVR 199: Coastal Marine Ecology with Lab


BIOL 199: Biology of Amphibians/ Reptiles with Lab


BIOL 199: Mesoamerican Ethnobotany with Lab


BIOL 200: Integrated Biological Principles with Lab

Runyen-Janecky, Warrick, Hilliker, Quintero

First of two-part series on the fundamental principles of biology. Examines genetics, cellular and molecular biology, and physiology within the context of biological evolution. Builds upon the competencies and skills learned in BIOL 199. Serves as preparation for upper level biology courses and beyond. Intended for majors in biology and biochemistry and molecular biology. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week.

BIOL 202: Integrated Biological Principles II with Lab

Brinkerhof, Richardson, Smallwood

Second of two-part series on the fundamental principles of biology. Examines organismal physiology and ecology within the context of biological evolution. Builds upon the competencies and skills learned in BIOL 199 and 200 Serves as preparation for upper level biology courses and beyond. Intended for majors in biology and biochemistry and molecular biology. Three lecture and three laboratory hours per week.

BIOL 381: Wildlife Ecology & Conservation with Lab


BUAD 394: Business Ethics


Identify ethical issues encountered in business settings and examine specific moral questions that arise vis-à-vis a firm's relation to society and to its employees. Current cases to illustrate the practical importance of reflection on these questions, and enable explicit identification, critical evaluation, and application to various frameworks for attributing moral responsibility and making ethical decisions. Cases may be drawn from marketing (manipulation of desire in the market, deceptive advertising), management (sweatshops, discrimination in hiring, privacy), finance (insider trading, corruption), accounting (conflicts of interest, fraud), or economics (asymmetric information, moral hazard).

BUAD 497: Strategic Management

Sutton, Bosse, Harrison

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 433: Chemistry of Energy


Finding new ways to make, use, and store energy is an intense area of cross-disciplinary research in chemistry. This course will focus on current topics in the Chemistry of Energy, including how we can harvest and use solar energy, new technologies and strategies for the storage of energy, and new molecules that may be used to make current devices more energy efficient. The goal of the course is to introduce students to the diverse array of research in chemistry that is focused on our energy future, and provide students a gateway to understanding chemical problems that are of specific interest to them. This course is built upon primary research literature. Throughout the semester, students work to complete three major tasks: 1) develop an oral presentation on a specific topic, 2) read, discuss, and understand scientific papers, and 3) formulate an original research plan (proposal).

ECON 101: Principles of Microeconomics

Heinicke, Craft, Duncan, Zylkin, Cook

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


Comparative analysis of economic growth, income and wealth distribution, trade and finance, population, agriculture, and industrialization in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

ECON 230 / ENVR 230: Environmental Economics


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, climate change, natural resource damage assessment, measurement of environmental values, and alternative strategies for pollution control.

ENVR 201: Intro to Environmental Studies


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 250 / GEOG 250: Intro to Earth Systems & Physical Geography with Lab


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.

ENVR 260 / GEOG 260: Foundations of Geospatial Analysis


Introduces the data and technology underlying quantitative spatial analysis. Covers foundational concepts of geospatial data (raster, vector, coordinate systems, map projections, scale, symbology and metadata) and introduces students to geospatial technology (GIS, GPS, remote sensing, web and mobile mapping). Uses spatial data from multiple national and international data platforms (e.g. USGS, Census Bureau, CDC, UN) to create maps and perform basic spatial analysis. Use the ESRI Suite of products as well as open-source programs to create and manipulate spatial data. Introduction to concepts of map reading and design.

ENVR 269 / PHIL 269: Environmental Ethics


Examines various ethical approaches to environmental problems. Topics may vary from year to year but typically will include such issues as treatment of nonhuman animals, resource depletion, environmental justice, genetic engineering, and climate change.

ENVR 280: Paradox of the Cultivated Wild


ENVR 322: Global Impact of Climate Change


Investigation of the global environmental impact of anthropogenic climate change, exploration of the science that explains the observations, and search for solutions that offset the impact of change on poor, marginalized, and at-risk communities around the world.


ENVR 345 / GEOG 345: Global Sustainability: Society, Economy, and Nature


Applies geography's human-environment tradition to examine environmental, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of sustainability and sustainable development. Examinations into foundations and theories behind the concept of sustainable development, discussions and debates about its real-world applicability, and explorations into case studies addressing relationships and contradictions between human desires for material well-being, environmental protection, and maintenance of cultural and/or social traditions.

ENVR 391 / GEOG 401: Environmental Senior Seminar


Close study of a current environmental problem. Student develops a project to address the problem using approaches and skills from the environmental studies core and elective courses.

FYS 100: Noble Beasts


This course explores accounts from history, literature, and science about ways animals have improved our lives by protecting us, working for us and serving us as sources of comfort, recreation, and entertainment. It also examines the problems and conflicts that can arise with reference to our responsibilities to animals (e.g. in terms of their rights, their welfare, and their health). Our study will be governed by questions such as the following: What do we know about animal nature and intelligence, and how do we know what we know? What do we get from our relationships with animals? What are the relative influences of training, instinct, and intelligence upon animal behavior? What are the implications of this knowledge for our relationships--both with animals and with each other?

GEOG 210 / GS 210: Geographic Dimensions of Global Development


Earth, our planet and home, is a finite sphere, but we humans continue to put more and more pressure on our limited space. This course, like the United Nations Development Program, will engage global development from a sustainability perspective. To this end, we will learn geographic tools and concepts to work toward a sustainable future. Place, space, scale, landscape, territory, distance, networks, and human-environment interaction are just a few fundamental aspects of human geography we will use to learn about our world. Never before have we had access to so much information and so many tools to better understand our diverse and changing world. Despite this, we struggle to understand other cultures and environments, not to mention our own. Here we will learn geographic concepts to better grasp our relationship with the world and each other.

We will visit a neighborhood to analyze the cultural landscapes of Campus as a Living Laboratory: We will analyze the concept of distance by traveling through the eco-corridor towards the James River. We will explore the University’s cultural landscapes with GPS and GIS by registering how visitors might perceive our campus. We will also visit Richmond’s global neighborhoods and businesses to better understand how ethnic enclaves work within our city, and interconnected world.

GEOG 380: Geovisualization & Design

Never before have Geovisualization, Digital Maps, and GIS Design been in such demand.  The COVID-19 pandemic underscores this with the ubiquity of the JHU dashboard, but is this the best way to map the data?  This intermediate/advanced GIS course will provide GIS students the opportunity to create geovisualizations and maps for a variety of purposes: from climate change to immigration digital cartographers are in demand!

HIST 390: Food & Power in Africa & Asia


This course examines connections between food and power. Drawing on historical cases involving food in Asia (China and India) and Africa (Eastern and Southern Africa) we will be discussing theories and ethics, disasters and violations, and the systems of production, distribution, consumption and denial that they illuminate. Looking at agriculture, storage, distribution, marketing and aid, we examine power, survival and sustainability crises: why, how, who benefited, what resources allowed people to make or fight power and meaning through food. Through historical comparisons, we discuss continuities—and changes—from one world system to another. Food is and has been a necessity, an opportunity, and a crisis from classical China to today’s discussions of famine and global climate change. This course analyzes historical context and values, and how they offer insights important to practice and policy initiatives at all levels from family meals to national and global discourses on human rights in contexts of scarcity, famine and threats to sustainability.

HUM 300: Applied Ethics


Examination of ethical choices, omissions, dilemmas and crises faced by individuals and organizations. Use of ethics theories and the law as a framework for analyzing case studies. This course will foster skills in ethical reasoning by encouraging students to analyze critically the consequences of individual and collective actions. Sustainability is a theme throughout the course and there is a class session on the Ethics of Society and the Environment that focuses on sustainability thinking more deeply. Students are expected to consider the potential impact on the environment when analyzing ethical cases.

LAIS 303: Spanish in the Media

Hermida Ruiz

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 210: Justice & Civil Society


Exploration of contemporary society and understandings of justice. Readings on civil society, theories of justice, and analysis of poverty and related socio-economic problems. Includes a service learning component with critical reflection on community service to populations in need. The course includes exploration into the concept of anthropocene and multiple readings on the history of climate change, climate change literature, and environmental/climate justice. 

PHIL 265: Bioethics

A survey of prevalent topics in recent bioethics, the study of ethical discussions surrounding the sciences of biology and medicine. Works to improve ability to think critically and to argue from the standpoint of a certain moral theory in the ethical evaluation of problems concerning the human body, health care, doctor-patient relationship, life and death, food, and animals.

WELL 90: Personal Sustainability

Description and Instructor TBA