Academic Programs

UofL offers opportunities for students to learn about sustainability from a variety of perspectives.

The University of Louisville offers hundreds of sustainability-focused and related courses across all disciplines! Students in every field have a variety of options for studying sustainability, as highlighted below. We also offer UofL students everything from an undergraduate Minor to a PhD in Sustainability, all with a deep rooting in interdisciplinary studies.

Find Faculty / Staff in Sustainability who mentor students here.
Check out the UofL Libraries Sustainability subject guide.

Undergraduate Degree Programs

  • Minor in Sustainability
    In fall 2023, UofL launched a Minor in Sustainability that is open to students from any major. The minor is a great addition to any degree because it is highly interdisciplinary and can fit into most students' course load. Six credit hours of the required courses satisfy the SBD1 and QR General Education Requirements. The minor requires a total of 18 credit hours, three of which can be selected from among a list of approved sustainability-related courses that fit a student's other academic needs and interests. The Minor in Sustainability is offered by the Department of Urban and Public Affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences.
  • Major in Sustainability
    UofL launched its interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability program in Fall 2017. It became the first undergraduate degree housed in the Department of Urban and Public Affairs. The B.A. in Sustainability is an interdisciplinary degree program within the College of Arts and Sciences that examines interrelated environmental, political, economic, and social issues and problems facing our society at local, regional, and global scales. The goal of the degree is to prepare students to engage with these issues on multiple levels in the workplace and in their community so that collaborative solutions can be found. The curriculum is designed to educate, train and prepare students for future careers in sustainability‐related endeavors that include: the environment, energy, climate change, public policy, transportation, and urban and regional planning. This degree will also serve as a well‐rounded base to allow students to pursue graduate training in affiliated fields of study.
    B.A. in Sustainability graduates will be able to successfully work in government, private, and non‐profit sectors. In the future, program graduates will be creators, developers, implementers of thoughtful policies that ensure sustainable economies and environmental quality in the state of Kentucky, the nation, and the world.
    Students graduating with the B.A. in Sustainability will be able to:
    - Understand, conceptualize and analyze sustainability problems and issues in a holistic way;
    - Develop a deeper understanding of the basic concepts in sustainability, and the disciplines that can assist with real‐world problem solving;
    - Evaluate the role of social institutions and the political, legal, and cultural frameworks for sustainability;
    - Acquire methods and techniques to explore and analyze issues that cross disciplinary boundaries;
    - Understand ethical perspectives for issues related to sustainability;
    - Obtain practical experience through a required sustainability‐related internship;
    - Develop skills that will facilitate creative, innovative, and workable solutions to sustainability problems.
    Students choose one of the following specialization tracks (concentrations) for further training and focus, or construct their own (with approval from the director):
    1. Sustainable Societal and Urban Systems (SUS)
    2. Policy and Governance in Sustainability (PGS)
    3. Sustainable Societies (SS)
    Full details about UofL's B.A. in Sustainability here.
  • UofL's Dr. Tamara Sluss discusses Ohio River water quality with the Sustainability Living-Learning Community during an August 2019 Canoe Trip.Ecology and Sustainability Themed Community - UofL’s Sustainability Council and Biology department are partnering together to host a new sustainability and natural world themed community, launching in 2023-24 in University Tower Apartments and open to students from any year. This community is perfect for students in the Biology BS, Ecology Track and students from any major who are interested in sustainability, including those majoring in Sustainability through the department of Urban and Public Affairs. Students in this themed community will have opportunities to cement the lessons of the classroom through practical application, service, and community building. Full details and application here.
  • Major in Ecology (a track within UofL's B.S. Biology degree)
  • Major in Applied Geography or Minor in Environmental Analysis (Geography & Environmental Sciences)
  • Minor OR Certificate in Peace, Justice & Conflict Transformation
  • Major or Minor in Social Justice & Health Equity (Public Health)
  • Through the Liberal Studies Program, undergraduates interested in crafting a coherent, interdisciplinary course of study can major in topics such as these past examples: Environmental Studies and Activism, Green Studies and Earth Ethics, Eco Literacy and Sustainability, Environmental Change, Peace Studies, Pre-Environmental Law, and many more.
  • The Social Change Minor is a great complement to any major for UofL students interested in gaining valuable experience for careers in social movements or for a lifetime of engaged citizenship. Core and elective courses help students to pursue their particular interests—for example, the environment, civil rights, politics, deindustrialization, labor, or war & peace—from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Access UofL's diverse array of Sustainability Research & Academic Centers here.

Graduate Degree Programs

  • Interdisciplinary Masters in Sustainability
    UofL offers graduate students from all backgrounds a unique opportunity to study the full range of issues in sustainability through a Masters in Sustainability degree program housed in the Graduate School. The official degree designation is a Master of (Arts or Science) in Interdisciplinary Studies: Concentration in Sustainability. The degree launched in Fall 2015 and the Sustainability Council crafted this program with the participation of the following departments and university units: College of Arts and Sciences (Departments of Anthropology, Biology, Communication, Fine Arts, Geography and Environmental Sciences, History, Sociology, Urban and Public Affairs), Brandeis School of Law, Public Health and Information Sciences, and Speed School of Engineering. The goal is to prepare students to address complex regional, state, national and global challenges posed by the intersection of human exponential growth and increasingly limited resources that support society.

    The academic objectives of the program include:
    a) to promote student understanding of sustainability principles and how they connect social, environmental, and economic issues.
    b) to promote student ability to explain how natural, economic and social systems interact to further or impede sustainable societies.
    c) to provide relevant analytical tools so students can evaluate how local to global policies interact across spatial and temporal scales to affect built, natural and social environments.
    d) to develop interdisciplinary thinking and skills in students in the field of sustainability such that they can identify emerging areas of need and formulate research questions that bridge at least two disciplines across the built, natural and social environments.
    e) to train students to conduct research or engage in creative activities on sustainability through use of appropriate qualitative and quantitative methods.
    f) to train students so that they can work in groups and demonstrate skills for consensus building on sustainability issues among stakeholders.

    All students in this program are required to complete 30-33 credit hours of courses and must produce a thesis or capstone (depending on pursuit of MS vs. MA). All students are required to take SUST 600 Introduction to Sustainability, and at least one course from each of three Core Areas: 1. Built Environment, 2. Natural Environment, and 3. Social Environment. Full details and application here.
  • PhD in Urban & Public Affairs - Sustainability Field Area
    UofL's Department of Urban and Public Affairs offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Urban and Public Affairs. The PhD in Urban and Public Affairs is an interdisciplinary degree that prepares graduates for careers in teaching and research, policy analysis, public administration, land use and environmental planning, and economic development. Students will pursue a specialization within a field area -- Public Administration, Sustainability, or Urban Planning -- and must take 9 credit hours (3 classes) within that field area. For additional information on the courses available and required for the different field areas, see the UofL Graduate Catalog.
  • Graduate Certificate in Environmental Engineering
  • Graduate Certificate in Diversity Literacy

Learn more about Careers in Sustainability:
GreenBiz’s Green Jobs and Sustainability Careers Center
Portland State University’s Careers in Sustainability page
Arizona State University's School of Sustainability Careers in Sustainability page Careers in Sustainability page
Turning Green Degrees into Sustainable Careers (Affordable Colleges Online)
Green Degrees and Environmental Careers: A Guide to Working in Sustainability (STEPS: Student Training & Education in Public Service)
Zippia's Guide To Starting A Green Career and Green Scholarships for College Students

Courses in Sustainability

Below are just a sampling of the many sustainability-related courses taught at UofL across all disciplines! Explore all of the offerings in sustainability with UofL's Course Schedule, which now includes a filter option for sustainability courses. Our most recent inventory of sustainability courses offered at UofL is available here: UofL Sustainability Courses 2018-2021.

***New Sustainability Course for Fall 2024:

URBS-641-12 Urban Justice & Policy
F 9:00-11:30am / 3 cr. / Professor Tony Arnold
This graduate seminar focuses on what justice means in the urban context, examining both theories of justice and practical applications and examples in the areas of housing injustice, environmental injustice, and climate injustice. The course uses field-study and observation in addition to assigned readings, discussion, and analytical papers. The course meets at various off-campus outdoors locations that exemplify issues of urban justice/injustice.

***New Sustainability Course for Spring 2024:

UPA 679-01 Environmental Policy
W 5:30-8:30pm / 3 cr. / Professor John Gilderbloom
Survey of environmental issues and policies designed to address those issues. Cross-listed with PADM 627, PLAN 620 and POLS 627.

***New Sustainability Course for Fall 2023:

HON 341-06 / HON 351-06 Payne Hollow: The Confluence of Art, Culture, & the Environment Along our Waterways
TTh 2:30-3:45pm / 3 cr. / Professors Russell Barnett & Dr. David Wicks
Harlan and Anna Hubbard are remembered for the “simple lifestyle”, living on the fringe of society, but their lives were a rich tapestry of art, music, literature, and manual labor. Payne Hollow on the Ohio, a nonprofit organization, recently purchased the 61 acres known as Payne Hollow, the homeplace and studio of Anna and Harlan Hubbard. Located on the banks of the Ohio River in Trimble County, Kentucky, it is just downstream of Hanover and Madison, Indiana. With the purchase of the land, the organization's goal is to create an outdoor learning and research station. Participants in this seminar will assist in the development of a land management plan using the Kentucky State Nature Preserves ecological standards, the collected base line data set and resulting maps will help Payne Hollow on the Ohio develop. The class will:
- Explore the relationship of the creative works and lifestyle of the Hubbards within the context of the land and the Ohio River,
- Develop an ecological base line inventory of Payne Hollow’s flora and fauna as well as a description of the geology and geography, develop ecological interpretive materials using iNaturalist with a goal of including all flora and fauna on the site.
- Conduct assessments of water quality and aquatic life in the stream flowing through the property,
- Explore the natural and cultural issues that face our rivers.
- Propose short term and long-term strategies to be included in the Payne Hollow on the Ohio land management plan.

***New Sustainability Course for Spring 2023:

ANTH 252 People and their Food
MW 11 – 12:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor Lisa Markowitz
This is s new Cardinal Core course (SBD2). Everyone eats but we eat such different things. This course examines the reasons why, across the globe, we meet our common nutritional needs in so many different ways. We explore food and foodways as products of soil, politics, and culture.

ENGL 405 Edit, Design, Advocate
MWF 11 – 11:50am / 3 cr. / Professor Megan Poole
In this class, we're talking air pollution. We're uncovering how writing, editing, and publishing practice make the science and health effects of air pollution difficult to understand. Students will learn how to write, edit, and design with the skills needed to advocate for others in public and professional settings. We'll read broadly, from journalism to science to the arts, then we'll work with social justice-oriented community organizations to create, edit, and publish written material for local audiences.

***New Sustainability Course for Fall 2022:

URBS 320-01 Urban Animal Geographies
TTh 12:30-1:45pm / 3 cr. / Professors Jake Mac & Lindsey Connors
This course explores the evolution of human-animal relationships in cities across time, the evolution of the study of human-animal relationships across time, the differences between human-animal relationships across different cities, the relational contrast between the way we impact animals and the way animals impact humans, the reflections of these relationships in art and cultural production, and the dual lens of physical urban animal geographies and cultural urban animal geographies.

***New Sustainability Course for Summer 2022:

BETH 605-PHIL 505/605-SCHG 500 Theories of Social Justice    
7/7-8/10 virtual / 3 cr. / Professor Avery Kolers
Depending on how it’s measured, over 11% of US population, and a majority of the world’s population, lives in poverty. Yet the sheer amount of material wealth seems to indicate that poverty is a policy choice, or a consequence of policy choices and universal emancipation from poverty is thus possible. That would be one of the greatest achievements in human history, but what would that entail, and what are the barriers to realizing it? This seminar is a careful reading of four leading theories of social justice insofar as they address the problem of emancipation from poverty. Through critical reading, discussion, and presentations, every student will grapple with each of these theories and produce a research paper on a topic of their choice within the broader theme of what it would mean to achieve emancipation from poverty, the scale or scope of the demands of social justice, the roles of markets, planning, and democracy, and the problem of realizing this emancipation without at the same time destroying planetary systems.

***New Sustainability Course for Spring 2021:

GEOG 390-02 Special Topics: Climate Change & Human Response     
TTh 11am-12:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor Maegen Rochner
Understanding Earth’s changing climate from a scientific and human perspective. A course featuring a review of the science, examination of human responses, and discussions of social and environmental issues related to climate change. In this class, we review climate science basics; discuss the current state of projections, consensus and policy; review the impacts; and focus on the human dimensions of the climate change problem. Topics in the human dimension include: (1) perceptions and denial, (2) environmental justice, (3) mitigation and adaptation, (4) solutions and barriers, (5) science communication, and (6) climate change movements. The class wraps up with discussion and coverage of solutions and hope for the future.

***New Sustainability Course for Winter 2020:

WGST 391-52 / PAS 300-02 / POLS 399-04 / LALS 321-02 / SCHG 302-06
Online and in the Streets: Feminist Protest in Latin America
Dec. 14, 2020 - Jan. 4, 2021 / 3 cr. / Professor Cara Snyder
A new social justice-centered course offered during the short winter term to enrolled UofL students.

***New Sustainability Course for Fall 2020:

GEOG 390-02 Earth Observations and the Human Planet
TTh 1-2:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor Andrea Gaughan
A new course geared towards introducing students to the UN Sustainability Goals in a spatially-explicit manner, integrating how earth observation data is being used to address specific goals and in metric development, globally.

URBS 201 The Making of Urban
MW 2-3:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor Kelsey Combs
Observers of urban life have sought for more than a century to understand the process of urbanization and the consequences of living in cities. This course integrates work by urban planners, anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, and political scientists to provide an array of interpretations regarding urban life. The course will provide a comprehensive set of tools to understand and analyze modern urbanity.

***New Sustainability Course for Summer 2020:

PLAN 625 / UPA 651-60 Historic Preservation & Sustainable Practice
5/11-6/1 / MWF 5-7:45pm / 3 cr. / Professor John Gilderbloom
A course for those who love the beauty of a city as defined by its past. This historic past is often the foundation of a great city whether it is: Paris, London, San Francisco, Chicago, Amsterdam, Rome or Havana. The beauty of buildings from our ancestors has helped to define who we are. Historic Preservation is also a powerful tool for economic development that attracts the “creative class” to a city. Historic buildings also provide a large proportion of our affordable housing for the poor and working class. Students will not only learn to identify the types of historic buildings, such as Art Deco, Queen Anne and Federal, but we will learn about the economics involved in preservation. 

***New Sustainability Courses for Spring 2020:

SUST 480-01 Special Topics: Sustainability & Fresh Water
F 12-2:30pm / 3 cr. / Professor Tamara Sluss

PHPB 650 Advanced Topics: Race, Racism, and Public Health
Tu 1-4pm / 3 cr. / Professor Kerr
The PhD in Public Health program in Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences offers this new course examining anti-black racism and its impact on public health in the United States. It emphasizes interpersonal, internalized, and institutional factors that affects the health status of the populace. It also engages in an analysis of historical and modern social movements to address racism and facilitate health equity. Prerequisites are enrollment in doctoral program or instructor permission.

***New Sustainability Courses for Fall 2019:

BIOL 263 Environmental Biology
W 2:00-2:50pm & Fr 10:00am-12:50pm / 4 cr. / Professors Aaron Sexton, Linda Fuselier & Sarah Spalding
A study of the biological principles of environmental effects on living organisms; emphasis on ecological relationships of humans, including resource exploitation, pollution, environmental degradation, and human behavior. Includes laboratory and field components. Note: Does not count toward biology major or minor.

***New Sustainability Courses for Summer 2019:

PADM 683-60/PLAN 680-60/UPA 680-60 Special Topic: Congress for New Urbanism
Professor John Gilderbloom
“New Urbanism: Creating Healthy, Safe, Sustainable, and Prosperous Places.” This course is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet with the greatest collection of the world’s renowned urban thinkers who will be here in Louisville for the annual Congress for New Urbanism. For a discounted student conference rate you will hear about positive health and wealth outcomes in neighborhood development, reducing the threat of climate change, switching from coal to solar, and more. Speakers include: Richard Jackson, Donald Shoup, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Steven Mouzon Andres Duany, Emily Talen, Peter Calthorpe and Jeff Speck. The class is being offered as an intensive one full week course June 11 to 15 with two Saturday morning prep sessions June 1 and 8 and concluding wrap up session of student presentations June 29. Students will be asked to choose three books by people presenting at the conference to write reviews. Students can do a range of publishable group projects: (1) designing a $25 million dollar LEED green building at Urban and Public Affairs; (2) designing a two way street design for downtown Louisville; (3) working with Louisville Visual Arts to chromatically paint 100 Victorian homes in Portland and Russell; (4) using New Urbanist principles to revive Louisville’s down and out neighborhoods; (5)  the causes of declining neighborhood property values in West Louisville; and (6) the impact of pollution on health. The class is being offered to graduate students across colleges in Planning, Health, Education, Public Administration, Urban and Public Affairs, Nursing, and Engineering

SUST 480-01 / UPA/PLAN 680-01 Sustainable Cities of Europe: Prague and Vienna
7/6/19 to 7/17/19 / Professor Tamara Sluss
Experience life in Prague and Vienna, rated as top 20 sustainable cities in the world by Arcadis in 2017. This is an elective for the Bachelor's or Master's of Sustainability (SUST), or Master's of Urban Planning (PLAN), Master of Public Administration (PADM), and Master of Urban and Public Affairs (MUP). Cost: $5308 with first payment (if doing pay plan first payment by 5/7) includes all air, lodging, ground transport, all breakfast, three dinners, guides, business trips, and some admission. To learn more, contact Dr. Sluss at or 502-852-4040.

***New Sustainability Courses for Spring 2019:

UPA 680-06 Global Dispossession and Urban Refuge
TTh 2:30-5:15pm / 3-6 cr. / Professor Lisa Björkman
This combination seminar and field-course explores the interconnections between global level dynamics of displacement and dispossession (on the one hand) and local level transformations and contestations over urban resources and regimes of belonging (on the other). In the seminar component of the course, we will discuss historical and contemporary accounts from cities worldwide. The field-course component will be comprised of weekly field-trips and community interactions here in Louisville that will enable us to explore the local-level implications of the concepts and dynamics about which we read. The course challenges presumptions about American exceptionalism (particularly in its property-centeredness) while also emphasizing the historical and contextual specificity of human migration, urban transformation, contestation, and regimes of dis/possession.

***New Sustainability Courses for Fall 2018:

ANTH 562/626 Food Justice
Tu 4:00-6:45pm / 3 cr / Professor Lisa Markowitz
This course explores the political, economic, cultural dimensions of hunger, food security, and food justice globally and locally. The concept of food justice has been deployed to capture consumption-based inequalities in access to tasty and nutritious food. The course considers not only justice in terms of dietary and culinary consumption but also such matters as land rights, intellectual patrimonies, migrant farm labor, restaurant working conditions, the concentration of grocery chains, food regulation, international trade rules related to agricultural commodities, and the environmental impacts of farming. The course concludes with a look at transnational efforts to build more just and sustainable food systems.

ECPY 793-97 Art for Health & Social Justice
W 1:30pm-4pm / 3 cr / Professors Katy Hopkins and Tasha Golden
This dynamic, community-engaged course investigates the intersection of artistic and psychosocial practices that support health and social justice efforts. Students will meet each week at the Nia Center and harness the laboratory of creative expression to examine inequity, trauma, critical consciousness, and community-led paths to increased justice and well-being. 

***New Sustainability Courses for Spring 2018:

SUST 202 Behavioral Dimensions of Environmental Decision Making
TTh 4-5:15pm / 3 cr / Professor Daniel DeCaro
Prerequisite: SUST 101. This course will examine sustainability through a behavioral lens, exploring the psychological processes, primary research methods, and behavioral solutions involved in environmentally responsible behavior and sustainability. Students will be introduced to key principles of motivation, perception, and decision making to identify fundamental behavioral obstacles to sustainability.

SUST 301 Sustainable Built Environment
TTh 2-3:15pm / 3 cr / Professor Sumei Zhang
Prerequisite: SUST 101 and 200-level course. The course will explore the issues of sustainability from the perspective of the built environment, our history of construction and expansion, and buildings and how they interact with the natural environment. These issues will be explored from building specific, as well as urban system, perspectives including urban design. Further, the course will focus on identifying and implementing practices that lead to more sustainable man-made modifications of natural environment for human purposes. The course will comprise of a discussion about sustainable sources for energy, water, air, materials for human habitat design and management.

SUST 302 Policy and Governance in Sustainability
TTh 12:30-1:45pm / 3 cr / Professor Frank Goetzke
Prerequisite: SUST 101 and at least one 200-level Sustainability course. The course will deal with policy making and governance, and explore the impacts of political economy on overall sustainability. Students will examine desired economic conditions, policies, and governance systems that may encourage adoption of best practices in sustainability, including city / county level policy making, state and federal level issues (e.g., EPA, renewable energy incentives), and grassroots political organizing.

SUST 480-01 Urban Agriculture
MW 2-3:15pm / 3 cr / Professor Yani Vozos

UPA 651 Historic Preservation and Sustainability:  Build an Affordable House From Start to Finish!
Sat. 8:30am-2:30pm / 3 cr / Professor John Gilderbloom
This class will meet every other Saturday for eight sessions in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Class also includes case studies of historic preservation and sustainability with walking tours in Old Louisville, Highlands, Butchertown, Russell, California and a day long field trip to Over the Rhine, Columbia, and Covington neighborhoods in Cincinatti. Students will also read four classic books and do a research paper. Students will learn how to analyze, cost estimate, locate, repair, and purchase a historic property. You will meet three graduates of our program who have had a successful business to build and renovate hundreds of houses in historic neighborhoods along with creating Airbnb and bed and breakfast establishments. Historic preservation is an art and science; it is also fulfilling to mind and soul: students will be able to include in your portfolio and resume these activities: before and after photos of you with a hammer before and after the house is built along with a Certificate of completion from the good folks at Habitat for Humanity. 

UPA 670-75 Sustainable Development and Planning

WF 12-1:15pm / 3 cr / Professor John Gilderbloom
The course is designed to address the institutions and governance in sustainable development, and will take an interdisclipinary approach. The course will be open to all graduate students in any program at UofL. Note: Cross-listed with PADM 670 and PLAN 670.

UPA 680-78 Fair and Affordable Housing in Louisville
Th 5:30-8:15pm / 3 cr / Professor Kelly Kinahan

***New Sustainability Courses for Fall 2017:

SUST 101 / PLAN 380-01 & 675-01 Introduction to Sustainability     
TTh 11am-12:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor David Simpson
This course introduces students to the theory, principles, and practices of sustainability from multiple disciplines, in preparation for the program. This course also helps students identify the main problems or questions that will drive their careers, explore concentrations in the natural environment, built environment, and social environment, and identify potential mentors in each of these areas.

SUST 201 Environmental Management
F 9am-11:45am / 3 cr. / Professor John Gilderbloom
Prerequisite: SUST 101. This course introduces students to major environmental problems in sustainability. Students will examine the biophysical or ecological properties, manifestations, and consequences of these problems at local, regional, and global scales. The course will take particular interest in human-environment interactions, understanding the role different ecosystems and environmental processes play in human well-being, as well as how humans interact with and influence biodiversity, structure, and function of natural systems worldwide.

PLAN 380-75 & 676-75 Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems    
T 5:30pm-8:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor Daniel DeCaro
The course is designed to address the social and ecological frameworks for understanding and applying sustainability concepts in both theory and practice. The course will be open to students in any program at UofL.

HIST/SCHG 323 History of Modern US Social Movements
MW 3:30-4:45pm / 3 cr. / Professor Tracy K'Myer
Introduces students to the history of modern American social movements. Topics will include organizing strategies, motivations, tactics, and results. This course will cover the history of the US peace movement as well as the use of nonviolent direct action methods by other social movements.

***New Sustainability Courses for Summer 2017:

PLAN 380-10 Introduction to Urban Agriculture & Planning
Session I 5/8-5/26 MTWTh 12-3pm / 3 cr. / Professor Yani Vozos
This course aims to give students an introduction to urban agriculture and urban planning/design  practices and techniques in the context of food production, community development and possible economic development for a healthy and sustainable city. Students will learn basic techniques in gardening/horticulture and urban planning/community development. A great deal of time in this course will be spent outside the classroom taking tours of many different urban agriculture spaces and also working in UofL's Urban & Public Affairs Horticulture Zone learning gardening techniques. For more information contact or 852-8002.

SUST/PLAN 380-50 Sustainable Action Workshop
7/5-8/8 Distance Ed / 3 cr. / Professor Brian Barnes
This online course combines readings, podcasts, and videos in and about classical and contemporary sustainability theories with hands-on practice in sustainability research and manufacture. Students will focus course projects toward their individual interests, while learning about the foundations of sustainability theory and methods for applying it to design, agriculture, management, construction, systems, development, and other areas. The coursework includes readings by an international cast of authors from many disciplines, all of which will have something to add to a definition of sustainability that each student will create and support. Students will create short videos, participate in weekly discussion board activity, and discover, through research, interdisciplinary thinking, and sustainable action, the value of sustainability for their own lives and communities.

***New Sustainability Courses for Spring 2017:

CJ 596-76 Seminar: Social & Restorative Justice
Th 5:30-8:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor Cherie Dawson-Edwards
This course will link social justice and criminology while considering the causes of harm. Assumptions about crime and justice will be examined by comparing and contrasting retributive and restorative justice paradigms. Students will be asked to think critically about our current justice system as well as a social justice response to crime and harm. Open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

PSYC 414-02/WR: Mindfulness and Sustainability
Tu/Th 2:00-3:15pm / 3 cr. / Professors Paul Salmon & Russell Barnett
This class will focus on environmental action and how our understanding of the science of human behavior can contribute to sustainability. It is well established that human behavior underlies almost all environmental problems. Most people report that they want to live in a way that treats the ecosystem within which we live with care and respect, yet engage in daily behaviors that have negative environmental impacts. In this class we will address why it is so difficult for us to change our behaviors and act upon our environmental concerns. There are many reasons for this, but one major idea that is gaining traction is that we are becoming increasingly dissociated or disconnected from our surroundings and the natural world. We will discuss various approaches to behavior change, within the context of a central organizational perspective of mindfulness, a meditation-based approach emphasizing cultivating attention in everyday life. We will experience and explore the practice of mindfulness  and learn about how it can support more sustainable personal behaviors, in large measure by helping us pay more attention to our surroundings, and be less dissociated from them. We will explore ways to apply environmental psychology paradigms and theories to community behavioral change with a particular focus on public awareness and other methods to develop behavior change proposals for the university community. A portion of the work in this course will be done in a collaborative manner.

***New Sustainability Courses for Fall 2016:

POLS 399-51 Activism in the Digital Age
Distance Ed / 3 cr. / Professor Matt Evans
How do we change the world? Over 100 years ago, Henry David Thoreau answered this question by suggesting Americans should vote with their whole ballot. This means utilizing the better part of politics – the aspect that could change the world in the face of impossible obstacles through all those activities outside the realm of voting called activism. This online course examines activism through the concrete tactics of activists in groups and social movements within and outside of the US. The class will draw on readings, videos, and other materials to empower students to change the world.

PSYC 404-02 Psychology of Interethnic Relations and Peacebuilding
MW 3:30-4:45pm / 3 cr. / Professor Melinda Leonard
A seminar in psychology that requires Instructor Permission, but is open to all - simply email a request to This course is intended to expose students to the theories (e.g., contact hypothesis, intergroup contact theory, social identity theory) and basic psychosocial elements of peacebuilding (e.g., trust, forgiveness, guilt, tolerance, empathy, anxiety, and depression) as they relate to interethnic relations around the world. Empirical readings and discussion will include an overview of the following: culture, race, ethnicity, identity, prejudice, discrimination, assimilation, acculturation, intergroup conflict, group responses / action tendencies toward interethnic / intergroup contact, and restorative practices in a multicultural world. The overall goal of this course is to provide students with a better understanding of the basic concepts of interethnic relations, restorative practices, and peacebuilding from both an American and global perspective, while delineating the contemporary psychosocial theories and empirical research related to this multidisciplinary field of study. Unlike most psychology courses which generally focus primarily on building knowledge and skills, this course is also designed to increase self-awareness and facilitate system-level change in regard to interethnic relations. Students will be required to complete a project for presentation on Peace Day in September and a final group project.

***New Sustainability Courses for Summer 2016:

UPA 680-50 Sustainable Action Workshop
Session III (July 6 - Aug. 9, 2016) / 3 cr. / Professor Brian Barnes
This new online course combines readings, podcasts, and videos in and about classical and contemporary sustainability theories with hands-on practice in sustainability research and manufacture. Students will focus course projects toward their individual interests, while learning about the foundations of sustainability theory and methods for applying it to design, agriculture, management, construction, systems, development, and other areas. The coursework includes readings by an international cast of authors from many disciplines, all of which will have something to add to a definition of sustainability that each student will create and support. Students will create short videos, participate in weekly discussion board activity, and discover, through research, interdisciplinary thinking, and sustainable action, the value of sustainability for their own lives and communities.

UPA 680-10 Excursion to San Francisco: The Liberal City: Success or Failure as Urban Policy
Session I (May 9-27, 2016) / 3 cr. / Professor John Gilderbloom
Why does San Francisco the most “liberal city” in the nation have so much success in terms of economic prosperity, clean air, water and soil, affordable housing, green transportation, historic preservation, sustainability, homeless policy, public art, architecture, and gay rights? Why does everyone want to live in San Francisco? Why San Francisco is considered one of the greatest cities on earth? What can we learn about the dos and don’ts of the nation’s most liberal city? This class will help provide students “policy solutions” that cities like Louisville could enact to fight poverty, pollution, racial division and crime. Students will get to meet the leading thinkers and elected officials of this beautiful and joyous city who have enacted policies that create healthy, safe, affordable, just and sustainable policy. What is the secret sauce that makes San Francisco great? We will have six classroom sessions to discuss the books and research assignments before we leave (May 9-19) and we will stay in San Francisco May 20-27; our hotel/hostel is in the heart of San Francisco Union Square near cable cars, subway system, rail cars and ferries.

Sustainability Courses for Spring 2016:

POLS 399-4 / SCHG 302-4 Sustainability: Principles, Concepts, and Tools***New
TTh 2:30-3:45pm / 3 cr. / Professor Chad Frederick
There are no prerequisites for this new course designed as an interdisciplinary survey of critical issues in sustainability studies. The primary goal is to equip students with the tools necessary to engage in critical assessments of sustainability as both a theory and as a practice. Does a policy which claims to be sustainable, actually increase sustainability, or does it, for example, merely “move the problem around geographically?” However, the ability to critique sustainability does not necessarily mean an ability to effectively wield sustainability for particular outcomes. This is the paradox between theory and practice. Thus, the secondary goal of the course is to enable students the ability to make use of sustainability as an approach to problem-solving. View the course syllabus here.

HSS 150-16 Eat, Move, Sleep ***New
TTh 10am-11:30am (Feb 18-April 19) / 1 cr. / Karen Newton & Katrina Kaufman
Students will learn and practice ways to eat, move, and sleep to support wellbeing and resilience from specialists in the Office of Health Promotion: Karen Newton, MPH, RD and Katrina Kaufman, MEd, CHES. Discover how small choices really do lead to big changes. The course will be instructed through the concepts and theories presented in the required text: Tom Rath's Eat, Move, Sleep.

PHIL 328 / SCHG 300-1 Environmental Ethics
MWF 11-11:50am / 3 cr. / Professor Avery Kolers
An examination of the moral status of the natural environment and ethical problems of human/environment interaction, including Environmental Justice and Global Climate Change.

ANTH 361-2 / SCHG 302-3 Sustainability: Anthropological Perspective
TTh 1-2:5pm / 3 cr. / Professor Jianhua (Andrew) Zhao
All too often, decision makers target growth, mostly measured by economic indicators, as the cure-all solution to a myriad of conflicts that exist in society. However, studies have shown that growth without consideration of the environment or social equity only leads to recurring crises. This course considers environmental, social, and economic challenges that we face from a different angle: How can we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs? The goal of this course is to foster systems thinking and take a holistic approach in exploring theoretical and practical issues related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. A major focus of the course is on ethnographic case studies on sustainability around the world.

***New Sustainability Courses for Fall 2015:

SUST 600 / PLAN 680 / UPA 680 / PADM 683 Introduction to Sustainability
Th 5:30-8:15pm / 3 cr. / Professor Daniel DeCaro
SUST 600 is a core requirement for UofL's new Sustainability Masters Degree Program in the School of Interdisciplinary & Graduate Studies. In preparation for the program, this course introduces students to the theory, principles, and practices of sustainability from multiple disciplines. The course will also help students identify the main problems or questions that will drive their careers, identify concentrations in the natural environment, built environment, and social environment, and find mentors that will guide their career development. The goal of sustainability is to ensure the greatest quality of life for all of humankind, now and into the future (Bruntland Commission 1987). In order to achieve this goal, society must rethink its approach to development and understand how to pursue its ambitions in ways that do not jeopardize the environment or our ability to solve important social, political, and economic problems in a fair and socially sustainable manner (IUCN 1980). This requires an understanding of diverse social, natural, and built dimensions of society, and their connections; it also requires expertise in approaching problems from multiple perspectives and in collaboration from experts from many different backgrounds. This course prepares students to address complex regional, state, national, and global challenges in the domain of environmental sustainability; provides vital exposure to the range of problems in sustainability; and facilitates multidisciplinary collaboration, laying the foundation for successful transition into leadership roles in sustainability.

BIOL 644 Advanced Global Change Ecology
TTh 1-2:15pm / 4 cr. / Professor Margaret Carreiro
In this course we will explore human causes of global-scale changes in climate, air and water resources, and biodiversity, and their impacts on people as well as approaches to address these problems that promote more sustainable and resilient societies. Humanity’s technology, economy and growing population have brought us and all other organisms to the threshold of significant planetary-wide change. People now manage many of the earth’s ecological systems, and scientists estimate that we shunt approximately 40% of all terrestrial primary production and >50% of the world’s accessible freshwater supply towards supporting our species alone! In recent decades science has made exciting progress in understanding how human activities interact with physical, geological, chemical and biological processes that regulate our planet’s environment on a global scale. We need to understand the science behind the effects we have on these interactive processes, if we expect to prevent, reduce or manage their unintended negative consequences. In this course you will learn more about how people are changing atmospheric chemical composition, land use (agricultural, urban), and “homogenization” of the world’s species and the effects these changes are having on global climate, major elemental cycles, ecosystem functions, biological diversity, and human disease. In addition, you will learn how decisions made by individuals, governments, businesses and other social institutions cause and respond to these rapid environmental changes from local to global scales and how we can make different choices that reduce the negative impacts of our collective behavior on nature and ourselves.

LAW 903 Seminar in Land and Ecosystem Conservation
W 5:35-7:15pm / 2 cr. / Professor Tony Arnold
This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on an alternative method of planning -- adaptive planning -- that is more flexible, iterative, and decentralized than the typical up-front development of a static, comprehensive plan that could fail if conditions change or communities experience unexpected disturbances. Cities and communities need adaptive planning in order to improve their resilience to a variety of stressors, including extreme weather, flood, drought, economic shocks, unexpected population shifts, heat island effects, stormwater runoff and pollution, and the like. This course will not meet every week. During the first 6 weeks of the semester, students will participate in online course content on adaptive planning and resilience (video lectures, guided readings, discussion threads) and ALSO meet weekly in class to discuss this cutting-edge material in substantial depth. The online lecture will include presentations by experts in the field who are engaged in adaptive planning of land, water, and other resources, from all over the U.S. Students will identify a planning issue in a community and write a paper on whether the community's planning processes are adaptive and how adaptive planning processes can be applied to the community and its issues.

***New Sustainability Courses for Summer 2015:

LAW 839 Seminar in Water Resources Planning
Session I (May 11-15, 2015) M-F 8am-5pm / 3 cr. / Professor Tony Arnold
The interdisciplinary Water Resources Law and Policy Seminar for this Summer Term will focus on urban water issues. Students will work on writing a paper, which will be due near the end of June. This course counts towards the Land Use & Environmental Planning concentration in the MUP program and the credit will count towards both MUP and MAP degrees. In order to register, graduate students need to complete the Form for Graduate Students to Take Law Classes and submit it to Barbara Thompson, the Law School's Director of Student Records, at

PADM 683 / UPA 680 / PAS 605 Cultural Competency In Action
Session 1 (May 11 – June 1, 2015) / 3 cr. / Professor Aaron C. Rollins
In order for public administrators to carry out their mission of serving the public, or community as a whole, they must have the skills to meet the diverse needs of all members of the population. Such skills are commonly referred to as cultural competency. Terry Cross defines cultural competency as, “A set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals and enables that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. “ A culturally competent system acknowledges and incorporates at all levels – the importance of culture, the assessment of cross–cultural relations, vigilance toward the dynamics that result from cultural differences, the expansion of cultural knowledge, and the adaption of services to meet culturally-unique needs. In this course, we will: Review relevant literature relating to cultural competency; Analyze agencies commitment to cultural competency; and Develop cultural competency policy solutions. Please email Dr. Aaron C. Rollins <> with any questions regarding the course.

Sustainability Courses for Spring 2015:

BIOL 660 Advanced Ecology of Urban and Suburban Landscapes
TTh 1-2:15pm / 4 cr. / Professor Margaret Carreiro
Human activities profoundly alter distributions of organisms and ecological functions of natural systems, but in few places do they modify the earth's surface more directly and substantially than in cities. Landscape alteration associated with urbanization not only affect human quality of life, but also offers ecologists new arenas for addressing both basic ecological questions and issues of urgent environmental concern. These include predicting evolutionary, population, community and ecosystem responses to many global environmental change factors like habitat fragmentation, invasive species introductions, and air and water pollution. Urban expansion can provide a mosaic of new combinations of resources, conditions and species for examining the roles of direct and indirect interactions, threshold effects, feedback loops, habitat isolation, and disturbance, in stabilizing or changing the ecological systems that comprise urban green infrastructure. This course also addresses the importance of integrating the social sciences with the biophysical sciences if we are to holistically understand the functioning of cities and associated suburbs, and predict their likely responses to global environmental change. Therefore, this course will also deal with the topics of urban resilience, adaptation and sustainability.

Sustainability Courses for Fall 2014:

SOC 601-01 Environmental Sustainability and Social Change
M 2-4:45pm / 3 cr. / Professor Lauren Heberle
This graduate seminar will provide an overview of U.S. environmental history from both policy and movement perspectives. While our initial focus will be U.S. based, we will also examine the global picture when we delve into climate change. We will address key areas of environmental sustainability and the emergent solutions to the “Wicked Problems” associated with improving and saving our environment. We will do this from an interdisciplinary perspective with an emphasis on a variety sociological approaches to examining our world. Students are expected to have a basic understanding of social science research methods and theory and will be encouraged to bring other approaches to the seminar.

HON 341-05 Following the Fork
TTh 2:30-3:45pm / 3 cr. / Professors Russ Barnett & David Wicks
An interdisciplinary outdoor environmental education Honors Seminar in Social Sciences designed to get students directly involved in local watersheds through paddle trips on urban waterways and discussion of water quality and habitat issues associated with urban environments.

Sustainability Courses for Summer 2014:

UPA/PLAN 680-01 Introduction to the City: Planning, Public Administration and Urban Affairs
Session 1 (May 12- June 2, 3 week) / 3 cr. / Professor John Gilderbloom
A comprehensive overview of the city by looking closely at Louisville's political, planning and policy outcomes of decision making. We will spend time touring the city (walking, biking and bus) and learning about struggling and prosperous neighborhoods. No prerequisites. Open to all graduate students and advanced undergraduates by permission of instructor.

UPA/PLAN 680-02 Planning, Hazards, and Sustainability
Session 3 (July 9 - Aug 12) / 3 cr. / Professor David Simpson
This course will explore the relationship of urban planning, ideas of sustainability, and issues in natural hazards and disasters. The role of urban planning and development has a tremendous impact on community preparedness and resilience, and further on sustainability of communities long term. A graduate level introductory approach to basic planning practices, as well as an overview of sustainability thinking and approaches. These concepts are then examined as they apply to natural hazards and disasters, looking at events such as Hurricanes Katrina & Sandy. These events (sea rise, flooding, typhoons, severe storms, tornadoes, etc.) are predicted to be on the rise in frequency and intensity as a result of climate changes. What are the key economic, social and political implications of where these ideas intersect? What are appropriate strategies at local, regional and national levels? What are the barriers and incentives to improve community sustainability and resiliency? No prerequisites. Open to all graduate students & advanced undergraduates by instructor's permission.

**NEW** Sustainability Courses for Spring 2014:

ANTH 361-01 Sustainability: Anthropological Perspectives (3cr.)
MW 2:00-3:15pm / Lutz Hall 232 / Professor Jianhua (Andrew) Zhao
All too often, decision makers target growth, mostly measured by economic indicators, as the cure-all solution to a myriad of conflicts that exist in society. However, studies have shown that growth without consideration of the environment or social equity only leads to recurring crises. This course considers environmental, social, and economic challenges that we face from a different angle: How can we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs? The goal of this course is to foster systems thinking and take a holistic approach in exploring theoretical and practical issues related to environmental, social, and economic sustainability. A major focus of the course is on ethnographic case studies on sustainability around the world.

ANTH 601-75 Pollution, Health & Culture (3cr.)
W 5:30-8:15pm / Lutz Hall 232 / Professor Peter Little
This course explores the intersection of anthropology and environmental public health. With a focus on the pollution-health-culture relationship, we examine the place of environmental contamination in contemporary medical anthropology, the growing interest in the political ecology of health, the critical role of health in environmental justice struggles, as well as the importance of social structure and environmentally mediated political economy on health. The anchoring questions of the course include the following: Why is there so much controversy over the connection between pollution and disease? What are the implications of disagreements between lay publics living with pollution and public health experts investigating environmental health risk? Who defines which diseases are most important and which toxic substances get addressed? How is environmental illness politicized? What are the social, political, and scientific dimensions of contemporary environmental health movements?

PLAN 680-75 / PADM 683-76 / UPA 680-75 ST: Behavior & Urban Sustainability
Th 5:30-8:15pm / Urban Studies 123 / Professor Daniel DeCaro
The best laid plans for environmental sustainability often fail when planners and administrators do not account for the human dimension of the problem. Recycling bins are great, if people are sufficiently motivated to use them, and a comprehensive mass transit system could greatly boost air quality in the city, if decision makers in state and local government could be persuaded to fund such a progressive undertaking. In this course, students will be introduced to fundamental principles of human behavior needed to address these and other common behavioral obstacles faced during the design and implementation of urban environmental solutions. Students will also work closely with members of the community (e.g., Partnership for a Green City) to develop a behaviorally-informed solution to an important local urban social-environmental problem.

TA 352-01/555-01Applied Theatre for Social Justice
T/Th 4:00-5:15pm / HPES 133 / Professor Russ Vandenbroucke
This course blends learning and doing. We will study selected forms of Applied Theatre that have been and continue to engage theatre makers and audiences in fostering social justice. These include, Theatre For Development (often used in the developing world), Theatre in Education (an English term for theatre schools and community centers often including teaching and social workers), and Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, (which strives to help people understand their own agency to empower them to act against forms of oppression they experience). All of these use theatre as a social tool rather than an autonomous result. We will also study some playmaking techniques such as story circles, writing haiku, conducting interviews, and Augusto Boal’s theatre of images. Students will eventually divide into ensembles that use applied theatre to address issues of their choosing, which will be performed for the department.

**NEW** Sustainability Courses taught Fall 2013:

M-W 4:00-5:15 pm / Humanities 101 / Professor Peter Little
Since its inception, anthropology has broadly dealt with “ecological” questions, including human perceptions of the natural world and the relationship between “nature” and “culture,” as well as the ways human populations use culture as an adaptive mechanism to their habitats and ecosystems. More recently, “environmental anthropology” has grown as a specialization within anthropology, focusing broadly on the study of environmental conflicts and politics from an anthropological perspective. This course provides an introduction to environmental anthropology and explores real world concerns such as socio-natural disasters, climate change, biodiversity conservation, industrial hazards and pollution politics, environmental justice, natural resource conflicts, and the environmental costs of development and consumerism. We focus on environmental issues historically and cross-culturally, but with a primary focus on contemporary globalization and enduring structures of power.


Mondays 5:30-8:15 pm / Humanities 220 / Professor Peter Little
This course explores contemporary global environmental debates from a political ecology perspective. A strong focus within environmental anthropology today, political ecology has both drawn critical attention to the politics of natural resource use and control and informed our understanding of ecopolitical debates provoked by environmental change and plunder. We engage tough questions: what is the social and political constitution of environmental science and expertise; how do environmental science and technology shape social-environmental relations, and conversely how do social-environmental relations shape science and technology. The course draws on perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to critically explore and discuss, among other concepts and topics, environmental knowledge production, neoliberal ecopolitics, sustainability, ecological modernization, risk society, ecosocialism, climate change, environmental justice, environmentality, and the complex and variegated ways in which these and other topics and concepts enliven the contemporary field of political ecology.

Tu/Th 4:00pm-05:15 pm / Humanities 219 / Professor Rodger Payne
Study of environmental and resource issues on the global level, focusing on the various implications of sustainable development. A global environmental politics class with an emphasis on climate change and resource scarcity. See Professor Payne's blog about this term’s textbooks here.

Thursdays 5:30pm-08:15pm / CO236 / Professor Daniel DeCaro
Think of this as a course in "analyzing urban social-ecological systems" in order to develop tailored solutions for the specific social/environmental problems plaguing different urban environments. The unique social, political, economic, and biophysical factors inherent in different urban environments (e.g., Louisville versus New York) influence human behavior in important ways that need to be considered when designing effective solutions for environmental sustainability. In this course, students will learn how to identify, describe, and address these social-ecological differences using Nobelist Elinor Ostrom’s Institutional Analysis and Development Framework. Students will also have the opportunity to work with members of the community (e.g., UofL’s Sustainability Council) to apply this framework to help develop a solution to an important local problem.

A sampling of other Sustainability Courses taught at UofL:

  • New Spring 2013: PSYC414: Environmental Psychology (Dr. Daniel DeCaro)