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Academic Programs

by Mog,Justin M last modified Mar 16, 2015 04:48 PM

Expanding the opportunities for students to learn about sustainability from a variety of perspectives.

The University has developed an internal system to identify sustainability-focused and related courses throughout our catalog. This system has identified hundreds of courses across all disciplines which we are using in the development of interdisciplinary undergraduate and masters programs in Sustainability. These programs are currently going through the approval process and UofL hopes to begin enrolling students in Sustainability degree programs in the near future.
In the meantime, UofL students have a variety of options for studying sustainability at UofL including:

Undergraduate Degree Programs

  • Undergraduates at UofL may also purse a new Certificate in Peace, Nonviolence & Conflict Transformation Studies. Contact: Director Russell Vandenbroucke, 502-852-8444, r.vandenbroucke (at)
  • Major or Minor in Environmental Analysis (Geography & Geosciences)
  • Through the Liberal Studies Program, undergraduates interested in crafting a coherent, interdisciplinary course of study can major in topics such as 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.

Graduate Degree Programs

  • The Sustainability Council is currently preparing to launch a new Masters in Sustainability degree program to be housed in the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies. Our intention is to launch the new program in Fall 2015. Details will be posted here as soon as the program clears all internal approvals.
  • Dual master’s degree in Urban Planning and Public Health
    An innovative new dual degree program that gives students the opportunity to explore the connection between the health and the built environment (i.e., streets, parks, homes, buildings, shopping centers and public spaces.) Participants study how healthy places can be built and unhealthy neighborhoods can be reformed to improve the health of their residents. Graduates of the program receive two degrees: Master of Urban Planning (MUP) and Master of Public Health (MPH). The MUP-MPH program prepares students for careers in urban design and health, urban public health planning and development, urban sustainability and health planning and policy. The dual degree, which was created in 2011 as part of a Louisville Putting Prevention to Work grant from the Centers for Disease Control, requires a total of 95 hours study. Read the story. Complete information is available here. For more information on the application process, call Tammi Thomas, 502-852-3289 or Yani Vozos, 502-852-8002.
  • Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Environmental Education
    This degree is offered through the College of Education & Human Development to those individuals who hold a current teaching license. An Environmental Education Endorsement Program is also coming soon. The following courses below can be applied to either of these options, and to the Rank 1 requirements for area of emphasis credits:
    EDAP 673-75: Introduction of Environmental Education (3 credits)
    EDAP 604-96: Environmental Education Teaching Methods (3 credits)
    For more details, visit our Center for Environmental Education.
  • Graduate Certificate in Environmental Engineering
  • Graduate Certificate in Diversity Literacy
  • Through the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, students interested in exploring advanced studies in a field like sustainability which transcends established academic/institutional boundaries may design a graduate program of study in consultation with faculty and the Assistant Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies. A program for this degree must involve at least two academic departments/units and it must cross traditional disciplinary organizational structures and programmatic lines of study.

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 with UofL's Course Schedule.

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 pre-requisites required. Open to all graduate students and advanced undergraduates by permission of instructor.

UPA/PLAN 680-01 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 pre-requisites. 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 352-01/555-01 Applied 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.

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