Course Overview

In our effort to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability we have developed two core courses: Sustainability Leadership 1 and Sustainability Leadership 2.  Students in the program are required to take 1.5 credits each semester, including one core course and a .5 credit practicum course.  The core courses are taught by faculty from humanities, social and natural sciences.  In addition to the required core courses, students have the option of enrolling in elective courses offered on the farm.  Students will be given first priority for seats in these elective courses and will be joined by on-campus students who fill out the remaining seats.  Program students who do not opt to register for these elective courses will work with their on-campus advisor to fill out their course schedule by selecting on-campus courses required for their major or distribution requirements. Finally, students who desire are able to develop their own 1 or .5 credit independent studies as part of the program.

Core Courses for the 2017-2018 Program:

Sustainability Leadership 1: Solving Sustainability (Fall 2018) 

Too often discussion of sustainability problems can seem overwhelming and make people feel it’s all hopeless. This course seeks to encourage students to get involved in their local and global community. The Sustainability Leadership curriculum focuses on five core competencies: systems thinking, anticipatory, normative, interpersonal and strategic.  While these competencies overlap, this course emphasizes systems thinking (interaction between components in a sustainability issue), anticipatory thinking (what will happen if no intervention occurs), and strategic thinking (what does a successful intervention and its outcome look like). To do this, students will understand case studies that model the relevant competencies and complete problem based learning that allows them to apply these same competencies.  Finally, students will be asked to evaluate their intervention. Example case studies could include a successful global intervention in ozone depletion.  The case study would model competencies: identifying the problem of ozone depletion, anticipating possible outcomes (what might cause the hole gets bigger or smaller) and strategic action (policy initiatives that addressed the issue). Examples of problems based learning activities could include for example how SLU can meet its climate commitment to be carbon neutral by 2040.The focus of the Problem Based Learning will be decided upon collectively by students and faculty each semester drawing on faculty expertise and student interest.  The course will be taught by multiple faculty using on interdisciplinary perspectives. 

Farm Practicum (Fall 2018)

Students will explore sustainable food production in all its facets through hands on work at the Sustainability Farm.  The students will learn culinary arts that take food from the field all the way to their dinner plates.  In addition student will learn about the different preservation methods including root cellaring, dehydrating, canning, and fermenting so this food can be consumed deep into winter.  Farm work will involve vegetables, fruit, perennials, mushrooms, some grains, and animals.  As a class we will explore full diet production, or to put it plainly what is it that we actually eat and how can we produce it.  Students will engage in sustainable farm topics such as reduce tillage, crop rotation, nutrient management, rotational grazing, cover cropping, mushroom production, and perennial-based agriculture.  Challenges and barriers to adoption of these techniques will also be addressed including appropriate scale and economic issues.  The class will meet once a week to discuss theories behind sustainable agriculture, but majority of time will be hands on learning through life on an organic farm.

Sustainability Leadership 2: Sustainable Communication: Education, Advocacy, and Activism (Spring 2019)

Moving forward in sustainability efforts requires effective communication skills; therefore this course develops your skills as environmental leaders by teaching you theories and practices of communicating environmental education and sustainable advocacy.  This course will particularly focus on how you communicate to different audiences and with different purposes.  In the course assignments you will provide an environmental education session to a local youth group, write articles for digital audiences, and target a college-audience with persuasive communication. 

Farm Practicum: Planning an Edible Forest Garden (Spring 2019)

The goal of this course is to assess the landscape of the Sustainability Site and design an edible forest garden to be planted on location.  An edible forest garden attempts to use ecological principles to mimic a forest ecosystem to produce food based on perennial plants.  Case studies of existing forest gardens will be analyzed to see what works and what can be improved upon.  As a class we will map out the Sustainability Site, analyze and assess factors that will influence perennial plantings around the property.  The majority of the class will consist of creating a detailed design proposals for an edible forest garden to be planted at the Sustainability Site.

Elective Courses for the 2018-2019 Program