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: Sustainable Communication: Education, Advocacy, and Activism (Fall 2017)

Professors: Erika Barthelmess (Biology) and Jessica Prody (Performance & Communication Arts)

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. Certified Interpretive guide training, an internationally recognized training through the National Association of Interpretation, will be offered as part of the course and will require a time commitment over fall break or two weekend of the semester.

Farm Practicum (Fall 2017)

Professor: Samuel Joseph (Homesteader-in-Residence)

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: Solving Sustainability (Spring 2018)

Professors: Sara Ashpole (Environmental Studies), Daniel McLane (Sociology), and David Murphy (Environmental Studies)

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: Planning an Edible Forest Garden (Spring 2018)

Professor: Samuel Joseph (Homesteader-in-Residence)

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.   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 2017-2018 Program

ENG 293: Literary Harvest (Fall 2017)

Professor: Natalia Singer (English)

This is a creative writing course in literary nonfiction that focuses on food, food security, and farming. Students will write immersion memoirs or immersion journalism based on their CBL fieldwork.  A Literary Harvest has both a CBL component and cross-cultural, comparative focus (India). The community-based learning takes place in the course's required lab component. It is also offered as Global Studies 293 and Environmental Studies 293.  Students will draw from nonfiction readings, their CBL work, and past experience, including travel, to examine the themes from both a local and global perspective.

Transboundary Wildlife Conservation Policy (ESP, Special Topics) (Fall 2017)

Professor: Sara Ashpole (ENVS)

North American wildlife can face a perilous existence, particularly across vast complex landscapes, or when protection changes across political boundaries, or when well-intended policy is limited. Bridging science, policy, and ecology, transboundary wildlife conservation—for example, coordination between Canada, US, and Mexico—is an emerging concept in environmental governance with an eye toward aligning protection policies. Today, the plight of biodiversity is strengthened by participatory wildlife conservation involving stakeholders and stewardship initiatives. This course will explore ecological and cultural values as viewed within and beyond political borders, protected areas, and private land using transboundary wildlife case studies. The enigmatic Gray Wolf has had a dramatic chronicle across North America including persecution, protection, and delisting and will be a primary course example.  Students will select a transboundary species and develop a historical ‘story-board’ spatial analysis for presentation. Written research papers will include a scientific literature review on a transboundary species ecology and a comparative policy paper. A final synthesis will be required and developed as a diagrammatic conceptual model. Pre-requisite: ENVS 101 or equivalent or permission of instructor. Anti-requisite FRPG 2047

Theatre, Sustainability, and the Natural World (PCA, Special Topics) (Spring 2018)

Professor: Angela Sweigart-Gallagher (PCA)

This course focuses on dramatic literature and performances with ecological themes, as well as sustainable theatrical production practices. Students will have an opportunity to explore the ethical and practical relationship between theatre, issues of sustainability, and the natural world through course readings, discussions, and practical production projects.

History of Global Environmental Movements (Spring 2018)

Professor: Anne Csete (History)

From hundreds of Japanese villagers marching on Tokyo in the 1890s to fight a copper mine that was destroying their village to the movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, this course examines environmental ideas and movements in a global and historical context. Our main textbook, Environmentalism: A Global History by Ramachandra Guha, will guide us as we examine the origins of contemporary environmentalism, and how environmental ideas differ in different cultural and historical contexts. Along with Guha’s survey, we will take a closer look at several specific movements. These case studies will be taken from a variety of times and places. In addition to the case studies, each student will research an environmental movement. Students will present the results of their research in written and oral form. Other course requirements include reading responses, leading class discussion, and reading quizzes.