Environment and Sustainability Minor

The environment and sustainability minor introduces students to the world of environmental studies by encouraging them to explore environmental problem-solving from multiple disciplinary perspectives (e.g. economics, political science, sociology, ethics, psychology, and architecture). Only by familiarizing ourselves with the perspectives and tools of disciplines such as these can we hope to meaningfully address the serious environmental problems facing us at the local, national and global levels.

The environment and sustainability minor requires a minimum of 15 credit hours.

All prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment in the following courses.

Required Courses (9 hrs.) 

ECON 225: Introduction to Environmental Economics
3 credit hours

Economic principles are used to analyze contemporary environmental issues. The impacts of population and economic growth on natural resource depletion are explored.

PHIL 320: Environmental Ethics
3 credit hours

This course seeks to develop a better understanding of both the factual and ethical dimensions of our current and possible future environments. Explores several contemporary approaches in environmental ethics (including deep ecology, ecofeminism, animal rights, market efficiencies, the loss of biodiversity and responses from deontological, utilitarian and virtue ethics, etc.) and representative theoretical problems (e.g., Aldo Leopold’s “land ethic” vs. natural rights views, ecological holism vs. moral atomism, market efficiency vs. moral obligations, etc.). Using a case-study approach, students then learn to apply different ethical frameworks to several ethical choices occasioned by human interaction with the natural order.

PSYC 333: Psychology of Sustainability
3 credit hours

An investigation of the connection between human behavior and environmental issues. Topics will include psychological perspectives on the issues of conservation, ecopsychology, cognition and motivation as they relate to interactions with the natural environment.

Select two courses from the following (6 hrs.): 

ARCH 154: Why Cities Matter
3 credit hours

Soon, nearly two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. Yet rarely do we pause to consider the meaning and significance of these places as complex products of human ingenuity. This course is designed to help non-majors understand cities both as three-dimensional artifacts and as settings for social and cultural innovation. Special emphasis will be placed on how cities and urban experiences have been interpreted in art, literature, and film.

COMM 422: Argumentation and Advocacy
3 credit hours

Prerequisite:  COMM 211. 
The First Amendment coupled with our marketplace of ideas mentality requires that competent communicators get and practice critical-thinking skills. Argumentation and Advocacy explores these skills in tandem with the public discourse vehicle. Students are required to examine and deploy various approaches in making and evaluating arguments in a public setting. Theories explored include transmission models of communication, Stephen Toulmin’s model of argumentation and critical theory as it is applied to communication studies and the professions.

ENGL 375: Land and Literature
3 credit hours

This course traces the roots of contemporary thinking about the land in literature both ancient and modern. We will read a series of texts from the Bible, classical Greek culture, early modern England, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Students should develop a sophisticated, wide-ranging understanding of how contemporary American culture has imagined (and treated) the natural world.

PLSC 309: Global Environmental Politics
3 credit hours

From one state’s perspective, many environmental problems are either too big to handle alone (climate change), are caused by other states they cannot control (transboundary air pollution) or concern the loss of environmental goods that belong to the world (depleted international fisheries). Students will explore these differing types of global environmental challenges by considering the diverse set of relevant actors, interests and institutions operating within and across states.

PLSC 322: American Environmental Politics
3 credit hours

The creation and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations in the United States can be imagined as the ultimate board game. It has three overlapping levels (city, state and federal), actors on defense (save our jobs!), referees who interpret the rules (courts and bureaucracy), and actors empowered to change those rules (elected officials). Understanding this game is vitally important as it determines the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the price we pay for almost everything.

SOCI 306: Social Movements
3 credit hours

An examination of historical and contemporary collective protest movements that seek change in or preservation of the social and political structure of society. Course will survey theory and research on social change featuring case studies that include the United States labor movement, civil rights, feminism, gay/lesbian rights, environmentalism, animal rights and the new right conservatism movement.