Course Descriptions

In our efforts to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of sustainability the courses are not the same, or even from the same disciplines each spring.  Faculty from humanities, social and natural sciences rotate through the program with only the Core Course taught every spring.

Courses for Spring 2016 include: 

ODST 248 Core Course: Sustainability Studies – Dr. Cathy Shrady

This course will examine some of the essential topics in sustainability not covered by the other Sustainability Semester courses. Possible topics include: food, energy, transportation, social justice, population, green building, urban sustainability and more.  Students will work with community partners to learn about issues of sustainability in the local area and experience a variety of practices and skills related to sustainable living in the North Country. This course includes two week’s residency in Boston during which students will focus on urban sustainability.

247D Sustainability Theory and Practice: A Critical Assessment Dr. Bill Vitek

This course will offer an overview and critical assessment of some of the founders, fundamental assumptions and contributions of the environmental sustainability movement in an effort to evaluate its effectiveness as an inside the paradigm response to the most critical challenges of our time.  How does sustainability stand up as a social movement, or as a successful response to the greatest challenges of our—or any—time in modern human history?  Can we speak of it as a single movement?  Does it represent a true social and conceptual revolution, or is it operating largely within the status quo worldview that brought us our environmental challenges in the first place?  Can it do the work we need it to do as an inside-the-paradigm movement or does the heavy lifting in response to climate change, soil erosion, a burgeoning human population, and the energy and material demands of complex cultures demand a fuller, deeper and more radical approach?  And if a more radical approach is necessary, will sustainability give us the time we need?

ENG/ENVS 282 Going Locavore – Dr. Mary Hussmann

Selected texts, films, speakers, and various writing assignments will provide a contextual framework for class visits to and volunteer work on three local farms in order to understand the historical roots and possible alternatives to a growth economy and the shift from local, small scale farming to the crop monoculture and CAFO feedlot model of current agribusiness. With this framework in mind, students will read work by contemporary writers immersed in the experience of local food and local living. Additionally, students will study the strengths and weaknesses of their various rhetorical strategies to understand that effective “environmental” writing is as varied as other forms of creative nonfiction and depends equally on context, venue, subject, audience, and authorial intent.

BIO 3004 Agroecology Dr. Aswini Pai

The overarching goal of the course will be to study the ecology of sustainable food systems.   It will examine the links between agricultural ecosystems, biodiversity, natural environments, and farming communities using ecological principles such as population and community dynamics, genetic resources, and, energetics. Course material will cover problems confronting modern day agricultural practices, the influence agroecology can have on biodiversity and ecosystem services and system-level interactions in agroecosystems.  Additionally, it will look at the role of traditional knowledge in indigenous agriculture, alternative agriculture, local food systems, the growing debate about genetically modified crops and their role in sustainability. It will apply ecological theory to the study, design and management of sustainable agroecosystems.  The course will also discuss the development of indicators of sustainability in agriculture and the process of converting to sustainable practices.