Sustainability Courses


Welcome to Green NAU's Sustainability Courses Directory. This is a comprehensive listing of courses on campus focusing on or related to sustainability topics. Be sure to check back regularly, as our listing is transitioning to a new format, with enhanced search capabilities!

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BIO 299 - Global Sustainability (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Dr Stefan Sommer
Description: This course will explore the scientific understanding of global sustainability and a multidisciplinary approach to possible solutions. What can science tell us about climate change, the global extinction crisis, pollution, over consumption of resources, energy production, population growth, and our ever increasing ecological footprint. What methods do scientists use to understand these issues. How can we respond to this new understanding. We will also explore the implications of this new understanding for society. What do experts from many disciplines recommend we do to build a more sustainable society. How do we evaluate which recommendations are truly sustainable.

BIO 326 - Ecology (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Catherine Gehring
Description: Introduces ecological principles, including the distribution and abundance of organisms, population dynamics, community organization, energy flow, and nutrient cycling. Prerequisites: BIO 181 and 182. Pre-biology majors may not take this course.

BIO 571 - Soil Ecology (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Karen Haubensak
Description: This course will focus on the links between the soil and aboveground subsystems - with particular emphasis on the soil biota and its functions. The practical aspect will focus on the composting system at NAU, using compost as a testing medium to learn about the most critical chemical, biological and physical tests of soils. Some lecture, lots of discussion, lots of time with compost piles. No pre-reqs. Must be junior-level or above.

CM 403 - Sustainable Building Design and Assessment (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Susan Thomas
Description: This course takes the students through both a broad and a focused look at national and global sustainability issues and evaluation systems. It explores green building principles and practices, and the social, environmental and economic benefits of going green. We will look at the pros and cons of obtaining an objective third party certification or rating based on an in depth review of the US Green Building Councils L.E.E.D 2009 criteria for new construction.

ECO 424 - Natural Resources and Climate Change (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Xiaobing Zhao
Description: Theory and public policy of natural resource economics: techniques for measurement and valuation, cultural, social and ethical issues surrounding natural resources, regulation of economic activity regarding natural resources.

ECO 428 - Advanced Energy Economics (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Dean Smith
Description: The relationship between energy, humans, and the environment, focusing on prospects for a sustainable energy future in urban areas, emerging societies and indigenous communities.

EES 698 - Graduate Seminar (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Abe Springer and Nick McKay
Description: First 10 weeks of the semester(2 credits): Water Sustainability and Climate Understand the interactions between the Earth,s water system and climate change, land use (including agriculture, managed forest and rangeland systems), the built environment, and ecosystem function and services. (last 5 weeks of the semester 1 credit): Modes of Climate Variability 1)understand the basic mechanisms and climate dynamics that underly the primary modes of variability in the Earth,s climate system 2)investigate both the physical climatology of the modes, and how the modes may interact with and modulate future and past climate change 3)learn the basic analytical and numerical techniques used to quantify and investigate these modes.

ENV 181 - Environmental Sustainability (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Erik Nielsen, Rod Parnell, and Angie Moline
Description: An introduction to the ways in which we perceive the environment: how our environment is structured and functions, how we relate to the environment and environmental sustainability from humanistic, cultural and political perspectives, and how we resolve major issues focusing on the sustainability of our natural and cultural systems.

ENV 385 - Energy Resources and Policy (4 credits)

Instructor(s): Michael Ort and Erik Nielsen
Description: Origins and exploitation of energy and mineral resources, and the policies that control how we obtain and use them.

FOR 504 - Systematic Conservation Planning (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Paul Beier
Description: We will understand the concepts of comprehensiveness, representation, surrogates, complementarity, irreplaceability, cost-efficiency, flexibility, and vulnerability, and how they are used to prioritize lands for conservation. We will become familiar with the assumptions, algorithms, and outputs of the three most widely used spatial prioritization tools, namely MARXAN, Zonation, and C-Plan.

FOR 633 - Ecological Economics (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Yeon-Su Kim
Description: Theory of Ecological Economics, the union of ecology and economics, and its application to ecosystem management. Students will integrate the concepts and theories of economics and ecology as ecological economics and develop a view of a sustainable society.

FS 111 - Global Sustainability (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Dr. Stefan Sommer
Description: This course will allow you to explore current, cutting-edge thinking of experts across the disciplines. We will cover the fundamentals of environmental sustainability as a basis for understanding experts from the fields of ecology, hydrology, environmental sciences, economics, policy, engineering, and cultural dynamics as they describe the solutions we will need to address local, regional, and global issues. We will also hear from community and business innovators who are working to build a more sustainable future.

FYS 111 - Healthy Landscape Healthy You (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Paul Gazda
Description: (Note: This class is only open to Freshmen.) Did you know that the ground under your feet can be hazardous to your health? The widespread use of toxic chemicals to control weeds endangers your health and the health of the planet. How much is too much? Join us to learn what these hazards are, and more importantly, how you can create and maintain healthy and beautiful landscapes without the use of hazardous chemicals. Course instructor Paul Gazda received the 2014 Campus Sustainability Award and has been staff advisor for the student-powered Sustainable Landscape Maintenance Project which has started NAU moving toward a pesticide-free campus. This seminar will include a hands-on project and on-the-ground research to explore the components of a healthy landscape and how it benefits both you and the earth. The lessons learned can be applied at your home, school, place of work, and community.

GLG 360 - Applied Geology (4 credits)

Instructor(s): Abe Springer and Rod Parnell
Description: An application of the theory of geologic materials, methods, and processes to understand the interactions of humans with earth systems.

HA 380 - Global Issues in Hospitality Management (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Claudia Jurowski
Description: The course provides students with an introduction to the dimensions and nature of the global environment in which hospitality properties operate. It is designed to create a sensitivity to and awareness of global issues, sustainable practices in hospitality and managing different cultures. The course is divided into three segments: globalization issues, cultural management issues and sustainable hospitality management.

HIS 468 - The Colorado River A Natural and Human History (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Childers
Description: Called, the most legislated, most debated, and most litigated river in the world by journalist Marc Reisner, the Colorado River touches the lives of millions. Through class lectures, discussions, guest talks, and a research paper this course will trace the history of the river, its role in defining the North American West, and the ecological and political struggles over who controls the river in the most arid region of the continent.

ME 435 - Winder Energy Engineering (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Tom Acker
Description: Concepts, theory, and design of wind energy conversion systems. Topics include wind energy resources, wind turbine aerodynamics, mechanics, subsystems, design, development, economics, and policies.

ME 451 - Renewable Energy Systems (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Tom Acker
Description: Fundamentals concepts of renewable energy resources, conversion technology and hybrid system design with an emphasis on solar photovoltaics and wind energy.

POS 335 - Political Economy (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Carol Thompson
Description: Political economy integrates the fields of economics and politics to increase understanding of public policy. This course covers fundamental, and conflicting, theories of economics to explain not only the goals of efficiency or profit, but especially those of sustainability and equity. What may be best for the fast movement of capital, for example, may be the worst for sustaining the environment or basic livelihoods. The course addresses how ecological economics is a fundamental challenge to neoclassical economics, in such issues as the relation of humans to nature, debates about zero growth, and in calculations of non-use value. The course also analyzes how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) informs the field of political economy. SUSTAINABILITY RELATED EXPLANATION: Because the course introduces the field of political economy, it must cover all the major theories, some of which treat sustainability only as an externality. Therefore, sustainability is a central theme, but not addressed by every theory. No prerequisite. Prior economics courses not required.

POS 345 - Environmental Law (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Jacqueline Vaughn
Description: With a focus on the development of environmental law in the US, this course covers key environmental statutes and actual court cases to clarify issues pertinent to a particular environmental problem or law. From the historical development of environmental laws in the US, students will learn how the courts address administrative procedure, environmental ethics, and environmental regulations. Topics include laws such as the National Environmental Policy Act and constitutional issues such as the Commerce Clause, along with issues related to air quality regulation, water pollution, water rights, hazardous and solid waste, local environmental controls, the preservation of natural areas such as wetlands and open space, energy, endangered species, and chemical manufacture and distribution. As an upper division class, students are expected to have strong oral and written communication skills, and an interest in the law and how it affects resources. There are no prerequisites, but students are expected to have a basic familiarity with the legal system and environmental issues within the US.

POS 359 - Environmental Policy (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Jacqueline Vaughn
Description: This course builds upon the process model of public policy making, with an emphasis on contemporary environmental issues in the United States. The focus of the class is key policy controversies that continue to plague decision makers. As a Liberal Studies course in the Social and Political Worlds distribution block, POS 359 helps students understand the difference between environmental problems and environmental policy. The goal is to become familiar with key initiatives from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, and to see the relationship between environmental legislation and environmental regulation. By the end of the course, students will understand the complexity of environmental policymaking and will be able to place American environmental policy in historical perspective. Although there are no prerequisites, as an upper division class, students are expected to have some familiarity with the American political system and an underlying interest in environmental problem solving.

POS 581 - Water Resource Management (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Smith
Description: This course is a multidisciplinary introduction to water resources management. We will examine the major topics in water resources management including: water law, policy, hydrology, pollution and others. In addition, this course will take into special consideration the relationship(s) between the natural sciences and water policy and will explore a variety of ways in which to view and understand water policy issues. The class uses only one textbook. However a major part of the class is your researching and writing a comprehensive case study of water resources management in some area.

PRM 12964 - PRM 499: Exploring the Wilderness Within (1 credits)

Instructor(s): John Lynch
Description: Gain greater perspective of the natural world and your place in it through eco-depth psychological practices and concepts. Wander and wonder in mysterious inner landscapes of the psyche by bushwhacking through the wilderness within. Initiate your understanding of nature¿s ability to mirror your ecocentric authenticity. Use new found concepts and practices to participate in the much-needed shift towards a more sustainable mindset.

SSW 633 - Environmental Sociology (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Janine Schipper
Description: This class explores the social construction of nature drawing on social theory, cross cultural and sociohistorical perspectives to elucidate the ways in which our constructions of nature affect our sense of self and how we live. Students will work with a wide variety of themes including environmental sociology, classical and contemporary environmental literature, environmental movements, and literature that focuses on healing the human-nature split to examine the interconnections between self, culture and nature. Readings, reflecting the exciting, multidisciplinary character of environmental sociology, are taken from literature in Sociology, Geography, History, Philosophy, Economics, Ecological Science, Social Movement theory, and Engaged Buddhism. Environmental Sociology examines the various forms of interaction between the environment and human societies, focusing on the social dimensions of the surrounding natural and human-made environments. For example, Environmental Sociologists seek to understand environmentalism as a social movement, how individuals and groups perceive environmental problems, and the origins of human-induced environmental decline. The inequitable social distribution of environmental hazards is another central area of Environmental Sociological research, examining the processes by which socially disadvantaged populations come to experience greater exposures to myriad environmental hazards including natural disasters.

SUS 599 - Radical Environmental Thought (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Sean Parson
Description: This is a co-offered course with Politics and International Affairs. It will examine contemporary theoretical debates within Radical Ecological Political Theory.

SUS 599 - Summer Institute for Sustainability (3 credits)

Instructor(s): Various Faculty
Description: Special seminars offered for 1-3 units of credit Summer courses can help you move through the program more quickly and or they can give you more time to devote to your thesis work in the second year of your studies.