Food and Environment Minor

This minor is intended for students with a keen interest in expanding their study of sustainable and equitable ways to produce and deliver nutritious food so as to improve people’s health and livelihoods.

What To Expect

The Food and the Environment Minor is an interdisciplinary program of study with courses addressing questions of food production, consumption, and policy in relation to the environment, human health, and equity.

Requirements

To complete this minor, students must take no less than 5 courses for a total of at least 15 credits, at least two courses must be 300-level or above, from the following categories as stated:

A. Introductory Courses (choose at least 1 course):

ENVIRON/BIO 101: Food, Energy and the Environment

John Vandermeer. 4 credits. In recent years it has become apparent that current energy and food sourcing is damaging the environment from global warming to pesticide runoff. This course treats the issues of energy, food, and the environment from a biological and sociopolitical point of view. It emphasizes the historical trajectories that generated current conditions and the scientific options for revamping our energy and food systems to make them more consistent with environmental sustainability.

BIOLOGY 121.002: Topics in Biology: Plants and Human Conflict

Eran Pichersky. 3 credits.

The Genetics of Food | BIOLOGY 121.004

Regina Baucom. 3 credits. Not offered Fall 2020

First Year Seminar: African American Foodways | AAS 104.007/AMCULT 103.007

Jessica Walker. 3 credits.
This course approaches African American cooking, eating, and serving as political acts. From antebellum innovation, reconstruction cookbooks, and civil rights kitchen counters, food is a compelling lens through which to understand African American cultural expression. This also means it can be a battleground for diverging perspectives on how race, gender, and class inform Black identity. The course is divided into two tactics this community has used to obtain rights. The first deals with the production of more positive images of Black life by embracing ideas of civility, home consciousness, and good nutrition. The second focuses on how African Americans have called for food justice that connects Black agricultural resistance to the modern food movement, making clear the need to understand structural inequality in historical and contemporary calls for food equity.

Biology of Nutrition | BIOLOGY 105

Josephine Kurdziel. 4 credits.
The purpose of this course is to give you a better understanding of your nutritional needs, and of what you can eat and drink to satisfy them. To achieve this purpose, in BIOLOGY 105 you study human physiology to learn what your body needs and why it needs it, and you study sources of food and drink to learn what you can choose to eat and drink to provide your body with what it needs. BIOLOGY 105 addresses nutritional issues of normal, healthy young adults, including weight control, aerobic and strength activities, pregnancy and babies, food additives and food safety, as well as some social issues such as hunger and conservation.

ANTHRARC 180 – First-Year Seminar: Food at the University of Michigan

3 credits. No description at this time.

ENVIRON 139 – First-Year Seminar in the Environment: How America Eats in the 21st Century

3 credits. No description at this time.

ENVIRON 270: Globalization and its Discontents: Struggles for Food, Water, and Energy

Ivette Perfecto. 4 credits.
In this course we examine development within the context of globalization and how it affects people and the environment, with a focus on the Global South (what used to be called the Third World). The following questions form the basis of this course: What is neoliberal globalization? What impacts does it have on people and the environment? What is the popular response to globalization? What are the alternatives? What is your role? Through lectures, films, discussions, exercises and assignments, we will explore the concepts of globalization and alter-globalization (alternative views, primarily from the Global South). In this course we emphasize the perspectives and responses of the Global South (as well as the marginalized people within the North) to the corporate globalization schemes that are being imposed on them. The aim of this course is to foster critical thinking about how our societies are organized historically and at present time, how they can be organized in the future, and to evaluate what we can contribute to the pursuit of a sustainable and just biosphere.

Courses with * must contain that topic title only

B. Topical Courses (choose at least 3 courses):

FALL

ANTHRARC 296: Local Food Producers

ANTHRARC 296: Local Food Producers. 3 credits. Lisa Young. What is the story behind our food? This class explores this question from the perspective of the people who produce our food. You will learn about changes in food production over the last 10,000 years from archaeological and historical case studies, as well as the stories of contemporary farmers. Using an anthropological perspective, we explore contemporary issues of sustainability, food sovereignty, and the role of local food producers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ENVIRON 270: Globalization and its Discontents: Struggles for Food, Water, and Energy

Ivette Perfecto. 4 credits.
In this course we examine development within the context of globalization and how it affects people and the environment, with a focus on the Global South (what used to be called the Third World). The following questions form the basis of this course: What is neoliberal globalization? What impacts does it have on people and the environment? What is the popular response to globalization? What are the alternatives? What is your role? Through lectures, films, discussions, exercises and assignments, we will explore the concepts of globalization and alter-globalization (alternative views, primarily from the Global South). In this course we emphasize the perspectives and responses of the Global South (as well as the marginalized people within the North) to the corporate globalization schemes that are being imposed on them. The aim of this course is to foster critical thinking about how our societies are organized historically and at present time, how they can be organized in the future, and to evaluate what we can contribute to the pursuit of a sustainable and just biosphere.

ANTHRCUL 254: *Topic titled: Anthropology of Food and Eating*

Michael McGovern. 4 credits. Every human eats, and yet the styles and meaning of sharing food and drink together vary enormously across cultures. This course introduces students to anthropological approaches to cooking, feasting, fasting, the politics of obesity, and the cultures of fast, slow, artisanal, local and global foods.

ARCH/UP 357: Architecture, Sustainability and the City

Instructor varies. 3 credits. Architecture, Sustainability and the City: Ideas, Forces and People Shaping the Built Environment — An introduction to the design of the build environment, society’s largest investment and biggest consumer of energy, the course’s focus will range from the room to the building to the city to the metropolis, including spaces and places that are consciously planned and intentionally designed, as well as ones that are vernacular and organic. In addition to the fundamentals, history, theory and practice of design and urban planning, case studies of buildings and cities of different periods and cultures will be presented to deepen the student’s understanding of the environmental, economic, socioculture and aesthetic impacts of architecture and urbanism. Contemporary problems and opportunities in sustainable building and community design will be considered, including energy and water conservation, waste management and recycling. Livability, walkability, bikeability and transit, as well as the importance of a vibrant and diverse public realm, will also be studied.

Topics in English Lang&Lit: Food and Culture | ENGLISH 407

Supriya Nair. 3 credits.

Agroecosystems | EEB 498

John Vandermeer. 3 credits.
An analysis of ecological principles as they apply to agricultural ecosystems, emphasizing theoretical aspects but also covering empirical results of critical experiments. While the emphasis is on principles, practical applicability is also explored where appropriate. Physical, biological, and social forces are integrated as necessary. Designed as preparation for active research in agroecosystem ecology.

Earth 154: Ocean Resources

Jeffrey Alt. 3 credits. This course focuses on resources from the ocean and how these are used by and influenced by humans. Two general subject areas are covered: minerals and energy from the oceans, and food resources in the oceans.

Earth 333: Inexhaustible Seas? Marine Resources & Environ Issues

Ingrid Hendy. 4 credits. This course explores the mineral, energy and food resources of the ocean and environmental impacts that arise from the exploitation of these resources. We discuss conflicts in our competing uses of the ocean and its resources. We also examine both the popular and scientific literature surrounding these issues.

Restoration Ecology | EAS 501.119, ENVIRON 421

Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez. 3 credits.
This course offers an introduction to the science, policy, and social issues around ecological restoration and explores where local agriculture fits in the larger context of restoration. We examine and discuss a multitude of restoration projects – urban, rural, and natural areas – through the use of case studies, field trips, and guest lectures from local practitioners of restoration ecology. Field trips to local restoration sites will include field exercises to learn how to collect data for site inventory, monitoring, and assessing restoration success.

Food Security, Policy, and Programs | NUTR 593

Cindy Leung. 3 credits.
This course is a critical exploration of the health issues related to domestic food security, food policy, and food programs, with a focus on maternal and child health. We will examine the array of negative health outcomes associated with food insecurity, discuss potential mechanisms underlying these associations, how food policy is made, the intersection of food policy with public health nutrition, and the influence of federal food assistance programs on diet-related outcomes for children and families.

The Measure of Our Meals: Food Studies Research Methods | ALA 370.002

Margot Finn. 3 credits.
In this course, we explore the cross-disciplinary methods used to study food. We use Life cycle analysis to measure the differences between conventional and alternative production systems. We use ethnography to explore different cooking and eating practices and their cultural significance. We perform close readings to understand the attitudes towards food revealed by advertisements, television shows, and films. Lastly, we explore the different methods used by historians to understand the development of ancient cuisines and GMOs.

Chinese Food in Crisis: Health, Ecology, and Identity in an Age of Globalization | ASIAN 351, ENVIRON 351, INTLSTD 351

Miranda Brown. 3 credits.
This course looks at the role that culinary globalization has played in reshaping the Chinese diet, along with its implications for health, the environment, and political identity.

Localization: Transitional Thinking for the New Normal | EAS 564.001, ENVIRON 462.002

Raymond De Young, Thomas Princen. 3 credits.
However vast were the resources used to create industrial civilization, they were never limitless. Biophysical constraints, always a part of human existence, could be ignored for these past few centuries, a one-time era of resource abundance. This is no longer possible. We can accept that transition to a different live pattern is inevitable, but the form of our response is not preordained. The course develops one plausible response called localization. It focuses on place-based living within the limits of nearby natural systems. The course covers the drivers of localization and examples in practice. It also introduces the philosophies of localization and the tools needed to make the transition peaceful, democratic, just and resilient.

Environmental Rights, Justice & Law | ENVIRON 462.006

Noah Hall. 3 credits.
This course explores how our current legal system contributes to environmental problems and solutions. Through a series of case studies, we will first understand how the legal system builds on conceptions of individuality, property, sovereignty, and commodification to create environmental destruction and injustice. The case studies include the degradation of the Colorado River over the past century, the future of the Arctic region under climate change in the next century, and the present and ongoing taking of human life in the Flint water crisis. We will then explore alternative approaches to environmental law, including natural rights, community stewardship, and human rights protected under the Constitution. While the course does not provide a detailed survey of U.S. environmental law, it teaches the fundamental concepts of environmental law and the U.S. legal system to understand both the status quo and need for change. Students will gain a deep and conceptual understanding of modern environmental law — the values and assumptions it’s based upon, how it works (or doesn’t work) in various settings, and what must be changed for the law to play its needed role in making a more just and sustainable society.

Obesity: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Fatness in America | ALA 264

Margot Finn. 3 credits.

We all know obesity is bad for you, or at least we think we do, but how much do you really know about why some people get fat, and others don’t, or what the relationship between obesity and diabetes is, or even how much fatter people are–on average, or in aggregate–in the U.S. compared to other countries, or compared to Americans past? Is weight-loss really just a matter balancing calories-in versus calories-out, or are carbs or high-fat foods (both? or just one or the other?) uniquely fattening? Should we all be eating “keto” or fasting intermittently? Why do some people seem to remain effortlessly thin while others can gain weight even following the strictest diets? Is it true that most diets fail, and what does that mean for our attempts to make people thin, individually or collectively?

The course is divided into three units—the Science, Culture, and Politics of the title. In the first, “Weighing the Evidence,” we will examine what we know about why some people get fat, competing theories about the best way to lose weight, and debates about the medical consequences of fatness. In unit II “Imagining Fatness,” we’ll explore how the meaning of fatness has changed over time, how American attitudes towards fatness contrast with those of other cultures, and how fatness intersects with ideas about gender, class, citizenship, health, and morality. In the last unit, “Policy and Prejudice,” we’ll look at the results of attempts to address the problem of obesity—both those that have sought to make people thinner and those promoting acceptance and fair treatment for fat people.

Plants and People | ENVIRON 262, EARTH 262

Selena Smith. 3 credits.
This course examines the relationship between plants, people, and the environment; focusing on economically important plants. Plants are important for survival, aesthetic, and environmental purposes and have had significant impacts on human history, society, and environment. Today plants are critical for our future. Topics include foods, fibers, drugs, and ornamentals.

Plants and Human Health | BIOLOGY 212

Yin-Long Qiu. 3 credits.
In recent decades, our society has generated renewed interests in plants for our needs to have a balanced diet, a more natural approach to medicine, a clean environment, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Plants are integral components of formulas to meet these needs. In this course, students will learn basic botany, human use of plants as food and medicine, and the important relationship between environment and human health. Active participation by students in class discussion and on field trips is required after they read materials in a textbook, research articles, and investigate online sources outside the classroom. A self-designed course project stimulates independent and active thinking, and helps students learn in a relaxed environment at self-controlled pace.

Intro to Conservation of Biological Diversity | ENVIRON 317

Johannes Foufopolous. 3 credits.
Overview of historic and present-day causes of species extinction, and of biological principles central to species conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems. Topics covered include episodes of extinction and diversification over earth history; geographic distribution strategies; and sustainable use of ecosystems. Weekly recitation sections discuss material from lectures, assigned readings and films, and perform computer and gaming simulations.

Environment and History in Preindustrial Europe | ENVIRON 236

Paolo Squatriti. 3 credits.
Environment and History in Preindustrial Europe — The course surveys human interactions with European environments in ancient, medieval, and early modern times (500 BCE-1750 CE). It presents the ecological dimensions to selected episodes in the economic history of ancient Greece, imperial Rome, medieval Europe, and the Europe of early nation states. It shows that before the “anthropocene” and the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s European people established dynamic relations with their ecosystems that profoundly modified both humans and ecologies.

Exercise, Nutrition and Weight Control | MOVESCI/HF 241

Peter Bodary. 3 credits.
Study of body mass regulation including the understanding of food, digestion, metabolism and different intervention strategies such as a diet and exercise. Students learn assessment and prescription principles and techniques.

Global Food Systems Policy | NUTR 644

Andrew Jones. 3 credits.
This course will explore the process of developing policies in low- and middle-income countries that are targeted at altering the nature and functioning of food systems. We will assess policy contexts, stakeholders’ priorities, the translation of policies into programs, and the impacts of policies on nutrition and health outcomes.

Covid-19 Futures | ANTHRCUL 357.002

Stuart Kirsch. 3 credits.

WINTER

ENVIRON 290: Food – The Ecology, Economics and Ethics of Eating

No description at this time.

ARTDES 250: Art-Design Perspectives III: Tech/Environment

No description at this time.

BIO 102: Practical Botany

No description at this time.

CLARCH/CLCIV 382: Food in the Ancient World

No description at this time.

Earth 159: Toward a Sustainable Human Future

EARTH 159: Toward a Sustainable Human Future. 3 credits. Ben van der Pluijm. Today’s human society is faced with a need for adjustments to our changing environment, reconciling social, economic and cultural demands and expectations, while at the same time deriving technological and social solutions to enable the sustenance of cultures and communities from the regional to the global scale. This FYS will use a systems-based approach to examine the science that is needed for short- and long-term decision making in support of a sustainable human future. Use and critical analysis of online sources will be encouraged. Up to 9 project teams will be created that collectively offer a science-based, integrated analysis of the critical issues of sustainability. Students are also asked to collect news reports from daily papers and blogs. Topics that will be addressed include: human population trends; water access and quality; food security; future energy; climate change; economic resources; natural hazards and risk.

NUTR 540: Maternal and Childhood Nutrition (with permission of instructor)

No description at this time.

NUTR 641: Community Nutrition (with permission of instructor)

NUTR 641: Community Nutrition. 3 credits. Suzanne Cole. This course is a discussion of the principles and programs developed to improve the dietary intake and the nutritional status of individuals and groups within a community. Primary topics covered include: government and nongovernment nutrition-related programs, groups at nutritional risk, nutritional issues/concerns across the lifecycle, and an introduction to developing community-based nutrition intervention programs (needs assessment, intervention, and evaluation). Didactic lectures and guest presentations accompanied with an in-depth needs assessment and intervention project and a community service-learning component will provide students the opportunity to integrate and apply knowledge through a hands-on approach. Prerequisite: EHS 630, Graduate Student in Public Health

ENGLISH 225.009 *Understanding and Making Arguments about Food*

No description at this time.

ENVIRON 242.001 *2.5 Million Years of Human Food and Foodways*

No description at this time.

ENVIRON 317: Conservation of Biological Diversity

No description at this time.

ENVIRON 390: Environmental Activism

No description at this time.

ENVIRON 462.001 *Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems*

NRE 501.038; UP 408/508; ENV 462; NUTR 555: Foundations of Sustainable Food Systems. 3 credits. Jennifer Blesh; Lesli Hoey; Andy Jones. This course teaches about food systems through interdisciplinary, experiential learning and dialogue-based inquiry. In addition to learning how to bridge worldviews and apply systems thinking, students will study the unique perspectives of agroecologists, nutritionists, public health practitioners, urban planners and policymakers involved in addressing complex food systems problems.

Students in this course will explore the need for and the process of envisioning adaptations, pre-familiarizing society with alternatives. We will discuss what localization is (presume it is already happening), what it can be (a welcome challenge or a dire struggle),what it should be (peaceful, just, democratic, resilient), and what it might contain (deep satisfaction, meaningfulness). For more info, check out The Localization Reader by Raymond De Young.

NRE 501: *Urban Agriculture* (if offered with permission of instructor)

No description at this time.

NRE 565: Principles of Transition – Food, Fuel and Finance (if offered with permission of instructor)

No description at this time.

 

C. Synthesis Courses (choose at least 1 course):

Campus Farm Practicum | ENVIRON 465

Jeremy Moghtader. 3 credits.
This course offers hands-on understanding and foundational skill-building in the principles and practices of ecological and organic farming. Based at the UM Campus Farm at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, students will meet weekly for lecture and farm walk (field-based lecture) exploring both the theory and practices associated with organic and ecological farming, including soil management, cover cropping, pest, weed and disease management, season extension with passive solar hoophouses, harvest and post-harvest handling, organic and food safety certification, farmscaping for ecosystem services, and the basics of sales and small farm business management.

Global Food Systems Policy | NUTR 644

Andrew Jones. 3 credits.
This course will explore the process of developing policies in low- and middle-income countries that are targeted at altering the nature and functioning of food systems. We will assess policy contexts, stakeholders’ priorities, the translation of policies into programs, and the impacts of policies on nutrition and health outcomes.

Food Security, Policy, and Programs | NUTR 593

Cindy Leung. 3 credits.
This course is a critical exploration of the health issues related to domestic food security, food policy, and food programs, with a focus on maternal and child health. We will examine the array of negative health outcomes associated with food insecurity, discuss potential mechanisms underlying these associations, how food policy is made, the intersection of food policy with public health nutrition, and the influence of federal food assistance programs on diet-related outcomes for children and families.

The Measure of Our Meals: Food Studies Research Methods | ALA 370.002

Margot Finn. 3 credits.
In this course, we explore the cross-disciplinary methods used to study food. We use Life cycle analysis to measure the differences between conventional and alternative production systems. We use ethnography to explore different cooking and eating practices and their cultural significance. We perform close readings to understand the attitudes towards food revealed by advertisements, television shows, and films. Lastly, we explore the different methods used by historians to understand the development of ancient cuisines and GMOs.

Agroecosystems | EEB 498

John Vandermeer. 3 credits.
An analysis of ecological principles as they apply to agricultural ecosystems, emphasizing theoretical aspects but also covering empirical results of critical experiments. While the emphasis is on principles, practical applicability is also explored where appropriate. Physical, biological, and social forces are integrated as necessary. Designed as preparation for active research in agroecosystem ecology.

Chinese Food in Crisis: Health, Ecology, and Identity in an Age of Globalization | ASIAN 351, ENVIRON 351, INTLSTD 351

Miranda Brown. 3 credits.
This course looks at the role that culinary globalization has played in reshaping the Chinese diet, along with its implications for health, the environment, and political identity.

Localization: Transitional Thinking for the New Normal | EAS 564.001, ENVIRON 462.002

Raymond De Young, Thomas Princen. 3 credits.
However vast were the resources used to create industrial civilization, they were never limitless. Biophysical constraints, always a part of human existence, could be ignored for these past few centuries, a one-time era of resource abundance. This is no longer possible. We can accept that transition to a different live pattern is inevitable, but the form of our response is not preordained. The course develops one plausible response called localization. It focuses on place-based living within the limits of nearby natural systems. The course covers the drivers of localization and examples in practice. It also introduces the philosophies of localization and the tools needed to make the transition peaceful, democratic, just and resilient.

Courses with * must contain that topic title only

View the printable version of the Food and the Environment Minor Requirements and list of courses that can fulfill these requirements.

*In addition to the minor, there are several sustainable food related courses that may be of interest. See course descriptions below.

How To Declare This Minor

Students must attend an information session to learn more about the requirements and declare with an advisor. Until then, students can refer to the Food and the Environment Minor Worksheet to track courses completed.

Click Here to link to more information about the minor in Food and the Environment on the Program and the Environment website.

Course Descriptions

Sustainable Food Related Courses (not applicable to Sustainable Food Systems minor)

EARTH 171: Introduction to Global Change: The Science Behind Sustainability. 4 credits. George Kling; Catherine Badgley; James Gleason. Every day, human and natural activities are altering the planet on which we live. Through our increasing resource consumption, population growth, disturbance of natural systems, and technological advancement, we have been changing the global climate and environment in a manner that is unique over Earth’s history. Whether these changes to Earth’s life-support systems are sustainable is perhaps the greatest question for society in this century.

This course, Global Change — the Science of Sustainability investigates the causes and potential impacts of these changes using a combination of traditional lecture-based and modern web-based teaching methodologies. The course surveys the evolution and interaction of physical, chemical, and biological processes; how past changes on Earth help us predict the future; and how fundamental principles of science establish the sustainability of human activities on Earth. Students apply learned knowledge by using systems modeling and spreadsheet software to investigate the dynamics of natural systems and examine case studies of relevant environmental problems.

The course curriculum provides excellent opportunities to conduct research on topics of interest to the students, culminating in a course project presented at the end of the academic term. The interactive laboratory exercises provide students the opportunity to use software tools to examine how natural systems function as well as develop projections of the future consequences of changes in the environment. And, perhaps most important of all, students will have ample time for discussion of critical issues in natural resources and sustainability, environmental policy and society as a whole. All topics are developed in a manner that students will find both accessible and interesting. After the course, students should be able to discern sound science from biased claims and will have a foundation for making informed decisions about sustainable practices in their own lives.

RCNSCI 300.001 Alternative Futures in the Michigan Food System. 3 credits. Catherine Badgley.  This course is an inquiry-based analysis of alternative futures in the Michigan food system. Starting with a foundation of ecological principles of food production, we will compare industrial methods with small-scale, ecological practices, and the policies that support them. We will focus on livestock production, which is controversial because of its resource intensity, environmental impacts, low standards of animal welfare, and health impacts. Students will develop research projects on the theme of alternative futures for livestock production in Michigan. Scientific goals of the course include acquiring a foundation of ecological knowledge; developing a research question and framing it in terms of hypotheses, predictions, and required data; gathering and analyzing data; testing predictions and hypotheses; and presenting findings in oral and written reports. Students should have a background in college-level environmental science or ecology; a prior course on food systems is useful but not necessary. The course includes mandatory field trips on three Saturdays.

SOC 206: Animals and Society. 3 credits. Luis Felipe Sfeir-Younis. This course is designed to examine sociologically the relationships that exist between humans and other non-human animals. Since its birth in Europe in the 19th century, sociology has focused almost exclusively on human-to-human interactions largely ignoring the nature and significance of the human-animal relationship. However, in the last decade, this relationship has received much public attention. Scholars from all disciplines are focusing on the nature, the significance, and the implications of the human-animal relationship. Animals are being placed back into the core of the sociological agenda. In an effort to fundamentally rethink the relationship between human beings and non-human animals, this course will explore some of the legal, ethical, cultural, political, ecological, and social issues that underlie the concerns for and against animal rights and protections. We will examine the use of animals for experimentation, food, entertainment, work, and their furs, and the consequences of such practices on the well-being of animals as well as its impact on society, its industries, and institutions.

Different perspective on animal rights and animal welfare will be presented and a comparative analysis of human and animal rights and abuses will be attempted so as to be able to trace whether the abuse and exploitation of animals may be inextricably related to the oppression of human groups. We will examine how the use and abuse of animals in American society may perpetuate unequal and oppressive human-to-human relationships such as racism, sexism, and class privilege. This pilot course is an effort to incorporate animals into the mainframe of sociological analysis. We will use sociological concepts and perspectives to make sense of the history of human-animal relations. Contributions from ethics, religion, philosophy, science, ecology, and the arts will also be included as part of our reflections on these issues.

ENVIRON 207: Sustainability and Society. 3 credits. Joshua Newell. In this course, students will be introduced to the concepts of sustainability, starting with definitions, interpretations, and practices pursued by different groups to achieve sustainability. Particular attention will be paid to the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to develop more effective approaches to the complex issues of sustainability we face now and in the future from the perspective of present and future stewardship of global systems. Students will learn how science can be integrated with policy and the humanities to achieve important sustainability goals, including reduced carbon emissions, diverse and robust ecosystems, reduced consumption and waste production, improved quality of life, and sustainable cities. Through a concentrated study of this emerging sphere we call sustainability, students will learn to articulate the relationships among observed phenomena, the principles and policies those observations can inform, particularly how best to integrate technology, education, and policy to best meet identified goals. By doing so, students will learn how to place individual and collective behavior in a context that better allows for consumption patterns that best promote sustainability.

History 230.004: Farmers and Farming in Pre-Industrial Europe. 3 credits. Paolo Squatriti. This course will investigate the history of “the people without history,” the anonymous majority of Europeans who worked the land before the twentieth century. It will examine how village life functioned, how farmers farmed, how peasant households dealt with the demands of religious and secular authorities, and the culture of rural people in Europe between medieval and early modern times.

CEE 265: Sustainable Engineering Principles. 3 credits. Brian Ellis or Steven Skerlos. Sustainable engineering principles including calculations of environmental emissions and resource consumption. Mass and energy balance calculations in context of pollution generation and prevention, resource recovery, and life-cycle assessment. Economic aspects of sustainable engineering decision-making. Social impacts of technology system design decisions including ethical frameworks, government legislation, and health risks.

ENV 361/PSYCH 385 (3)/NRE 561 (1.5): Psychology of Environmental Stewardship. 3 credits. Raymond De Young. One of the  enduring challenge of durable living on a finite planet is to craft a future in which we will want to live. A materialistically simpler existence may soon be an ecological necessity. However, it is unlikely to be adopted if it is promoted in the wrong way, as a form of hardship requiring compensation, rather than as a choice that is meaningful. The challenge becomes, then, how to promote durable living so that people accept, even seek it. This course explores behavior change models that well may be up to this challenge. It focuses on environmental stewardship behaviors that individuals and small groups can adopt and it explores the effectiveness of commonly used techniques. A wide range of environmental stewardship topics are discussed, including those relating to behavior choices around the production and consumption of food.

ENVIRON 377.001: Lit and the Environment: Southern Natures: Race and Environment in the U.S. South. 3 credits. Susan Scott Parish. Have you wondered why images of oil refineries are so prominent in the opening sequence of True Detective, HBO’s crime drama set in Louisiana? Have you thought about the levee dynamiting scene in Beasts of the Southern Wild? Or why an evergreen and a bromeliad — the Live Oak draped in Spanish Moss — seem to promise a tale of plantation Gothic? Perhaps, then, this is the course for you. Considering in equal measure the environmental and cultural histories of the U.S. South from the colonial period to the present, we will think about how humans (from America, Africa and Europe) shaped, and were shaped by, southern nature. How did the invention of races emerge from the labor that, for example, sugar or cotton seemed to demand? How did deforestation, swamp drainage, and commercial agriculture result in Jim Crow era eco-catastrophes, and how did southern writers like Richard Wright, William Faulkner and Zora Neale Hurston tell that story? How do rising sea levels and a global demand for petroleum shape the contemporary Gulf states? The course will be divided into four sections: Planting Eden, Fighting for King Cotton, Jim Crow Catastrophes and Oil and Water.

RCHUMS 334/ENVIRON 304.006: Children Under Fire: Narratives of Sustainability. Elizabeth Goodenough. Food–its production and its scarcity–shapes wish fulfillment and desperation in folklore, diaries, poetry, novels and film. Children Under Fire examines how eating one’s fill–or not– figures in stories about growing up in war, exile, and natural disaster.  Writers, illustrators, and filmmakers have to overcome the natural reluctance to tell a young audience that hunger can be a nightmare unmitigated by turning on the light. At the same time painful interaction between child and adult in stories of crisis also expose violent ambivalences underlying cultural fantasies of childhood. The course studies how foraging, nourishment and starvation–something that happens as a consequence of war–are represented as objective fact and subjective experience. Visual and verbal texts attest to the ethical, narrative and pedagogical complexities inherent in showing food as the root of all stories. A reading of Evangeline with historically correct Acadian fare (ca. 1755) will be prepared and shared by the class.

NRE 430: Soil Ecology. 3 credits. Donald Zak. Soils as central components of terrestrial ecosystems. Major emphasis is placed on physical, chemical, and biological properties and their relationships to plant growth and ecosystem processes. Understanding is developed using a combination of lectures, field- and laboratory-based exercises, and individual research. The function of soils in forested ecosystems is the primary focus; however, examples are drawn from a wide range of terrestrial ecosystems.

ES 444/ES 644: Microfinance. 3/2.25 credits. Michael Gordon. One (small) topic of the course relates to providing financing to many local businesses, often food businesses / farms, that otherwise would not be able to remain profitable or expand. The bulk of the course is about “alternative” finance more generally — promoting savings, providing loans, offering insurance to those outside the financial mainstream in the US and abroad.