John Gerber’s Web Page


 Sustainable Living Class

Sustainability Jobs


Sustainability Internships

Sustainability Events


Sustainability Links


Study Abroad in Ecovillages with Living Routes




Course that might contribute to the Sustainability Studies Concentration through BDIC

(300 level or above, and a few others that may be useful)


BDIC students and their sponsors have recommended the following courses for your consideration.  Please note that some of these courses have prerequisites.  There are many other courses at UMass and the Five Colleges that may be useful as you develop an area of concentration related to Sustainability Studies.  Courses listed below are offered at UMass unless otherwise indicated.  If you find courses that should be on this list, please let me know. 


                                                          John Gerber


NOTE: Be sure and check the Five College web page and search on the key words “sustainability” or “environment” or “social justice” etc.  It is at….


Also be sure and see the Mt. Holyoke College Environmental Program here…

with specific courses listed here:

MHC Sustainability Courses

MHC Environmental Courses


And Smith College Courses related to sustainability are here:


And here is a list of courses to check:



See below for Courses in these categories:

Integrative/Holistic/Sustainability Courses

Social Systems

Economic Systems

Biophysical Systems

Under 300 Level GenEds



Integrative/Holistic/Sustainability Courses


COMMHLTH 602 Community Development

Latest approaches in community development and community organization procedures. Exploratory readings, field assignments; emphasis on leadership development and coordinated community action.


COMMHLTH 603 Principles of Group Dynamics

Review of group process roles and responsibilities of public health professionals. Group dynamics, principles related to theories and concepts underlying public health community programs. Structured laboratory experience provided.


ENVIRSCI 197G Sustainable Environment RAP Seminar

A Residential Academic Program for first year students only.  This seminar will introduce students to academic and employment opportunities in the area of sustainability and environmental issues. 


GEO 392E Earth System Science

A look at the Earth system as a whole.  Emphasis on the relationships among biological, geological, climatolgical, and human systems on continental and global scales.  The links between these systems illustrated by present-day processes and the geological record of selected events in Earth system history. 


HONORS 292S - Engaging with the Community: An Introduction to Community Service Learning
Focus:  Hunger & Community Food Security

Are you interested in
•    Developing skills for experiential, self-directed learning beyond the classroom?
•    Learning about food security issues and solutions in western Massachusetts - from hunger relief to nutrition
      education to farming to community development - including  historical and global connections?
•    Getting off campus and getting to know diverse people and communities?
•    Considering such questions as:  Can we contribute to the community while we get an education?  What can
      we do that will make a difference? 
•    Challenging yourself?

If your answer is YES, take a look at H292S section 1
•    4 credits, meets most Tuesdays 1:00-3:45 & every Thursday 1:00-2:15
•    Plus volunteer service time in the community outside of class time
•    Satisfies Gen.Ed. requirements I and U

For more information and to register, contact
Will Snyder, UMass Extension 


LSS 100 Issues in Landscape Studies – Smith College

Through readings, discussions, and a series of lectures by Smith faculty and guests, we will examine the history and influences out of which landscape studies is emerging. We will look at the relationship of this new field with literary and cultural studies, art, art history, landscape architecture, history, biology, and environmental sciences. What is Landscape Studies? Where does it come from? Why is it important? How does it relate to, for instance, landscape painting and city planning? How does it link political and aesthetic agendas? Contact Dr. Anne Leone for information at…


NATURAL SCIENCES 0181 Sustainability Seminar Hampshire College

This course is designed for the cohort of students involved in the sustainable design/technology area. It will offer an arena for students to present their own work and evaluate that of others, discuss advanced readings of interest, write analytical papers on topics of their choice, and work with guest speakers in the areas of sustainable development and technology. Class members will have a large responsibility for determining the content and direction of the course. Prerequisite: Div II or Div III student with a connection to sustainability issues or instructor permission.


NATURAL SCIENCES 276 Elements of Sustainability – Hampshire College

Contact Dr. Larry Winship for information or see the course listing at Hampshire College at… and information on faculty interests at…


NATURAL SCIENCES 0385 Sustainable Technology - Hampshire College

The structures and systems of the Hampshire Campus have both obvious and subtle effects on our lives as individuals and as a community. In addition, their design, construction, functioning, maintenance and eventual disposal have long-term effects on the environment and the local and global ecology. We will use these systems to examine a number of ways in which technological decisions can be evaluated in a larger context, and in so doing, develop tools for evaluating proposals for "greening" our campus. Students will work problem sets, write two papers, read and present original literature to the class, and develop original projects in fields of interest. Evaluations will be based on class participation, problem sets and papers, class presentations and a report on the final project.


PLSOILIN 265 Sustainable Agriculture

This course is designed for agriculture and BDIC students who want to explore ethical, practical and scientific aspects of the quest for long-term agricultural sustainability in the U.S. The course will include field trips, lectures, discussion of current topics, decision case studies, assigned readings, weekly writing and individual research.  A community understanding of sustainable agriculture will be developed using observations from field trips and systems tools.


PLSOILIN 285   Sustainable Living

Sustainable Living introduces students to diverse global perspectives and practical personal solutions related to environmental, economic and social sustainability. The course presents a historical, ethical and technical review of the impact that our daily decisions make on the global condition. Students will learn from faculty, local practitioners of sustainable living, and each other about energy, food, land use, water and air, waste, housing, personal health, and community. Sustainable Living, will introduce students to these global challenges, while helping them learn about practical and research-based solutions that may be implemented in their daily lives. This class is dedicated to helping students make personal and professional decisions that support the three interconnected objectives of sustainability; economic viability, environmental integrity, and social equity.  Includes an optional honors discussion section (recommended for all students).


PLSOILIN 390B Writing for Sustainability

Have you ever looked at a job application and seen the words “provide evidence of your ability to communicate effectively in writing”?  Has this phrase caused your stomach to knot and your knees to buckle?  PLSOILIN 382 - Writing for Sustainability, not only satisfies the University’s Junior Year writing requirement, but will also generate ample evidence of your professional writing abilities.  This class will help you prepare to present yourself as a qualified professional as you explore a career in sustainable farming, education, non-profit management, political advocacy, and related fields.  Specifically, this class will allow you the opportunity to practice and improve your writing while learning critical skills such as letter writing, editorial writing, grant writing, development of a resume, and journaling. Spring only.


PLS 397C Community Food Systems

This class will explore the movement of food from the grower to the consumer. Emphasis will be on how consumers get access to food from emergency and non-emergency sources. Direct marketing, Community-Supported Agriculture, farmers' markets, and small-scale farming will be discussed. Outside speakers from area community food banks, CSA's, non-profit organizations, faith communities, soup kitchens, and farmers' markets will lead discussions on various topics related to food access.


PLSOILIN 391A Sustainability Dialogue (formerly known as “Dialogue on Agricultural Issues”)

Sitting in a circle, students will practice the technique of insight dialogue while developing an individual and community understanding of current issues affecting personal and societal sustainability.  Issues that may be included are; personal sustainability, organic agriculture, peak oil, alternative economies, spirituality and transformation, consumerism, industrialization of life, the purpose of higher education, social change, and others suggested by students. The technique of Insight Dialogue will be taught.  Students will take responsibility for leadership and selection of readings as the semester proceeds. This course is open to any interested student.  No prerequisites.  1 credit pass/fail (and you can take this seminar class more than once for credit).


PLSOILIN 398E (or 498E) Student Farming Enterprise

§  Grow organic crops at the UMass Research Farm

§  Sell to Earthfoods Café and other markets on campus


REGIONPL 591B Sustainable Cities

Contact Professor Mark Hamin in LARP for information.


REGIONPL 591G Housing and Public Health

Returning to planning’s origins in the Public Health Movement, this class explores the mutual interaction of the built environment, environmental health, physical health, mental health, food security and nutrition, and social justice (do not assume that many of these issues don’t cross economic lines).

The class will be conducted using an active learning community approach requiring all participants to actively contribute both as teachers and learners. This enables class members to focus on their particular interest within the larger context of Housing and Public Health.  Examples of topics might include: zoning ordinances, demographic data, education, GIS, soil science/soil remediation, urban design and walkable cities, discrimination, transportation, law, public health, environmental neuropsychology,  environmental psychology, historical analysis, green design, sociocultural interpretations, etc.  There is room for individual students, and the class as a whole, to create a multi-disciplinary exploration of housing and public health.  Contact Dr. Ellen Pader for information at;




Social Systems


AFROAM 361 Revolution in the Third World

Changing nature of revolution in the Third World, from the "classical" revolutions in Cuba, China, Algeria and Vietnam to the popular insurgencies of Grenada, Iran, the Philippines and Haiti. Internal and external factors which have contributed to the fall from grace of many of these once popularly supported struggles.


AFROAM 391/5 The Political Economy of Class and Race

        Analysis of foundations of political economy, with special reference to nature

of capitalism, and an application of this analysis to role of race in capitalist

economy and society. The theoretical framework drawn from the writings of Karl Marx and the classical political economists; the applications based on contemporary materials.


ANIMLSCI 360 Farm Animal Care and Welfare

The moral and ethical theories of animal rights and welfare as they pertain to farm animals. Exploration of the history of farm animal welfare and the assessment of the animal rights and welfare movement today. Special attention given to the economic, ethical, and welfare aspects of current animal husbandry practices.  (Planned for fall)


ANTHRO 336 Political Anthropology

Anthropological approaches to the study of public power in various cultural settings. The rise and extension of state systems and their interactions with subnational bases of political power.


ANTHRO 397H Grassroots Community Development

This course explores how grass roots organizations (that is, are constituted of, by and for local people using local knowledge and assets) work to effect social change that enhances the common good. In particular, we will be focusing on grass roots solutions to rural poverty and political disenfranchisement. The geographic focus of our investigations will be primarily but not exclusively the rural south, a region that has known profound poverty and violent political repression but which has also engendered inspiring grassroots responses to these challenges. This class differs from most others on campus in that it is a community service learning course. We will study grass roots development in the classroom and then spend our

spring break working side by side with members of a grassroots organization in a week of direct service.


COMM 287 Advertising as Social Communication

Advertising from the viewpoint of social theory. Advertising's broad political, economic, social, and cultural role in modern society. The social role of advertising in consumer societies; focus on advertising's mediation of the modern person/object relationship, the satisfaction of needs, the constitution of popular culture, and the process of socialization.


COMM 352 Small Group Communication

The dynamics of decision-making groups. Topics include: leadership, networks, conformity, problem solving, mediation, and conflict resolution. Prerequisite: COMM 118 or consent of instructor.


COMM 387 Advertising and Public Relations as Social Control

A critical look at the following issues: the representations and mystification of value-producing activity in a capitalist economy; advertising as the official religion of consumer culture; the areas of social life obscured by advertising; the relationship of advertising to the media system in general; the valuation of time; and international advertising. Prerequisite: COMM 287.


COM-HLTH 614 International Health, Population and Development

Interrelationships of health, population, and social development policy in selected "developing" countries. Social issues in the context of these interrelationships, including: cultural barriers to technological adaptation, ethnocentricity, distribution of social services, international agency roles, equitable distribution of income, land reform, literacy campaigns, urban slums, changing roles of women, warfare and violence, malnutrition and hunger, influence of multinational corporations, and population participation in decision making. Selected community development and communication models; case studies; identification of political, institutional, and cultural barriers to social change.

EDUCATION 377 Introduction to Multicultural Education

Introduction to the sociohistorical, philosophical, and pedagogical foundations of cultural pluralism and multicultural education. Topics include experiences of racial minorities, white ethnic groups and women; intergroup relations in American society, sociocultural influences and biases in schools; and philosophies of cultural pluralism.


EDUCATION 649 Training for Non-formal Education

Development of knowledge and skills needed for successful design and implementation of training programs for personnel in nonformal education, human services, or community development.


EDUCATION 766 Partnerships for Interorganizational Development

Diagnostic frameworks and underlying theories concerning interorganizational relations among public and/or private organizations. Provides bases for further skill building in interorganizational consulting.


GEO 326 Spirit of Place

The meaning of place in our lives. Why some people are attracted to particular kinds of environmental settings, while others are drawn to very different kinds of places. How those who think seriously about places ranging from the sacred to the profane have attempted to capture or describe a "sense" or "spirit of place" in their writings and research.


GEO 444 Sense of Place and Environmental Perception

Exploration of the ways different cultural subgroups perceive, organize, and use their space and environment. Emphasis on both individual and group behavior concerning environmental perference and location, debates over "using versus preserving" the environment, response to environmental hazards, migration and adjustment into new environments, and other environmental choices that contribute to the evolution of particular cultural landscapes ranging from the urban built environment to the rural landscapes of the world.


HISTORY 301F (02) Colloquium on Food and Famine in African History  - Mt. Holyoke College

This course examines African patterns of production over the long term and the transformation of African food systems in the last century as a basis for critiquing current development and environmental management strategies. We will establish the links between famine, drought, and food entitlement using case studies and carefully examine sources on the colonial period and more recent development undertakings in order to document the consequences of various interventions on people's access to productive resources. Cross listed as Environmental Studies 301f, also.  Contact Dr. Holly Hanson for information at…


HISTORY 397H -Nature, History, National Parks

For well over a century, national parks have been important places for the public to learn about nature and history.  Yet the ways that the parks have explained nature and history the public have changed dramatically over time.  Students in this course will learn about the particular challenges and opportunities involved with presenting nature and history in public, as well as research the changing ways that nature and history have been represented in one park.  Students should be prepared to go on field trips and conduct off-campus research at NPS sites.


HIST 383 American Environmental History

The interaction of humans with the natural environment of North America since European settlement; the ways in which American acted over four hundred years to shape their environment, as well as shared their perceptions of the environment through painting and photography, nature writing, travelers accounts, fiction and material culture.


HUMANITIES ARTS AND CULTURAL STUDIES 0303-1 Beyond Crawl and Sprawl - Hampshire College

Arguably, no single 20th Century invention has so transformed the world as did the car. The future uses of cars will determine how and where we live and work, the condition of our environment, and -- as the recent experience in Iraq tragically demonstrates -- the extent to which we experience war or peace. This seminar format course will explore ways to develop transportation systems and human settlements that are less car dependent. We will examine some of the most innovative approaches to public transit, automobiles, and alternative community design that are being used or proposed in this country and abroad. It will include a broad analysis of the cultural, political, and environmental impacts of the automobile through discussion, extensive readings, and research. The course is based on the assumption that establishing a smarter approach to city and transportation design in the U.S., the world?s most car dependent country, could help to create a worldwide model for a more rational future. Students will engage in term long research and conceptual design proposals both individually and in teams. Emphasis will be on clear analysis and innovative ideas. Technical design skills are not necessary.


LEGAL 391B Law and Social Activism

This class focuses on the relationship between law and social activism. Litigation is often used by activists interested in creating social change. While they often rely on court decisions to effect change, they also frequently use the litigative process to mobilize support for their cause. This course will take a critical look at such strategies, fleshing out if and when they are effective in achieving activists' goals, as well as raising issues about how sociolegal scholars should define social change and understand the role legal professionals play in structuring movement practices. Some of the activisms that may be considered include the Civil Rights movement, the labor movement, as well as conservative legal activism. Readings, drawn from various disciplines, will be on topics including cause lawyering, civil rights and the language of rights, and a few readings on the structure of social movements and how to understand their impact on society.


LEGAL 497N Environmental Justice

This course examines issues central to the environmental justice movement in the U.S.; environmental degradation and pollution and their relationship to racism, poverty and health.  We explore the history of this movement and investigate the effect of globalization on a growing international environmental justice movement. 


PHILOSOPHY 304 Colloquium in Applied Ethics: Sustainability – Smith College

An examination of the conceptual and moral underpinnings of sustainability. Questions to be discussed include: what exactly is sustainability?; what conceptions of the world (as storehouse, as machine, etc.) does sustainability rely on, and are these conceptions justifiable?; how is sustainability related to conceptions of human progress into the distant future?; what values are affirmed by sustainability, and how can we argue those are values that should be endorsed?; and how does sustainability compare with environmental objectives of longer standing such as conservation and integrity. See;


POLSCI 380 Social Welfare Policy

The dynamics of social welfare policy, which encompasses a wide variety of public policies aimed at ameliorating hunger, poverty, ill health, homelessness, and other forms of human distress.  Focus on the issues, problems, and politics of contemporary social policy in the United States. 


POLSCI 382 Environmental Policy

Analysis of U.S. environmental policies shaping the human relationship with nature. First half of the course is historical, covering Native American nomadic subsistence; transition to a European lifestyle based upon private property, a fenced landscape, and capital accumulation; disposal of public lands; creation of federal land management agencies; and Progressive conservationism.  Second half of the course covers contemporary environmental policies, with specific attention to biological diversity issues; implementation of major legislation, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act; environmental group strategies; and currently evolving professional practices, such as ecosystem management.


POLSCI 383 Land and Resource Policy

Analyzes changing ideas about the human relationship with Nature, including how these ideas have shaped public policy and transformed ecological systems.  Topics include private property, public land, conservation, preservation, ecosystem management, ecofeminsim, deep ecology and place-based politics. 


SOC 327 Social Change

Focuses on social and cultural change in American society since 1960. Changing roles of women, young people, and minorities; expanded conceptions on virtually everyone's part of rights and entitlements to greater justice and equity; increasing social conflict; polarization of opinion; heightened dissatisfaction with almost all institutions; and indications, by the early 1990s, of a reversal of many trends that began 30 years before and the beginning of a new, more conservative era.


SOC 329 Social Movements

A global perspective on social movements. Uses case studies to examine how social movements around the world have responded to and been shaped by the challenges of contemporary globalization. Movements such as those around human rights, labor, trade, environmental and women's issues will be examined. Prerequisite: 100-level Sociology course.


SOC 565 Sociology and Ecology of Community

Study of local communities as settings for daily life; as biosocial organisms, linking social life with environmental forces including the economy and demographic change, and impact of technological innovations on daily life. Growth and decline of urban and rural communities under deindustrialization, multinationalism, the rise of megacities, economic restructuring and deconcentration. Attempt to define underlying forces and responses to social and economic change.


SOCIAL SCIENCE 0125-1 This Land is Your Land - Hampshire College

Conflicts over land use are among the most contentious in America. Much is at stake: private property rights, the public good, the character of communities, environmental quality? Even the very definition of nature itself. In this class we will analyze recent land use controversies, including suburban and rural sprawl, urban redevelopment, and conflicts over the management of public lands. Readings will include essays on the contested meanings of land and property as well as political economic analyses of the American land use system. Students will be asked to write interpretive essays on the various meanings attached to land as well as more analytical papers on the politics of property and land use. Each student will also undertake independent research on a specific land use controversy of his or her choice.


SOCIAL SCIENCE 0163-1 Consumption and Happiness - Hampshire College

This course will explore the increase in human consumption from a multi- disciplinary perspective. Specifically, it will focus on the consequences of this increased consumption (as well as exclusion from this consumption) on the happiness of human beings, including the role of consumption on relative well-being of individuals across cultures. It will also make connections between economics and other disciplines including sociology, political science, and psychology. The course topics and questions will include how economic theory describes (or prescribes) the relation between consumption and happiness. How the quest to satisfy (or create) consumption needs influences production, labor, employment, and the environment both domestically and internationally. Throughout the course, we will consider methodologies from psychology and economics for assessing well being and examining its relation to consumption. The course will also require students to reflect on their own experiences and those of their peers.


SOCIAL SCIENCE  0220-1 Buddhism and Ecology – Hampshire College

Scholars, practitioners and activists worldwide debate the relationship between Buddhism and ecology, some arguing that ecological sensitivities are inherent in the teachings of the religion, while others see these as modern aberrations. We will examine Buddhist perspectives on nature and Buddhist responses to environmental issues. Looking at Buddhist activities in specific settings, we will consider how the religion both informed and was influenced by culture, politics, economics and concerns of local people facing environmental issues. Cases studies will be drawn from Southeast and East Asia and the United States.


SOCIAL SCIENCE 0285-1 Environment & Social Justice- Hampshire College

This course critically examines the relationship between concepts and use of environment and social justice in numerous settings. Approaching landscapes as cultural artifacts grounded in people146s beliefs, histories and interactions with the land, conflicts and inequities arise as people lay claim to the environment for particular uses. Debates surround definitions and implementations of development and sustainability, whether 147community-based resource management148 is the most effective method for promoting both social justice and environmentalism, and relationships between scientific and traditional ecological knowledge. Students will write a series of analytical essays on the different topics explored, and a longer research paper on a particular question or case. Instructor permission required.


SOCIAL SCIENCE 0273-1 Readings in Environmental History - Hampshire College

Environmental concerns have come of age*and will undoubtedly continue to intensify in the future. But our rediscovered enthusiasm for the field sometimes obscures its long intellectual heritage; too often we ignore the depth, range, and wisdom of earlier writings in this field. Course readings will first explore some classic works of environmental history, focusing on (but not exclusive to) the US. We will then examine in depth the historical struggle over access to water in the US west. How do individual needs, commercial demands, and social values all intersect in determining access to water? And what do these decisions reveal of the basic values of a society? In addition to short papers on the readings, students will be asked to select a particular writer, theme, or episode to examine in depth in light of the course readings. Individual cases can be selected from fields outside the US (or addressed in a comparative framework).



Economic Systems


ECON 308 Political Economy of the Environment

Application of the theories of political economy to environmental problems and issues.  Topics include regulatory and market approaches to pollution and natural resource depletion; cost-benefit analysis and its economic and poitical foundations; and case studies of specific environmental problems such as acid rain, deforestation, and global warming.  Prerequisites: any two of ECON 103, 105, 203 and 305.



ECON 362 American Economic History

Economic development in the U.S. from colonial era to present. America as a raw materials producer, an agrarian society, and an industrial nation. Possible topics: development of economic systems, demographic trends, industrialization, regional development, growth of large-scale enterprise and organized labor, changing role of government. Prerequisites: ECON 103, 104 and HIST 150-151 (or 140-141) or consent of instructor.  (Gen.Ed. HS)


ECON 366 Economic Development

Theories of economic growth applied to Third World countries. Classical and Neoclassical economic theories and structural/historical theories. Topics such as the role of foreign investment and multinational corporations, and strategies of industrialization and employment creation, and rural development. Prerequisites: ECON 103 and 104, or consent of instructor.


ECON 374 Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy: 3 Utopias and their Critics

Critically examines formal models of three major systems of governance and allocation using contemporary economic theory (including game theory) and political philosophy. Includes the "marriage of capitalism and democracy," socialist feminism, the market as a cultural, political, and economic institution, and economic democracy. Prerequisites: ECON 105 and 305.


GEOSCI 360 Economic Geography

Economic activity around the world, from world market factories in Asia to industrial co-ops in Spain to household in the U.S. and Australia.  Paid and unpaid labor, market and nonmarket transactions, capitalist and noncapitalist enterprises.  Emphasis on economic diversity and agency.


GEOSCI 660 Rethinking Economy

Theories of globalization and post-Fordist models of industrialization, examined from critical theoretical and epistemological perspectives. Alternative models of economy, including collective, household, and community forms. New possibilities for economic politics.


MTKG 491A Marketing for Non-profit Organizations and Services


RESEC 324 Small Business Finance

Economic analysis of the financial resource management for a small business. It examines issues such as financial statements and financial planning, capital budgeting and management, investment, risk, profitability, and forecasting. (Spring)



Biophysical Systems


BIOLOGY 280 Ecological Diversity of Life-Time

Process of biological evolution and the evolutionary history of life on earth. Major features of biological evolution including microevolution (the evolution of biological populations), speciation (the origin of species), and macroevolution (evolution above the species level). Microbial, plant, and animal evolution.  Primates and the evolution of humans.  Origin of major evolutionary innovations stressed, including evolution of photosynthetic, oxygen-releasing bacteria, nucleated cells, sexual reproduction, true roots and leaves, woody plants, the seed and flowers, animals with a true body cavity, insects and their societies, and the vertebrate jaw, the transition from fins to limbs, the evolution of the shelled land egg, dinosaurs and bird origins, and the adaptive radiation of mammals. Prerequisites: a grade of C or better in BIOLOGY 100 and 101.


BIOLOGY 287 Intro to Ecology

The scope of ecology; how organisms cope with environmental challenges; population dynamics; species interactions of competition, predation, and mutualism; community ecology; biodiversity; biogeochemical cycles; selected topics in evolutionary and behavioral ecology. Basic concepts related to practical applications in harvesting, biological control, conservation, pollution, and global change. Prerequisite: a grade of C or better in BIOLOGY 100 and 101 or in BIOLOGY 102 and 103.


BIOLOGY 421 Plant Ecology

With lab. This fundamental ecology course emphasizes the quantitative skills needed to understand and conduct field research.  The lectures introduce major ecological concepts, local vegetation types, and methods and techniques of gathering and analyzing data.  In laboratories, students collect original data at sites in the Connecticut Valley and write an original scientific paper.   Prerequisite: an introductory biology or botany course or consent of instructor.  (Planned for Fall)


BIOLOGY 426 New England Flora

Identification of New England plants in the lab and on field trips. Emphasis on the minimum terminology needed to identify plants and to use keys. Students learn to recognize the common plant families in the area. Prerequisite: introductory biology or consent of instructor.  (Planned for Spring)


BIO 526 Plant Geography

Principles of plant distribution, basic characteristics, and literature on vegetation of North America, with an overview of world vegetation. History of plant geography, mechanisms of plant dispersal, and development of plant communities in time and space. Emphasis on vegetation of New England. Prerequisites: BIOLOGY 103 or 104 or 100, and BIOLOGY 221 or 297B or 421, or consent of instructor. (Spring, alternate years).


BMATWT  211;  Energy Efficient Housing

Energy conservation in contemporary residential construction. Emphasis on: energy efficient building materials, products and construction technology; alternative energy sources; passive solar design; environmental concerns, regulatory issues and building codes.


ENV-HLTH 565 Environmental Health Practices

Concepts of control methods used by environmental health and engineering practitioners. Topics include water, wastewater, solid wastes, food sanitation, vector control, housing, and accident control measures.


ENV-HLTH 660 Issues in Environmental Health Policy & Law

Describes and analyzes a range of major environmental policy and law issues. Subjects include the National Environmental Protection Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.


ENVIRDES 553 Resource Policy & Planning

Examination of natural resource policy formation and the planning process at the local, state, and regional levels; the role of congress, the bureaucracy, and citizens' interest in policy formation; the interplay among forces of economics, technology, ecology, and design in the determination of policy goals and planning horizons.


ENVIRDES 575 Environmental Law & Resource Management

Concepts of nuisance, police power, zoning, eminent domain, and growth management. Their application to management of environmental resources, including riverine, coastal, and wetland areas. Includes introduction to legal research. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.


ENVST 497G Environmental Problem Solving in the Community

Provides students with in-depth experience in identifying and planning solutions for environmental problems in a community setting.  An inquiry-based learning approach stressing collaborative learning techniques used to address community environmental problems. 


ENT 342 Pesticides, the Environment and Public Policy

Current issues associated with pesticide use; includes discussion of role of pesticides in agriculture, public health and other related areas; fate of pesticides in the environment; and public perception of pesticides. 


ENT 581 Integrated Pest Management

Theory and application of the principles of insect, disease, and weed pest management; emphasis on insects. Focus on pest and natural enemy sampling techniques, properties of available control strategies, underlying ecological and behavioral principles, model pest management systems and societal concerns. Prerequisite: ENTOMOL 326 or MICROBIO 530 or equivalent or consent of instructor. (Fall).


ENT 585 Toxicology of Insecticides

All aspects of insecticide chemistry, including toxicity, classification, pharmaco- dynamics and metabolism, mechanisms of action, resistance, and environmental toxicology. For those with toxicological, agricultural, or environmental interests. Prerequisite: organic chemistry. (Fall, odd years).


ENT 592 Chemicals and the Environment

Contact department for description. (Planned for Fall, even years)


ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY 300 Seminar – Smith College

Current patterns of human resource consumption and waste generation are not ecologically sustainable. Effective solutions require a working knowledge of the scientific, social, political, and economic factors surrounding environmental problems. This seminar examines the impact of human activities on natural systems; the historical development of environmental problems; the interplay of environmental science, education, and policy; and efforts to build a sustainable society. Discussions will center on conflicting views of historical changes, ecological design and sustainability, biodiversity, environmental policy, media coverage of environmental issues, ecological economics, and environmental justice. An extended project will involve active investigation, analysis, and presentation of an environmental issue of local or regional importance with the explicit goal of identifying sustainable alternatives. Prerequisite: all courses completed or concurrent for the Environmental Science and Policy minor or by permission of the instructor. See:


GEO-SCI 285 Environmental Geology

With field trips. Principles of geology and hydrology applied to regional planning in conservation and land use. Ground and surface water resources, water pollution problems, slope stability and mass wasting, geological catastrophes with prevention planning. Environmental geology related to broader environmental and social problems. Participation in field trips. Prerequisite: introductory geology course. Students needing or wanting a laboratory component may register for GEO-SCI 131.  (Gen.Ed. PS)  (Planned for Spring)


GEO-SCI 360 Economic Geography

Economic activity around the world, from world market factories in Asia to industrial co-ops in Spain to households in the U.S. and Australia. Paid and unpaid labor, market and nonmarket transactions, capitalist and noncapitalist enterprises. Emphasis on economic diversity and agency.  (Gen.Ed. SB, U)  (Planned for Spring)


GEO 362 Land Use and Society

The meaning of land in past and present societies, and the evolution of public involvement in land use management.  Land use data and concepts; review of historical emergence of land use controls in response to social needs; current methods and issues of land use management in the U.S. 


GEO-SCI 364 Geography of Development

Examines the geographic structure and process of social, economic, and environmental change associated with `development' in the `Third World'. Issues addressed at a global and local scale include population, food production, and the Green Revolution, gender, population mobility and urbanization, and environmental costs of growth.


GEO-SCI 444 Sense of Place and Environmental Behavior

Exploration of the ways different cultural subgroups perceive, organize, and use their space and environment. Emphasis on both individual and group behavior concerning environmental preference and location, debates over "using versus preserving" the environment, response to environmental hazards, migration and adjustment into new environments, and other environmental choices that contribute to the evolution of particular cultural landscapes ranging from the urban built environment to the rural landscapes of the world.


GEO 370 Urban Geography

Survey of urban geographical analysis and the development of the world's cities. Theoretical and methodological approaches of urban geography used to explore cities as they shape and are shaped by their social, cultural, economic, and physical contexts. Topics include pre-industrial cities, industrial cities, the evolution of American cities, and contemporary urban issues in both developed and developing countries. (SB) (Fall)


GEO 420 Human Impact on the Environment

Human geographical perspectives on the historical human transformation of the earth and current environmental issues.  Cultural and historical geography, cultural ecology, political ecology and environmental history used to explore the diverse, regionally variable, and historically dynamic conditions and processes that have shaped past and present human impacts on the environment.


GEO 497S Indigenous People and Conservation

Indigenous peoples' conservation values and practices and their importance for global conservation. Emphasis on indigenous knowledge, cultural values, sacred places, community management of natural resources, and the role of indigenous peoples in the establishment and management of new kinds of inhabited national parks and protected areas.


GEO 530 Population and Environment

Population-resource relationships in context of social science theory and debates over sustainability, theories of population change, political economy of resources, institutional factors in resource management and carrying capacity concepts applied to conditions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


LANDSCAPE STUDIES 105 – Introduction to Landscape Studies – Smith College

Landscape Studies is a burgeoning new field at Smith College and is the first program of its kind at a liberal arts college in this country. This introductory course will be a chronological and thematic exploration of the issues that define the evolving field of landscape studies. Topics will range from ancient to contemporary, scientific to artistic, cultural to political, theoretical to practical. We will consider corporate, domestic, industrial, post-industrial, tourist, landfill, and agricultural landscapes from around the globe. Much of this course is new terrain, so be prepared for impromptu readings, discussions, and guest lectures as topics become topical, issues develop into debates, and events get announced. Priority given to LSS minors, and first and second years. Enrollment limited to 30. See:


MICROBIO 515 Management and Ecology of Plant Disease

The ecology of plant, microbe, and human interactions in plant diseases, from wilderness to industrial farms. Epidemics, traditional farming, environmental impacts and sustainability issues. Ways in which agriculture, particularly plant production and plant disease management, change ecosystems. Independent project. BIOLOGY 100 or equivalent recommended.


NATURAL SCIENCE NS 0106 Earth Resources - Hampshire College

Are humans currently "living dangerously"? Are we destroying our nest? In the past few years, scientists have begun to view Earth as a holistic system of interacting components. In this course students will investigate how the natural world operates and examine how society interacts with Earth. Class discussions and weekly projects will introduce the major concepts and techniques of earth science (geology), environmental sciences, and resource management. This course will emphasize a hands-on, field- and lab-oriented approach to earth and environmental science in which students will learn to observe, pose questions, build hypotheses, and develop answers. Through local field trips, students will explore the history of our planet, and earth-shaping processes such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and erosion. By learning how our planet evolves, students can then evaluate the current state of Earth and solutions to environmental ills.


NATURAL SCIENCE NS 0120 Alternative Medicine - Hampshire College

Health involves all aspects of our lives. The mind, body, spirit, and environment all interact to influence a person's sense of wellbeing. High-quality health care must support the whole person. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. While some scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for many there are important unanswered questions that might be answered through well-designed scientific studies. In this class, we will identify questions to pursue by reading and critiquing the primary scientific literature. The acceptance of these therapies is influenced by politics, history, personalities, and even their effectiveness. We will carefully evaluate some of these alternative therapies by examining their successes and failures.


NATURAL SCIENCE NS 0150-1 Agriculture, Ecology and Society - Hampshire College

This course will examine agriculture as a set of ecological systems and issues, including related social aspects. It refers to ecology in both the sense of interactions between organisms (e.g., crops and pests) and their environment, and in the larger-scale sense of environmental impacts. A broad range of topics will include crop pests, pesticides and alternative methods of pest control, soil erosion vs. conservation, agricultural inputs and water pollution, the problems of local farmers and of developing countries in food production, the advantages of buying local, community-supported agriculture (CSA), and more. Students will spend time in the field at our own Hampshire College farm and CSA, as well as visit some nearby farms. The course work will consist of readings, discussion, short assignments, field work, and group and independent projects.


NATURAL SCIENCE 0163-1 Biomass Energy - Hampshire College

From fireplaces to woodstoves to industrial boilers, people have long used biomass as a source of heat. Now, we hear that biomass, in the form of corn or grass, may be the solution to the "oil crisis." In this small, research-based class we will investigate claims about biomass energy and biofuels. What are realistic yields and net energy conversion rates for woody plants, herbaceous perennials or oil crops? How can we convert plant-derived oils, cellulose and starch into usable, practical fuels? What are the environmental and social impacts of using farmland for fuel instead of food, or of converting potentially fragile ecosystems (deserts with irrigation or wetlands) to biomass production? What might be the appropriate mix of crops and technologies for a small community like Hampshire College? Each student will propose and carry out literature and laboratory research on their chosen topic. We will meet twice per week, once for critical examination of the literature and for planning and assessment and once for lab and fieldwork.


NATURAL SCIENCE 0229-1 Forest Ecology - Hampshire College

How do forests grow and change over time? How do various kinds of disturbance, natural and anthropogenic, affect the structure and composition of forests? Is there such a thing as sustained yield? Is the New Forestry just a new way of doing the same old thing harvesting timber? What are the consequences of various fire management strategies? If oil prices cause a massive shift to biomass fuels, can our woodlands meet the demand? What about forest ecosystems makes them unique and what common principles apply to trees as well as other organisms in their environment? We will explore these and other questions through reading and discussion of two books and research articles. Fieldwork will be central to our learning and we will get out into the woods and explore examples of the phenomena we have studied in class. As the semester develops we will narrow our focus to a few research-based questions, to be pursued either as a group, in small teams or as individuals.


NATURAL SCIENCE 0335-1  Natural Science Frontiers - Hampshire College

This course will explore the leading frontiers of earth and environmental science and their implications for the environmental issues confronting society today. Using recent primary scientific literature, students will investigate issues such as water resource management, global climate change, and natural resource depletion. We will also scrutinize current governmental policies and potential solutions related to these issues.


NRC 382 Human Dimensions in Natural Resource Management

Introduction to the human dimension of resource management.  Topics include social values, demographics, outdoor recreation, agency history and mandates, economic valuation, resource allocation, stakeholder groups, the commons dilemma, and other topics. (Planned for Fall)


NRC 409 Natural Resource Policy & Administration

An introduction to the processes of natural resource policy formulation, administration of public lands, and social values related to managing the nation's renewable natural resources.  History of current federal laws, policies, and programs, and discussion of the roles of various resources management agencies.  (Planned for Spring)


NRC 549 Ecosystem Management

Ecosystem management and how it is defined by various organizations.  The historical context and key contributing ecological concepts of ecosystem management and alternative approaches for its implementation.  (Planned for Spring)


PLS 280 Herbs, Spices and Medicinal Plants

Introduction to the growth, culture, and science related to the production and use of herbs, spices, and medicinal plants. Emphasis on plants used in the home with discussions on bioactivity of plant extracts. Laboratory practice in seeding, growing, oil extraction, and utilization of these plants. Examinations, project and identification of selected herbs.


PLNTSOIL 297B Medicinal Botany

An exploration of plants as botanical remedies and the principles underlying the resurgence of plant materials for medicinal use. Focus on scientific evidence in support of traditional herbalism. Discussion topics include medical studies and reassessments of botanical medicines that have been discarded by conventional medical practices, but which may be helpful in treating human ailments. Demonstrations of traditional techniques for producing herbal extracts are used to relate botany to medicine. (1 credit)


PLS 300 Deciduous Orchard Science

Principles and practices involved in the establishment and management of deciduous orchards.


PLS 305 Small Fruit Production

Principles and practices governing the establishment and management of small fruit plantings.


PLS 325 Vegetable Production

Principles of production of vegetable crops; emphasis on cultural practices used in home gardens and in commercial operations. Prerequisite: Introductory Plant Science or Biology course.


PLS 350 Crop Science

An examination of sustainable farming systems for food, fiber, and forage crops including cultural requirements and physiological responses.  Illustrations of concepts, discussions of topics and examination of distinguishing morphological characteristics of selected crop species during laboratory sessions. Quizzes, mid-term, final. Prerequisites: BIOLOGY103 or equivalent, or consent  instructor.


PLS 370 Tropical Agriculture

Tropical regions of the world, their environment and classification; influence of climate, population, and socio-economic conditions on agriculture; major crops and cropping systems of sub-humid tropics; introduction to dry land agriculture; importance of rainfall and irrigation on productivity; green revolution; desertification; present and future research needs of region and state of agricultural technology.


PLS 375 Soil and Water Conservation

Soil management related to water and wind erosion control.  Environmental aspects of erosion. Cropping, tilling and management effects on erosion and water quality. Landscape and soil sustainability. Principles of soil drainage. Midterm and final exams, term paper, class presentations. Prerequisite: PLNTSOIL 105 or equivalent.


PLNTSOIL 397A Ethnobotany I: The Shaman's Pharmacy

Explore traditional, plant-derived medicines among various world cultures, based by first-hand knowledge from field research. Learn about beneficial compounds in plants, and about medicinal plant preparation. See, touch, smell, and taste herbal potions. View extraordinary slides from the Amazon, India, China, and other cultures, and learn about environmental preservation, shamans, medicine men and women, and nature's bounty of beneficial plants. (1 credit)


PLS 397D Soils and Land Use

Principles of on-site sewage treatment; evaluating the suitability of soils for on-site sewage disposal. Identification of soil types, geological deposits, and hydrology in relation to wastewater disposal. Identification of soil types, geological deposits, and hydrology in relation to wastewater disposal in non-sewered areas.  Design of conventional and alternative Title 5 systems. Course meets the basic requirements for the Massachusetts Soil Evaluators training program. Prerequisites: knowledge of chemistry.


PLNTSOIL 497A Natural Products Industry

Investigate the natural products industry through lectures, field trips, and interviews. Students talk to small independent business owners and representatives of large scale companies, coming to an understanding of the various ways that a business can be built. Students create a potential business of their own and develop plans for its success. Prerequisites: PLNTSOIL 280 or other medicinal plant program course; RES-ECON 141 or 241 or similar marketing/economics course, or permission of instructor. (2-3 credits)



 Under 300 Level GenEds



CE-ENGIN 211-02 Perspectives on the Evolution of Structures;  Gen-Ed (SI)

Why do structures look the way they do? What makes a bridge or building beautiful? Is engineering creative? How do structures behave? What is the future of the built environment? Can we build sustainably?  Write, research, draw, build, analyze, and calculate (simple math) as we work on these questions together.  See;


BMATWT  191A: The Built Environment (GenEd status pending)

The course will explore the issues of sustainability from the perspective of the built environment,  our history of construction and expansion, and buildings and how their environmental impacts.  Course objective is to expose students to the issues of human impact on natural systems through the built environment and the disciplines that are working to create a more sustainable future.


PHYSICS 190E: Energy and Society

This course concerns the following questions: Where does energy come from?  What is the science behind it?  How is it consumed?  What are the effects on the environment and society?  The topics are discussed by building an understanding from the underlying science.  The physical forms of energy.  Energy generation, storage, conversion, consumption.  Both quantitative and qualitative methods are used.


Some of the course offered at Greenfield Community College might be suitable as GenEds (get approval from the registrar first) and see:


Other miscellaneous GenEd’s are listed here.


For more information, contact John Gerber at, or

308 Bowditch Hall and say hello!



©2008 John M. Gerber