Sustainability-Focused Courses


Conservation Biology (BIOL 102)

Conservation-minded students in this course learn about the importance of biodiversity, the impacts of humans on biodiversity and how we can mitigate those impacts.  While we look at several examples of biodiversity on campus, probably the most important is the survey of pollinators.  Not only do we have pollinator data both before and after the Pollinator Path, but we now have four years of data!  Every year, students contribute to this important long-term data set.  We also look at the effects of land use on soil carbon on campus as part of our study of climate change.  

Students also do a project in lab to educate the public on conservation issues.  Click here to see those projects.

To get a sense of what conservation really means, students are required to do some volunteer work with a conservation organization during the semester.  The image below shows some student photos of their work.  

student volunteers from BIOL 102



Genetics, Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 207)

Students taking BIOL 207 learn about environmental effects on organism’s physical features; for example UV light exposure causes mutations in DNA and its expression, potentially causing cancer which has health and societal costs. Students also learn about antibiotic resistance; how it happens and the kinds of impacts it can have on human health. One of the lab research projects is focused on identifying areas in the Twin Cities that contain antibiotic resistant microbes in their soils. Their results are reported to a national database, in hopes of minimizing human exposure! Finally, students will understand how high species diversity leads to ecosystem stability, and how diversity supports sustainable human and ecosystem resources.

BIOL 207 students for sustainability pages


Biology of Sustainability (BIOL 209)

Influences of humans on the global environment has reached unprecedented levels, increasing the need for society to strive to live in a sustainable manner. Many issues facing the environment have a biological basis. Students in this course are learning about the fundamental biological principles involved with global environmental issues such as climate change, excessive nutrient loading into ecosystems, agricultural production, chemical contaminants, loss of biodiversity, and the changes expected in human diseases and disorders.