Sustainability Courses

The University of St. Thomas offers dozens of sustainability courses across the university. Courses with a SUST designation examine interconnections of human and environmental well-being across disciplines and count toward the completion of a minor in sustainability.

The Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) launched the SUST Course Designation in Spring 2016.  OSI designated the courses below as SUST courses from Spring 2016 to Spring 2018. 

Beginning in March 2018, the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies began to administer the SUST course designation in support of their Sustainability Minor.  Please visit their Sustainability Minor website for current course listings and course designation information!


Course description: This course is designed to give students an understanding of how accounting and business information is used in planning, budgeting, decision-making, and performance evaluation. Prerequisite: ACCT 210


Course description: An introduction to the basic concepts of conservation biology, including the history of conservation, the value of biological diversity, threats to biodiversity, conservation at the population, species, and community levels, and applications to human activities. Laboratories will emphasize data collection and analysis, and the practical application of conservation practices. This course is designed to meet the needs of the Environmental Studies major for a core course in environmental biology. Two laboratory hours per week. This course fulfills the core-area in natural science in the Natural Science and Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning requirement in the core curriculum.

Course description: Global food demand is predicted to double by the year 2050, while environmental impacts associated with food production are already unsustainable. How can we feed the world while simultaneously preserving our environment? Can urban agriculture be part of the solution? This class will explore possibilities and challenges from a biological perspective. We’ll connect techniques used in urban agriculture (like composting) to general concepts in biology (like nutrient cycling). The lab portion of the course will focus on finding a solution to a specific local problem related to urban agriculture - how to convert a vacant lot in an underserved neighborhood into a financially viable project. This course fulfills the core-area in natural science in the Natural Science and Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning requirement in the core curriculum.  Every aspect of this course will be related to environmental sustainability because it weaves together two global drivers of environmental challenges (urbanization, agriculture) with a solutions-oriented narrative.

Course description: This is the first course in the biology core introductory sequence. As such, its purpose is to lay a foundation on which to build both concepts and skills in biology. This semester we will explore three closely interrelated areas of biology – genetics, evolution and ecology – that provide significant portions of the conceptual base of biology as a whole. Mendel and Darwin, two biologists of considerable fame, will provide starting points for some of this work. And throughout you will see evolution as a unifying theme in our work. Applications of these topics – to understanding health and disease, in relation to current sustainable and ecological issues, to your family and your future children – will be stressed.

Course description: Influences of humans on the global environment have 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. Thus, an understanding of basic biology is necessary to understand and address many environmental issues. This course will cover the fundamental biology involved with five environmental issues at the global scale: climate change, excessive nutrient loading into ecosystems, agricultural production, chemical contaminants, and loss of biodiversity. Specific biological principles to be covered include energy and nutrient mass balance by organisms and ecosystems, homeostasis and organismal physiology, and population dynamics and conservation biology. Prerequisite: A minimum grade of C- in BIOL 208, or any 100-level GEOL, and CHEM 112 or CHEM 115

Course description: An experience in environmental problem solving. Students travel to Costa Rica for ~4 weeks. They work in teams to define appropriate questions, design research methods, collect and analyze data, and present oral and written reports. Emphasis is on the application of the scientific method to biological problem solving and the communication of findings to others as the end product of science. Areas of investigation vary with the interests of the students and instructors and with the availability of research organisms.

Offered as a Study Abroad course in Costa Rica

Course description: There is increasing public interest and concern over the connections between environmental quality and human health. This course will explore these connections by providing an introduction to the multidisciplinary field of environmental toxicology- the study of the adverse effects of chemical, biological, and physical agents in the environment on living organisms, including humans. Topics will cover global and local problems including issues of environmental justice and future approaches to sustainably mitigate the major environmental health problems in industrialized and developing countries. Four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIOL 207, BIOL 208 and a minimum grade of C- in BIOL 209

Course description: This course is an exploration of the major concepts in modern ecology, including eco-physiology and adaptation, population growth and regulation, community and ecosystem ecology, and biodiversity and conservation biology. Laboratory and fieldwork will complement these topics and will emphasize careful experimental design and statistical analysis of data. Four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIOL 207 and a minimum grade of C- in BIOL 209. STAT 220 or MATH 303 recommended.

Course description: Using approaches from ecology and evolutionary biology, this course examines processes affecting populations of rare and endangered species, as well as control of introduced or pest species. Ecosystem and community-level management projects are addressed in addition to projects directly focused on individual species. Topics include population viability analysis, metapopulations and the geographical structure of populations, genetic diversity within populations, the interaction between populations ecology and population genetics, and biological control of pests. Laboratory work includes field and laboratory study of species with broad ecological implications for the ecosystems and biological communities of the Upper Midwest. Four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: BIOL 207 and a minimum grade of C- in BIOL 209

Course description: This course is intended to give an overall introduction to the major endocrine systems of vertebrates and their involvement in the control of physiological functions. Major principles involved in signaling by hormones, the integration of hormonal mechanisms to maintain homeostasis, and the evolution of endocrine systems will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on similarities and differences among vertebrate groups, but focus will be primarily mammalian endocrinology. The primary objective is to highlight the complexity of control and integration of physiological functions by chemical signals such as hormones. Prerequisites: BIOL 207, BIOL 208 and a minimum grade of C- in BIOL 209.

Course description: Characteristics of lakes, streams and other aquatic habitats; including plant and animal communities, water chemistry and productivity. Use of recent primary literature to learn and evaluate field techniques, data collection and data analyses. Both individual and class research projects focus on aquatic systems. The sustainability component consists of extensive discussion and analysis of human impacts on aquatic ecosystems, including eutrophication, habitat loss and degrdation, chemical contamination, and spread of invasive species.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Course description: This course focuses on emerging infectious diseases from many different perspectives with particular attention to the ways in which human behavior is altering the ecology of infectious disease transmission, thereby promoting emergence of these diseases as a major global health threat. The course will be a seminar format designed around case studies, discussion, guest speakers, and student projects. Laboratory will consist of an independent research project done in collaboration with the professor and peers. Four laboratory hours per week. Prerequisites: Two biology courses at the 300-level or above.

Course description: In 1800, there were around 1 billion people on the planet, and only 3% lived in urban areas. Today we are approaching 8 billion humans, and more than half live in cities. This course explores how cities function as ecosystems and shape local, regional, and global ecological and biogeochemical processes We will examine how carbon, nutrients, and energy enter the city in the form of food and other resources, and exit as waste, and use assess opportunities to move towards sustainability. We will make extensive use of primary literature and apply ecological network analysis tools to contrast human-dominated ecosystems with natural ecosystems. Students will design and implement independent research projects, and will work collaboratively to apply knowledge and skills to real-world urban sustainability problems.


Course description: An introduction to chemistry with particular emphasis on environmental science. Basic chemistry topics covered include the structure of matter, elements, compounds, reactions, energy and energy changes. These fundamentals lead to the study of currently relevant environmental problems and their proposed solutions, for example the depletion of ozone in the stratosphere, global warming, acid rain, smog, waste disposal, water pollution and the study of energy resources. Lectures and laboratory. This course satisfies the lab science requirement in the core curriculum for non-majors. Offered spring semester. NOTE: Students who receive credit for CHEM 101 may not receive credit for CHEM 100.

Communication and Journalism

Course description: Preparation, presentation, and evaluation of original speeches by each student throughout the semester; special emphasis given to selecting and researching topics, organizing evidence, analyzing audiences, sharpening style and tone, communicating ethically and listening critically. This course is designed for students who are not pursuing a Communication and Journalism major. COJO majors may only take this course with permission from the department chair.

Course description: Introduction to basic communication theories and skills as they pertain to the business setting. Text, lecture, class discussion, and exercises, and individual and group presentations will better prepare students to become more effective communicators at work. The course will focus on presentational skills, dyadic communication, and interviewing and group communication. This class may be taken by Communication and Journalism majors only with the permission of the department chair. THIS COURSE WILL HAVE A SUBJECT- MATTER EMPHASIS ON SUSTAINABILITY.

Course descriptionThis course teaches students HTML and Web-page production. The goal is to help students develop strategies for writing, editing, designing and publishing a Website that meets professional standards.

The Freshwater Society’s (FWS) Master Water Stewards program (MWS) develops, certifies, and supports community volunteer leaders to manage stormwater at a neighborhood scale to improve water quality. FWS is wrapping up the third year of its partnership with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and is preparing to expand the MWS program to seven watershed districts and one city in the coming year, including the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. To support this expansion, FWS would like to develop a set of recommended communication practices for its new partners to use to develop and maintain engaged, interested, and involved water stewards after they have completed their certification. Students will examine how FWS has set up communication with MWS volunteers to identify and analyze what works well and what can be improved to develop and maintain engaged, interested, and involved water stewards after they have completed their certification. Based on this research, they will create a set of recommended communication practices or blueprint for communication for new local government unit partners to develop and maintain engaged, interested, and involved water stewards.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Course description:  Writing for Strategic Communication provides practical experience in public relations and advertising writing including: strategic communication plans, news releases, position statements, brochures, query letters, feature stories, social media posts and ad copy. The course emphasizes weekly drafting and editing in class with the aim of giving students the fundamental skills that constitute excellent writing. Students leave the course with a portfolio of written work that can be utilized in multiple communication environments (agencies, corporations, non-profits, political, education, healthcare organizations, etc.). Prerequisite: COJO 234

Course description: We will examine the concepts, theories, and realities of the way individuals and groups work and communicate in organizations where culture and multiculturalism play a primary or prominent role. Each year we partner with the Ke Kula Ni’ihau O' Kekaha Learning Center (KKNOK) to create a reciprocal service-learning experience on an environmental theme that meets the curricular needs of their forty students (pre-school - high school) and the learning objectives of our course. Previous activities with KKNOK include learning about an endangered Hawaiian duck—the kaloa maoli--in 2010.  We contributed to the production of a dvd that features the art, music and literature projects on which our students and their students collaborated.  They continue to use this dvd to educate Hawaiians about endangered species and to showcase their unique school at Hawai’i state education meetings. In 2014 our students and the KKNOK students learned about various aspects of the Waimea River, including ecological challenges to the river and surrounding watershed. Highlights included a presentation by an elder at the Waimea Technology Center and a day on and around the river in which the Kekaha students and our students taught others about the history and environmental challenges of this area. 

The course is highlighted in this PBS video about the KKNOK Learning Center, at 14:40.

Offered as a Study Abroad program in Hawaii

Course description: This course focuses on the communication of mediated information about the environment. Students will examine what makes (and what has made) the environmental stories we tell about ourselves, from writing about agriculture, nature and spirituality to green advertising, the rhetoric of the environmental movement, and environmental movies and music. For Spring 2016, the focus of the course is food and sustainability.

Course description: Students work as strategic communicators in advertising and public relations to develop an integrated communication campaign plan that will successfully influence key audiences' attitudes and behaviors for the ultimate goal of building and maintaining good relationships with audiences' key audiences. Prerequisites: COJO 344

Computer & Information Science

Course description: Continuation of CISC 320. Concentration on user-centered design (UCD), physical design, low- and high- fidelity prototyping, and agile methods. Emphasis on managerial problems in systems development. Continued use of CASE and project-management tools. A "real world" design and prototyping project is an integral part of this course. Prerequisite: CISC 320

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.


Course description: Relationship between market structure, behavior and performance of business enterprises; government intervention and regulation; antitrust and other public-policy issues. Prerequisites: ECON 251 and 252

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Course description: Economics of the Public Sector (ECON 337) examines the role of government in a market economy.  In particular, the course examines the economic foundations that justify the existence of a public sector and develops an analytical framework for evaluating the design and effectiveness of public policies.  This involves exploring the intended and unintended consequences for the range of potentially affected parties (e.g., individuals, business, government stakeholders).

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Course description: This course employs economic principles to analyze the problems of environmental pollution and natural-resource depletion. Economic systems, such as the private-market mechanism, are evaluated with respect to their effectiveness in the management of natural resources and the environment. Domestic and international environmental policies are examined and critiqued. Prerequisite: ECON 252

Course description: Managerial Decision Making (ECON 401) trains students to apply economic theory to the analysis of business problems that managers face.  In particular, the course encourages students to develop a deeper understanding of the economic principles underlying business activity in order to apply these principles to “real world” situations, in which many economic theoretical assumptions may not hold.  In doing so, this course helps students grasp the advantages and limitations of using economic analysis to solve managerial problems.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.


Course description: Through a combination of lectures, hands-on computer lab time, and design projects, students will learn to read, and create engineering drawings and use computer-aided design (CAD) terminology and technology. Topics covered will include the engineering design process, rapid prototyping, principles of projection and introductory methods of representation and constructive geometry.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership Project.

Course description: This class is designed for P-12 educators. Through a combination of lectures, hands-on computer lab time, and design projects, students will learn to apply an engineering design process. Topics covered will include the engineering design process, hands-on computer labs, lectures and possible field trips which will introduce students to how an engineering design process is applied in a variety of fields. Students will learn how to create engineering drawings, apply an engineering design process, use computer-aided-design (CAD) technology, and explore rapid prototyping tools. Strategies for incorporating engineering design projects into the K-12 classroom will be discussed. Product design and building/infrastructure design will include an introduction to lifecycle analysis, whole systems thinking, materials selection, green building assessment systems, material loops and site design.

Course description: The course examines how business can be more sustainable by concentrating on economy, environment, and social equity issues. Various tools are given in each area to help businesses in their quest for having a sustainable development company and mindset. Field trips and guest speakers are used so students can see and hear what sustainability looks like.


Course description: Students will read and write about literary texts critically and closely. The course emphasizes recursive reading and writing processes that encourage students to discover, explain, question and clarify ideas. To this end, students will study a variety of genres as well as terms and concepts helpful to close analysis of those genres. They will practice various forms of writing for specific audiences and purposes. Students will reflect on and develop critical awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses as readers and writers. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 12 pages of formal revised writing.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership Project.

Course description: In this course we will investigate how literary and cultural texts from the Enlightenment to today define and represent "nature." Our discussion proceeds from the assumption that the way we talk about things matters for both ourselves and what we talk about. While it is now common to think of the natural world as something that requires our protection, this is, of course, a very recent development. We will survey novels, poetry, essays, and feature films to trace the various and changing ways that western culture has conceived of the natural world. We will also examine how and why documentary and museum practices employ literary language and strategies. We will conclude by looking at how contemporary literary texts imagine the future.

Course description: Writing is not just about describing our world, but changing our world, and in ENGL 304, we will use "community writing" to change our world. In this course, students will write newsletter stories, blogs, and letters to the editor for one of five Twin Cities organizations: Jeremiah's Hope for Kindness, the Association of Non-Smokers, the Aliveness Project, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, or Master Water Stewards. 

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Course description: How do we write about the environment in an age of rapid climate change, and is there anything we can do to get involved in our local community? In Environmental Writing and Community Outreach, students will attempt to grapple with these questions while striving toward hope. Students will discuss and analyze texts that interrogate the Anthropocene--the current geological age which has been dominated by human activity--and use that thinking to collaborate with local organizations focused on sustainability right here in the Twin Cities. Possible texts include FIELD NOTES FROM A CATASTROPHE by Elizabeth Kolbert, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING by Naomi Klein, and WRITING NATURE by Carolyn Ross. This course satisfies the Theory and Practice distribution requirement for English majors and counts as a non-literature course for English with Writing Emphasis majors. This course also satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement and counts towards the new Sustainability minor. Prerequisite: ENGL 201, 202, 203, or 204.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership Project.

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization seeks to understand why and how residents within their watershed engage in urban agriculture, including motivations, barriers, and benefits, in order to more effectively engage other residents in urban agriculture.  MWMO’s overarching goal is to improve water quality by reducing the volume and speed of stormwater runoff.  Urban agricultural practices may reduce the volume and speed of stormwater runoff by changing compacted soils that cannot infiltrate water to healthier soils that can absorb stormwater.

Students will investigate engagement in urban agriculture through ethnographic research with residents of North Minneapolis.  Based on this research, students will create narratives of residents’ stories of engagement with urban agriculture. In the process of writing these ethnographies, students will explore themes about motivations for and meanings of engaging in urban agriculture as well as barriers residents experience.  This study will provide rich, qualitative data upon which a further study examining motivations to engage in urban agriculture can be developed and messages to encourage residents’ engagement in urban agriculture can be built.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.


Course description: An elective course, open to engineering and entrepreneurship majors, designed to introduce students to the role of environmental sustainability in product development. This course will look at ways a wide variety of companies have adopted environmentally sustainable practices, and we will practice using methods such as life cycle analysis and whole system thinking. Students will learn and use an array of design thinking techniques. All students will be expected to complete a final project in which they work in a team to write a proposal for a business.

The three main learning objectives for this course are:
1.Students will be comfortable discussing environmental sustainability, and its role in business and product design, from multiple perspectives.
2. Students will be able to use a variety of tools, including Life Cycle Analysis and Whole Systems thinking, to assess and develop business ideas.
3. Students will apply the lessons, tools, and case studies learned in the course to develop their own proposal based on an environmentally sustainable business concept.

Environmental Science

Course description: This course explores methods of solving environmental problems. These problems are by nature, interdisciplinary and are rarely addressed in a substantive fashion in traditional science textbooks. In this course, students and faculty work together to develop a working model of a critical earth system or biogeochemical cycle (i.e. the carbon or nitrogen cycle), and learn how to make calculations of human-induced changes to that system. Students from all concentrations of the environmental science major will work together on this interdisciplinary research project using modeling and systems analysis software to more fully understand specific environments and the quantitative methods of assessing challenges to those environments. This course should be taken by all ESCI students during their junior year. Prerequisite: Environmental Science majors should have completed BIOL 204, CHEM 201, or GEOL 211/252. Environmental Studies (ENVR) majors that wish to take this course need to have completed one course each from BIOL, CHEM and GEOL.

Course description: This course is designed to fulfill the senior capstone experience in Environmental Science as it brings together students from all of the environmental science concentrations (biology, chemistry, and geology) to complete interdisciplinary research projects. In the semester prior to the course offering, Environmental Science majors, in consultation with their faculty advisors and the course instructor, will develop a research project that they will complete as part of this course. Students may also choose to more fully develop a research project in which they have been participating or propose a service-learning or community-based project. Furthermore, groups of students could propose to perform an interdisciplinary project. The format of this research is intentionally open-ended because it is meant to provide flexibility and choice to the students and the course instructor. Student-led seminars on topics of the students' choosing will comprise most weekly meetings, along with updates on research progress and a final presentation to the St. Thomas community on the outcome of the student's research projects. This course should be completed in the final Spring semester prior to graduation. Prerequisite: ESCI 310 or permission of instructor, and at least one ENVR course.

Environmental Studies

Course description: A study of the interaction of humans and the environment over time and space; a broad introduction that integrates a variety of social-science perspectives into an understanding of the environment and the relations between humans and nature. Specific topics include ecology, population, economic development, resources and sustainable development.

Course description: An emphasis on the ways in which people have created, and attempted to solve, environmental problems in different cultural and historical contexts. Examines the roles of the entire spectrum of actors and human communities, including individuals, families, groups and formal organizations, neighborhoods, cities and nations. Students examine how individual dynamics (such as altruism and economic self-interest) and collective dynamics (such as competition, cohesion, social definitional processes and global interdependence) direct humans in their interactions with the environment.

Course description: Because Minnesota’s resources are finite and our landscapes are changing complex ways, we must make informed decisions about conserving the natural world. This course explores conservation challenges and opportunities in Minnesota by exploring connections between the ecological, social, economic, and political sciences. Students will develop skills in conservation planning tools and approaches. There is an emphasis on fieldwork, and students will study conservation reserves, learning to "read" the landscape with the scientists who manage them.

Course description: Consideration of the ethical issues arising from human interaction with the environment, including population pressure, pollution, conservation and preservation. Focus on the grounds of our obligation to resolve such issues; the question of what persons and things are worthy of moral consideration; and the respective roles of individuals, organizations and government in addressing environmental problems. Case studies will be used to trace the implications of various ethical and political theories. Prerequisite: 151 and PHIL 214

Course description: An examination of environmental policy outcomes generated by institutions and organizations, including legislation, court decisions and administrative decisions. Additional focus on decision-making processes commonly used to assess environment-related legislation, including those rooted in economics and policy analysis. Prerequisite: ENVR 212

Course description: A capstone course that combines field experience with classroom seminar. Student teams will conduct collaborative broadly interdisciplinary analyses of selected environmental problems. Field-based projects are chosen by the students in consultation with course instructor. Classroom seminars are used for exchange of information between teams and for discussion of readings pertinent to individual research projects or, more broadly, to the interdisciplinary character of environmental problem-solving. Each team produces a major paper that examines the selected problems through humanities, natural-science and social-science lenses. This class is cross-listed with, and is equivalent to, GEOG 402. Prerequisite: 301 and 351 or permission of the instructor

Ethics & Business Law

Course description: Individuals bring to work a personal sense of right, wrong, and meaning; organizations set forth core principles and policies; and markets function in the context of regulation and cross-cultural complexity. Together, these elements comprise the global field on which business ethics play, while at the same time, shareholders keep economic score. We will use tools to examine case studies in which these conceptions of value conflict or converge with economic measures, to explore such questions as: What ethical obligations should businesses have? What ethical aspirations do you have for your business career?

The course objectives include:
1. Learning fundamental principles and theories about ethics
2. Learning to apply those principles and theories to business decisions
3. Learning to analyze and critically evaluate other points of view to help navigate complex issues in business ethics and corporate responsibility
4. Developing a clearer understanding of, and commitment to, personal values, and an appreciation for their connections to the role of a business professional


Course description: This course explores the effects of social, economic, environmental, political, and demographic change from a geographic perspective. It introduces students to a broad range of topics, including the effects of population growth, human impact on the environment, economic development, and globalization. Offered every semester. This course fulfills the Social Analysis and Human Diversity requirements in the core curriculum.

Course description: A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analyzing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. It allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. This course illustrates the principles of GIS using a variety of real-world applications and is appropriate for a wide variety of disciplines.

Course description: This course uses basic Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to study a wide range of conservation issues. GIS is ideal platform for exploring the relationships between the economic, political and environmental processes shaping our landscapes. Typical class projects include locating the best lands in Minnesota for carbon sequestration projects and helping the Minnesota Nature Conservancy target valuable forest habitat for conservation purchases.

Course description: This class introduces students to the concepts, theories and research techniques used by medical geographers. We study the underlying environmental, cultural and demographic processes that shape the distribution and spread of disease in an effort to achieve a deeper understanding of the factors influencing human health. Much of the semester is spent using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help community partners analyze and address health care challenges in the Twin Cities.

Course description: A sequel to GEOG 321, this project-based course is designed around individual student interests to utilize advanced ArcGIS functions and analysis. Principles of geographic information systems will be implemented in a wide variety of applications. Prerequisite: GEOG 321 or consent of the instructor.


Course description: A study of the Earth's properties; the formation and classification of minerals, rocks, ore deposits, and fuels; and the nature and origin of the Earth's surface and interior. Emphasis will be placed upon a changing Earth, and the geologic processes operating at the surface and in the interior. Lecture and two laboratory hours per week. NOTE: Students who receive credit for GEOL 111 may not receive credit for GEOL 102, 110, 114, or 115.

Course description: This course emphasizes the interactions between humans and their environment, focusing on those processes and issues that are fundamentally geological in nature. Early in the course, students will be introduced to basic geoscience concepts and principals, the scientific method, plate tectonics, and earth materials (rocks and minerals). The remainder of the course will focus on specific topics at the interface between humans and their environment, including volcanic and earthquake hazards, human impacts on the hydrological cycle, surface and groundwater contamination, climate and the carbon cycle, nuclear waste storage, soil erosion, non-renewable resources, and slope stability. NOTE: Students who receive credit for GEOL 115 may not receive credit for GEOL 102, 110, 111, or 114.

Course description: The Earth's surface is dominated by vast oceans known for the beauty of their wildlife and waters. The oceans are also increasingly recognized for their critical importance to the functioning of the Earth's climate system and for their endangered natural resources. For example, the ocean- atmospheric climate phenomenon known as El Nino Southern Oscillation has gained household name recognition for its global impact on the weather, economy, and public health. In this course we will explore the physical, chemical, and biological processes that characterize the oceans. Students will develop research and analytical skills by making observations and interpretations of oceanographic processes using data, demonstrations, and field experiences. Prerequisites: One of GEOL 110, 111, 113, 114, 115, 130, 161 or permission of instructor.

Course description:  Earth's materials record the vast history of the earth, help us understand current earth processes and are vital to our daily living. By the end of this course, you will be able to identify many common Earth materials and their components, describe how they formed, state where on or in Earth they typically form, and describe their economic and environmental importance. We will travel to the Badlands and Black Hills, SD, to collect data from several field sites for analysis during the rest of the semester. Prerequisite: one of GEOL 102, 110, 111, 113, 114, 115 or 161. 

Course description: Environmental geochemistry explores past and present environments for their chemical characteristics and environmental quality. In this course we explore the applications of chemistry to solve geological and environmental problems, with an emphasis on freshwater environments. Students build hands-on field laboratory skills investigating Minnesota rock formations, lake sediments, and waters using several different geochemical methods.   Students work with a peer partner for 6 weeks of the course on a project they design in consultation with the instructor to monitor local or regional environmental quality of soils, sediments, and/or waters.

Course description: Climate change is among the most pressing challenges in our world today. In this course we will explore the Earth's climate system and the climatic changes that have occurred during the history of our planet. We will use a number of geological "fingerprints" to examine past climate and modern data to examine climate change in recent decades. You will gain hands-on experience collecting, analyzing, and interpreting climate data in several laboratory projects and in course exercises designed with an emphasis on scientific inquiry and problem solving. Prerequisite:One of GEOL 211, 220, 252 or 260, or permission of the instructor NOTE: Students who receive credit for GEOL 162 may not receive credit for GEOL 462

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership Project.


Course description: Intended as an introduction to more advanced work in German, this course, which is required of all majors and minors, will offer an overview of the evolution of German culture and civilization (society, politics, the arts) within an historical context. The course will also contain a review of advanced grammar and offer students an opportunity to improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills. Oral and written skills will be assessed. Prerequisite: GERM 212 or equivalent completed with a C- or better

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.


Course description: The Modern World since 1550 surveys the sixteenth-century European foundation and expansion throughout the world down to the end of the twentieth century.  This course also explores the major economic, technological, social, political, and cultural developments that have formed the modern world, strikingly different from the world that existed in premodern times.  The goal is to understand the forces that have shaped our modern world, what, in fact, it means to be “modern.”  Finally, although the course focuses on modern political, social, and economic developments in the human world, we will also assess the place of human beings in the natural world, and the effects on the non-human world of human developments that have formed the contemporary world.

Course description: This course is an introduction to the history of the world since 1900.  Students will learn about the historical processes that led to the emergence of an interdependent world in the twenty-first century.  Students will also examine the character of the world order that emerged after 1945, including the origins of the Cold War, the problems of some of the nations newly emerging from colonial domination, and contemporary U.S. world hegemony and its consequences in the twenty-first century.  Finally, although the course focuses on political, social, and economic developments in the twentieth century, we will also assess the place of human beings in the natural world, and the effects on the non-human world of human developments that have formed the contemporary world.  This course fulfills the Historical Studies requirement in the core curriculum.

Course description: In recent decades scientists have not only discovered that our climate is changing, but also that it has changed in the past. This class examines what is known about the history of our climate, and how this knowledge changes how we understand human history. We will begin with a broad overview of how climatic conditions have impacted the evolution of early humans and our adoption of practices like agriculture. We will examine in particular periods during the past 2000 years when climate changes have changed the conditions under which people live, periods such as the warm centuries of the middle ages and the colder period that followed, what is know called the "Little Ice Age." Finally, we will examine the study of climate in the 20th and 21st century, how humanity has come to understand its own relationship to weather systems, and the sometimes difficult politics surrounding the implications of that knowledge.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Course description: We live in an era of unprecedented concern for environmental dangers and disasters, but ideas and beliefs about human relationships with nature are nothing new. This course begins with ancient texts and concludes in the present, asking along the way how people - from philosophers to the illiterate, scientists to laypeople - have understood their environments. Key themes include the legacies of ancient medical and religious traditions, responses to urbanization and resource scarcity in Renaissance Europe, native American interpretations of nature, and the challenges of modern industrial society. We will consider influential environmentalists such as John Muir and Rachel Carson as well as others who fit less comfortably into that tradition including government planners and legislators, business leaders and economists, consumers and novelists. The course will conclude with an examination of environmentalism in action in students' own communities.

Justice and Peace Studies

Course description: Students explore major aspects of world and local conflict including theories of social science relating to conflict, violence and the meaning of justice.  Among the aspects of conflict studied will be cultural differences, environmental perspectives, international trade, the arms race and oppression. Proposed solutions are examined in the context of social injustice and the need for systemic change.  Students do a guided research paper on justice and peace in the context of a particular country examining the historical roots of present injustice and conflict, human rights, social inequality, militarism, media bias and interpretation, the impact of foreign powers, alternative futures, and possible solutions.

Course description: Leadership for Social Justice examines the arc of leadership through the process of creating, sustaining, then institutionalizing positive social change. The course examines models and case studies of authoritative, positional, influential and situational leadership in diverse settings such as community organizing, social movements, social entrepreneurship and nonprofit management. The course also explores approaches to ethical leadership and provides opportunities for students to develop the skills and vision needed to become ethical leaders for social justice. Students will analyze the role of leadership in the tensions between preserving order and promoting transformation. They will develop a critical approach to the dynamics of power in order to effect systemic change.


Course description: Managers operating in a global environment need to manage the differences in doing business with people from other cultures. This goes beyond knowing that people have different customs, goals, and thought patterns. Today's managers need to be able to understand the cross-cultural subtleties imbedded in any interpersonal working relationships, regardless of whether operating in a foreign location, interacting with foreign nationals from a distance, or working with a culturally diverse American workforce. A manager's ability to understand, accept, and embrace these differences is critical to his or her success. This course is designed to address the complexities of intercultural management and facilitate the student's ability to manage successfully in a cross-cultural environment. Topics include intercultural ethics, intercultural negotiations, and work values. Prerequisites: FINC 321, OPMT 310, MKTG 300 or concurrent registration and prerequisite waived by instructor, MGMT 305, BETH 301.


Course description: This course uses a managerial point of view. It focuses on understanding the needs and desires of customers in order to develop effective strategies for business. Students are taught to consider organizational, social, competitive, technological, economic, behavioral, and legal forces in crafting effective marketing programs. Students apply the concepts in the class by developing a marketing plan for a product they develop that addresses the design challenge of reducing consumption waste on college campuses.

Course description:  In this course, students learn to develop surveys, observation, experiments, and other tools for learning about customer characteristics and requirements. They learn about analytical techniques, data sources, re search planning and costs. Students would greatly benefit from completing this course before they take MKTG 430. Prerequisites: MKTG 300, MATH 101 or 109 or 111 or 113, STAT 220 (QMCS 220 or IDTH 220)

Course description: This course takes a strategic perspective on managing the product element of the firm's marketing mix - the most integral element. Students will delve into segmenting markets based on needs and assessing innovation strategy, viability, new product design, product differentiation, product portfolio and lifecycle management, line and brand extension strategy amongst other product and service tactics. Students are introduced to Human Centered Design, a design thinking method for solving societal problems, and collaborate to create a solution to the design challenge of reducing consumption waste on college campuses. Students then individually develop a product and record a presentation pitching their idea.

Operations & Supply Chain Management

Course description: The service sector is the fastest-growing sector of the economy. This course is designed to explore the dimensions of service operations management and the process of ongoing improvement. Outstanding service organizations are managed differently than their manufacturing counterparts. The results show not only in terms of conventional operational measures of performance, but also in the enthusiasm of the employees and degree of customer satisfaction, where efficient and effective service is taken as a positive experience. This course aims at applying tools learned in Operations Management as well as integrating student learning from other areas such as strategy, marketing, technology and organizational issues in the service industry. Service sectors covered in this course include airlines, health care, hotels, restaurants, entertainment & recreation, and service consulting. Offered Spring semester. Prerequisite: OPMT 310.

This course integrated a Sustainable Community Partnership project.

Course description: Operations management focuses on planning, coordination and control of activities involved in the transformation of resources into goods and services.  Operations management covers a very broad spectrum of functions involving management of technology, workforce, equipment, materials and information flow.  In most organizations, the operations function represents the largest share of all financial and non-financial investments.  The operations function is inextricably connected to other functional areas of a business organization such as engineering, marketing, finance, accounting, and human resources.  The broad spectrum of operations activities represents a major management challenge and a significant area of opportunity for gaining competitive advantage, and is integral to the business strategy of an organization.

This is an introductory course on operations management.  The objectives of this course are to introduce the student to the broad range of functions of operations management, to provide a multifunctional perspective on problems and opportunities faced by operations managers, and to explore the strategic role of operations functions in the survival and success of the business organizations.  The course will provide an overview of various operations management functions, and emphasize understanding of basic concepts and techniques in the operations management area that are essential for efficient and effective management of productive systems in manufacturing and service sectors.

This is a core course in the UST MBA Program.  This course has been designed for students with an interest in general management.  Students specializing in other functions such as finance, marketing, accounting, and strategy will also find this course beneficial.  The course provides the foundation necessary for further studies in operations and supply chain management.

Sustainability component:
This assignment provides you with an opportunity to customize your learning experience through independent research of a topic of your choice related to social, environmental and ethical issues in operations management.  The project involves the following individual and group deliverables:
1. Project Proposal: Each student is required to select a project topic through independent research and write a project proposal (1-page) to persuade his/her team to select this topic for the team presentation.  The proposal must include (i) a description of the problem or opportunity, (ii) an explanation of why the problem is important to MBA students, (3) a preliminary idea of your plan for the group study, and (4) bibliography of three journal articles supporting your proposal.  Submit a hard copy of your proposal to your instructor at the beginning of the class on February 12, 2016.   
2.  Project Selection:  Select a single topic from the set of proposals prepared by the members of your team in consultation with your instructor by February 27, 2016.  
3.  Team Presentation:  Conduct additional research as a team on the selected topic and make a PowerPoint presentation (30 minutes) to the class. The quality of the presentation will be judged on how much you learned and how much you teach the class and the instructor.  Send an electronic copy of your presentation to your instructor in advance.


Course description: An examination of fundamental conceptions of the human person in ancient, medieval and modern philosophy. Possible topics include: the existence and immortality of the human soul, free will and determinism, the immateriality of the intellect, the relationship between mind and body, and the relevance of different conceptions of the human person for ethics and religion. Attention is given to relevant issues of human diversity. The development of logical and critical thinking receives special attention. This course, with PHIL 214, fulfills the Moral and Philosophical Reasoning requirement in the core curriculum.


Course description: Students will discuss implications of different sustainability models (e.g., triple bottom line vs. nested circles). Learning goals that foster critical thinking about environmental problems and solutions include:
• Understand the causes and consequences of environmental problems
• Understand the psychological factors that lead people to engage in sustainable behavior and be able to describe the main theories guiding conservation psychology research
• Have a clear understanding of the psychological underpinnings of the approaches being used to promote sustainable behavior
• Be able to describe important social, cultural, and policy factors that influence sustainable behavior
We will compare the DSP and NEP worldviews which impact the way people understand problems and develop solutions. All facets of the grade are related to sustainability; the primary project will require application of material learned throughout the course to solve an environmental problem.

Course description: This course presents basic concepts of psychology as they apply every day in the workplace. Topics to be covered include measurement and its applications in the workplace (e.g., personnel decisions and performance appraisals), worker training, worker attitudes and motivation, worker adjustment, health and safety, leadership, communication and group behavior and development of the organization. Prerequisites: PSYC 111 and junior standing

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Social Work

This course fosters competence in the research skills needed for generalist social work practice. Students will gain knowledge in the steps of conducting research; practice evaluation; conducting research with vulnerable participants; locating and critically evaluating relevant research to inform practice; and evidence-based practice. They will learn values of ethical research practice, using the Belmont Report and the NASW Code of Ethics as guidelines. Particular emphasis is placed on protecting vulnerable research participants. Students will also gain skills in writing and presenting a literature review, developing a research proposal, and applying relevant research to practice. Prerequisites: SOWK 281/2810 and junior status or consent of the program director. SOWK 380/3800 is the same course as SOWK 3800/380 at St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas.

Course description: This course integrates concepts of environmental justice and the impact on large client systems throughout the semester.  Lectures include content on critical environmental justice issues for social work large client systems and implications for social work practice. Guest speakers present examples of local environmental issues and agency and University of St. Thomas responses to them as well as opportunities for continued student engagement. Finally there will be presentation of one or more documentary films addressing an environmental justice issue.  All students must work with local agencies to understand the planned change process for social justice, identify critical policy issues, and meet in person with a MN state representative to discuss those issues. Students are given an opportunity this semester to collaborate with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization to assist with community engagement among local Somali and African American Twin Cities neighborhoods.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.


Course description: Designed to increase listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in Spanish. Intensive review of grammatical structures of Elementary Spanish I and II. Continued exposure to Hispanic culture. Prerequisite: SPAN 112 or its equivalent with a grade of C- or better

Course description: Intensive practice in written Spanish using selected materials to acquire a high level of competence in writing Spanish. This writing course aims to improve technique, expand syntactic depth, increase vocabulary and learn good writing through a process approach involving stages of idea development, thesis construction, structural development, bibliographic notation, evaluation of ideas and rewriting of the text. Lectures and class discussions are based on major topics that relate to the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Written skills will be assessed. Prerequisite: Completion of SPAN 300 or its equivalent with a C- or better.

Course description:  Practice in the language skills and vocabulary needed to conduct business in the Hispanic world; an overview of political, economic, social and cultural factors which affect business in the Hispanic countries. Offered in fall semester. Prerequisites: Successful completion of SPAN 301 and 305 or their equivalents with a C- or better in each course (may be taken simultaneously with SPAN 305).

Teacher Education

The Mississippi River Watershed Management Organization’s (MWMO) education and outreach program seeks to “provide information, services and products to promote responsible stewardship of water and natural resources by the watershed community.” As part of this goal, MWMO would like to develop curriculum units for stormwater management best management practices (BMPs) that can be shared with both formal and informal educators. Currently, MWMO shares general resources with educators (e.g., resources from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or the U.S. Geological Survey), but MWMO does not have the capacity to develop curriculum units for specific BMPs in their watershed.

Students in Engineering in the P-12 Classroom will be invited to develop engineering design curriculum units for BMPs in MWMO’s watershed boundaries. Curriculum resources tailored to stormwater management BMPs that are installed on sites within MWMO’s boundaries may increase and facilitate educators’ and the public’s engagement with these sites and practices. Curriculum units that educators can use at specific sites in the watershed would also support the goal of place-based education.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.


Course description: This course is designed to acquaint students with the contents of the Bible and with Christian history, especially in the context of the Catholic tradition. Through careful reading of a core of common texts and a variety of written assignments, students are expected to attain a basic understanding of human experience in the light of major areas of theology, including revelation, God, creation, Jesus and the Church.  Since Pope Francis has recently published his encyclical letter on the environment, Laudato si (“On Care for our Common Home”) we are going to partner with Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, a local non-profit organization, in order to explore how local congregations are theologically interpreting and responding to this most recent official document in the Catholic Church.

Course description: This course is an introduction to the principles, methods and topics of Christian theological ethics. The following themes will be addressed: the relation of Christian faith to moral reflection and decision making (both individual and social); the contribution of the Christian tradition to the understanding of the human person (including freedom, sin, conscience, character and grace); the role of the believing community in its relation to culture; and the connection of worship and spirituality to the Christian moral life. Some application will be made to selected issues in personal, professional and social ethics. Prerequisite: THEO 101

Course description: Many communities around the country and world have recognized the harmful effects that plastic shopping bags have on the environment and have instituted bans or taxes on their use. Elk River is home to one of the state’s largest municipal solid waste landfills. The landfill staff and community often deal with plastic shopping bag litter from the landfill, and plastic shopping bags also become stuck in the City’s waste to energy plant machinery. Plastic shopping bag litter contaminates our waters, harms wildlife, and causes deterioration of the community’s aesthetics. Therefore, the City would like to investigate the costs and benefits of different options for discouraging the use of plastic bags, including a ban or tax, or incentives for encouraging the use of alternatives. Students will engage in research about the effects of the use of plastic bags on the common good, taking into account various stakeholders such as businesses that are harmed by their use, businesses that benefit from their use, residents of different economic backgrounds, future generations, and the earth. They will examine ways in which governments and citizens (both individual and corporate) in other communities have worked to promote the common good by decreasing the use of plastic bags.

This course integrated a Sustainable Communities Partnership project.

Course description: This course examines Christian theological and moral reflection on the relation between human activity and the natural environment. It will address environmental issues that are of mutual concern to theologians and the natural or social sciences; thus it will study scientific analysis along with theological perspectives. The course will also review contemporary practices and/or policies that address environmental problems. Prerequisite: THEO 101 and one 200-level or 300-level THEO course, and PHIL 115