Sustainable Coursework - Department of Sustainable Development

SD 3548 Traditions of Sustainability in Indigenous Societies

Taught by Dr. Anatoli Ignatov

In this course, Dr. Ignatov explores selected topics in sustainable development through the concepts, stories, methodologies, livelihood strategies, and knowledge systems of indigenous peoples. It starts from the premise sustainable development is not a new phenomenon: it is essential to learn not only about, but also with and from the wealth of ecological knowledges and practices that have served vernacular societies for thousands of years. Drawing on diverse traditions of thought from Africa to North America, Dr. Ignatov helps students examine the critical role of indigenous land use, place-based and endogenous knowledge, bio-cultural diversity, and healing, including the role of elders, storytellers, and farmers as experts and agents, rather than objects, of development.

SD 4401 Applications in Sustainable Development

Taught by Dr. Brian Burke and Dr. Dinesh Paudel

In order to understand the intersection of sustainability and development, we must not study not only how development affects the environment, but also how the environment affects development. Contemporary environmental changes—from global climate change to regional water scarcity and local resource depletion—are forcing grassroots groups and other development actors to rethink the nature and purposes of development and the strategies for change. The ideas and practices in SD 4401 will help students understand how the sustainable development community is studying environmental change and developing meaningful responses. Each semester, this course has a unique focus.

SD 3547 Food Security & Sovereignty

Taught by Dr. Jacqui Ignatova

Dr. Ignatova's course focuses on the relationship between farming and food insecurity, recognizing that many of the world's most food insecure are farmers. In this course, students examine the role of competition in a world market characterized by unfair trade rules, price volatility, corporate dominance, and speculation. Additionally, students examine the institutions involved in food aid and export-oriented food production, and explore how these institutions either address, ignore, or exacerbate inequality in the global food system. Dr. Ignatova covers a range of strategies intended to improve farmers' livelihoods, including new agricultural technologies, integration into global value-chains, fair trade, and food sovereignty. Throughout the course, students explore the difference between food security and food sovereignty; the relationship between environmental degradation and food insecurity; and the ecological and social consequences of efforts to improve agricultural productivity.

SD 2610 Science for Sustainability

Taught by Instructor Laura England

Conventional development approaches are characterized by anthropogenic forcing of natural systems to fit the goals of human societies. The well-documented degradation of our air, water, land and associated life-support systems is feedback demonstrating that conventional development approaches cannot be sustained. Sustainable development requires that we create human systems that work with natural systems. A thorough understanding of natural systems is thus necessary to achieve environmental sustainability; this course is a survey of the science that supports sustainable development.

SD 3900. Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture

Taught by Dr. Anne Fanatico and Dr. Christof den Biggelaar

This is a hands-on course focusing on the practice of sustainable agriculture. Students will engage agricultural systems from an ecological perspective, explore the biodiverse system of a natural working farm, and understand how such systems contribute to a more sustainable society. We will explore basic ecological concepts (i.e., biological, chemical, and physical factors and their interactions with plants and animals) and their application to agricultural systems, as well as the production and consumption aspects of food systems. Specific topics covered during group meeting sessions will include organic soil health, organic fertilization methods, animal husbandry, pest and disease management, methods to increase biodiversity in the agroecosystem, season extension, cover cropping, composting methods, and agroforestry, as well as marketing and community involvement. Independent work time at the Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm is integral to this course.

SD 3800 Classics in Sustainable Development

Taught by Dr. Anatoli Ignatov and Dr. Jen Westerman

This course is an introduction to classic texts in the field of sustainable development, with a focus on how different thinkers have understood the relationship between people and the natural world. How does literature affect the environmental values and practices that shape our understanding of sustainable development? We examine competing concepts of sustainability, equity, power, and collectivity, and study the human relationship with the natural world and its meanings and representations in language and culture. From land management and pollution to environmental justice for indigenous and low-income communities, the texts we will study this semester engage with some of the world's most pressing environmental crises and provoke analyses of strategies for living just and sustainable lives. Ultimately, these authors ask us to fully contemplate the question, "How shall we live?"

Additional Relevant Courses in the Sustainable Development Department

  • SD 2400. Principles of Sustainable Development
  • SD 2700. Development Theory and Practice
  • SD 2800. Environmental Justice and Sustainability
  • SD 3100. Principles of Agroecology
  • SD 3125. Applied Farm Operations I
  • SD 3170. Permaculture Design
  • SD 3200. Agroforestry and Farm Forestry Systems
  • SD 3350. Contemporary Issues in Agriculture and Food
  • SD 3375. Sustainable Economics and Community Development
  • SD 3600. Environmental Humanities
  • SD 3700. Environment and Development in the Global South
  • SD 3750. Nature, Technology, and Environment
  • SD 4100. Agroecology Practices, Systems, and Philosophies
  • SD 4125. Applied Farm Operations II
  • SD 4200. Ecologically-Based Pest Management
  • SD 4550. Senior Seminar