The UMass School of Earth & Sustainability is proud to offer undergraduate and graduate students a diversity of introductory and upper-level courses among multiple departments at UMass Amherst. Below is a sample of courses that will be offered within SES during the Spring 2020 semester.  A full catalog of courses can be found in SPIRE and you can search for other sustainability courses ("GRN") under Class Attributes.

Building and Construction Technology

511 Clean Energy Corps - Professor Benjamin Weil
Students in the UMass Clean Energy Corps will work in teams with energy engineers and other staff of the UMass Clean Energy Extension to provide energy analysis and high-level energy audits to Massachusetts cities and towns. We will collect and analyze municipal energy data, conduct walk through and instrumented energy audits on site for some facilities, and provide guidance to help municipalities cut their energy consumption by at least 20%. Students will learn a variety of data analysis and building diagnostic techniques as well as gain experience working with municipal clients. Through project-based study and occasional field visits, students will explore the theory, technologies, applications, and benefits of solar and design of buildings and discover how to utilize solar energy systems for residential and commercial buildings. Students will be required to research and document technology and complete a semester case study project in which they will examine various energy conservation aspects and economics underlying solar energy systems.

Environmental Conservation

636 Applied Ecological Statistic - Professor Meghan MacLean
Intermediate statistics is illustrated using examples from ecology. Topics include ANOVA, linear regression (simple and multiple), correlation, logistic regression, contingency tables and nonparametric methods. Techniques discussed in lectures and applied in laboratories.

697WD ST- Offshore Wind Energy: Environmental Impacts, Siting, Permitting and Stakeholder Engagement - Professor Alison Bates
Before construction begins on an offshore wind farm, there is a rigorous process of assessing ecological and environmental impacts, obtaining environmental and legal permits, and engaging with stakeholders. This process is expensive, and vital to the successful installation of an offshore wind farm; and indeed, critical to the success of this industry in the United States. A thorough understanding of these procedures is essential, to avoid unnecessary impacts to people and wildlife, and to minimize costly delays. This course is designed to guide the student through this process, from the time the potential offshore wind development site has been identified, until construction is complete and the wind farm is operational. This course is appropriate for students interested in environmental science, ecological protection, government permitting, and interactions with the public. Students will leave the course with skills that can be immediately applied to the workforce.

605 Urban Forests Structure and Function - Professor Brian Kane
This course introduces concepts related to the management of urbanized landscapes, focusing on what comprises the urban forest, its function as a natural system and the value of urban forests as an environmental and social catalyst. Examination of what makes up the urban forest, how these components function and the importance of sustainable urban natural landscapes will be undertaken. This seminar course will focus on developing a comprehensive understanding of the natural, social, economic and political aspects of protecting, enhancing and maintaining urban forests in populated communities.

Environmental Science

214 Ecosystems Biodiversity & Global Change - Professor George Locascio
Conservation science is concerned with phenomena that affect the maintenance, loss, and restoration of Earth's animals, plants and ecosystems while balancing the needs of people. Using principles from ecology, population genetics, economics, political science, and other natural and social sciences, this course will examine the global changes causing widespread species extinctions via large-scale shifts in climate, habitat destruction and fragmentation, ocean acidification, overexploitation, and invasive species. We will also focus on the various conservation strategies used to conserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

297F ST - Environmental Communication Eco Rep - Professor Ezra Markowitz
The UMass Amherst Eco-Rep Program is focused on working towards environmental literacy and leadership both within the program, and on the campus at large. This is an academic course open to students of all interests and education levels; it is especially encouraged to those who wish to gain or expand their knowledge in sustainability and environmental literacy. Eco-Reps build a foundational knowledge surrounding issues of sustainability and explore how best to raise awareness about these issues amongst their peers. Focusing on the role and impact of the individual, Eco-Reps work to promote environmentally responsible behavior in the campus community.

465 Principles of Environmental Site Assessment - Professor Nancy Hagstrom
Training in the ASTM method for detecting recognized indicators of petroleum and hazardous material contamination at properties of concern to local communities. Phase I and II techniques including record file research, site reconnaissance, and subsurface investigations. Information obtained on project sites assembled into Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Reports for submission to interested municipalities. Prerequisites: BIOLOGY 151, CHEM 111, or equivalents.


110 Global Environmental Change - Professor Kinuyo Kanamaru
The natural relationships between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere; human impact on the natural environment. Global environmental issues: global warming, sea-level rise, and ozone depletion in the stratosphere. Global changes of the past also studied to give perspective to forecasted changes. Includes writing exercises. (Gen.Ed. PS)

497R ST-Rethinking US Environmental Policy - Professor Eve Vogel
This course examines the ways US lands, waters and resources are organized by policies and law, how this has changed over time, and why. We examine underlying structures of law and policy that are often taken for granted. We uncover the political-economic origins of key policies, and trace their long-term social and environmental effects. A key goal is creative and critical comparison: thinking about different ways land, waters, resources and policy have been or might be organized, how and why this changed or might change, and the consequences for the environment and people. The course provides a strong conceptual introduction to the political economy of the environment and political conflict over the environment. 


231 Methods of Geosciences – David Boutt, Haiying Gao, Issac Larsen, Mike Williams, R. Mark Leckie and Stephen Burns 
Course includes some outdoor lab activities. Understanding and interpreting map-based data including topography and geologic information; using the compass, GPS and other surveying equipment to make maps; quantitative analysis of geoscience datasets; applications to hydrogeologic/environmental problems; describing rock units; measuring and compiling geologic data to produce maps and cross-sections. 

497D Special Topics- Programming and Data Analysis - Professor Bill Clement 
This course provides an introduction to processing, visualizing, and interpreting quantitative Earth and environmental science data using scientific computing techniques widely used in the Earth sciences. Computational methods and visualization will be performed using the scientific computing language, python. The course will teach you the basics of computer programing.


519 Aqueous Environmental Geochemistry - Professor Matthew Winnick 
With lab. Chemical processes affecting the distribution and circulation of chemical compounds in natural waters. Geochemistry of precipitation, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and oceans; applications of thermodynamic equilibria to predict the composition of aqueous systems. The behavior of trace metals and radionuclides in near-surface environments. Prerequisite: Chem 111, 112.  

557 Coastal Processes – Professor Jonathan Woodruff 
Processes that govern the movement of sediment, the shaping of coastal landforms, and the geologic evolution of coastlines. Course topics include basic principles for water waves, tidal and estuarine processes, and the geomorphic development of beach and barrier systems. Prerequisite: GEO-SCI 445 or permission from instructor; introductory calculus course recommended.  

595P Seminar- Diversity/Inclusion/Pedagogy - Professor Forrest Bowlick 
This seminar will review domain literature concerning best practices in diversity, inclusion, and pedagogy, while connecting these topics to workplace and classroom experiences. Starting with core literature and examples from geosciences, geology, geography and elsewhere, students will engage in critical discussion of how race, gender, class and other identities have been marginalized in these fields. Through conversations, reflections, and participatory actions, this course will explore current issues and consider how to create an equitable landscape moving forward.  

691GW Surface Water - Groundwater Interactions - Professor Christine Hatch 
Surface Water – Groundwater Interactions will provide a complete survey of the integrated systems of surface water hydrology and groundwater hydrology. It is my belief that much interesting science occurs at the interfaces and intersections between processes, environments, and disciplines. The field of Hydrology has long separated the study of surface water (streams, lakes, etc.) from groundwater, despite the clear connection of these systems. Over the last two decades, surface water and groundwater have increasingly been viewed as a single resource, producing a myriad of new and exciting scientific work on the subject. The quantity and quality of surface water can affect the volume and chemistry of groundwater, and vice versa. Interactions between these are crucial to understanding the ecosystems that depend on them, the processes governing hydrologic systems, and effective resource assessment and management practices. This course will provide a fundamental understanding of the theoretical basis of surface water hydrology and groundwater systems, and a detailed survey of techniques used to quantify these interactions. In this course you will learn in-class and field-based techniques for the quantification of surface water - groundwater interactions, explore the scientific literature investigating the interfaces between disciplines encapsulated by hydrologic and geologic systems and ecosystems. This is not a straight lecture class! Active learning and student participation will be an essential component.  

Landscape Architecture

494LI Landscape Planning and the Cultural Landscape - Professor Ethan Carr and Professor Theo Eisenman 
Landscape planning crosses scales from regional to site specific, taking a real world problem to creative sustainable solutions. An introduction to design research methods, inventory and assessment models and techniques for policy planning, regional scale design proposals, and site selection for particular development types. Implementation of a greenway solution. Satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BS-LdArch majors.

591 Sustaining Green Infrastructure Planning and Design - Professor Robert Ryan 

592M S-Material Experiments/ Landscape Architecture - Professor Caroline Aragon 
This course will introduce students to innovative materials and technologies in landscape architecture. The study of landscape materiality will take place in two major forms: through a survey of contemporary material technologies, and through direct experimentation with the materials. The range of materials and technologies will be broad, ranging in subjects from upcycling, to smart materials, those with the potential to transform energy found in the environment into usable forms (i.e. electricity). The goal of the course is to generate prototypes and ideas that foster design innovation in landscape architecture.  


480 Microbial Physiology and Diversity - Professor James Holden / Professor Derek Lovley 
Description of the structure and function of key aspects of microorganisms and approaches to their study. Topics include cell structure, bacterial growth, energy generation, biosynthesis of macromolecules, and the integration of these processes in an environmental context. Emphasis is on modern approaches to these topics using biochemistry and genomic tools. Prerequisite: MICROBIO 310 for majors, open to SES students.
494SI A Sea of Microbes - Professor James Holden 
Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with the oceans, and nearly all of the life within the ocean is microscopic. Some of these microbes are photosynthetic and form most of the base of the marine food web. These in turn are consumed by other small creatures that eventually provide food for the larger animals in the sea. Bacteria are responsible for maintaining certain chemical balances in the oceans, and themselves are food for other microbes. Understanding how life is sustained in our oceans is vital for coastal human populations that rely on the sea for food. Other people turn to marine microbes for new biotechnologies, or hope that by understanding them we might understand our own planet’s climate history and how marine microbes will respond to global warming and ocean acidification.  It is an Integrative Experience course, open to SES students.

Natural Resource Conservation

185 Sustainable Living Solutions - Professor Lena Fletcher
Students will work in teams to research and develop solutions to the sustainable challenges facing our society. They will collaborate to investigate, critically evaluate, effectively communicate, and reflect on the multifaceted challenges associated with addressing sustainable resource use, water, food, energy, transportation, waste management, and climate change. Students will also work in teams during class on exercises in which they research case studies, debate controversies, assess political and cultural contexts, and identify technological advances and barriers, gaps in scientific knowledge, and opportunities for change in the 21st century. (Gen.Ed. I)

197FF Special Topics- Forest Fire Control - Professor George Locascio
Topics covered in lecture and weekly assignments will include wildland fire management policy, principles and procedures of forest fire control, fire-line safety, fire weather, and fire behavior.

225 Forest and People - Professor Paul Barten
Forests are complex and fascinating ecosystems. They have been shaped by ecological processes over 1,000s of years and also by centuries of human use, abuse, neglect, and care. They are always changing. Forests are essential to human health and well being yet they are often taken for granted. Forests and People explores the: Unique values that forests have in our culture; key characteristics of forests in the Northeast and how and why they have changed through time; historical and contemporary leaders in forest conservation; sustainable forest management principles and practices; current forest use patterns and trends and the challenges and opportunities they the present in the 21st century.

390E Evolution and Conservation - Professor Lisa Komoroske
This course provides the evolutionary basis for understanding biological problems in conservation. Evolutionary thinking provides more comprehensive approaches to conservation biology and future conservation practitioners must be equipped with the ability to think about conservation from an evolutionary perspective. Major topics will include: (1) a survey of evolutionary theory; (2) the application of evolutionary thinking to case studies and problems in conservation biology.

497WD Offshore Wind Energy-Environmental Impacts, Siting, Permitting, and Stakeholder Engagement - Professor Alison Bates
Before construction begins on an offshore wind farm, there is a rigorous process of assessing ecological and environmental impacts, obtaining environmental and legal permits, and engaging with stakeholders. This process is expensive, and vital to the successful installation of an offshore wind farm; and indeed, critical to the success of this industry in the United States. A thorough understanding of these procedures is essential, to avoid unnecessary impacts to people and wildlife, and to minimize costly delays. This course is designed to guide the student through this process, from the time the potential offshore wind development site has been identified, until construction is complete and the wind farm is operational. This course is appropriate for students interested in environmental science, ecological protection, government permitting, and interactions with the public. Students will leave the course with skills that can be immediately applied to the workforce.

578 Watershed Science and Management - Professor Tim Randhir
The course covers watershed-scale and ecosystem-based approaches to natural resources conservation and environmental decisions. Students will learn various approaches and fundamental concepts for integrating biological, physical, hydrological, and socioeconomics with a trans-disciplinary perspective.
590C Clean Energy and Climate Policy - Professor Dwayne Breger
Over the past 20 years, Massachusetts has evolved as a leader in clean energy policy, which has led to market development, job and economic growth, and reductions in greenhouse gas and other emissions. This course will provide direct insights into the brief history of these policy developments, including policy objectives, legislative and regulatory roles, tradeoffs of costs and benefits, the use of analytical methods to establish program design, and stakeholder perspectives and engagement. The course will explore the market and economic development and challenges that have resulted from the policy, and explore the economic tradeoffs and distributional impacts that may result. Lastly, the course will consider the current energy and climate issues in Massachusetts and the latest policy development and proposals that will impact our energy future.

597Q Special Topics- Environmental Leadership in Practice - Professor Katie Kahl
Open to all SES graduate students and upperclassmen and any student interested in developing environmental leadership skills. This course integrates the social science, natural science, and communication skills obtained through coursework with social dynamics, conflict resolution, active listening, leading and implementing change. This will be done while learning about, and working with teams on, complex current environmental challenges. In addition to gaining a foundation in theory, students will hear and engage in honest dialogue to discover what they can learn and how they can grow as an emerging environmental leader. Some work experience in the environmental field will be a helpful asset, but it is not required.

597B ST-Unmanned Aerial Systems - Professor Charles Schweik
This is a project-based interdisciplinary course that will provide instruction and guidance to students as they gain practical experience using UASs in a variety of applications. Classroom instruction will cover: mission planning, data analysis, data visualization and UAS public policy in national and international contexts. Additionally, students will have lab instruction in which they process and analyze imagery and data acquired by UASs using combinations of different photogrammetry and GIS software packages. The course content is not exhaustive, but rather this is an introductory course that develops fundamental skills that students will need to execute their own projects using UASs. Example projects might include: Damage assessment and Infrastructure Inspection, Agricultural Health Assessment, Real-time mapping and Development of GIS layers, Invasive species mapping.

Regional Planning

580 Sustainable Cities - Professor Mark Hamin
This course introduces students to the 3-E concept of sustainability: environment, economy, equity, and applies it to the built environment and policies at the municipal and regional level.

597S Special Topics- Scenario Planning - Professor Camille Barchers
The goal of this seminar is to introduce students to scenario planning as a professional technique to address uncertain futures on behalf of our communities. Scenarios can be used to challenge conventional thinking and promote creative plan-making that is supported with rigorous analysis of empirical data. In a time when climate change, the automation of work, technology disruption, and social inequity must be confronted by planners, there is a need to address how various trends will impact the future and to provide this information to stakeholders and decisions makers in ways that both clearly communicate and educate. Students will develop skill in using one or more scenario planning tools and will receive a brief introduction to new methods and techniques that can be used in the plan making process. Students will engage with planning theory and research related to scenario planning.

625 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems for Planning - Professor Henry Renski
This is an introductory, graduate-level course in the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in urban and regional planning.

Stockbridge School of Agriculture

105 Soils - Professor Stephen Simkins  
Interrelationship of soils and higher plants. Physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils. Practical approach to current problems through basic soil principles. Prerequisite: some knowledge of chemistry. (Gen.Ed. BS)

198P Permaculture Gardening at UMass - Professor Daniel Bensonoff
In this hands-on class students will learn about permaculture basics while maintaining our on-campus permaculture demonstration gardens.

268 Small Farm Husbandry: Cows, Sheep & Goats for Meat Production - Professor Nicole Burton
This course is a farmer's perspective on the sustainable management of cows, sheep and goats on a small farm. It provides students with a clear understanding of how to think through the planning and management of cows, sheep and goats for meat production. All aspects from breeding to marketing will be addressed. Students will gain a rudimentary plan on how to incorporate ruminants into their small farm plan.

286 Permaculture Design and Practice - Professor Lisa Depiano
This course includes in-class lectures, field trips, design studio and a hands-on field component, to offer students a deepened and applied practice in permaculture design process and techniques. The course culminates with students developing a permaculture design and community engagement process.

370 Tropic Agriculture - Professor Stephen Herbert
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.

390G Sustainable Grape Production - Professor Elsa Petit
Students will learn the principles and practices governing the establishment and management of an organic or sustainable vineyard. Hands-on activities include students' involvement in the organic student-run vineyard project at the Agricultural Learning Center. Field trips to local vineyards are planned. Students will learn practices related to winter, spring and summer such as pruning, grafting, and vineyard establishment. A specific emphasis will be given to the challenges and opportunities of the growing local cool climate industry. Half semester course. This course meets first 7 weeks of the semester.

397R Special Topics- Social Permaculture: Building Resilient Communities and Organizations – Lisa Depiano
Permaculture mimics ecological systems to design gardens, farms and homesteads which have the resilience and benefits of natural systems. Human designed systems however cannot function without social systems such as decision making, communications, organizational structure, and policy. This course will use case studies, guest speakers and in class exercises to explore how to apply permaculture ethics and principles to a variety of social systems. Students will engage with methods and strategies that build capacity and resilience while leading to long term systemic change.

590M Microbes, Minerals, and Organic Matter - Professor Marco Keiluweit
This course discusses fundamental interactions between microbes, minerals, and organic matter responsible for carbon cycling, mineral weathering, and nutrient dynamics in soils. Through a combination of lectures and in-class discussions, we will examine the importance of these interactions for soil development, carbon storage, and fertility. Further, we will discuss the underlying mechanisms and suitable analytical methods for their investigation. Finally, we will examine how these mechanisms respond to global environmental change, and how this response in turn impacts soil functioning.

Sustainable Communities

205 Dynamics of Human Habitation - Professor Euripedes De Oliveira
How the built environment is shaped by humans. The forces that go into developing human settlements, how these environments change, how different groups experience the environment, and how environmental designers work within this context. (Gen.Ed. I)

297G ST-Climate Change and Resilient Cities - Professor Elisabeth Hamin
In this course we will explore the challenges of a changing climate and investigate frameworks and tools to understand and address climate issues that impact people and their communities. Some cities have begun to incorporate climate change into their planning, taking action to confront their climate threats, reduce their vulnerability to climate-related impacts, and build resilience to extreme events. This online class will engage students, placing them at the center of the teaching process to ensure more effective learning. This dynamic class will use recent articles, movies, vibrant discussions and case studies to reveal planning and building resilience for people and in their communities.

333 Introduction to Community Economic Development - Professor Wayne Feiden
Sustainability is a harmonic balance of the Economy-Environment-Equity trilogy. This class explores the economy element of sustainability, within the context of social equity, a diverse and pluralistic society, and the natural and built environment. Specifically, we will examine economic development at the community or local scale from a practitioner’s perspective. No community can be sustainable if the economy is too weak, in a downward spiral, or is not balanced with other aspects of sustainability. Cities provided unparalleled opportunities for wealth creation and upward mobility, but for many residents, especially low income and minority residents, the likelihood of upward mobility is slim. We will pay special attention to diversity, institutional racism, and economic development in downtowns, post-industrial cities, and under-invested communities.

Other Sustainability Courses Outside of SES

HISTORY 383 American Environmental History - Professor David Glassberg
Americans today are experiencing the impact of climate change, as well as urban sprawl, fracking, oil spills, mountains of trash, unsafe drinking water, unhealthy air, and their favorite plants and animals’ loss of habitat. How did we get into this mess? How can we get out? Exploring the history of how Americans have interacted with their environment over the past 400 years can help you understand our present environmental predicament. (Gen.Ed. HS)

MANAGMNT 391E S-Environmental Law - Professor Jennifer Merton
This class is open to Junior and Senior Isenberg BBA majors, and Senior and Junior Environmental Science majors or Natural Resource Conservation majors. Students who do not meet eligibility requirements may seek permission from the instructor to enroll.

RES-ECON 397E - 01 ST-Econ Devlpmnt & Environment - Professor Jamie Mullins
This course introduces students to a holistic framework for understanding the relationships between global inequality, economic development, and environmental degradation. A range of practical pathways toward more sustainable global development are discussed and evaluated from economic, societal, and environmental perspectives. Topics include: the development gap; climate change; food security; population growth and distribution; approaches to addressing extreme poverty; biodiversity and ecosystem services; health, education, agriculture, and political institutions in the context of economic development; global carrying capacity and environmental load.

SPP 697NL Special Topics- Nonprofit Law and Management - Professor Betsy Schmidt
This course is designed for those who may be involved in nonprofit organizations at some point in their lives as directors, employees, volunteers, customers, funders, or founders. Students will create, fund, run, and dissolve a virtual 501(c)(3) public charity over the course of the semester, as we learn the opportunities and challenges that nonprofits can face. We will discuss the theoretical bases for the nonprofit sector and for tax exemption, formation and dissolution of nonprofit corporations at the state level, obtaining tax exempt status from the IRS, the charitable contribution deduction, fiduciary duties of the board of directors, the rules surrounding lobbying and political activity of nonprofits, charitable solicitation laws, unrelated business income tax, private inurement, and excess benefit taxes.

SCH-MGMT 597S Special Topics- Sustainable Product Innovation - Professor Cynthia Barstow
This course will be divided into two sections with a thread of sustainability-oriented innovation running throughout the semester. First, we will learn the basics of Systems Thinking, applying the issue of climate change to the process of mapping the system and learning opportunities for leverage. Next, students will be introduced to Biomimicry and Green Chemistry, both of which are needed in a truly sustainable nature-inspired innovation. The Biomimicry Institute runs an annual design challenge supplying a comprehensive toolbox to those who participate in the challenge. We will use the tools to work through our own sustainable product innovation. As part of their requirements, the Business Model Canvas is the recommended tool to bring the idea to market.