Environment and Sustainability Courses


Augsburg College’s location in the city offers a particular opportunity for the close study of complex urban environments. Although many equate environmental issues with rural areas, most people live in cities. Urban residents shape nature in innumerable ways, including through energy, food, and water consumption, transportation, and industrial production. In turn, cities often serve as the settings in which environmental injustice flourishes.

With that in mind, a variety of courses across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences foster the study of environmental quality, social justice, and economic sustainability.

For easy reference, we’ve compiled a listing of courses from the Augsburg Course Catalog that deal with the environment or sustainability. Browse and see if there’s something you might be interested in!

Download the environmental history of Augsburg College (PDF) developed by Dr. Lansing’s history course.


The course descriptions below are taken directly from the 2006-08 Augsburg Course Catalog. There may be other courses available that deal with issues of the environment or sustainability but which do not include these terms in the course description. For more information about any of these courses, contact the academic department that offers the course.

BIO 102 The Biological World

The basic concepts of biology pertaining to both plants and animals are emphasized. The nature of science and the approach used by scientists to gather and analyze data and propose and test hypotheses are considered. (Prereq.: MPG 2. Three hours lecture, three hours laboratory. Does not apply to the major or minor)

BIO 152 Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity

Second of a three-semester introductory sequence. An introduction to evolution, ecology, and biological diversity for science majors. BIO 151, 152, and 253 must be taken in sequence except by permission of instructor. (Three hours of lecture, four hours laboratory. Spring)

BIO 481 Ecology

A study of interactions between organisms and the biotic and abiotic environment. Topics include physiological ecology, energy flow, nutrient cycling, a survey of biomes, population and community ecology, and conservation. (Three hours lecture, four hours laboratory, some Saturday field trips. Prereq.: BIO 253, MPG 4 or MAT 122 or MAT 163 or PSY 215. Fall)

CHM 101 Chemistry for Changing Times II

Second semester of the year-long course. Applies concepts from CHM 100 to environmental, organic, and biochemical problems of societal interest. A laboratory is included with this course. Does not count toward a chemistry major or minor nor apply as prerequisite for other chemistry courses. (Prereq.: CHM 100 or 102, MPG 3)

ECO 365 Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development

This course addresses the environmental problems such as tropical deforestation, despoilation of air and water, ozone depletion, and global warming that arise in the process of economic development to better the standard of living of the developed and developing countries. (Prereq.: ECO 112 or 113. Every three years)

ENL 270 Rites of Thematic Passage

This course traces a specific theme through changing historical, literary, and cultural contexts. Course subjects may include “The Heroic Journey,” “Literature and Landscape,” “Utopian Visions,” and others. Check the departmental Web page for the title of a given section. (Prereq or co-req: ENL 111, or HON 111, or ENL 112)

HIS 316 Environmental History

A chronological exploration of the interactions between Americans and the nonhuman world. Topics include the commodification of nature, political movements organized around nature, ways of knowing nature, environmental justice, and the relationships between American culture and nature. Additionally, students will use both primary sources and fieldwork to explore the specific environmental history of an off-campus location.

INS 342 River Politics Field Seminar

In this two-week intensive field experience, students will travel by boat down the Mississippi River exploring elements of the politics and policies relating to the river. Students will engage in service projects, field observations, and interviews with residents, legislators, activists, and government employees. (Prereq.: POL 241 or equivalent and passing a water safety test)

POL 241 Environmental and River Politics

This course explores the politics of the communities and ecosystems of the Upper Mississippi River watershed, including controversies about river pollution, the lock and dam system, regional water supply, flood control, and farming practices. Includes site visits to see how local policy-makers and stakeholders are trying to achieve sustainability in the watershed.

POL 341/WST 341 Environmental Politics

Explores environmental politics in Latin America from pre-Columbian times to the present. Applies a gender perspective to analyze environmental issues and examines political and economic policies that promote and/or hinder sustainable development.

PSY 256 Environmental Psychology

This course uses a cultural-ecological viewpoint to study the influence of the physical environment, both natural and human-made, on behavior. (Prereq.: PSY 105)

REL/WST 313 Environmental Theology and Ethics

Explores different approaches to environmental ethics in Latin America, including indigenous, Jewish and Christian perspectives, liberation theology and ecofeminism.

Social and Environmental Justice: Latin American Perspectives (Mexico) – Spring

This is an intensive program of study and travel that explores socioeconomic and political issues with a focus on the impact of environmental policies on the lives of women and men from varying economic classes and ethnic groups in Mexico and Central America. Students will examine the ethics of land distribution, environmental racism, ecofeminism, social change, and the complexity of gender, class, race, and ethnicity in Latin America. Credit is available in Spanish, history, political science, religion, and womenÕs studies. Internships and independent studies are also available. The program includes a two-week seminar in Chiapas and Guatemala. Students stay in guest houses while traveling, spend approximately six weeks in Augsburg housing, and six weeks living with Mexican host families.

Bangladesh: Sustainable Development, Environment, and Culture – Spring

Explore the policies, practices and competing ideologies of human, environmental and socioeconomic development in Bangladesh. Experience urban and rural environments, interact with leaders of government and development agencies, learn about Bangladeshi history and culture, and take introductory courses in Bangla language. Lectures and readings are in English. (Prereq.: junior status or permission)

HECUA Environmental Sustainability Semester: Science, Public Policy, and Community Action

INS 345 Social Dimensions of Environmental Change

INS 346 Adaptive Ecosystem Management