Undergraduate Courses

We are actively seeking titles and descriptions of relevent undergraduate courses from professors and instructors at the University of Minnesota for dissemination among interested faculty and graduate students. Please submit course descriptions for upcoming semesters here.


Upcoming courses include:

Fall 2018

GCC 3025 (Living the Good Life at the End of the World: Sustainability in the Anthropocene, with Jessica Hellman and Dan Philippon

What does it mean to live "the good life" in a time of rapid climate changes, mass extinction of plant and animal species, and the increasing pollution of our oceans, atmosphere, and soils? Is it possible to live sustainably, as individuals and societies, in what scientists are calling the Anthropocene, or this new epoch of human influence over the planet? Will sustainability require that we sacrifice the gains humanity has made in our quality of life? Or can we find a way to create a good Anthropocene? This course will attempt to answer these questions in four ways:

By providing an overview of sustainability science, both what it says about human and natural systems and how it comes to make these claims

By examining various conceptions of the good life, both individual and social, and how they intersect with the findings of sustainability science 

By exploring the conflicts that exist within and between differing visions of sustainability and the good life through case studies in energy, water, and food

By pursuing collaborative research projects that will help students apply their knowledge and skills to current problems in sustainability studies

We will read widely in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to understand a range of historical and contemporary perspectives on these questions, and in doing so we will put abstract ethical principles into conversation with a diversity of specific cultures and environments. By the end of the course, students will have examined their own assumptions about personal and professional happiness, considered how these align with and diverge from societal visions and values, and explored innovative solutions to help sustain our productive economy and our planet.

GER 3104W (Reading and Analysis of German Literature), with Charlotte Melin

This course (taught in German) provides an introduction to the study of German literature through texts involving environmental perspectives. The connection between a sense of nature and cultural identity has a long and fascinating history in German-speaking countries that predates contemporary environmental awareness and is interlinked with the development of modern literary genres and ecocritism. Works to be read include drama, fiction, and poetry describing the beauty of the natural landscapes, the impact of culture on nature, and the ethical dilemmas that arise when humans interact with the environment. Texts are by E.T.A. Hofmann, Buechner, Droste-Hülshoff, Thomas Mann, Brecht, Dürrenmatt, and others. The course concludes with discussion of Christa Wolf’s novella about the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Störfall: Nachrichten eines Tages.


Spring 2018

ALL 8002 (Ecocriticism and Posthumanism), with Christine Marran

COMM 4250 (Environmental Communication), with Mark Pedelty

HSCI 1212 (Life on Earth), with Tulley Long

LA 3514/5514 (Making the Mississippi), Spring 2018, with Matthew Tucker

The course examines the complex socio-cultural values that are symbolized by and encoded within, the Mississippi River. Through a combination of critical analysis and precedent studies, we will explore historical and contemporary ways this dynamic river landscape has been shaped through geological, hydrological and cultural processes.  In doing so, we will consider how varying cultural and ecological perspectives have shaped our cultural imagination of the river as well as the policies, ecologies and physical forms of the river across time.  Throughout this examination, we will consider the explicit and implied ethical positions encoded in varying perspectives and their impact on the people and places throughout the length of the river.  Finally, we will speculate on potential future scenarios on how the emerging Anthropocene paradigm and other factors may shape and “make” the future Mississippi River. 

SUST 3017 (Environmental Justice), with Michelle Garvey


Fall 2017

ALL 3468 Environment, Technology and Culture in Japan, with Christine Marran

GER 3651/5610 (Environmental Thinking), Fall 2017, with Charlotte Melin

GWSS 3590 (Feminist Environmentalisms), Fall 2017, with Michelle Garvey

HSCI 3244/5244 (Nature's History: Science, Humans and the Environment), Fall 2017 with Sally Gregory Kohlstedt


Summer 2017

LA 5705 (Regreening Minds, Cities, and Regions), Summer 2017, with Laura Musacchio


If you will be teaching a graduate course in 2017-18 that you wish to publicize among members of the EHI, please share it with us at envhum@umn.edu.