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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Rebeca F Rivera
BIS 240
Bothell Campus

Introduction to Sustainable Practices

Introduces contemporary practices of environmental sustainability. Examines permaculture, sustainable building, life cycle analysis, renewable energy, soil amendments, and recycling. Provides hands-on experience in the implementation of sustainable practices.

Class description

This course will explore strategies that may move urban areas toward sustainability. Urban development and urban populations have significant impacts on local and global resources and communities. Thus, decreasing the environmental and social impacts of urban areas at all scales and increasing the sustainability of urban areas is of growing importance. However, there are divergent perspectives on how to define sustainability and what course sustainable development should take. We will look critically at a diverse arena of ideas, theories and practices around sustainability. Students will be introduced to a wide range of sustainable practices in the areas of: agriculture, energy, consumption and production, the built environment, environmental justice, as well as community building and participatory democracy. We will examine these practices as part of larger socio-ecological systems and look at how they fit within visions for a more sustainable future. Some of the questions we will discuss are: What is sustainability anyway? How are different approaches to sustainability dependent on worldview and ideology? Why are Americans becoming less sympathetic to environmental concerns even as environmental impacts are rising? What is the link between justice and sustainability? What are the roles of structure (e.g. the economy and the built environment) and agency (i.e. ‘free will’) in developing sustainable practices? What is the role of urban populations in working towards a more sustainable world? How might we envision more sustainable future(s)?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

A combination of lecture, discussion, small group activities, assignments and presentations by guest speakers.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Weekly reading assignments, a research paper (or community-based learning experience), poster presentation, short assignments, in-class assignments.

Assignments, final paper and presentation, and participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Rebeca F Rivera
Date: 04/20/2013