Check out these fall 2021 classes on sustainability

Photo of a CNR classroom with students listening to lecture
Ketki Samuel/File

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Environmentalism is not just for students in the Rausser College of Natural Resource. No matter what our college major is, we will all contend with catastrophic changes in weather patterns, rising tides of environmental inequality and massive disruptions to our food chain. The climate crisis will perpetuate structural inequality surrounding race, class and gender. Therefore, intersectional environmentalism should be a central focus across all disciplines. This requires students to step outside their comfort zone and enroll in an eco-focused class, even if their major requirements don’t call for one. Here are some sustainability courses with a large number of unreserved seats to add to your shopping cart this enrollment cycle. 

Architecture 142, “Sustainability Colloquium” (1-2 units)

If you only have a few units to spare next fall, this class could be a great option. This course will feature presentations by leaders in the field of sustainable design, including city planners, engineers, researchers and architects. Since planned topics and speakers vary each week, the class is sure to remain exciting from August until December. It will hopefully get you thinking about innovative solutions for the biggest challenges of our time.

City and Regional Planning 119, “Planning for Sustainability” (4 units)

More than half of the human population lives in a city. Therefore, if we are looking for effective solutions, cities and urban regions might be a good place to start. Professor Charisma Acey has a global background focusing on poverty reduction, urban governance and food insecurity in regions of West Africa, South Africa and Central America. But this course will hone in on potential solutions right here at home, featuring guest lecturers from Bay Area leaders in sustainability.

Earth and Planetary Science 7, “Introduction to Climate Change” (3 units)

This class will provide an introduction to climate science, emphasizing the role of coal, oil and natural gas in heating the planet. If you’re looking to garner a scientific understanding of climate change but aren’t a physical science major, this could be a great option for you.

Environmental Science, Policy and Management C22AC/Anthropology 12AC, “Fire: Past, Present and Future Interactions with the People and Ecosystems of California” (4 units)

California fires are a crisis of ecology, anthropology and environmental injustice. In late fall, when the California sky turns smoky orange and our masks that currently protect against COVID-19 find a new purpose, the topics in this course will hold grave importance and urgency. This course fulfills the American Cultures requirement, and one of the course professors, Kent Lightfoot, was voted “Best Faculty Member” in the 2021 Best of Berkeley issue.

Environmental Science, Policy and Management 6, “Environmental Biology” (3 units)

This is another introductory science course, a great fit for curious non-STEM folks. This class will focus on ecosystems impacted by human activity and the biological processes that might hold hidden solutions. 

Environmental Science, Policy and Management 15, “Introduction to Environmental Science” (3 units)

If you’re searching for the broadest and most accessible environmental science course on campus, you’ve found it here. ESPM 15 unpacks climate science and environmental biology through succinct lectures and guest presentations from the ESPM faculty.

Undergraduate Disciplinary Studies 100I, “Consumer Society and Culture” (4 units)

2020 marked the year in which human-made materials outweigh all living things on Earth. In ISF 100I, urban sociologist and professor Fang Xu will explain what it means to live in a consumer society and how this impacts our planet. How can we create basic commodities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner? How does the global commodity chain lead to environmental injustice? These are the questions we must answer in order to solve nuanced environmental issues such as plastic pollution and labor abuse.

Gender and Women’s Studies 111, “Feminist Environmental Ethics” (1-4 units)

This course examines environmental issues through the lens of feminist, queer and critical race theories, and builds a framework for imaging planetary justice. If you are already familiar with these theories, yet haven’t taken an environmentally focused course, GWS 111 is a great option. Professor Courtney Morris’ lectures are engaging and captivating, and the course will incorporate a variety of literature, fiction and film.

Public Health 101, “A Sustainable World: Challenges and Opportunities” (3 units)

This class will cover a wide range of environmental issues from a public health perspective. Multiple faculty members will present their areas of expertise, including energy, family planning, food systems, migration and more. If you’re looking for a broad, human-centered approach to environmental science, this class is a great option for you.

Sociology 137AC/Environmental Science, Policy and Management 163AC, “Environmental Justice: Race, Class, Equity, and the Environment” (4 units)

Environmental justice should remain central to all environmental work, but reality often falls short of this ideal. This class will provide a broad understanding of environmental justice and give students the tools to center justice and equity in their environmental activism. Also, this course fulfills the American Cultures requirement.

However you approach environmentalism — or even if you haven’t approached it at all yet — there is a class at UC Berkeley for you. As you craft your fall 2021 schedule, keep in mind these widely available courses on climate change, sustainability and environmental justice.

Sarah Siegel is the deputy blog editor. Contact her at [email protected].