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Sustainability in the Curriculum

Coursework in Sustainability
Sustainability is an ethos and an enterprise that spans many academic disciplines. Knox College offers many classes that have connections to sustainability, from those in the Environmental Studies Department to courses in many diverse departments and programs on sustainability topics.


Environmental Studies

Knox College's Environmental Studies Department offers a complete range of coursework in contemporary environmental issues and science. The department is comprised of 3 faculty members: Peter Schwartzman, Katherine Adelsberger, and Visiting Assistant Professor Brooke Thurau. Students may complete either a Major or a Minor in environmental studies. The major requires introductory and advanced courses in environmental studies, as well as courses in statistics and a senior project in which the student pursues a specific environmental issue in depth.

Environmental Studies Course Descriptions


Sustainability Across the Curriculum

Knox College defines sustainability broadly as the intersections of social equity, environmental stewardship, and economic vitality. We acknowledge that these three facets of sustainability must be considered together when integrating sustainability into the curriculum. Sustainability can be taught in countless ways, some direct and some indirect. Knox College encourages the integration of sustainability into all courses, as well as other academic practices. For the purpose of tracking progress on this goal, we have created a distinction between courses which are focused on sustainability versus those which are related to sustainability.

Sustainability-focused courses as those which include sustainability as a key component of the course or focus on at least one aspect of sustainability. Examples of current Knox courses that are sustainability-focused include:

  • Sustainability: Explorations & Opportunities (Environmental Studies)
  • Urban Agriculture (Environmental Studies)
  • Environmental & Natural Resource Economics (Economics)
  • Alternatives to Consumerism (American Studies)
  • Environmental Racism (Black Studies)
  • Environmental Ethics (Philosophy)

Sustainability-related courses are those which can be linked to sustainability thematically because of their links to the environment, social issues, or economics or have another connection to sustainability. Examples of current Knox courses that are sustainability-related include:

  • Marxist Economics (Economics)
  • Outreach in the Arts (Dance)
  • Media and Globalization (Journalism)
  • Green Chemistry & Catalysis (Chemistry)
  • Black Women in the Civil Rights Movement (Gender & Women's Studies)
  • Urban Politics (Political Science & International Relations)

Full list of departments offering sustainability-focused and sustainability-related courses

Green Oaks Term

A 10-week program, offered once every 2 years, Green Oaks Term immerses students in interdisciplinary study blending academic life, solitude, group activity, and the practical challenges of daily living. Students have the opportunity to reside at Schurr Hall at Knox's Green Oaks Biological Field Station. Located about 20 miles east of the Knox campus, Green Oaks is both a research and recreation area, encompassing 700 acres (283 hectares) of forest, grassland and aquatic habitat and is the second site in the nation where a tallgrass prairie was restored. The courses are as follows:

  • Deep Maps of Place (ENVS 282/382)
  • Natural History of Green Oaks (ENVS 283/383)
  • The Natural Imagination (ENVS 284/384)
  • Dynamics of Intentional Community (ENVS 285)

Study Abroad

Costa Rica: Language, Society, & the Environment (An ACM Program)

An interdisciplinary program for students seeking a comprehensive understanding of life in Latin America and wishing to develop fluency in Spanish, the Costa Rica Program, which focuses on the humanities and social sciences, is designed to take full advantage of its Costa Rican setting. Language study is stressed as the key to understanding the culture. Course work in language, literature, geography, anthropology, politics, and cultural change enables students to develop insights which are reinforced by field trips and two weeks of field work in rural areas. In San Jose and its environs, students live with families to improve their language ability and enjoy personal involvement in the daily life of a Latin American community.

Get in Touch

Students, faculty, staff, and alumni can direct questions, comments, and suggestions about campus sustainability to the Sustainability Task Force at