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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 51.95
Liaison Erin Stanforth
Submission Date July 24, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Virginia Commonwealth University
AC-1: Academic Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.70 / 14.00 Erin Stanforth
Director of Sustainability
Facilities
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures required to calculate the percentage of courses with sustainability content::
Undergraduate Graduate
Total number of courses offered by the institution 1,935 1,675
Number of sustainability courses offered 22 14
Number of courses offered that include sustainability 42 4

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that offer at least one sustainability course and/or course that includes sustainability (at any level):
14

Total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that offer courses (at any level):
118

Number of years covered by the data:
One

A copy of the institution’s inventory of its course offerings with sustainability content (and course descriptions):
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An inventory of the institution's course offerings with sustainability content (and course descriptions):

Courses Including Sustainability
Undergraduate Level Courses:
ANTH 103: Introduction to Anthropology : A general survey of anthropology with emphasis on learning about and from global cultures, and on the four fields of anthropology.
ANTH 220: Introduction to African Societies : Explores the disciplinary subfield of social and cultural anthropology. Provides an overview of key themes and theories in the subject, as well as the analytical and methodological tools to critically consider cultural difference, social organization and social change, with reference to a representative range of culture areas and the empirical fields studied by cultural anthropologists.
BIOL 101: Biological Concepts A topical approach to basic biological principles. Topics include molecular aspects of cells, bioenergetics, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, cellular and organismal reproduction, genetics and evolution, and ecology. Not applicable for credit toward the major in biology.
BIOL 201: Human Biology: Fundamentals of human biology, including the structure, function and disorders of human body systems, principles of human genetics and inheritance, human evolution, and the interaction of humans with the environment. Not applicable for credit toward the B.S. in Biology.
BIOL 209: Medical Microbiology: General principles of microbiology and immunology to provide a thorough understanding of the host-microbe relationship in disease. Not applicable for credit toward the B.S. in Biology.
BIOL 217: Principles of Nutrition: An introduction to basic principles of nutrition and their application in promoting growth and maintaining health throughout the life cycle. Not applicable for credit toward the B.S. in Biology.
BIOL 322: Economic Botany: This class focuses on plant morphology, anatomy, phytochemistry, growth and reproduction through an examination of the biology of economically and culturally important plants, including crops used for foods and beverages, medicines and drugs, fibers, and timber.
BIOL 341: Human Evolution: Introduces the range of human diversity as well as a broad understanding of evolution and evolutionary biology, particularly as it applies to hominid evolution. Specific topics include basic genetics, primatology, paleontology, and growth and development.
BIOL 361: Biomedical Research: An introduction to biomedical research projects.
BIOL 401: Applied and Environmental Microbiology: The biology and chemical activities of microorganisms (bacteria, algae, virus and fungi) of industrial, pharmaceutical and agricultural importance.
BIOL 438: Forensic Molecular Biology: Provides an understanding of molecular biology testing methodologies as applied to analysis of forensic samples. Current topics in forensic DNA analysis will include quality assurance, DNA databanking, contemporary research and population genetics.
BIOL 445: Neurobiology and Behavior: The study of animal behavior stressing ecological, evolutionary and neurobiological approaches.
BIOL 451: Biology of Cancer I and II : An examination of the cellular, molecular and clinical aspects of cancer development, progression and treatment.
BIOL 452: Biology of Cancer I and II : An examination of the cellular, molecular and clinical aspects of cancer development, progression and treatment.
BIOL 455: Immunology: A comprehensive introduction to the immune system of higher animals, emphasizing the molecular and cellular basis for antibody-medicated immunity.
CHEM 110: Chemistry and Society: The basic principles of chemistry are presented through the use of decision-making activities related to real-world societal issues.
CHEM 406: Inorganic Chemistry II: An advanced study of inorganic chemistry, including inorganic spectroscopy, organometallic compounds and catalysis, and bioinorganic systems.
CLSE 101: Introduction to Engineering: Topics covered include ethics and social responsibility; engineering design process; engineering solutions; estimations and approximations; dimensions, units and conversions; mathematics and computer solutions; life-long learning; introduction to the interface between engineering, biology and medicine.
CLSE 312: Chemical Reaction Engineering: Introduces the student to the analysis of reactors via coupling of empirical reaction rates and thermodynamic constraints with reactor material and energy balances. The behavior of the ideal reactor types (batch, CSTR and PFR) is emphasized with attention given to departure from these ideals by real systems
CLSE 325: Bioengineering: This course introduces concepts and principles of chemical engineering to problems and issues in the life sciences, biotechnology and medicine. Students apply heat and mass transfer concepts, separations and controls to topics that include clinical diagnostics, bioanalytical instrumentation, biosensors and biochips, bioprocess engineering including fermentation, biochemical pathway engineering, protein folding and aggregation, bioreactors and tissue engineering.
CLSE 461: Stem Cell Engineering: The production and behavior of adult and embryonic stem cells are studied and potential applications for the treatment of disease are surveyed. Stem cell engineering techniques including parthenogenesis, nuclear transfer stem cells and embryonic carcinoma cells are introduced. The use of stem and germ cells for cloning is covered, and ethical considerations involving the use of embryonic human stem cells are discussed
EGRB 101: Biomedical Engineering Practicum I: This course involves the introduction of clinical procedures and biomedical devices and technology to biomedical engineering freshmen. Students will tour medical facilities, clinics and hospitals and will participate in medical seminars, workshops and medical rounds. Students will rotate among various programs and facilities including orthopaedics, cardiology, neurology, surgery, otolaryngology, emergency medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, oncology, physical medicine, ophthalmology, pediatrics and internal medicine.
EGRB 102: Introduction to Engineering: Introduces basic engineering principles in the context of biomedical topics, including electrical circuits and components such as resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, digital electronics and motors. Applications of biomedical systems including heart function, brain waves, human motion and skin responses are discussed. The laboratory introduces fundamental biomedical circuit testing and measurement and proper laboratory writing, with students required to analyze, build and test biomedical devices such as those involving ECG, EMG and Galvanic Skin Response.
EGRB 105: History of Medical Technology: Origins and recent advances in medical technologies including hearing aids, artificial knees, heart-lung machines, medical anesthesia devices and medical imaging systems such as CAT MRI.
EGRB 203: Introduction to Biomechanics: The theory and application of engineering mechanics applied to the design and analysis of rigid and deformable biomedical and physiological structures. The study of forces and their effects, including equilibrium of two- and three-dimensional bodies, stress, strain and constitutive relations, bending, torsion, shearing, deflection, and failure of physiological and biomedical systems.
EGRB 301: Biomechanical Engineering Design Practicum: Explores the professional and ethical responsibilities of a biomedical engineer. Emphasis will be placed on design issues associated with biomedical engineering, teamwork, regulatory issues and human and animal subjects.
EGRB 303: Biotransport Processes: Course involves the study of mass, momentum and heat transfer within the human body, between the human body and the environment, and in the design of devices and systems that are involved with transport processes in medical and clinical settings. The underlying principles of mass, momentum and energy transfer will be addressed followed by a study of such processes that are ongoing in the human body. The design of biomedical devices and systems that involve transport processes also will be studied. Examples include cardiovascular blood flow, transport across cell membranes, respiration and thermoregulation.
EGRB 310: Biomechanics : A study of the forces, stresses, and strains in the human body during normal function. Emphasis is placed on the mechanics of various components of the body including hard (bone) and soft (skin, vessels, cartilage, ligaments, tendons) tissues from a structure-function perspective. Stress and strain relationships for these biomaterials will be analyzed based upon the fundamentals of engineering mechanics. In addition, the distinctive features of biological materials will be studied with respect to their differences from nonliving materials and elaborated upon in laboratory exercises using material evaluation protocols.
EGRB 406: Artificial Organs: This course explores the design, operating principles and practices regarding artificial organs and their use in the human body. Analysis of dialysis systems for kidney replacement, artificial hearts and heart assist devices, cardiac pacemakers, sensory organ assist and replacement devices, and artificial liver and pancreas devices. Design aspects, legal ramifications, regulatory issues and clinical implantation issues will be addressed.
EGRB 420: Rehabilitation Engineering: This course explores the principles and practices regarding rehabilitation engineering and the interaction of biomedical engineering with health care delivery to individuals who are disabled. It will cover the three main areas of rehabilitative engineering: assistive technology, prostheses and rehabilitation therapy devices.
EGRB 421: Human Factors Engineering: This course explores the principles and practices regarding ergonomics and human factors engineering and the interaction of biomedical engineering with human function. Analysis of the functions of the human body regarding motion, sensory mechanisms, cognition and interaction with the environment will be included. Interactions of the human body with technology, workplaces, equipment and computers will be examined. Design of workplaces for optimal human performance will be discussed. Analysis of the design and arrangement of controls and displays will be covered.
ENVS 301: Introduction to Meteorology: An introductory course designed to provide the student with an overview of the structures and processes that cause weather. These include atmospheric circulations and the weather patterns that we observe. Emphasis will be placed upon the tracking and display of weather phenomena, as well as their forecast movement and impact.
POLI 310: Public Policy: An analytical survey of policy formulation and implementation in the United States, together with an examination of the impact of policy upon individuals and groups in American society.
POLI 311: Politics of the Environment: An exploration of the current controversy about environmental politics and the issues and crisis it centers on. Special attention will be given to the constitutional, political and geographical factors in the development of environmental policy and the organized effort to deal with governmental actions and inaction and its impact on policy outcomes.
POLI 318: Politics of Race, Class and Gender: A study of the racial, class and gender influences on the history and development of political values, conflicts, processes, structures and public policy in the United States.
POLI 361: Issues in World Politics: An exploration of several significant issues in world politics. Topics may include peacekeeping and collective security, international economic competitiveness, global environmental politics as well as selected others. Topics will vary with current events and trends in the international arena.
POLI 362: International Organization and Institutions: A study of the background development structure and operations of organizations and institutions such as the United Nations, the European Community and the Organization of American States.
POLI 365: International Political Economy: A survey of both theoretical and current policy issues in international political economy. Theories to be covered include liberalism, mercantilism, Marxism, regionalism, world systems theory and others. Policy issues include differing styles of capitalism in the industrialized world, the political economy of development, the politics of international corporate alliances and others.
POLI 366: Women and Global Politics: A study of women and global politics, providing both a feminist re-examination of traditional international-relations theories and a comparative analysis of the political, legal and economic status of the world's women. The impact of women on global political institutions such as the United Nations will be addressed as well as other feminist and grass roots means of taking political action.
POLI 452: Seminar in the Politics of Developing Areas: Analysis of the processes of political and economic development. Includes a study of various challenges facing developing countries, such as economic inequalities, environmental degradation, mass political participation, military coups, revolution and civil war.
URSP 245: Housing and Community Revitalization: The purpose of this course is to examine housing issues as a major determinant of the make-up and the quality of community life in modern American society. Attention is given to the public and private forces that influence various components of the housing issue, such as: demand for housing; housing availability to various economic and social groups; housing design and quality (including new construction, rehabilitation, historic preservation, and adaptive re-use), housing finance and the relationship of housing to planning in metropolitan areas.
WRLD 302: Communicating Across Cultures: Designed to increase understanding of the foundational concepts of communication and intercultural dialogue. Examines (among others) such concepts as individualism, collectivism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, uncertainty avoidance, nonverbal communication and stereotyping.

Graduate Level Courses:
GEOG 550: Physical Geography of Virginia: Field course, traversing the varied physical regions of Virginia with emphasis on the climate, terrain, soils, and vegetation of each region and on the transitional zones in between. Human modification of the physical environment and its consequences are also stressed.
HEMS 505: Contemporary Issues in Health: Focuses on contemporary issues related to lifestyle and health behavior. Emphasizes the factors that influence health and the lifestyle changes that promote and maintain optimal health. Issues may include sexuality, nutrition, chronic and communicable diseases, aging, environmental health, policy, and health care systems.
SOCY 625: Urban Sociology: A detailed analysis and examination of the social and ecological structures and processes of the modern city with primary emphasis on the macro-level organization of urban life.
URSP 647: Adaptive Reuse of Buildings: Describes from a public sector perspective identification for new uses, evaluation of benefits and preparation of implementation proposals for recycling older buildings. Discusses methods used to develop the necessary design guidelines as well as analyze these opportunities that can be a catalyst for urban revitalization.

Sustainability Focused Courses
Undergraduate Level Courses:
BIOL 103: Environmental Science: Online presentations, assignments, debates and exams require students to understand situations and ideas that involve scientific, social and economic concepts associated with Earth’s environment. Laboratory exercises reinforce major course concepts. Integrates aspects of biology, chemistry, geology, physics and sociology. Topics include ecology, evolution, natural resources, air and water resources, energy and recycling, population biology, and sustainable global societies.
BIOL 317: Ecology: An introduction to the basic principles of ecology, including interactions among organisms and influences of the physical environment.
BIOL 335: Global Change Biology: Examines how humans influence biological systems and explores what can be done to adapt to or to mitigate future global change, emphasizing anthropogenic climate change.
BIOL 422: Forest Ecology: Covers the fundamentals of forest ecology, with a particular emphasis on Virginia’s diverse forest ecosystems. Students gain an understanding of the principal controls on forest structure, growth and distribution and relate these principles to sustainable forest management.
ENVS 105: Physical Geology: A descriptive approach to physical geology dealing with the history and structure of the earth, catastrophic events and geology as it relates to the contemporary environment. An optional laboratory may be taken with this course.
ENVS 201: Earth System Science:An introduction to the processes of and linkages among the major systems that drive planet Earth. The biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and sociosphere are presented as dynamic and interdependent systems. Labs/discussion sections will include both computer modeling of integrated systems and lab activities/field trip(s) at the Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences.
ENVS 300: Sustainable Societies: James River Basin: This course explores the 25 most critical social, economic and environmental issues in the region in a global context. It examines how people are tackling the issues of sustainably and turning them into opportunities.
ENVS 310: Introduction to Oceanography: An introductory course designed to provide the student with an overview of the structures and processes of the world's oceans. These include the systems that impact the oceans: the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, the geosphere, the biosphere and the sociosphere. Emphasis will be placed upon hands-on techniques for understanding these systems, including online simulations and in-class activities.
ENVS 311: Politics of the Environment An exploration of the current controversy about environmental politics and the issues and crises it centers on. Special attention will be given to the constitutional, political and geographical factors in the development of environmental policy and the organized effort to deal with governmental actions and inaction and its impact on policy outcomes.
ENVS 314: Man and the Environment: A comparative study of the ecology and natural history of human populations, including the environments as determining factors in the evolution of human institutions and technology, resources management, and population crises; cultural traditions as mechanisms of population control; basic theory of population biology.
ENVS 315: Energy and the Environment: Open to non-physics majors; not applicable to the physics major. A study of society's demand for energy, how it is currently being met, the environmental consequences thereof and some discussion of alternatives.
ENVS 330: Environmental Pollution: The study of pollution in the environment with emphasis on the procedures for detection and abatement.
ENVS/URSP 332: Environmental Management : An interdisciplinary review of domestic and international environmental problems and their underlying causes, current management frameworks, alternative management approaches and strategies, and barriers to their implementation. Other topics include: environmental history and economics, population growth, natural resources use, biodiversity, pollution.
ENVS 335: Environmental Geology: The relationship between humankind and the physical environment, Earth materials and processes, geological hazards, water, mineral and energy resources, land use and environmental health and law.
ENVS 401: Meteorology and Climatology: A basic, semi quantitative course in the elements of weather and climate, their driving forces and their spatial and temporal distribution and variability. Atmospheric motions and circulation, weather forecasting, human impact on weather and climate.
ENVS 411: Oceanography: A basic course in the physical, chemical and geological properties of oceans and ocean basins. Origin and character of ocean basins, properties of oceanic waters, oceanic circulation, land-sea interactions, marine environments and ecology.
ENVS 490: Research Seminar in Environmental Studies: An interdisciplinary examination of problems and issues central to environmental studies. Environmental research of VCU faculty will be reviewed, and selected local environmental problems will be studied. Each student will complete a research project focusing on a specific environmental question.
INSC 021: Energy!: A study of global energy demands, how they are being met, environmental consequences and alternative energy sources.
URSP 203: Physical Geography, Weather, Climate and Biogeography: Analysis of the interrelated systems of the earth. Content includes the earth in space, atmosphere, climate and vegetation.
URSP 204: Physical Geography, Geomorphology and Soils: Analysis of the interrelated systems of the earth. Content includes earth materials, tectonics, weathering, erosion, landforms and soils.
URSP 302: Land Use and Infrastructure Planning: Explores how the integration of land use, transportation and other infrastructures (e.g., water supply, waste water and storm water) in urban and regional planning can improve development patterns to ensure sustainability and livability. The historical development of land use, urban form and the various transportation modes that have shaped American cities are also studied.
URSP 420: Regional Planning and Sustainable Development: Explores the factors, both historical and contemporary, that influence the socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of national and sub-national regions, mainly in the developing world. Analyzes development problems and strategies from various theoretical perspectives, and examines the impacts of policy and planning interventions on regional conditions.

Graduate Level Courses:
BIOL 521: Community Ecology : Theoretical and empirical analysis of the structure and function of natural communities, ecosystems and landscapes.
BIOL 532: Water Pollution Biology: A study of various forms of pollution in aquatic environments, including the basic principles and effects of water pollution on aquatic organisms and ecosystems, ecotoxicology, waterborne pathogens, invasive species, water pollution monitoring and environmental laws.
BIOL 560: Conservation Medicine: Introduces students to key elements of wildlife diseases, zoonoses, emerging infectious diseases associated with wildlife and humans, and both the conservation and health impacts of these topics. Included are discussions of the interactions among environmental quality and wildlife and human diseases and health. Topics include diseases of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, the effects of environmental contaminants and climate on those diseases, and their interaction with human health.
BIOL 610: Conservation Applications: Covers the implementation of conservation techniques including monitoring, planning, education, habitat management and combining conservation with human development strategies. Focuses on how to make conservation work where biodiverstiy and human livelihoods must be reconciled. Students will utilize a number of computer programs to analyze and interpret management strategies.
ENVS 650: Pesticides, Health and the Environment
This course is a balanced overview of the benefits and adverse effects of pesticides in the environment and as related to human health. The class provides an interdisciplinary study of pesticide use, fate, exposure, transport and effects.
EPID 604: Principles of Environmental Health: Major public health issues associated with exposure to toxic substances and harmful physical or infectious agents in the environment and the workplace. Covers naturally occurring and human contamination of air, water and land by toxic substances and other agents. Includes overview of relevant governmental legal and regulatory policy.
URSP 525: Site Planning and Graphics: Addresses the environmental impacts and capacity of environmental systems in relation to the site requirements of various urban and rural situations. Introduces the use of graphics as an aid in presenting and analyzing planning and design ideas, maps and plans.
URSP 628: Land Use Planning: Introduces students to the context, substance, practical skills, and implementation of land use planning. Covers such topics as land capacity, land use system and design, land use controls, state and regional growth management, resource land preservation, rural growth management, urban containment, and facility planning.
URSP 637: Sustainable Community Development: This course includes both theoretical and practical aspects of sustainable development and its relationship to land-use planning. Through examination of the literature, class discussion, focused exercises and guest speakers, students will develop the skills needed to evaluate and propose activities to plan for sustainable development. The course begins with an overview of the origins and definitions of sustainability and developing operational principles of sustainable development. The three "Es" of sustainability (environment, equity and economics) are then explored and connected to the role of the planner in influencing the balance between these dimensions in practice. A variety of tools and initiatives for sustainable practices are introduced, followed by examination of standards for measuring progress toward sustainable goals. Finally, through the evaluation of case studies and construction of policy recommendations, students will propose guidance for adapting local government function and modifying regulations and policies for implementing and governing sustainable communities.
URSP 645: Sustainable Energy Planning and Policy: Discusses current energy production and consumption trends and related economic, environmental and social issues. Reviews energy planning and policy approaches from the international to local levels. Analyzes and evaluates different types of energy systems and existing and proposed energy policies.
URSP 650: Natural Resources and Environmental Planning: Examines key problems and challenges linked to the use and abuse of natural resources, both nationally and globally, through urbanization, agriculture, coastal zone development, waste generation and other human activity. Students explore these problems in terms of the biophysical processes to which they relate, as well as their underlying political-economic and sociocultural causes. Also studied are policy and planning strategies aimed at more efficient and sustainable use of natural resources and the environment.
URSP 652: Environmental Analysis: Familiarizes students with methods to carry out an environmental analysis. Provides a deeper understanding of environmental issues.
URSP 655: Environmental Policy and Planning: Investigates the environmental protection role of urban and regional planning, including the ways in which local planning implements and enforces state- and federal-level environmental policies. Explores the role of planners in environmental assessment, i.e. evaluating the environmental impacts of public and private sector development.
URSP 672: Food Systems, Rural Development and Landscape Conservation: An interdisciplinary analysis of the socioeconomic and environmental issues facing rural regions, mainly of the United States, and their relationship to the modern food system and other factors. Also examines policy and planning strategies that can help improve rural economic conditions, conserve rural resources and landscapes and achieve food system sustainability.


The website URL where the inventory of course offerings with sustainability content is publicly available:
A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the course inventory:

The inventory was completed by having each faculty member tag their own classes as sustainability-related or sustainability-focuses. Each class was then confirmed as such by the Sustainability Academic Leadership Team.


How did the institution count courses with multiple offerings or sections in the inventory?:
Each course was counted as a single course regardless of the number of offerings or sections

A brief description of how courses with multiple offerings or sections were counted (if different from the options outlined above):
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Which of the following course types were included in the inventory?:
Yes or No
Internships No
Practicums No
Independent study No
Special topics No
Thesis/dissertation No
Clinical No
Physical education No
Performance arts No

Does the institution designate sustainability courses in its catalog of course offerings?:
No

Does the institution designate sustainability courses on student transcripts?:
No

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.