SF State gets new courses with environmental focus

Laura Melroy 25-years-old a grad student biology major (MS ecology evolution conservation) rides out of the Bike Barn at SF State towards the nearest bike path, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Four new sustainability courses are coming to SF State, one of them is called Bicycle Geographies starting in the Spring of 2014 about alternative transportation, bicycles and bike paths and more. Photo by Amanda Peterson / Xpress

Laura Melroy 25-years-old a grad student biology major (MS ecology evolution conservation) rides out of the Bike Barn at SF State towards the nearest bike path, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. Four new sustainability courses are coming to SF State, one of them is called Bicycle Geographies starting in the Spring of 2014 about alternative transportation, bicycles and bike paths and more. Photo by Amanda Peterson / Xpress

A $38,207 grant provides Gators with the opportunity to enroll in five new environmental focused courses starting Spring 2014.

The Office of Sustainability at SF State recognized the opportunity of the ‘Campus as a Living Lab’ Grant Program and told University professors, who then developed the five courses, according to Caitlin Steele, director of sustainability and energy. The grant provides the University with funding to create courses that will explore sustainability concepts and theories.

“I am looking forward to teaching freshmen and sophomores about environmental issues on campus in San Francisco, California, U.S. and internationally and to help them become informed global citizens,” said Barbara Holzman, professor of geography and environmental science.

The addition of these new classes will make it easier for students to meet the new general education requirements that force incoming freshman to take a course with an environmental sustainability focus.

Jason Henderson, professor of geography and environmental sciences, will be teaching one of the new courses offered called bicycle geographies. The course will focus on the theories and practices of sustainable transportation by analyzing bike routes for students and examining the political and economical impact of bicycling.

Associate Professor of Decision Sciences Susan Cholette, will teach sustainable supply chain management, which will also be available this spring. Students enrolled in the course will model actual processes at SF State, determining the carbon footprint and providing suggestions for improvement.

“Environmental degradation is one of the most pressing concerns of the 21st century,” Cholette said. “If we can’t get students interested in solving this problem, then I guess it’s just left to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Cholette said she doesn’t want the course to be a large-format lecture because it loses the interactive aspects of a smaller course.

Three other courses will begin Fall 2014.

Professor of geography and environmental science Barbara Holzman will teach the introduction to environmental science course offered next fall. The course will introduce students to concepts of environmental science by investigating campus biodiversity, air quality, waste streams and other environmental concerns.

“I have been thinking about teaching this course for a decade or so and when the new general education requirements came around, I felt it was the perfect time to add such a course,” Holzman said.

Until now there has been no environmental science introduction class at SF State, but it has been offered at community colleges in the area, including City College of San Francisco.

Assistant Professor Tendai Chitewere and Associate Professor Xiao Hang Liu are collaboratively teaching future environment and geographic measurement. The future environment class will examine environmental issues on campus and the geographic measurement course will statistically analyze areas of improvement around campus.

“The more people who understand the way the world works, what human impacts are, and how we can go about shifting to a more sustainable way of living, the better our planet will be, the healthier and happier we all will be,” Holzman said.

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