U of I Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Courses
Across the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, hundreds courses are offered each year that touch on sustainability, energy conservation and environmentalism.
More than 50 departments and programs offer these courses, many at both undergraduate and graduate levels.
Download our expandable spreadsheet — updated in March 2022 — to see the courses offered for Fall 2023. Or just click the button!
If you are interested in a more comprehensive search of departments and courses, click here.
Please note: Not all courses in this inventory will satisfy SEE Fellows curriculum requirements. Please visit the SEE FP page for a list of preferred courses.
ENVS 301: Tools for Sustainability (Spring)
This spring course teaches systems-thinking skills to enable better understanding of the different dimensions of sustainability — and the problems and trade-offs involved in achieving that sustainability. Students learn about metrics for measuring sustainability and gain competence in tools such as cost-benefit and life-cycle analyses needed to compare the sustainability of different technologies and development options.
The course also emphasizes communications skills, enabling students to articulate about the integrated dimensions of sustainability within an interdisciplinary setting. The instructors’ teaching appointments in 2015-19 were made possible through the Levenick iSEE Fellows Program.
The course (catalog link here) was offered for the first time in Spring 2016. No prerequisites are needed. Enrollment is open to all students, but sophomores are preferred. Sophomores interested in enrolling in the new Minor — the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program (SEE FP) — are particularly encouraged to take ENVS 301.
ENVS 491: Sustainability Experience (Fall)
In this course, undergraduate or grad students will work with faculty, staff, and/or the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) to advance campus sustainability goals and the Illinois Climate Action Plan.
In ENVS 491 (catalog link here), offered in both Fall and Spring semesters and taught by Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Ximing Cai, students use disciplinary knowledge to tackle interdisciplinary problems on campus as Campus Sustainability Interns, Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) members or working group members, or iSEE clerks serving Sustainability Working Advisory Teams (SWATeams) tackling specific areas of campus sustainability. Class syllabus here >>>
This fall course is the capstone experience to the Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Fellows Program — a campuswide minor in sustainable problem solving. In this final piece of the minor degree, students will apply sustainability assessment tools, such as life-cycle analysis, cost-benefit methods and impact analysis to real-world world problems related to sustainability of campus and/or the community to be developed in collaboration with campus, Facilities & Services, local sustainability planners, private firms and non-government organizations. Field site visits will be arranged during regular class time to and to visit local buildings, businesses, civil and environmental infrastructure facilities. Course activities are a blend of case study discussion, problem identification, site visits, analysis and a team report at the end of the semester.
A sampling of past student team reports …
- Analysis of green building tools on campus
- Cost-benefit analysis of solar farm management options
- Board game production — environmental impacts
- Urbana grocery store development project
- Champaign County Forest Preserve District GHG analysis project
- Martens Center/Human Kinetics park project
- Children’s environmental education project
ENVS 492 is now taught by iSEE Academic Advisor/Instructor Eric Green; teaching appointments for 2015-19 were made possible through the Levenick iSEE Fellows Program. Potential partners for capstone projects have included Accenture, Ameren, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bayer, Busey Bank, Carus Corp., Champaign Park District, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, Champaign County Forest Preserve District, City of Urbana, John Deere, Johnson Controls, Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, Sol Systems, Tovala, U of I Extension, and the U.S. Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL).
NRES 285: iCAP Sustainability Ambassadors (Spring)
The goal of this course is to have students understand how to implement climate action policy through examination of University building stock and personnel behavior and developing recommendations to alter both stock and behavior to achieve Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) 2020 goals. This is a building-level, “bottom-up” approach to campus sustainability, where students will be connected with facility managers to gain an applicable understanding of sustainability opportunities.
- Become familiar with climate action policy, specifically the iCAP 2020
- Identify key areas of the intersection of iCAP objectives and campus buildings
- Survey buildings and record existing stock and personnel behavior
- Develop a strategic plan to implement actionable changes to building infrastructure and personnel behavior
- Present recommendations to building staff and other stakeholders