Sustainability Certificate Course Descriptions

Core Courses

Sustainability in the UC - Elida Erickson, Director of Sustainability
The purpose of this course is to provide a general overview of sustainability efforts at UCSC, from policy and operations, to student initiative and programming, to academics and co-curricular activities. We will contextualize the UCSC campus’ lens into sustainability within the larger context of the campus sustainability movement across institutions of higher education. Small group discussion and hands-on activities will engage participants proactively throughout the session.

Beyond the Blue Bin: Understanding Zero Waste - Derek Martin, Sustainability Office Programs Manager; Leslie O’Malley, City of Santa Cruz Waste Reduction Manager
This course provides an in-depth look at waste management. We’ll explore waste systems on campus, locally and regionally, the current international recycling industry collapse, and how our cultural conception of waste as a society has gotten us into this pickle. This course will examine how the mantra of the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle needs some updating and have fun with interactive games. The goal of this course is to provide you with the information you need to take action, get Trash Talk certified so you can make your department’s events Zero Waste, and to equip you with skills to be able to think through a reduction and reuse lens in your role both on campus and at home. 

Climate Change Science & Policy - Ellen Vaughan, UCSC Climate & Water Action Manager & Tiffany Wise-West, City of Santa Cruz Sustainability & Climate Action Manager
This course will provide participants with an updated overview of climate science and examine global and local climate impacts. The presenters will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of various political and technological efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and examine how municipalities plan for and address climate change.

Intersections Between Diversity & Environment - Dr. Rebecca Hernandez, Community Archivist at the UCSC University Library; Elida Erickson, Director of Sustainability, Dr. Flora Lu, Professor of Environmental Studies.
A core value at UCSC is our commitment to environmental sustainability, conservation, and a “green” ethic. This course explores how concepts of sustainability and environmentalism, while assumed to be universal, reflect histories of discrimination and inequality, privilege some landscapes over others, and (de)center certain understandings and experiences. We argue that environmental policies and discourses are inherently radicalized, classed, gendered, culturally contextualized, etc. We begin the course providing a framework and overview of environmental justice, and then share some results of research conducted at UCSC examining undergraduate perceptions and behaviors. Finally, we discuss how our campus and larger community can be more environmentally just.

Green Offices - Derek Martin, Sustainability Office Programs Manager and Student Green Office Team
As campus employees, we each spend a significant portion of our time in offices across campus. How offices are set up and the everyday choices that employees make while they are at work can have a major impact on sustainability! This course provides an introduction and overview of ways to implement sustainable practices in an office environment. You will learn best practices from staff and student experts through our Green Office program, and share highlights and lessons learned with other colleagues across campus in regards to the formation of office green teams, zero waste practices, water and energy use. You'll also have an opportunity to learn more about how to get Green Office Certified. 

Transportation for All: Sustainability, Land-Use, and Mobility Justice - Jonathan Weidman, Director of Transportation at San Diego State University, and former Sr. Associate Director of UCSC TAPS
This class will peel back the layers of history that have created the unsustainable transportation system that all of us interact with in our daily lives. We'll explore how structures of systemic inequity and human psychology inform the public resources we rely upon. We’ll deep dive into our own thought patterns about transportation, and how large-scale change and individual action go hand in hand. This course will look at the perspective from the United States as well as issues and oportunities in the Santa Cruz community.


Elective Courses 

Climate Justice - Kevin Koenig, Amazon Watch
The people who have historically benefited the most from the burning of fossil fuels are not the same people who are bearing the most severe consequences from climate change impacts. This course will examine global and local climate impacts from the frontlines of extraction in places like the Amazon Basin, to fenceline refinery communities here in California. We'll discuss the strengths and weaknesses of policy efforts to curb emissions including the UNFCCC process, explore social movements to keep fossil fuels in the ground and hold industry and financial institutions accountable, and hear directly from indigenous leaders about their efforts to defend standing forests and advance their rights.

Sustainable Cities & Social Equity - Chris Benner, UCSC Professor of Environmental Studies and Tiffany Wise-West, Sustainability & Climate Action Manager, City of Santa Cruz
We have become an urban planet, with most major economic, social, and environmental processes shaped by how our cities grow and change. Promoting more sustainable urban growth is critical for the planet's future, but there are important equity concerns in how we move towards more sustainable urban growth. This course will examine overall global patterns of urbanization and plans for development of more sustainable cities. We'll look at state legislation designed to promote more sustainable cities, and the social equity impacts of the urban planning processes that have emerged in recent years. In particular, we will focus on the City of Santa Cruz’s sustainable policies, programs and projects as well as how they are integrating social vulnerability and equity into these processes.

NEW: Community Engagement - Alessandra Bicudo Alvares, Sustainability Office staff
Believing in the value of bridging our campus with our community, as well as the rewarding nature of connecting with community members, the Sustainability Certificate Program now offers an opportunity for participants to volunteer and engage locally, while getting credit towards their certification.
This elective course has two parts, totalling 3 hours. Initially participants will contribute 2 hours of volunteer work at a local organization of choice, in person, prior to attending the mandatory 1 1/4 hour class in Spring quarter. In this portion of the course, all participants will have an opportunity to share back about their experience volunteering in our community and help inspire others to get more involved in giving back!

Cancellation and No-Show Policy 

We understand that unplanned or unexpected events come up! Due to the popularity and high demand for this program, currently free to participants, please review the following guidelines, established to reduce the number of last minute cancellations and no-shows and ensure that those who sign up for the program have the time commitment to attend the classes:
1. Any participant who has 2 no-show attendances will be removed from the program
2. Any participant who has 3 last minute cancellations (48 hours or less notice) will be removed from the program.
We encourage you to speak to your supervisor or manager prior to registering for classes to receive their approval to attend.