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Northeastern is a world-class research university committed to advancing environmental sustainability through research and teaching, and as part of its operating mission.

Environmental sustainability is one of Northeastern's primary research priorities. Every day our faculty leverage the University's approach of use-inspired interdisciplinary research to find groundbreaking ways to produce cleaner water and more efficient energy.

Our students are equally dedicated to solving this pressing global challenge-through innovative course work, interdisciplinary research projects, and high-impact experiential-learning opportunities. From the classroom to the laboratory to the workforce, our students are helping to shape environmental best practices all over the world.


Our faculty collaborate on finding solutions to environmental challenges. These centers and departments have a particular focus on some aspect of environmental sustainability.

Experiential Learning

Here are some of the ways you can leverage Northeastern's renowned experiential-learning model to make our planet greener, as well as some stories about students who are already doing so.


Here is a select listing of courses offered by Northeastern with a significant focus on environmental sustainability, or check out a complete list of current undergraduate and graduate course offerings.

Undergraduate options for sustainability minor/certificate:

Biology minor (with electives customized for sustainability)
Environmental geology minor
Environmental science minor
Environmental studies minor
Geology minor (with electives customized for sustainability)
Interdisciplinary minor in global social entrepreneurship
Interdisciplinary minor in sustainable business practices
Marine biology minor
Marine studies minor
Sustainability field research certificate

Majors with a sustainability focus:

Civil engineering
Earth and environmental sciences
Electrical engineering
Environmental studies
Industrial engineering
Landscape architecture
Mechanical engineering

Interdisciplinary majors with a sustainability focus:

Computer science & environmental science
Environmental studies and history
Environmental studies and international affairs
Environmental studies and philosophy
Environmental studies & political science
Information science & environmental science




ANTH 2339 Environmental Anthropology.  Introduces the study of human-environmental interactions over time and across cultures.  Drawing on a range of scholarship from ecological anthropology, environmental history, political-economy, and environmental justice, this class examines transitions in subsistence systems and cultural factors from early hunting-gathering societies through to industrial giants in a globalize world.


ARCH 3170 1960s Urbanism. Addresses the architectural and urbanistic consequences of the utopian planning associated with urban renewal, the architecture of Brutalism, and other difficult-to-transform architecture of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Focuses on how to adapt and integrate such buildings and urban landscapes to meet contemporary needs.

ARCH 5120 Comprehensive Design Studio. Focuses on the materials and making of architecture. Considers architectural connections at all scales, from the nut and bolt to the scale of a door or window to the scale of the whole building and the city. Grounds design proposals upon a tectonic strategy, unlike traditional design studios that produce a schematic design before considering constructional ideas.

ARCH 5210 Environmental Systems. Explores the ways in which architectural form can create particular conditions of light and shadow; provide shelter from heat, cold, and rain; and incorporate systems that provide for water, electricity, and sanitation. Provides a series of simple and straightforward small-scale design projects.

ARCH 5220 Integrated Building Systems. Studies how to integrate into students’ building designs all the environmental and tectonic systems that they have covered in previous architecture courses.

ARCH 6340 Sustainability Techniques. The professor presents his or her research related to a sustainability and exposes the students to methods of research and topics in current and ongoing research in the field. The students have an opportunity to engage in related and parallel research projects during the course of the semester.


BIOL 1141 Microbes and Society.  Introduces the unseen world of microorganisms.  Students analyze how the growth and behavior of this diverse group of organisms affect many aspects of human society including agriculture and food preparation, drug development and manufacture, liquid and solid waste management, genetic engineering, geochemical cycles, and health and disease.

BIOL 1143  Biology and Society.  Overviews how biology weaves its way across a broad spectrum of complex social issues.  Provides a framework within which students may critically interpret and discuss important biological information provided in public forums.  As a result, students are empowered to make informed choices at the policy and personal levels.  Students acquire an understanding of the basic principles of biology and apply the scientific process to the analysis of contemporary issues.  Using a thematic approach, covers a wide range of issues including the reemergence of plagues, biological weapons and security, the environment, and human health and wellness.

BIOL 1145 Environment and Humankind. Offers an ecological analysis of human interaction with other organisms. Presents the necessary foundation of biological principles.

BIOL 2311 Ecology.  Considers physical and chemical factors of the environment as they affect the distribution of organisms and as they may in turn be affected by the organisms.  Includes population dynamics, species interactions, population genetics (briefly), the development of communities, and the structure and function of ecosystems.

BIOL 2325 Marine Biology.  Examines biological aspects of ocean ecosystems and the physical processes that regulate them in this interdisciplinary course.  Topics include the distributions, abundances, and interactions of marine organisms; interactions between organisms and the transformation and flux of energy and matter in marine ecosystems; aspects of physiology related to marine species distributions; abundance, and roles.

BIOL 5507 Biology and Ecology of Fishes.  Presents an examination of the systematics, functional morphology, and behavioral, larval, and community ecology of reef fishes through lectures.  Field and laboratory experiments focus on morphology, behavior, and community ecology of reef fishes.

BIOL 5513 Tropical Terrestrial Ecology.  Studies the animals, plants, and ecosystems of the new world tropics, with the community structure and diversity of terrestrial Jamaican habitats as an example.  Includes field trips to lowland forests, carbonate caves, and the Blue Mountain mist-montane forest.  The issue of land use and development vs. conservation is a consistent theme.

BIOL 5515 Marine Ecology.  Examines processes and interactions in ocean ecosystems.  Topics include an introduction to major ocean ecosystems; the biotic and abiotic factors influencing the distributions, abundances, and interactions of marine organisms; and the transformation and flux of energy and matter in marine systems.  Particularly emphasizes local coastal habitats, which are used to demonstrate quantitative field research methods.

BIOL 5517 Oceanography.  Examines processes important to coastal ocean ecosystems by presenting biological, chemical, and physical oceanographic concepts. Examines the productivity of coastal oceans, biogeochemical cycling, and atmosphere-ocean interactions.

BIOL 5519  Ocean and Coastal Processes. Examines the coupling between physical and biological processes on coral reefs and adjacent habitats. Focuses on biophysical, oceanographic, and benthic-pelagic processes acting in coral reef and associated nearshore ecosystems. Specific topics include oceanographic forcing mechanisms, organismal biomechanics, hydrodynamics, and nutrient dynamics.

BIOL 5520  Coral Reef Ecology.  Examines the ecology and paleoecology of coral reefs. This course highlights the ecological importance of coral reefs and associated nearshore communities, ecosystem function, changes in reef biotas through geologic time, and the causes and consequences of reef degradation worldwide.

BIOL 5525 Marine Microbial Ecology.  Examines the diversity of marine microorganisms and recent advances in the area of microbial ecology.  Emphasizes the structure and function of microbial food webs in marine communities.

BIOL 5527 Marine Conservation Biology. Examines several critical issues facing marine ecosystems, such as invasive species, marine pollution and eutrophication, fisheries impact, physical alteration of habitats, and global climate change.  Field time is spent surveying intertidal and subtidal habitats within the Wrigley Marine Life Refuge, and in adjacent habitats outside the reserve as part of a long-term monitoring effort.

BIOL 5529 Physiological and Molecular Marine Ecology.  Explores the physiological responses of marine organisms to variations in environmental factors.  Uses complementary techniques, including molecular and physiological approaches to determine genetic relationships at the species and population level and elucidate the mechanistic basis of organismic responses to environmental conditions at the level of genes and gene products.

BIOL 5567 Wildlife Biology.  Presents concepts and techniques utilized in the conservation and study of wild animals including the sociological aspects of management. Topics include habitat management, nonnative species, zoonoses, endangered species, legislation, and financing.  Includes extended field trips to observe various ecosystems and wildlife.

BIOL 5571 Microbial Ecology.  Focuses on the fundamental role of microbial communities in the function of the biosphere.  Surveys the diversity of microorganisms, their ecological strategies, and interactions in aquatic and soil communities, deep sea vent and subsurface rock environments, extreme conditions of Antarctic ice, and boiling springs.


BUSN 6203 Understanding Sustainability Strategies.  Introduces students to the skills necessary to operate in the emerging environment of sustainability-focused management.  Includes the fundamental elements of sustainability and the frameworks to analyze sustainability challenges.  Also examines case studies of firms meeting these challenges.

BUSN 6248 Greening the Global Economy with Sustainable Business.  Exposes students to the responsibilities of business to the natural environment in a globalizing economy.  Challenges students to consider if it's possible for companies to be both ecologically responsible and globally competitive, how managers should respond to pressure from activists and governments to become more environmentally responsible, and how "industrial ecological" concepts can be incorporated into business practices. Ecologically responsive and responsible management is emerging as one of the most significant business challenges of the twenty-first century.

BUSN 6273  Sustainability in Innovation.  Focuses on different types of strategies firms have taken for sustainable innovation.  Additionally, the concept of designing products for the triple bottom line - people, planet, profit - is introduced.  The students have an opportunity to design product ideas and formalize corporate strategy for sustainable innovations.  Working in teams, students have an opportunity to present the product ideas in class.


CHEM 5651 Materials Chemistry of Renewable Energy.  Studies renewable energy in terms of photovoltaics, photoelectrochemistry, fuel cells, batteries, and capacitors.  Focused on the aspects of each component and their relationships to one another.

CHEM 5669 Environmental Analytical Chemistry. Describes the application of instrumental methods for analyzing environmental samples for major, minor and trace components of toxicological concern. Topics include sampling strategies for natural systems, determination of trace metals in natural waters and biologicals, determination of xenobiotics by GC, LC, GC-MS, and LC-MS, remote sensing of atmospheric pollutants, molecular biomarkers, and detection of protein and DNA adducts.

CHEM 7250 Chemical Bioenergetics:  Applications in Biomaterial Design.  Covers principles of energy transduction in biological systems and biomolecules with an emphasis on the application of such processes in the design of a novel class of biologically functionalized energetic materials.  Topics include electron transport, chemical energy, electrochemistry, resonant energy transfer, photoinduced charge transfer, and thermal stability in biological systems, and the assembly of biofunctionalized materials.  Discusses the application of these principles to the development of nanomotors, biofuel cells, biosolar cells, and self-assembling systems on the nanoscale.


CHME 7232 Process Pollution Prevention and Control.  Explores modeling of the transport/transformation of environmental contaminants, analysis of pollution prevention/reduction approaches for process facilities, techniques for environmental auditing, fundamentals of selected waste management technologies, and pollution prevention planning and project/risk evaluation methods.  Includes an overview of various aspects and viewpoints on environmental quality, regulation, and the impact of industrial activity.


CIVE 2334 Environmental Engineering 1.  Focuses on protection and management of the environment.  Topics include assessment of environmental quality; introduction to water and wastewater treatment technologies; air pollution control; and solid waste management.

CIVE 4534  Environmental Engineering 2.  Concentrates on unit operations, unit processes, and related fundamental design of physical, chemical, and biological water and wastewater treatment systems, using both lectures and laboratory instruction.  Topics include aeration systems, activated sludge, fixed-film biological treatment, gas transfer, reaction kinetics, reactor modeling, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and subsurface disposal system design.

CIVE 4536 Hydrologic Engineering.   Introduces principles of engineering hydrology.  Covers the hydrologic cycle; rainfall-runoff relationships; hydrologic flood routing; and ground water hydraulics.  Applies these concepts to issues such as water supply and storm water management.

CIVE 4538 Urban Water Quality and Public Health.  Focuses on the historical evolution of the complex and dynamic relationship between urban waters and humans, with emphasis on water quality and public health.  Topics include principles of water quality, field sampling and laboratory analysis, criteria and standards, and mitigation and control.  Specific pollution issues covered include conventional problems (pathogens, low dissolved oxygen), toxic chemicals (e.g., PCBs, mercury) and emerging contaminants (endocrine disruptors, antibiotic resistance).  Discusses the roles of government regulation, citizen advocacy, and public perception.  Focuses on Boston's Charles River and its comparison to several European rivers with comparable history.  Taught in study abroad format with site visits, field and laboratory components, and scientific conference attendance.

CIVE 4566 Sustainable Design of Buildings and Urban Transportation Systems: US/European Perspectives.  Covers principles, practice, and policy for sustainable design of buildings and urban transportation systems from US and European perspectives. Topics include resource-efficient site planning; building systems; construction; current issues and practices, including LEED certification; transportation planning, facility design; and policies for promoting walking, bicycling, transit use, and developing sustainable and livable cities.  Taught in study-abroad format with site visits showcasing European sustainable design practice.

CIVE 5270 Environmental Protection and Management.  Examines public and private environmental quality management and resource protection systems.  Considers regulatory issues, risk management approaches, local vs. regional impacts, long-term sustainability, and economic/financial issues.  Covers selected current topics and a broad range of specific environmental issues.

CIVE 5271  Solid and Hazardous Waste Management.  Introduces various aspects of integrated solid waste management systems and hazardous waste management practices.  Includes both engineering principles as well as socioeconomic and regulatory issues surrounding solid and hazardous waste management.  Provides sufficient background to enable the student to understand, evaluate, and critique the design of and the decisions in various waste management alternatives.

CIVE 5321  Geoenvironmental Engineering.  Covers definitions and regulations, soil formation and mineralogy, hydraulic conductivity measurements, reactive contaminant transport through fine-grained soils, landfill and liners design, and seepage barriers and cutoff walls.  Introduces site characterization and remediation.

CIVE 5373  Transportation Planning and Engineering. Discusses urban transportation planning and engineering for modes other than highway. Covers travel demand forecasting for both the short and long term including impact analysis methods, simple elasticity models, and the four-step model system of trip generation, trip distribution, modal split, and network assignment. Introduces transit service analysis and design. Other topics include capacity, service, and engineering design basics for different travel modes, such as bus, airport, rail, and bicycle. Considers the environmental impact, economic evaluation, and financial impact of different modes of transportation.

CIVE 5376  Traffic Engineering. Explores traffic flow theory and measurement, capacity and level of service analysis for intersections and urban arterials, intersection layout design, intersection signal plan design for both isolated intersections and arterials, parking analysis and design, and congestion mitigation and traffic management. Offers students an opportunity to practice with standard software.

CIVE 7250  Environmental Chemistry. Examines applications of chemistry to environmental engineering. Covers properties of water and pollutants, acid-base reactions, pH, alkalinity, equilibrium chemistry, chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, coordination chemistry, precipitation-dissolution reactions, surface chemistry, adsorption-desorption, redox reactions, and organic chemistry as it relates to the environment. Includes relevant laboratory exercises such as colorimetry, gravimetric, and electrochemical methods; atomic absorption spectrophotometry; and ion and gas chromatography.


ECON 3404 International Food Economics and Policy.  Covers basic concepts in economic and political dimensions of food production, consumption, and trade, with particular emphasis on the global food system.  Topics include market and consumption analysis, the agriculture and food industries, types of food policy and other political instruments related to food, and how these affect consumer food choices, environment, diet, nutrition, and health.  Discusses and analyzes factors driving the rapid evolution of the way food is produced, processed, distributed, and consumed, and its implications, in the context of the global food environment.  Reviews current empirical evidence on the world food situation and discusses issues such as hunger, food security, obesity and food safety.

ECON 3423 Environmental Economics. Applies the tools of economics to environmental issues. Explores taxonomy of environmental effects; externalities; the commons problem; taxation, regulations, marketable permits, and property rights as a solution; measuring benefits of cleaner air and water, noise abatement, and recreational areas; global issues including tropical deforestation and acid rain; and the relevance of economics to the environmental debate.

ECON 3425 Energy Economics.  Energy is vital to modern economies.  This course is designed to introduce students to theoretical and empirical perspectives on energy demand and energy supply.  Particular attention is given to the role markets play in determining how to use energy and its sources, and the scope for public policy to address market imperfections.  In the course oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear power, and renewable energy (such as hydro, wind, and solar power) will be discussed.  It will cover the public policy issues around greenhouse gas emissions and energy security.


ENGR 5670 Sustainable Energy: Materials, Conversion, Storage, and Usage.  Examines, in this interdisciplinary course, modern energy usage, consequences, and options to support sustainable energy development from a variety of fundamental and applied perspectives.  Emphasizes both (1) physical and chemical processes in materials for the conversion of energy and (2) how to design a system with renewable energy for applications such as electricity generation and transmission.  Takes a systems analysis point of view.  Topics may include energy conservation; fossil fuels; and energy conversion methods for solar, geothermal, wind, hydro, bioenergy, electrochemical, and similar methods.

ENSY 5000 Fundamentals of Energy System Integration.  Presents fundamental issues of successfully integrating and implementing energy systems.  Exposes students to combined heat and power strategies, strategies of incorporating renewable with nonrenewable energy sources, thermoeconomics, and carbon sequestration techniques.  Includes energy, exergy, and thermoeconomic cost factors in the presented case studies.  Explores the effect of public policy, regulations, and financial operations on selecting energy technology.  Students are given case studies to illustrate the complexity of implementing energy systems and are expected to complete e major project involving proposing an energy system.  Emphasizes that successful implementation of energy systems requires both a technical and an economic solution.


ENTR 2206 Social Entrepreneurship.  Designed to provide students with an in-depth exposure to entrepreneurship in the social sector, a rapidly growing segment of the global economy.  Uses the case method to expose students to leading entrepreneurs who have developed and implemented business models to solve social problems such as extreme poverty, disease, illiteracy, and economic and social dislocation.

ENTR 2219 Business, Global Poverty, and the Microfinance Revolution.  Investigates, analyzes and addresses one of the core questions surrounding microfinance: Can business, through microlending programs, truly address the needs of the desperately poor in a meaningful, scalable, and sustainable way - where government intervention and charitable relief have failed?  Seeks to enable students to engage in both a theoretical analysis and practical examination of the field of microfinance and address the question of the impact of microcredit and microenterprise development on alleviating extreme poverty in developing countries.

ENTR 3325 Sustainable Innovation.  Explores the societal, regulatory, financial, engineering, and marketing dimensions of sustainable innovation.  Examines fundamental frameworks for thinking about these dimensions, and then examines how companies and governments act based on case studies.  Requires students to do a field project on the application of class concepts to Northeastern University across a broad range of venues, from the consumption of energy and materials to educational and community outreach programs.

ENTR 3326 Sustainability in the Latin American Business Environment.  Provides a theoretical foundation of the study of business activities in the Latin American business context to ensure that externalities are valued in the economic context of the enterprises and also considered in the decision making process.  Students have an opportunity to explore different methodologies of evaluating sustainability in the entrepreneurial sector of the country of study and to assess the social and environmental impact of their action.  The course is designed to enable students to identify the impacts and directly assist in the development of decisions to control, mitigate, recuperate, and compensate for negative impacts.

ENTR 3328 Field Research in Sustainable Business.  In teams with other university students in the country of study, students have an opportunity to explore sustainable business practices in companies ranging from agricultural enterprises to high-technology start-ups.  Working with these companies, they have an opportunity to create business plans and explore the trade-offs between traditional profits and environmental and social constraints.  This course is designed to provide students with a first-hand experience in the dilemmas and trade-offs faced by developing countries seeking to promote economic development while protecting their resources.


ENVR 1101 Environmental Science. Focuses on the complex mix of interlocking problems that are reaching crisis levels on Earth. Topics include population, resources, environmental degradation, and pollution. Focuses on food and land resources; air, soil, and water resources and pollution; and energy alternatives.  Some emphasis is placed on culture, politics, worldviews, ethics, and economics.

ENVR 1110  Global Climate Change.  Covers the geologic history of the last ice age. Discusses the causes of extreme climate changes during the last 50 million years. Examines the landforms and sediments created by past ice sheets in North America and Europe.

ENVR 1111  Weather and Climate.  Discusses the patterns and processes that combine to produce our daily weather and how weather integrates over time to define climate. Identifies natural and human-made causes of climate change.

ENVR 1112 Environmental Geology.  Covers the causes and effects of problems resulting from human interaction with the earth and geologic processes.  Topics include volcanoes, earthquakes, river flooding, soil erosion, groundwater pollution, landslides, and coastal erosion  Emphasizes land-use planning techniques to minimize environmental problems.

ENVR 1121 Marine Resources.  Provides a qualitative and quantitative survey of renewable and nonrenewable resources from the sea.  Topics include coral reefs, shellfish, marine mammals, sharks, sport and recreational fishing, clams, lobsters, shrimp, toxic seafood, energy from the ocean, ocean pollution, shore erosion, beaches, coastal zone recreation, marine law, and law of the sea.

ENVR 1122 Physical Oceanography. Provides a description of the physical properties and composition of seawater, waves, tides, and ocean currents. Discusses how these properties are measured by oceanographers and how they influence the earth’s environment and climate.

ENVR 1123  Biological Oceanography. Covers the productivity of plant and animal life in the various zones of the ocean and the growing economic importance of the oceans as a source of food for the expanding world population.

ENVR 1124 New England Fisheries Resources.  Provides an overview of the fisheries industry of New England.  Emphasizes environmental factors controlling the distribution, quality, and abundance of fisheries resources.  Discusses the methods and the effect of direct human utilization of the resource as well as the effects of pollution and habitat modification.

ENVR 1202 History of Earth and Life.  Traces biological and physical development of the earth over the past 4.6 billion years using evidence preserved in rocks. A primary goal is to understand how geologists interpret events that occurred far in the geologic past. Topics include the origin of the earth and life, the evolution of life, and the causes and effects of major extinction events, the causes and results of mountain building and plate tectonics, and climate change over earth history.

ENVR 3200 Water Resources.  Offer students who wish to work in the area of water resources an opportunity to understand the issues related to water's availability and behavior at the Earth's surface.  Topics covered include (1) the hydrologic cycle, including global and regional patterns of water movement; (2) characteristics of surface and groundwater systems, including the linkage between streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, groundwater and the sea; (3) water management issues and regulations that have been enacted to control the use of water as a resource; (4) water quality measures for surface water and groundwater; and (5) examples of water use conflicts and emerging water issues. 

ENVR 3410 Environmental Geochemistry.  Provides a context for understanding environmental problems through studies in atmospheric, terrestrial, freshwater, and marine geochemistry.  Topics include aqueous geochemistry, environmental chemical analysis, nature and source of hazardous wastes, acid rain, ozone hole, nuclear winter, green engineering, and alcohol production.

ENVR 4504 Environmental Pollution.  Offers students necessary tools to critically understand fundamental sources, pathways and sinks for today's most ubiquitous and/or noxious pollutants. This course surveys the Earth, exploring its atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere while highlighting areas of greatest vulnerability to pollution.  Discusses and examines contemporary air and water quality issues while allowing students access to environmental pollution databases. These databases are a critical tool for those actively involved in the environmental field.  Reviews federal legislation of air and water pollution and discusses control technologies for treating air and water pollutants.

ENVR 4505 Wetlands.  Presents an interdisciplinary overview of physical, biological, and cultural aspects of wetlands for students majoring in geological, biological, or social sciences with an interest in wetland environments and resources. Topics covered include: definitions, classification systems, origins, and natural processes of wetland environments. Includes wetlands in boreal and tropical climates though the focus is on temperate geographic settings. Looks at hydrology, soils, and vegetation and their relationship to ecosystem processes, societal values, and management. Examines human use, modification, exploitation, jurisdictional delineation, and management options, along with legal and political aspects of wetlands. Requires fieldwork in both freshwater and marine wetlands.

ENVR 4515 Sustainable Development. Focuses on the development of communities in an environmentally sustainable way and on the division of natural resources within these communities and the global system. Defines and discusses “sustainable development” and its global role today. Exposes students to a history of developmental methods while learning about the interconnectedness of development and the environment. Encourages students to draw conclusions about the environmental impacts of these methods and to consider more equitable uses of natural resources.

ENVR 5110 Coastal Sedimentation.  Examines a current environmental issue or topic through an understanding of the scientific principles controlling the process, review of alternative actions, and inquiry into societal implications of the issue. Topics include groundwater supply, groundwater contamination, coastal erosion and flooding, or impacts of land development.

ENVR 5210 Environmental Planning.  Examines aspects of surface runoff from geomorphic and hydrologic perspectives. Develops methods for description and calculation of major river and drainage basin processes, and applies the results to the planning process. Examines human modification of these systems including urbanization, dams, and channelization, and applies this information to an understanding of regulatory processes.

ENVR 5250 Geology and Land-Use Planning.  Studies the causes and solutions of geologic environmental problems related to land use. Emphasizes geologic-based land-use planning solutions to problems related to landslides, ground subsidence, coastal erosion, stream erosion and flooding, soil erosion, and groundwater pollution.

ENVS 2342 Eating and the Environment.  Focuses on the impact that our daily consumptions and purchases make on the environment and our health. Examines major themes related to eating and the environment, including agriculture, soil resources and pollution, water and air pollution, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, deforestation, food additives, and nutritional supplements. Aims to encourage students to develop smarter consumer habits by providing them with the skills necessary to choose the most environmentally friendly and healthy food available, leading to a higher quality of life.


FINA 2720 Sustainability in the Business Environment. Looks at a variety of environmental problems, including global warming, use and disposal of toxic substances, and depletion of natural resources such as water and petroleum. Many of these problems arise because these are resources that are available to all and so their overuse is an externality that is not included in manufacturing costs. There are a number of ways to address environmental problems. While government regulation is often seen as a solution, there are also market solutions. Businesses have been involved in both identifying sustainability issues in their individual organization and providing a variety of innovative solutions. We will examine some of the ways that companies are finding to reduce their impact on the environment. Using a combination of readings and case analyses, the course assesses how both government regulations, such as taxes, subsidies, building codes, prohibitions of use, and business solutions, including zero emissions, green design, producer take-back, life cycle assessment, and corporate environmental reporting, address these problems.


HIST 2342 Environmental History of North America. Takes a continental approach to studying the history of environmental change, since the natural world extends beyond national boundaries. Focuses on four natural resources in historical perspective: land, wildlife and habitat, water, and air. Uses major writings about the environmental history of Canada, the United States, Mexico, and the Central American republics. In addition to readings and writing assignments, students are required to use the materials and assignments located on the course Web site, which includes online readings and photographs, class notes and lectures, suggestions for research topics, and links to environmental Web sites located throughout North America.

HIST 3412 Global Environmental History.  Examines the impact of four significant human transitions on the environment of the planet Earth. They include the transition from hunter/gathering to settlement and the invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago. The agricultural or neolithic revolution was followed thousands of years later by the urban revolution and ultimately the Industrial Revolution. These three important developments in world environmental history happened within specific millennia and simultaneously in different parts of the world. In the beginning, they were not the product of physical or cultural diffusion. Urbanization and industrialization, however, promoted worldwide migration that disrupted and changed the world’s ecology and environment in significant ways. Also explores the electronic revolution of the past centuries, which has had its own set of environmental impacts.

HIST 4620 Topics in Historical Geography.  Covers special topics in the ways in which geographic, climatic, environmental, and demographic factors have affected the course of history. Tools such as GIS (geographic information systems) are introduced and explored to enhance understanding of these complex interrelationships.

HIST 5295 Population in History.  Examines through population studies and historical demography the causes and consequences of changes in human marriage, birth, death, and migration rates from the Stone Age to the present on a global scale. Focuses on the role of the environment, relative economic growth, differential nutritional status, epidemic disease, family systems, and public administration in tracing the modern population explosion, highlighting the process through which human agency brought contagious diseases under better control and extended human life expectancies, before medicine could cure disease.

HIST 7223  Graduate Global Environmental History. Designed for students committed to studying the broad sweep of global history from an environmental perspective. Focuses on the dynamic relationship between human communities, civilizations, and the earth itself. Addresses the history of climate change, agriculture, industrialization, globalization, and the evolution of new energy technologies in an environmental context that cuts across both national boundaries and broad historical time periods from ancient times to the present.

HIST 7316 Research Seminar in Global Environmental History. Gives students the opportunity to do research and write a paper that addresses historical environmental issues and processes significant at a global scale. Discussions focus on what it means to be environmental on a global scale, how to find and utilize relevant source material, and on how previous scholarship is relevant in helping shape questions and issues in our own work. Students also read and critique one another’s work.

HIST 7702  Advanced Seminar in Global Environmental History. Entails research and preparation of a global environmental history paper intended to be part of a larger dissertation. Includes intensive historiographical reading related to the research topic. 


HRMG 6219 Leadership for Environmental Sustainability.  Offers students an opportunity to study the role of organizations, networks, and the individuals who create them.  Addresses the question of what pattern of organizational interactions push forward any given social or environmental agenda.  Examines organizational leadership and how individuals influence the decisions of how and why some organizations advance the environmental agenda.  Explores how businesses, governments, government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) interact on environmental issues.


LAW2329  Environmental Law. Focuses on federal and state environmental laws and explores legislative policy and regulatory decisions as well as enforcement issues. Topics include pollution control, waste management, cleanup of contaminated land and water, questions of environmental justice and the strategic use of legal tools in working to ensure safe and healthy surroundings for diverse groups of people.

LAW2514  Natural Resources Law. Addresses legal requirements and institutions dealing with animal and plant species, biological resources, habitats, and ecosystems. Major themes include biological diversity, endangered and threatened species, public and private rights in migratory resources, public trust doctrine, the allocation of power among federal, state, and local governments, and the roles of administrative agencies in ecosystem management.  

LAW2491  Human Rights in the Global Economy. Focuses on the potential use of human rights law to address basic human social and economic needs (food, housing, health, education, and cultural expression) and the major international and regional human rights treaties.


LPSC 7312 Cities, Sustainability and Climate Change. Provides an overview of the various aspects of urban sustainability planning. Examines sustainability as an urban planning approach with both ecological and social justice goals. Covers sustainable planning and offers students an opportunity to understand it within the context of smart growth and the new urbanism. Focuses on the two areas in which cities can reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions—the built environment and transportation. From there, the course examines planning efforts to reduce demand on water and sewer systems and to create employment in renewable energy and other “clean-tech” occupations. The course ends by placing urban initiatives in the context of state and national policy.


MARS 3310 Water Resources Policy and Management.  Explores the ways in which water has affected our bodies, our planet, our history, our culture, and the danger posed by increasing demand, waste, and pollution on our limited supply of usable fresh water. Considers water through scientific, historical, and cultural viewpoints. Surveys contemporary water problems in all their dimensions-political, economic, and technological.

MARS 3315 Wetlands: Ecology and Hydrology.  Investigates the vital role of wetlands in the hydrology and ecology of global landscapes. Topics include function of inland and coastal marshes, and swamps and bogs in water and nutrient cycles, and in support of biodiversity from microbes to vertebrates. Examines biological links between wetlands and human activities, such as agriculture, coastal development, and fisheries. Also covers legal framework for the protection and restoration of endangered wetlands.

MARS 3325 Coastal Zone Management.  Focuses on outstanding issues in coastal environment affairs. Discusses scientific, legal, economic, and technical aspects of coastal issues and integrates them into problem-solving exercises.


ME 5645 Environmental Issues in Manufacturing and Product Use. Explores environmental and economic aspects of different materials used in products throughout the product life cycle. Introduces concepts of industrial ecology, life cycle analysis, and sustainable development. Students work in teams to analyze case studies of specific products fabricated using metals, ceramics, polymers, or paper. These case studies compare cost, energy, and resources used and emissions generated through the mining, refining, manufacture, use, and disposal stages of the product life cycle. Debates issues in legislation (extended product responsibility, recycling mandates, and ecolabeling) and in disposal strategies (landfill, incineration, reuse, and recycling). Discusses difficulties associated with environmental impact assessments and the development of decision analysis tools to weigh the tradeoffs in technical, economic, and environmental performance, and analyzes specific case studies.

ME 7300  Combustion and Air Pollution. Deals with the formation of pollutants during combustion processes and their subsequent transformations in the atmosphere. Emphasis is on the effects of design and operating parameters of combustion devices on the nature and composition of exhaust gases, improvements, postcombustion treatment of effluent gases, atmospheric chemistry, and atmospheric transport of pollutants, smog formation, acid rain, ozone formation, and destruction.

ME 7320 Solar Thermal Engineering. Develops a model for the hourly direct and diffuse radiation under a cover of scattered clouds and the transmission and absorption of this radiation by passive and active systems. Considers the design of air heating systems and the storage of the collected energy by a pebble bed, and considers elements of heater exchanger design. Makes a study of the economics of a domestic water and/or space heating system using f-chart analysis.

MEIE 4600 Systems Design Sustainability. Covers the fundamental process of designing and building systems, from systems identification to the entire systems life cycle.  Discusses the sustainability, functionality, and capability of systems with respect to the systems objectives. Presents the external and internal factors affecting the systems design,  operation and sustainability.  With a focus on design of sustainable systems and improvement of systems, it encompasses the domains of communications, defense, logistics, manufacturing, transportation, and others. Design for sustainability from concept, and preliminary design phases to detail, production and operation phases of design is discussed. It provides the concepts, methodologies, models, and tools needed to understand and implement a total life-cycle approach to systems analysis. Includes examples of different categories of systems, various applications of analytical methods, and related problems and cases.


MGMT 3330 Organizing for Environmental Sustainability.  Examining Key Power Relationships.  Explores how a variety of organizations, including businesses, governments, government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), interact on environmental issues.  Studies examples of interorganizational networks and offers students an opportunity to develop an understanding of the kinds of knowledge organizational leaders must have to be effective environmental advocates.


PHIL 1180 Environmental Ethics. Focuses on a current ecological crisis and addresses the values that underlie our concern over this crisis, whether the values at issue are anthropocentric or biocentric. Explores the ethical implications these ecological concerns have for our individual lifestyles, and for our role as members of communities.

PHIL 3480 Environmental Philosophy. Examines philosophical issues that arise in the context of human interactions with the natural environment. Emphasis is on the conceptual dimensions of these issues. Although many of these issues are ethical, they are also metaphysical and epistemological. There are also a number of significant methodological questions that arise in addressing them.


PHTH 5214 Environmental Health.  Introduces the field of environmental health, which encompasses concerns related to physical, built, and social environments. Discusses the tools used to study environmental exposures and diseases. Examines environmental health hazards, the routes by which humans are exposed to hazards, various media in which they are found, and disease outcomes associated with exposures. Offers students an opportunity to become familiar with methods used to conduct environmental health research and with the federal and state agencies responsible for protecting environmental health.


PHYS 1132 Energy, Environment and Society. Provides nonscience students with a practical knowledge of our present use of the earth's energy resources and the environmental consequences.  Topics include solar energy, nuclear energy, global warming, oil politics, pollution, and electric cars. Draws upon current events, multimedia presentations, a tour of MIT's fusion reactor, and Web-based sourced. No knowledge of physics is assumed.


POLS 2357 Growth and Decline of Cities and Suburbs. Introduces students to the field of urban studies. Focuses on these central issues: how cities and suburbs evolve, what makes a city or suburb a good place to live, and how cities and suburbs are (or are not) planned. Students review the ways in which urban scholars and practitioners study cities and suburbs, their research methodologies, definition of issues, and division of labor among different disciplines. Students explore the roles of individuals, communities, the private sector, and government in planning and shaping the city.

POLS 2358 Current Issues in Cities and Suburbs.  Introduces students to pressing urban issues: urban sprawl, poverty, education, transportation, economic development, and housing, through an intensive analysis of the Boston metropolitan area. The course is cotaught by university faculty and practitioners in government, community, and nonprofit organizations throughout the metropolitan area. Offers students the opportunity to analyze Boston data, go on outings to see development in progress, talk with urban practitioners about what they do, and conduct research on an urban issue of their choice.

POLS 2395 Environmental Policy and Politics. Examines the policymaking processes, historical and socioeconomic factors, political forces, governmental institutions, and global trends that shape environmental policy at national and subnational levels in the United States. Gives attention to a wide range of environmental policy areas, with comparisons made between the United States and other nations.

POLS 7331 Environmental Policy and Politics. Explores debates surrounding the making of environmental policy in the United States and other nations. Examines the nature of environmental problems, how the structures of political systems affect policymaking, and the competing interests at work in environmental politics. Also discusses environmental policy in cross-national and international perspectives.


PPUA 7231 Transportation Policy. Examines the physical, technological, economic, social, cultural, and political underpinnings of transportation policy in the United States. Topics include intra- and interstate transportation, the comparative economics of different modes of transportation, the impacts of federal and state policies on transportation options, and the long-term effects of those choices on metropolitan development, housing, land use, energy and environment. Also involves comparisons with transportation systems in other countries.


SOCL 1246 Environment and Society. Examines the political economy of the global environmental crisis. Topics vary and include such issues as world resource availability, energy, pollution, ecological degradation in the Third World, environmental policy, and social movements. Involves practical experience in environmental problem solving.

SOCL 1346 Environmental Activism and Movements: An Open Classroom.  Offers an open-classroom experience focusing on the role of environmental activists and movements in addressing the global ecological crisis, emphasizing how to evaluate the organizing strategies, political tactics, organizational forms, and policy goals adopted by various environmental movement organizations (EMOs). Offers students an opportunity to understand the most effective means for bringing about meaningful social and environmental transformation. Includes numerous guest presentations from prominent environmental scholars, activists, filmmakers, and journalists, and includes guest panels and new film showings; these presentations are open to the larger Northeastern community.

SOCL 3485 Environment, Technology and Society. Explores the complex relationships among human society, technology, and the natural environment. Students are asked to write weekly journals as they develop an interdisciplinary approach to global environmental issues and integrate this approach with their own perspectives.

SOCL 4522 Political Ecology and Environmental Justice. Analyzes the global ecological crisis and state of environmental politics. Includes analyses of history and nature; the logic of economic growth and ecological degradation; the human/environmental impacts of technology; globalization and the export of environmental hazard; imperialism and the ecological destruction of the Third World, with a particular emphasis on Central America; the role of ecological programs in the current economic and social crisis of the United States (and other countries); ecological stratification and environmental injustice; the crisis of the labor and ecology movements; and the future of environmental politics.

SOCL 7230  Political Ecology of Global Capitalism.  Analyzes the political economy of international capitalism, really existing state socialism, and the global environment. Includes philosophies of nature; laws of capital accumulation and ecological degradation; technology and the division of labor; combined and uneven development, imperialism, and ecological crises in the Third World; the relationship between economic and ecological crises; environmental policy, democracy, and the state; ecological racism, sexism, and classism; and the crisis of social movements in the United States.


TOXC 5572  Environmental Toxicology.  Discusses the distribution, interaction, and effects of toxic agents on the biosphere. Applies the results of toxicology investigation to understanding the environment’s chemical pollution.


In addition to the courses listed above that are offered to full-time students, Northeastern's College of Professional Studies provides the following courses to part-time students:

CHM 2105 Chemistry and the Environment.  Introduces the fundamentals of chemistry through an issues-based format. Topics include the chemistry of the environment, nuclear chemistry, and polymer chemistry. 

ENV 0350  Professional Engineering Review: Environmental Engineering License Exam. Offers students an opportunity to prepare for the Principles and Practice (PE) License Examination in Environmental Engineering. Reviews environmental engineering fundamentals in addition to the important advanced topics common to all environmental engineers. Includes sample multiple-choice problems and reviews them in class.

ESC 1110 Environmental Science.  Introduces the physical, biological, and social aspects of the environment. Topics include ecosystems, climate, rocks, soil, human population, land use, air and water pollution, energy use, and conservation issues.

ESC 1121 Introduction to Meteorology and Weather Forecasting.  Describes the principal causes of large-scale air motions, the classification and description of the world’s climates, and storm development. Studies the science of weather forecasting, beginning with the types of data that are collected and summarized on weather maps, and how computer models assist in forecasting. Discusses the changes in the long-term cycles of the Earth’s climate.

ESC 1525  Energy for Today and Tomorrow.  Focuses on traditional sources of energy (i.e., fossil fuels and nuclear) as well as up-and-coming renewable sources, such as solar, wind, hydrogen, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal. Discusses pertinent issues for each in the context of impact on the environment, including efficiency, economics, pollution, the future of current sources, and the likelihood of and obstacles to implementation of new sources.

ESC 1845  Environmental Planning.  Introduces students to the environmental, social, political, and economic factors that affect population growth and distribution patterns and how these factors relate to efforts intended to manage, organize, and protect environmental resources. Addresses principles of sustainability in relation to water, land, air, and other natural resources.

ESC 2010 Introduction to Oceanography.  Examines the least-explored and largest frontier on Earth. Considers geological, chemical, and biological components of the ocean as well as the current issues regarding resource extraction and environmental protection. 

ESC 2015  Disasters, Nature’s Violence, and the Human Threat.  Offers students an opportunity to acquire an understanding of the causes, nature, and geographical occurrence of natural and human-induced disasters. Examines a wide variety of potential hazards and actual disasters to understand the impact surrounding such events.

ESC 2120 Wetlands and Coastal Ecology.  Explores the hydrology and biogeochemistry of specific wetland types, as well as wetland management and environmental protection strategies. Explores the physical and biological components of major coastal zone habitats, such as bogs, dunes, salt marshes, mudflats, sea grass beds, intertidal, subtidal, estuarine, and the continental shelf zone.

ESC 2121  Urban Ecology. Investigates the biological, chemical, and physical processes and components of urban environments, with emphasis on domestic and industrial pollution, population density, and urban resources. Focuses on the plants, animals, and microorganisms of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, in both natural and urban areas, and the interactions of these living organisms with the nonliving components of ecosystems.

ESC 2435 Air Quality and Human Respiratory Problems.  Discusses particulates, such as asbestos or lead-rich dust, volcanic ash, or ash from forest fires and power generation; biological threats, such as pollen and methane from landfills or cattle feedlots; and gaseous chemical pollutants, such as radon and volatile organic compounds. As modern societies continue to pollute the atmosphere, human respiratory problems increase exponentially with decreasing air quality. Includes current air-quality legal standards and methods of monitoring air quality.

ESC 3015  Introduction to Hydrology and Related Health Issues.  Offers students an opportunity to learn the processes that affect the movement and composition of water at and near the earth’s surface, including rain and atmospheric chemistry, groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and the sea. Presents how an understanding of these processes can be used to manage the use of water resources and the impact of water quality on health issues.

ESC 3241 Environmental Practices and Applications.  Introduces students to basic engineering aspects of water, land, and air pollution control. Topics include an introduction to environmental quality assessment, air pollution control, solid and hazardous waste management, and water and wastewater treatment technologies.

ESC 3435 Water Resources Management.  Introduces students to the challenges associated with the sustainable development and management of water resources. Topics include groundwater and aquifer management, watershed protection, and human impacts affecting the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of water resources.

ETM 4403  Renewable Energy Power.  Concentrates on the use of renewable energy resources to generate thermal and electrical power for residential or commercial applications. Outlines the thermodynamics involved in solar energy and hydro-energy power generation. 

ETM 4411 Fuel Cells: Principles and Technologies.  Examines the underlying thermodynamics and electrochemical principles of energy conversion through fuel cells, including oxidation, free energy, and standard potential of the cell. Studies the system, elements, performance characteristics, polarization, and voltage output with regard to the classification of fuel cells and applications. Emphasizes the study of hydrogen fuel cells with respect to technological innovations and applications in transportation vehicles, biomedicine, and industrial and domestic power generation. Discusses present trends, forecasts, and impact of this technology in areas of energy generation, conservation, and the environment.

ETM 4512  Hybrid Vehicle Technologies and Design.  Imparts the science and technology of electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). Covers the mechanics, power, and propulsion of vehicles for terrestrial transportation. Discusses fundamentals and design of batteries, fuel cells, and DC machines; three-phase AC machines; induction machines; regenerative braking; permanent magnet machines; and switched reluctance machines. Studies electric drive components, the EV transmission configuration, and EV motor sizing. Requires students to complete a design project relative to EV and/or HEV design.

GST 6350 Global Economics of Food and Agriculture.  Designed to provide students with a broad-based understanding of the global food system, while assessing its performance in terms of satisfying world food needs. Examines international dimensions of food system performance, including global trade and international aid; supply and demand trends, and their implications for global food security; food and agricultural trade policies; ethics and safety regulations; and specific national food systems. Also examines specific commodity chains and their impact on economic development.

GST 6440 Global Focus: Resources and Markets.  Examines how emerging market economies and natural resource exporters pursue development in light of constraints. Emphasizes issues of environmental conservation and human rights and how emerging powers work to influence the rules of the game. Explores both the internal and external efforts toward liberalizing emerging market economies. Introduces issues of foreign direct investment (FDI), outsourcing/offshoring, the existence of informal/parallel markets, and recent trends of microfinance and remittances.

GST 6610 Sustainable Development.  Examines the basic tools of policy analysis in the area of sustainable development. Introduces various techniques used by states, NGOs, and private corporations trying to create viable policy. These may include game theory, cost-benefit analysis, and critical mass models. Utilizes global case studies to analyze current policy and consider political viability of development programs. At the conclusion of the course, students are required to produce policy recommendations and a policy memo.

HSC 2101 Health Issues of Environmental Problems.  Surveys the key aspects of the environmental health and safety field. Topics include biological safety, chemical safety, industrial hygiene, toxicology, occupational safety, and hazardous waste management. Discusses regulatory agencies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with applicable regulatory requirements.

LWP 6405  Law and Policy Strategy and Concepts 4: Environment and Business. Offers a continuation of the course sequence in scholastic and practitioner curriculum in foundational law and policy concepts, case studies, and applications. Focuses on critical interpretation, with application to environmental and private business law and policy. Continues law and policy readings and explores broad questions such as the impact of environmental and private business law and policy on individuals; communities; and local, state, and national governments. Continues with specific environmental and private business law and policy case studies.

SCI 0913  Surveys of New England Coastal Ecosystems. Explores the following New England coastal habitats as well as current research in each: rocky intertidal zone, sandy beach, salt marsh, and nearshore benthic (ocean floor) zone. Introduces and practices authentic research models, with the final day of the course spent participating in open discussions regarding how to replicate materials with students in and out of the classroom.

SCI 6510  Threats to Marine Biodiversity. Focuses on the five primary threats the human race poses on the diversity of ocean life. The vast biodiversity of our oceans is not only a source of fascination and intrinsic value but provides sustenance and key products globally relied upon by humans. However, it is the human race itself that is both directly and indirectly exploiting these rich ecosystems at an alarming rate. Addresses the modes in which these threats have developed as well as their consequences, including the continued population reductions of the most preferred fish and shellfish species and marked changes in ecosystems dynamics. Explores the overall health of our oceans, as well as potential reductions/losses of species associated with current or potential biomedical products.

SCI 6530  AP (Advanced Placement) Environmental Science. Designed for educators who teach advanced or capstone environmental science courses for high school juniors or seniors and who want to prepare students for college-level work in environmental science or for the College Board AP environmental science exam. Focuses on college-level content and process skills such as lab experiments, problem solving, open response writing, preparing students for assessments, and integrating knowledge and results of scientific inquiry. It may also touch upon three areas of importance to teachers in urban schools: (1) how advanced work can be integrated into the typical urban high school setting and used to increase rigor throughout high school programs at all levels, (2) pedagogical strategies in science, and (3) capitalizing on existing supports and resources.

SCI 6535  Energy 1: Integrating the Sciences through Energy. Offers a graduate-level science course designed for pre-service and in-service K–12 science teachers. Contextualized to the standards/inquiry-based curricula found in the Massachusetts state curriculum standards. Provides graduate-level content while modeling sound pedagogy. Aims to use the concept of energy to integrate interdisciplinary relationships between the biological, physical, chemical, and earth sciences. Using current and future curriculum materials, as well as state and national standards for the teaching of science at the middle-school level, this course offers an in-depth exploration of energy and the fundamental physical processes that shape climate (such as heat transfer, solar variability, orbital mechanics, greenhouse gases, atmospheric and oceanic circulation, volcanic aerosols, and biological cycles) and provide evidence for past and present climate change.

SCI 6541  Backyard Ecology: Exploring the Local Ecosystem. Focuses on environmental science through an intensive field study in a local outdoor ecosystem, working collaboratively to carry out an in-depth exploration of that ecosystem. Some of the topics covered include the six-kingdom classification system of organisms, characteristics common to all organisms, plants and plant processes, weather conditions, the use of taxonomic keys, food webs and food chains, predator/prey relationships, producers/consumers/decomposers, interdependent relationships, and soil types and conditions. Asks students to design and carry out an inquiry-based project.

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