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Course Planning by Program


Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 17-Jan-24

Spring 2024 | ENV-2010-VO01 - Moving Toward Sustainability

Online Class

Online courses take place 100% online via Canvas, without required in-person or Zoom meetings.

Location: Online
Credits: 3 (45 hours)
Day/Times: Meets online
Semester Dates: 01-23-2024 to 05-06-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 02-11-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 03-24-2024 - Refund Policy
This course has started, please contact the offering academic center about registration


Michael Abrams
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Jennifer Guarino

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Natural Science
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the concept of sustainability and systems theory – that various systems influence one another within a larger system. Students utilize methods and analytical tools to explore complexity from a systems perspective. Students explore ecological systems at various scales and develop an understanding and appreciation for their inter-connectedness. Emphasis on a vision for the future with practical applications for today is emphasized. Field trips may be required.

Essential Objectives

1. Use the scientific method to gain an understanding of the basic concepts of ecology, including the major earth systems.
2. Discuss the concept of sustainability from a systems perspective.
3. Explore the impacts of social justice problems on environmental issues such as global energy use, climate change, mining, and water resources.
4. Apply case studies to discuss the application of systems thinking to a variety of social, ecological, and organizational contexts.
5. Apply systems thinking methodologies and tools to describe and analyze complex problems.
6. Analyze the influence of resources, ethics, culture, politics, and economics in the promotion and support of sustainable practices on global, national, local and personal levels.
7. Discuss laws and politics related to sustainability that influence how we manage the complexities of our natural systems.
8. Demonstrate proficiency in understanding, interpreting, applying, and evaluating the accuracy of data and information sources.
9. Explain how knowledge created in the natural sciences has contributed to the creation, maintenance and dismantling of social inequalities and discuss the impacts of diversity and inclusion on scientific research and practice.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.


First, students are expected to participate in weekly online discussions. This should entail approximately 2-3 hours per week.

Three short projects will be assigned, Papers are suggested; however, students may produce alternative products that represent comparable efforts (e.g., video, Powerpoint presentation, website).

For students who choose to write papers, these are reflection papers on topics that relate specifically to the course material..These papers should represent the student's original work, with contributions from other sources carefully referenced.

NOTE: There is no required textbook. The course is built upon freely accessible open-source materials.

Evaluation Criteria

1) participation in and contributions to discussions (60%)

2) three rerflection papers (3-5 pages each) or comparable projects (40%),

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments




Elgin,Choosing Earth Parts 1 and 2







Elgin,Choosing Earth Part 3





Natural Capital


Elgin,Choosing Earth, Part 4







Thunberg,The Climate Book 1.1 - 1.9





Economic Capital


Thunberg,The Climate Book 2.1-2.12



Reflection Paper #1





Thunberg,The Climate Book 2.13-2.24





Social Capital


Thunberg,The Climate Book 3.1-3.10





Consumer Society


Thunberg,The Climate Book 3.11-3.20



Special Topic #1


Thunberg, The Climate Book 4.1 -4.10



Reflection Paper #2



Human Capital


Thunberg,The Climate Book 4.11 - 4.19







Thunberg,The Climate Book 4.20-4.27





Population Health


Thunberg,The Climate Book. 5.1 - 5.10





Special Topic #2


Thunberg,The Climate Book 5.11 - 5.22, "What's Next?"





Conclusion (Part I)





Conclusion (Part II)



Reflection Paper #3


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Participation Expectations

It is expected that students participatemeaningfullyin the discussions. What this means is spelled out in a document that I included in the Important Information module of the course.

Missing & Late Work Policy

It is expected will submit the three required projects on time. Students who expect to need extra time should contact me before the deadline to arrange for an extension.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.