Programs and Courses
As an institution of higher education, UCLA recognizes its obligation to prepare students to be global citizens who understand and practice living sustainably in addition to supporting and promoting environmentally responsible operations.
In order to prepare students and the campus community for these roles, UCLA offers a growing range of climate and sustainability-related educational experiences. These educational experiences can be found not only in courses and degree programs, but also in residential life programs, staff and faculty workshops, resource centers, student groups and peer-to-peer educational programs. UCLA is committed to expanding these efforts in order to foster learning on climate and sustainability issues. Click on the links below to jump to each topic.
- Existing Courses and Academic Programs
- Undergraduate Programs
- Graduate and Professional Programs
- Student Groups and Organizations
- UCLA Staff Programs
- Educational Events
- Student Representation
- Campus Interest
- Expanding Academics: New Initiatives
In 2006, UCLA offered over 200 courses focused on or directly related to climate change and sustainability. These courses accounted for more than 3 percent of the entire course selection offered that year and were distributed among one-fifth of the 141 departments on campus. This includes courses such as the Global Environment Freshman Cluster, a 3-course sequence that annually teaches over 170 first year students about ecology, water quantity and quality, air quality, climate change, energy, policy, and regulation in one integrated program.
UCLA has many academic programs dedicated to climate change and sustainability education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to the specific programs mentioned here, there are many additional disciplinary major or minor programs offered by departments that address issues related to climate change and sustainability such as those in Earth and Space Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geography, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Political Science, just to name a few.
Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Environmental Sciences Major: The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) offers this B.S. degree program which is designed to be a very flexible program leading to a wide variety of career options, including graduate study in atmospheric and oceanic sciences.
Interdepartmental Program in Mathematics and Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences: This undergraduate interdepartmental program combines courses from the Mathematics and AOS departments. This program is designed to provide rigorous mathematical training with a comprehensive background in topics relevant to atmospheric, oceanic and environmental sciences. The program is intended to provide particularly good preparation for graduate studies in a streamlined course of study.
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Minor: The minor program offered through AOS provides a formal vehicle for students specializing in other science fields to pursue interests in the atmospheric and oceanic environment. It is designed to be flexible, recognizing that many topics in this field cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Environmental Science Major: The Institute of the Environment (IoE), together with the Departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth and Space Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Health Sciences and Geography, offer an undergraduate major in Environmental Science. This B.S. degree program offers both disciplinary breadth and depth and includes a solid foundation of natural sciences and upper division coursework in nine different departments that focus on understanding environmental issues across earth, atmospheric, life, and social sciences. In addition, students must complete a disciplinary minor which provides in-depth knowledge in one of eight environmental science areas, each associated with a particular UCLA department.
Earth and Environmental Science Major: The B.A. degree program in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science is intended to provide a broad background in Earth sciences that is especially appropriate for students intending to become K through 12 teachers in Earth, physical, or life sciences. It may also be of interest to students who plan careers in environmental sciences, law, government, business, journalism, public health, medicine, or dentistry.
Environmental Systems and Society Minor: This IoE minor is designed for undergraduate students who wish to augment their major program of study with courses addressing the relationships between environmental science and associated social and political issues. The minor seeks to impart a deeper understanding of environmental systems related to air, land, water and biological resources. A main goal of the program is to provide students with a foundation for sound decision making as a professional and a citizen.
Conservation Biology Minor: The Conservation Biology minor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is designed to augment a student’s major program of study with courses addressing issues central to the conservation and sustainability of biodiversity and natural ecosystem processes. The minor seeks to provide students with a greater depth of experience and understanding of the role that science can play in developing conservation policy.
Geography/Environmental Studies Major and Minor: Intended to develop and deepen a student’s understanding of environmental issues, the Geography/ Environmental Studies degree program emphasizes a systems approach to gaining an understanding of major environmental problems facing our society and the world at large. Students gain an understanding of geographical perspectives of human impacts on natural systems, and on the implications of environmental change on local, regional and global human systems.
The Education for Sustainable Living Program (ESLP): ESLP provides education in sustainability to undergraduate students through a student-organized lecture series and on-campus action research. The Action Research Teams are small groups of undergraduate students who work closely with UCLA faculty, staff and administrators to address questions about sustainability on campus.
Leaders in Sustainability Certificate Program: The IoE together with the UCLA Anderson School of Business offer graduate level sustainability education through the Leaders in Sustainability Certificate Program. This program, beginning its second year, enables graduate students from any area on campus to reach out beyond their departmental studies to incorporate interdisciplinary sustainability courses and sustainability-focused community research into their graduate education.
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences – Climate and Weather: The AOS department offers a research area in Climate and Weather as part of the M.S. and Ph.D. programs. The program addresses the challenge of a wide variety of problems of compelling scientific interest and increasing social relevance including climate change, greenhouse warming, air pollution, and the ozone layer.
Clean Energy for Green Industry (Clean Green) IGERT: IGERT is designed to train U.S. Ph.D. scientists and engineers for leadership roles in the clean energy sector--university-industry-government. Emphasis is placed on economic expansion through transformational research, new business, highly trained workforce development, equity and inclusion. The Clean-Green IGERT addresses the urgent societal challenge of meeting increasing energy needs without further negatively affecting the environment.
Environmental Science and Engineering Program (ES&E): The ES&E program is a professional doctorate program that provides students the scientific, engineering, and policy skills to translate their research into effective environmental action. The ES&E program uses an interdisciplinary approach to develop leaders in environmental science and policy.
Environmental Health Sciences: The EHS department, in the School of Public Health offers M.P.H., M.S. and Ph.D. and Dr. P.H. degree programs that explore the relationship between human health and the environment. The program addresses health issues in the workplace and the exposure of ordinary citizens to environmental agents as they move through the many microenvironments of everyday life.
Public Policy – Environmental and Natural Resource Policy: The Department of Public Policy offers a specialization in Environmental and Resource Policy as part of the Masters in Public Policy professional degree program. Students gain knowledge critical for writing laws and regulations, creating new domestic or international institutions, supervising environmental organizations, and operating environmental protection programs and resource management efforts.
Urban Planning – Environmental Analysis and Policy: The Department of Urban Planning offers a specialization in Environmental Analysis and Policy as part of the Masters of Arts in Urban Planning program. The program is concerned with broader questions of environmental policy and the role of environmental issues in the overall planning process in both domestic and international settings.
Wells Environmental Law Clinic: The Clinic offers excellent opportunities for law students to obtain hands on experience in environmental law. Working with many nonprofit and government agency partners, the clinic has been very successful at training environmental lawyers while helping to protect the environment. Students who take the six-unit environmental law clinical course work on large and small cases, involving both federal and state law.
UCLA has a wide range of student groups that focus on climate change and sustainability-related issues. These groups provide student resources, and educational and volunteer opportunities.
- Graduate Student Association Sustainable Resource Center
- Net Impact
- Sustainable Urban Network
- E3: Ecology, Economics, and Equity
- Bruins for Traffic Relief
- FEED: Forum for Energy, Economics and Development
- CALPRIG: UCLA chapter of California Public Interest Research Group
- Green the Greeks
- Rainforest Action Network
The UCLA Staff Assembly, as part of their continuing education programming, is offering several sustainability-focused educational opportunities for UCLA Staff members. These include a series of “Learn at Lunch” workshops that focus on sustainability and professional development research projects that address sustainability issues. One professional development team project is currently developing a guide to “greening” offices that will be available in Spring 2009. The guide will include tips for energy use reduction, waste reduction and recycling, and green purchasing.
UCLA engages in many events each year that focus attention on issues of climate change and sustainability. For more about conferences and community events see the Community Outreach section of this report. For the past two years UCLA has held a fall Sustainability Fair highlighting what UCLA is doing to improve its sustainability as well as teach staff and students ways to improve their own sustainability. Every year on Earth Day, several student organizations plan educational events, usually a full day of activities. In January 2008 UCLA participated in the nation-wide climate change solution teach-in, Focus the Nation. This event hosted UCLA faculty run workshops open to the campus community addressing issues in all areas of climate change. UCLA also participated in another major national teach-in in February 2007, the 2010 Imperative, part of Architecture 2030’s global challenge that calls for new buildings to reduce their GHG by 50 percent by 2010 and be carbon neutral by 2030.
UCLA has a history of shared governance and student participation in important decision making processes. Campus Sustainability is no exception. There are four official student representatives, two graduate and two undergraduate, on the Campus Sustainability Committee. There are also student representatives on the CSC subcommittees: Operations, Academics, and Communication, on the Transportation Advisory Board, Housing Committee, and many other decision making committees on campus.
In 2006, a survey was distributed to all campus faculty and students inquiring about sustainability interest on campus. Of the 2000 respondents, well over 90 percent felt that sustainability was important. In addition, about 40 percent of the 117 faculty respondents were interested in teaching or performing research related to sustainability and about 90 percent of the student respondents expressed interest in taking courses related to sustainability. The survey respondents, both student and faculty, with interest in taking or teaching sustainability were distributed in all identified areas of study: Arts & Humanities, Social, Health & Life, Hard Sciences and Grad Professional. This level of campus interest suggests that measures to expand climate change and sustainability programming will be well received by both students and faculty.
The growth of student groups also reflects the growth of interest in climate change and sustainability among students. As an example, paid membership in Net Impact, the UCLA Anderson School of Management chapter of a national organization dedicated to sustainable business grew at a compound annual rate of 76 percent over the last 4 years. In addition, there has been similarly high growth in the Environmental Science Major since it was first offered in 2006.
As part of its commitment to sustainability and climate, UCLA plans to take several steps to expand on the current climate change and sustainability programming available at UCLA.
Sustainability Across the Curriculum Faculty Workshop: To help expand the current course offerings, UCLA is planning a workshop to provide assistance and incentives for faculty to integrate climate change and sustainability-related material into their existing courses.
Expand Education for Sustainable Living Program: Resulting from the overwhelming success of the Education for Sustainable Living Program, the program is being expanded by making the action research team experiences formal courses in the Institute of the Environment and also extending the research period to 20 weeks (2 quarters) instead of 10 weeks.
New Courses: Several new courses are being scheduled for this year including a renewable energy project management course and an industrial ecology course at the Anderson School of Management, and a course on the Green Economy at the Department of Urban Planning.
New Summer Courses: UCLA Summer Session is planning to offer two new courses; one on Urban Sustainability to provide UCLA students and visiting students an opportunity to understand sustainable practices in Southern California, and one for students traveling abroad that asks them to engage in informal field observations looking at policies, practices, and the effects of sustainability efforts of the cities and people they experience abroad.
Laboratory Greening Education: The Oral Biology Graduate Program is exploring adding a sustainability seminar to their curriculum to teach graduate students and staff researchers ways to conduct research in a more sustainable way.
Published: Sunday, February 08, 2009