GES Courses

The School is home to a range of interdisciplinary courses focused on various aspects of sustainability. A GES course will approach the subject material from multiple viewpoints, with social, economic and environmental consideration.

Offered on campus and online

GES 101 introduces the student to the complex and broad nature of sustainability. The course begins to develop skills in analyzing problems and solutions with respect to sustainability.  Topics covered include ecology, food and agriculture, energy, the built environment, metrics of sustainability, art and sustainability, poverty, and public health. Students work on a group project and can earn extra credit by volunteering in community-based sustainability initiatives.

Offered on campus, Fall only

GES 120 is a multi-disciplinary course that introduces students to the issues surrounding the biggest challenges to the sustainability of life in the West. The course examines the role water plays in supporting human populations, agriculture, and wildlife, along with the history of water development and the processes that govern water allocation including the infrastructure that allows it to be moved and used. By the end of the course, students will understand the challenges to the sustainability of water resources including population growth, climate change, and impacts on water quality. Students from all disciplines are welcome. Learn more at watercenter.colostate.edu/ges120/

Offered on campus

This course, worth 3 credits, combines an overview of energy-related science with the societal, economic, and environmental aspects of energy. The science portion of the course will cover fossil fuels, alternative fuels, extraction, generation, distribution, and storage. The societal context of energy will focus on human behavior, political constraints, and geographic considerations.  The course will also cover the environmental impacts of energy production and use, as well as the economics of energy.  The concepts of sustainability will be introduced as a unifying theme for considering our energy future.

GES 440 is an upper-division interdisciplinary course exploring Sea Level Rise and a Sustainable Future across multiple disciplines. The course is centered around three modules: 1) scientific basis of sea level rise and foundations of policy, 2) case studies exploring details of geography, culture, environmental justice, and economics; and 3) developing capacity in futures thinking and how to apply that to understanding sea level rise in the future. This course is targeted at students from a variety of backgrounds, and requires synthetic thinking rather than specific capabilities. Prerequisites include completion of AUCC categories 1A and 1B.

Offered on campus

Energy as a critical resource and its connection to climate change, food production, and water resources. This course examines methods of evaluating sustainable energy technologies, including life cycle assessment, energy return on investment, technoeconomic analysis, and political ecology.

Offered on campus

This new course is designed for undergraduate and graduate students from all backgrounds to explore current issues in sustainability and how they relate to individual, public and global health. Students will participate in didactic lectures, group discussions and mini projects that will both educate and empower them to understand the relationship between sustainability and health.

Offered on campus

This course is an introduction to the domestic and international laws that influence and interact with the implementation of sustainability in the U.S. and abroad.

Offered on campus and online

GES465 is a trans-disciplinary course that explores the life-cycle of electronic devices from extraction of resources to end-of-life disposal and recycling. Globally, 40-50 million metric tonnes of e-waste (computers, laptops, mobile phones, actually, anything that runs on electricity) are generated every year. E-waste is unique because of its toxicity and the value of some of the components (gold, silver, etc.). E-waste cannot simply be thrown into the landfill. The problem is international in scope because much e-waste is exported from developed nations to majority world nations where it is informally recycled using cheap labor and methods that put the environment and human health at risk. The course examines politics, social justice, ethics, economics, business strategies, chemistry, materials science, and toxicology. It concludes with an interdisciplinary group project on an e-waste problem and potential solutions.

Offered on campus and online

This course will integrate and apply the foundations of environmental sustainability (the environmental, social, and economic dimensions) to achieve a holistic understanding of environmental issues, practices and problem solving. These three dimensions will serve as the sustainability foundations for the course.  Students will learn and apply tools for assessing environmental issues and best practices for working in interdisciplinary teams.  Case studies demonstrating sustainability principles will be evaluated through discussion and writing, and students will conduct a team project that addresses and dissects an important issue related to global environmental sustainability.  Finally, students will assess their personal academic program (Interdisciplinary Minor) in sustainability, and set goals for their future sustainability endeavors.

Offered on campus and online

GES-520 is a graduate level course open to all graduate students across campus. Like GES 470, this course covers a range of topics in sustainability. While similar to GES 101 in overall format, the course accepts a much smaller class size and delves more deeply into a smaller set of topics. Graduate students read from a range of primary literature as a basis for class discussions and lectures. The students develop an understanding of the complexity of problems in sustainability and how to place these issues in a context that structures solutions in economic and social frameworks.

GES 542 is a comprehensive survey of many topics related to biofuels, bioenergy, and biochemicals. It spans technical topics from field to fuel while also discussing sustainability, socioeconomic, and policy issues related to implementation of technology. Each week covers a different topic and students receive practice reading, analyzing, and discuss current research findings.