Summer 2019 Course Preview for SUST 390 Rooftop Garden

SUST alumni & students on the WB Rooftop Garden during Service Day 2017. L to R: Moses Viveros, Diana Ramirez, Beeka Quesnell, & Maria Cancilla (photo: M. Bryson)

This coming summer semester (2019) the Sustainability Studies program will reprise our innovative special topics course, SUST 390 Rooftop Garden, at the Chicago Campus. The class will utilize RU’s unique 5th-story rooftop garden on its LEED Gold-certified Wabash Building as a living classroom for a hands-on, place-based, get-your-hands-dirty learning experience.

  • Title/number: SUST 390 Rooftop Garden (section 10)
  • Semester offered: Summer 2019 (10 weeks from May 28 thru Aug 5)
  • Location: Chicago Campus
  • Day/time: Students will work a minimum of 3 hours/week during the class session; specific days/times to be arranged with instructor based on student’s schedule
  • Required first session: May 28, 5-7pm
  • Pre-req: ENG 102

SUST majors and minors may take this class to fulfill an upper-level SUST 3xx requirement, but 390 also is open to students at large seeking an experiential learning course, needing a general education course, or desiring elective credit.

RU President Ali, staff, and students harvest greens from the WB Rooftop Garden during the #AmDreamConf service day, 15 Sept 2016 (photo: RU)

Course Theme: Rooftop Gardens, Campus Sustainability, and Urban Agriculture

Diana Ramirez (BA ’17) works the garden plots on the WB Rooftop Garden, July 2017 (photo: M. Viveros)

This ten-week special topics course focuses on the unique urban ecosystem, the green rooftop, and features hands-on work in and stewardship of the fifth-story Roosevelt University WB Rooftop Garden in downtown Chicago. Students will learn about the relationships among food, biodiversity, waste, urban agriculture, green space design, and campus sustainability leadership through multiple modes: reading, discussing, taking field trips, and working in the RU garden during the summer late spring / early summer planting and growing season.

Course requirements and activities include online interaction through Blackboard; a minimum of three weekly hours working in the garden as scheduled by the student and instructor; and field trips to other urban community gardens and farms, whether rooftop or street-level. Participation in this course constitutes a significant contribution to the sustainability of RU’s Chicago Campus, and helps our community make progress on our 2015-2020 Strategic Sustainability Plan.

Moses Viveros sowing seeds in the rooftop garden, August 2017 (D. Ramirez)

The RU Rooftop Garden in Chicago was started in the spring/summer of 2013, the first growing season after the opening on the Wabash Building in fall 2012. Since then, it has been funded and managed by the Department of Physical Resources, with work being done primarily by student interns and volunteers from the Sustainability Studies Program in the College of Arts & Sciences.

For questions and more details about this course, please contact Vicki Gerberich (, adjunct professor of Sustainability Studies; or Mike Bryson (, Professor & Director of Sustainability Studies.

Maria Cancilla (BPS ’18), Prof. Vicki Gerberich, and Michelle Giles (SUST senior) during #AmDreamServiceDay 2018 (photo: M. Bryson)

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