Summer 2020 Course Preview for SUST 361 Urban Ecology

For coming summer semester (2020) the Sustainability Studies program will offer an innovative fully-online course, SUST 361 Urban Ecology, taught by Prof. Graham Pickren.

SUST students conduct field experiments on water infiltration rates in Chicago parklands (summer 2018)

A unique experiential learning course, SUST 361 introduces students to the research methods and practices of the growing field of Urban Ecology. In the environmental sciences, cities were once considered unsuitable for studies of “nature.” However, urban landscapes are now being recognized not only as important places for wildlife habitat, but also as laboratories where new relationships between people and ecosystems are emerging.

This course provides students with an overview of urban ecology followed by instruction in research methodologies like air quality monitoring, urban heat island monitoring, and stormwater management. While normally offered as an in-person experiential learning course, due to COVID-19 this course will be offered fully online in 2020. Students will still be able to independently collect and analyze data relevant to human and ecological well-being in Chicago and will visit significant ecological sites around the city on their own. Professor Pickren will provide guidance via Zoom and Blackboard. This will typically involve students meeting with the professor via Zoom in the morning and then practicing research methods in the field in the afternoon. The course culminates in a series of reports on topics of significance to the environmental community in Chicago.

SUST majors and minors may take this class to fulfill an upper-level SUST 3xx requirement, but 361 also is open to students at large (currently at RU, from the colleges and universities of the Resilience Studies Consortium, or other institutions) seeking an experiential learning course, needing a general education course, or desiring elective credit.

Course goals:

  • Demonstrate basic command of core urban ecology methods, concepts, and theory;
  • Design a practical multidisciplinary research project as a team;
  • Collect and analyze data to inform research questions;
  • Write a research report and deliver project findings to stakeholders in written and oral form; and
  • Make scientifically informed decisions about societal issues related to urban areas.

For questions and more details about this course, please contact Dr. Graham Pickren (, assistant professor of Sustainability Studies. RU’s summer session registration information is available here.

This entry was posted in biodiversity, cities, conservation, courses, ecology, education, faculty, parks and public land, Roosevelt, science, students, wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.