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Urban Environmental Sustainability

Course Code: GEOG 2311
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

What are the ecological footprints of urban areas? How will climate change and sea level rise affect cities? How can planning and design assist in creating environmentally sustainable cities? This course examines the impact that urban development has on the natural environment and explores concepts and tools for creating more environmentally sustainable urban areas using global and local case studies.

Course Content

  1. Evolution and Growth of Urban Regions: an overview of the factors affecting the growth of urban regions globally and locally.
  2. Environmental Sustainability: perspectives of sustainability and sustainable development, UN Sustainable Development Goals, Design with Nature, and Greening of Cities Movement
  3. Natural Systems of Urban Regions: aquatic ecoystems (rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal environments), terrestrial (land and forests), atmosphere, and agro-ecosystems. Natural capital, ecosystem services, carrying capacity and urban wildlife habitats.
  4. Impacts of Urban Growth on Natural Systems: water, air and land pollution; urban heat island; loss of agricultural land; impacts on fish and wildlife habitats; parks and open space; urban sprawl; hardening of shorelines; transportation infrastructure; and liquid and solid waste management.
  5. The Role of Cities in Global Climate Change: urban contributions to carbon emissions, as well as climate change impacts on cities (e.g., sea level rise), and adaptation strategies.
  6. Environmental Design and Planning: designing with nature; green infrastructure (e.g., buildings, transportation); best management practices; role of different levels of government in managing the environmental sustainabily of urban regions through legislation, policies and planning; and global and local case studies.
  7. Environmental Citizenship: role and growth of citizen led environmental concern and stewardship.

Methods of Instruction

  • Lectures
  • Guest speaker presentations
  • Local field work or field trips
  • Videos
  • Small group discussions
  • Individual or group projects
  • Practical in-class exercises
  • Map and data analysis

Means of Assessment

The evaluation will be based on course objectives and be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy. The instructor will provide a written syllabus outlining course objectives and evaluation specifications during the first week of class. An example of an evaluation scheme is as follows:

Midterm Exam     25%

Final Exam          25%

Field Trip Report  15%

Research Project  25%

Participation        10%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe some of the important natural systems found in urban areas (e.g., water, air, land, vegetation, wildlife)
  2. Understand the factors affecting the growth of urban regions both globally and locally.
  3. Explain the concepts and applications of environmental sustainability with particular emphasis on urban regions.
  4. Analyze the impacts of urban growth on natural systems (e.g., air and water quality, fish and wildlife habitats, waste management, transportation, energy use, climate change).
  5. Identify and describe solutions and alternatives to achieve environmental sustainability through application of environmental assessments, policies, planning, and urban design.
  6. Explain the role of governments and nongovernmental organizations and citizens in achieving environmental sustainability of urban regions.
  7. Use both qualitative and quantitative methods (e.g., interpret and utilize maps, graphs, tables and charts) to analyze impacts of urban growth on natural systems and to communicate this information orally and in writing.

course prerequisites

Any 1000 or 2000 level Geography course



curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.