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Undergraduate and graduate courses offered through the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability cover topics such as health, communication, social change, philanthropy, and more, combining expertise from across Stanford’s seven schools. Several feature keystone experiences focused on sustainability – such as community engagement or immersive, off-campus learning – to foster education beyond the classroom. 

More than a dozen new courses will be introduced from fall 2022 through spring 2023. They will be joined by additional courses and degree programs over subsequent years. These represent a few of the new courses. Students interested in searching for future learning opportunities can browse by subject under Doerr School of Sustainability from the main Explore Courses landing page.

Media and the Environment

FILMEDIA 216/416, SUSTAIN 156/356

video camera recording

How are environmental issues represented in various media, from cinema and television to videogames, VR, and experimental art? And how are these media themselves involved in environmental change? In this course, we look at media and the environment as interlocking parts of a system, inseparable from one another. We might start by asking how, for example, documentary and narrative films portray environmental crises like oil spills, wildfires, or extinction events. From there, however, we will need to investigate the ways that media themselves constitute environments, both metaphorically and literally. Students will also have the opportunity to create their own media objects that shed light on the interrelations of media and the environment.

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Power in the Anthropocene: Pasts, Presents, Futures


The Anthropocene designates the present geological epoch, in which humans have irreversibly changed planet Earth, with impacts discernible in the atmosphere, biosphere, and more. The term has also become a "charismatic mega-category" in the humanities and social sciences, where some critique the very concept, while others focus on how power dynamics, political economy, racial capitalism, and human/non-human relations manifest – and often accelerate – Anthropocenic transformations. This PhD-level course dives into these debates, drawing on work in a wide range of fields in the humanities, social sciences, arts, and natural science (the latter with works accessible to non-expert audiences).

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Taking the Pulse of the Planet


Volcano erupting

Grappling with the big questions of sustainability and climate change requires that we start with a foundational understanding of how Earth works. Tapping into rapid advancements in sensor technology and data science over the past decade, we can now image and monitor many components of the Earth system. Given all that is available, the questions to be addressed in this class include: What are the data gaps where new technologies can provide the measurements needed to help us address the most urgent questions related to sustainability and climate change? And how do we build and deploy these technologies? 

Environmental Sustainability: Global Predicaments and Possible Solutions


This course surveys our planet’s greatest sustainability challenges, and some of the possible ways that humankind might overcome each. The course includes introductory-level science, social science, and business studies material. By the end of the course, you should have a basic understanding of the global biological, cultural, social, and economic processes involved in environmental sustainability. Our objective is for you to carry forward this understanding into your Stanford experience, regardless of your eventual major, and into your lives after graduation. This course, which is part of the Stanford COLLEGE program, can be used to satisfy either the Ethical Reasoning (ER) or Social Inquiry (SI) “Way.”

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Organizations and Sustainability

OB 621/SUSTAIN 321

This course reviews social science research on the role of organizations in environmental sustainability. Modern human activity is known to be dramatically changing the Earth’s ecosystem with far-reaching consequences. Our ability to limit and adapt to these changes will depend on the behavior of organizations. The course organizes the various literatures of “organization theory” that pertain to sustainability, giving students an intellectual structure on which to build their own understanding. The course is intended for PhD students planning to pursue a career as researchers in academia or industry. It is offered jointly at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

Confronting Emotions in the Climate Sciences


Pacifica coastal homes

Traditional climate change courses introduce students to a wide array of scientifically and emotionally challenging subjects without acknowledging the significant distress that climate learners often experience from studiously bearing witness to ecological degradation, and the social injustices this deepens. Students enrolled in the course will explore the psychosocial complexities that the Anthropocene proposes through key texts, films, and guest lectures that draw on climate psychology, philosophy, art, literature and history. The course is designed to engage students in participatory scholarship; assessment of the effectiveness of various learning modules on student wellbeing and motivation towards their research will be conducted using pre-post style surveys and qualitative interview methods.

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The Sustainability of the Human Record



What happens in the year 12,021 when future generations seek to understand the extensive record of human endeavor, experience, and life, today and previously? What will constitute a future Rosetta Stone that makes accessible surviving monuments, texts, and languages of 2021; that ensures future people will know how to avoid the deadly nuclear dumps and climate breakdown created now? How can we seek to guarantee in the present that the technologies upon which we rely will be legible and accessible in even mere decades to come? This course will focus on the recording and preservation of, and access to, human communication through its long history and into the next century. 

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Ecologies of Communication


Archive of old books

How can we seek to guarantee, now, that the technologies upon which we rely will be legible and accessible in even mere decades to come? This course will focus on the recording and preservation of, and access to, human communication through its long history and into the next century. How is communication created, produced, and received? How sustainable are the many media and devices through which it is transmitted? What are the key components to sustaining an understanding of the human record without which one might argue very little really matters? This course is concerned with elucidating the real and ongoing physical and intellectual sustainability of global and local communication – its intentionalities, forms, and functionalities, as well as the cultural value of modes and methods of recording human experience.

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Environmental Humanities: Finding our place on a changing planet


Monument Valley

The rapid degradation of our planet threatens the health and survival of communities and ecosystems around the world. How did we get here? What emotional, philosophical, moral, and spiritual challenges underlie the separation of humanity from nature – and precipitate unprecedented ecological destruction? How can we make sense of this, and how can we reimagine a more connected future? Through engaging the work of environmental philosophers, cultural ecologists, artists, Indigenous scholars, and others with land-based knowledge, this course will prompt students to think deeply about humanity’s place in the world – and explore emotionally-based strategies to change our course. 

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Imagining Adaptive Societies

SUSTAIN 131/231

Mural of diverse group of people painted on fence

Emerging from the first pandemic of the Anthropocene, with all its attendant social and economic challenges and in a world characterized by runaway economic inequality, the ongoing existential threat of climate change, growing mistrust in fundamental social and political institutions, and the looming threat of authoritarianism, it is time to re-imagine the organization of our communities, our institutions, and societies. The social structures that support late capitalism are not well-adapted for the challenges that the twenty-first century holds for human existence. How do we imagine novel social arrangements that allow us to thrive sustainably in an environment of greater equity?

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