Climate talks in Glasgow have recently concluded, and the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. Communities- and the country- are responding to decisions in high profile court cases that embody the clarion call: Black Lives Matter. The forces that reshaped our lives, work, and studies in 2020 are still at work upon our institution and our society in 2021.  So as many of you seek to take positive action through educating yourself on racial injustice, global economic tumult, and ways to combat climate change, this is a good moment to survey the offerings of SLS-affiliated courses in Spring 2022. Several courses affiliated with SLS embrace an aspect of one or more of those themes; great places to discover those courses are in the Social Justice Minor, the Sustainable Cities Minor, and the Global Development Minor We are also highlighting SLS Foundation Courses as well as courses offered by SLS staff that access themes of community engagement and social justice. 

Read on for more on these courses and other compelling options for your spring schedule!

Have some fun with SLS Foundation Courses, Partner-Engaged Courses, and Courses taught by SLS Staff . . .

SLS 3120 Sustainable Systems

Beril Toktay

How can we accelerate progress towards a more sustainable world? How do we create sustainable systems for the 21st century?

Students from every major at Georgia Tech would benefit from taking this course, as it is designed to deliver hands-on experience in enacting systems change in complex environments. Climate change is a multi-faceted, global-scale threat that will touch every industry, and every city and community within the coming decades, if it hasn't already. Solutions will come from every sector of the economy, with outsize benefits for those individuals, companies, and communities that provide effective, scalable models for systems change as early as possible.

Note that this course fulfills requirements in two SLS Signature Programs: Sustainable Cities Minor and Innovating for Social Impact.

MGT4803 Social Impact: In-Depth Exploration and Design

Dori Pap

This course is for those curious (maybe even passionate) about social and/or environmental issues, who want to understand the root cause of those issues, and the challenges of providing evidence-based solutions. You will explore topics and master tools like: Impact Gap Canvas, Asset-Based Community Development, Human-Centered Design, systems thinking, social impact assessment, customer discovery, Theory of Change, and more.

This course fulfills two requirements of the SLS Innovating for Social Impact Program: the Dive and the Final Deliverable. It is also a Design Bloc affiliated course. Everyone with a passion for improving the human condition is welcome!If you have questions - please email Dori Pap (lead instructor)

CP 8811/4811 ABCD In Practice (A SHORT COURSE)

Jennifer Hirsch and Ruthie Yow

This short course introduces and reviews the basics of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD): working with communities based on their assets, or strengths. We will explore how an orientation to gifts and assets instead of problems and deficits can positively change both the processes and outcomes of collaborations intended to make communities healthy and sustainable. Then, in collaboration with community partners, we will visit some Atlanta neighborhoods to explore ABCD in action.

NOTE:  If you are a student who took the short course in Spring 2021, you are eligible to register and take it again, since the content is different.  If you are a Georgia Tech Staff or Faculty member, or a non-Georgia Tech student, faculty, staff, or community partner, and wish to sign up for the short course, please use THIS FORM to register. Anyone interested in the course can view the full description for course days and times.

Questions? Please contact Ruthie Yow -

GT 1801 Engaging Global Communities

Ruthie Yow

This course brings together students from six metro Atlanta institutions to provide them with a unique opportunity in cross-institutional community building, community partner engagement, and professional development, under the auspices of a global communities theme. The instructor team brings a wealth of expertise on the topic, and students will enjoy dynamic sessions led by Clarkston-based community partners and have the option of joining one or more of three Clarkston site visits throughout the term. Every student will have the opportunity to apply for an internship with the course's Clarkston-based partners, and five students will be awarded summer internships through their engagement with the course.

Questions? Please contact Ruthie Yow -

VIP: Building for Equity and Sustainability

Jennifer Hirsch and Juan Archila

This VIP takes as its main focus Georgia Tech’s new Living Building – the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design – and its efforts to advance social equity as one of seven key performance areas in the Living Building Challenge. This VIP also explore equity and resilience in sustainability projects on Georgia Tech’s campus and in surrounding partner communities in Atlanta.  We have four goals: 1) Incorporate equity as an important sustainability objective in engineering and architecture design practices at Georgia Tech; 2) Work closely with campus partners to fully engage underrepresented students in The Kendeda Building and to use the building to advance the Institute’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals; 3) Collaborate with partners from communities surrounding campus to advance equity, resilience, and sustainability in the built environment; and 4) Influence the sustainable building sector nationally and internationally to more thoroughly incorporate equity as a goal in their rating systems and programs. Our multi-disciplinary research team includes GT students, faculty, and staff. Students work in sub-teams on projects related to these goals. Following the VIP model, projects are student-driven, with faculty, staff, and partners serving as advisers. The VIP is open to students from any major or background with an interest in advancing equity and sustainability in the built environment. The course is affiliated with Serve- Learn-Sustain (SLS) and fulfills requirements in both the Sustainable Cities Minor and the SLS Innovating for Social Impact Program.

Visit our VIP page for more information.

Are you considering a Sustainable Cities or Global Development Minor? Take a look at the great courses below which are part of one or both minors!

PUBP 3350 Energy Policy Stakeholder Engagement

Dan Matisoff

This course cuts through myths that are pervasive in the media, in public opinion, and in statements by politicians. It will provide students with a theoretical basis from which to assess energy policy options, an understanding of how global energy markets work, and an overview of domestic and international energy policy. The course seeks to build group project skills, and students will produce a policy analysis of policy options related to an energy policy problem.  Through this course students will gain the tools to assess and analyze the market characteristics, policies, and regulations that impact the supply, demand, and impacts of energy consumption in the U.S. and abroad. This course will provide an overview of applied energy economics, energy regulation, basics of U.S. and global energy production / consumption, and policy options for promoting a sustainable energy future.

ARCH 6151 / ARCH 4151 History of Urban Form

Richard Dagenhart

Understanding cities, the largest and most complex artifacts in human history, is essential as we face the challenges of building a sustainable future. This course is taught from historical vantage points across the globe, recognizing that urban form is shaped by many influences - ecological, technological, cultural, political and economic. Our framework for examining the form of cities, their histories and their present situations is morphological, that is, having to do with urban form and structure: " How territory is organized into public and private domains - in some form of lots and blocks and streets - the most persistent part of urban form and the fundamental framework for urban sustainability as cities change over time. " How the public domain - streets and public spaces and public buildings - are formed or designed for different purposes and different times, and as their situations change over time as settings for social, civic and political actions. " How the private domain of buildings and gardens fit within larger cultural, technological and economic contexts and, with few exceptions, change more frequently than either the public domain or the form of lots and blocks and streets. This three-part urban structure sets the stage for the everyday lives of citizens and denizens alike, enabling their accessibility and mobility, or not, enabling diversity, or not, and enabling resiliency with changes over time, or not.

ME 4744 / INTA 4744 Global Development Minor Capstone

Neha Kuma

This course encourages students to think about how they might study or design technologies with a focus on UN Sustainable Development Goals objectives, paying special attention to the needs of underserved, under-resourced, and under-represented communities across the world.

ISYE 4501 Energy, Efficiency, and Sustainability

Valerie Thomas

This course addresses energy and environmental assessment from a systems perspective. Designed for students who have already taken ISyE 3025 (Engineering Economics) and Physics 2211 and 2212 (introductory physics) the course provides an introduction to energy analysis and environmental lifecycle assessment, with application to energy efficiency, renewable energy, resource availability and environmental impacts. In past semesters, student groups have engaged with external partners; in one example, students developed environmental life cycle assessments for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for a small design firm in west Midtown. In addition to evaluating their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the groups developed suggestions for how they could reduce their energy use. The course is open to students from all majors, but ISyE majors have first option.  Physics 1201 and 1202 and ISyE 3025 Engineering Economics are pre-requisites. Although this is an undergraduate course, graduate students interested in energy and environmental life cycle assessment may be interested.

CEE 4160 Smart and Sustainable Cities

Joseph Bozeman, III

This course introduces key concepts necessary to effectively plan and develop sustainable infrastructure for cities. The infrastructure concepts include water, electricity, transportation, buildings, and waste management. These skills are vital given that we expect to see an increasing portion of our existing global population (i.e., ~8 billion people at 55% urbanization) dwell in urban environments through the year 2050 (i.e., ~10 billion people at 68% urbanization). It also explores various ‘smart’ topics that address some of the sociotechnical challenges involved in achieving urban sustainability. This includes topics such as principles of sustainability, carbon management, and resilience. These interdisciplinary skills will culminate in a group project where teams develop a comprehensive city plan.

And here are a few more courses to consider that dynamically showcase sustainability’s interplay of environment, equity, and economy . . .

MGT 8803 Work Equity and Wellness

Tiffany Johnson

In this course, students learn about and reflect on the historical and present-day intersections of work, racial equity, and wellness. Weekly class discussions are supported by readings, podcasts, and documentaries. Guided by the philosophy of scholars such as Audre Lorde and bell hooks – to heal self on the path to healing society- students will be invited to connect to course content by reflecting on how it resonates with personal and organizational experiences. Students will be assigned to pod-like groups in which they meet regularly, share their reflections & their own wisdom, and offer feedback for each other’s class assignments. The class culminates with students presenting projects that are aimed at re-imagining approaches to work, racial equity, and wellness in their personal lives and in workplaces/organizations that they care about.

ECON 4440 Economics of the Environment

Dylan Brewer

Is economic growth incompatible with environmental quality? This course discusses how human social and economic behavior impacts and is impacted by the environment. We discuss how to design policies that promote economically and environmentally sustainable communities such as carbon pricing and property-rights approaches. In addition, we discuss how communities can manage environmental commons problems by relying on local knowledge, norms, and institutions. This course provides practical tools and principles for solving environmental problems as a policymaker, employee at a firm, or as a private citizen.

ECON 2101 Global Economics

Aselia Urmanbetova

In this section of ECON 2101 we start with one of the biggest issues that the global community faces today – inequality. More generally, we first start with the empirical focus on the current state of global economy and move on to how the latest economic theory helps us understand it as is, and, hopefully, make it better. This is the exact opposite of the approach used in most introductory econ courses, that first ask you to abstract away from our reality into clean theories with unrealistic assumptions and then suggest relaxing or dropping those assumptions in order to fit the observed world and the theory together. In this course, students start with an empirical look at the current data and trends, i.e. they connect to what they already observed – that the world of social and market interactions is inherently messy, sometimes incredibly unfair, and lacking in equitable, let alone perfect, solutions. Once these connection between the world economy and us is reinforced, we then dive into the theoretical paradigms of how the help us explain where we are and which theoretical solutions are available to improve the world we live in. Finally, the course aspires to assist students to further understand and contribute to the following SDG goals: no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.

LMC 2050 The Cultural History of Trees and the Tech Tower White Oak

Thomas Hugh Crawford

In a recent episode of the television series Ted Lasso, Beard (Ted’s assistant coach) name-drops Suzanne Simard in a random comment. Prior to that conversation, he is seen reading Merlin Sheldrake’s recent book Entangled Life. Sheldrake and Simard study the complex interactions between trees, plants, fungi, and bacteria— work that points toward different research models and questions how we conceptualize life. Other scholars across many fields have in the last decade begun to rethink the complex entanglements of human and non-human lives, with trees figuring prominently. Because of age and disease, this winter Georgia Tech will remove a large and storied white oak that has long framed Tech Tower. In this seminar we will take that as a prompt to think (and write) about human/tree interactions by studying Georgia Tech’s “Tree Campus” and reviewing recent work on trees in a number of genres: e.g., science writing, memoirs, novels, and essays while at the same time finding a way to mediate the story of the fallen Georgia Tech white oak. In addition to working in a range of media—images, video, sound, text—we will also work with actual wood from the tree, exploring it as a media form. An LMC seminar, this course will also carry Serve Learn Sustain status, and students will assist in projects with the local group TreesAtlanta and with the Old Growth Forest Network (so between wood working and tree planting, you will get your hands dirty!). Some texts we will likely read include Susanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree, Joan Maloof’s Treepedia, William Bryant Logan’s Oak, and Richard Power’s novel The Overstory. 

VIP 2601 21st Century Global Atlanta

(this fantastic VIP is one of several SLS- affiliated VIPs- check out the whole list HERE!)

Sebnem Ozkan

Jenny Strakovsky

This VIP course brings together students of diverse backgrounds and disciplines to tell the story of Atlanta as a global city, and to increase access to global citizenship at Georgia Tech and nationally. We document and connect with the individuals and communities that are transforming Atlanta into a global metropolis, such as heritage and immigrant communities, foreign-born residents in a variety of professional fields, and thought leaders engaged in the global community. We document their everyday contributions and journeys through documentary film, multimedia, digital archives, writing, and research presentations. We also welcome students who want to do creative work such as graphic novels and photography. Students also apply their findings to expanding global education at Georgia Tech by engaging in program development at the Atlanta Global Studies Center, which provides them with training in human-centered management, community engagement and public outreach, culture creation, and instructional design. Students participate in all aspects of background research, multimedia/creative production, and public outreach efforts of the VIP course.