Courses & Programs

Kathleen Maiolatesi

Faculty, Sustainability

Science, Engineering & Math

Marieb 235

413.552.2462 (Tel)

College Catalog Information



Sustainability Studies Certificate

Kathleen Maiolatesi

Faculty, Sustainability

Science, Engineering & Math

Marieb 235

413.552.2462 (Tel)


The Sustainability Studies certificate familiarizes students with a variety of topics in environmental sustainability. This certificate is not intended for SUS majors and Five College advantage.

12-16 total credits

6 credits Program Electives I (select 6 credits) + 6-10 credits Program Electives II (select 6-10 credits)

Depending on course selection, 50% of this program can be completed online.


Program Electives I (select 6 credits)

6 CREDITS
We are faced with many critical problems in the 21st century-species extinction, diminishing energy resources, increasing population, and human civilizations' limited vision of alternatives. Whether humans can learn to manage their life styles in a sustainable manner will impact the long-term survival of all the species on this planet. Students will explore relevant environmental issues, their possible solutions, and the interconnectedness of all lives on Earth. Issues such as energy use, sustaining resource levels, preservation of biodiversity, and community sustainability will be discussed from a scientific perspective. Seminars, laboratory experiments, community-based learning and field trips are all integral components of the course.
This course provides an overview of renewable energy resources including solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, tidal, wave, hydropower, and hydrogen. Students will learn basic principles of each technology and its application for both new and existing buildings, and for transportation. Students will investigate the potential of each technology to help solve current and future energy demands the society faces. Topics covered will include governmental regulations, analysis of renewable energy systems, calculation of savings, and financing options available.
This course provides the students with the opportunity to understand and explore energy efficiency/conservation strategies. In lab, students will learn to demonstrate the appropriate usage of energy monitoring and measuring equipment commonly used by energy specialists and energy auditors. In the field, energy consuming facilities, both residential and commercial, will be analyzed by students for energy efficiency. Students will learn to calculate energy savings and environmental impacts in order to assess the optimum energy consumption strategies.
This course provides a comprehensive training in the application of wind power technology. Students will gain an understanding of wind power as a sustainable form of energy and learn the fundamental science behind harnessing wind and converting it to electrical energy. We will look at the process for siting, developing, constructing, operating and maintaining wind energy projects of different scales, from residential and small commercial to municipal and utility scale.
This course provides a comprehensive training in the application of geothermal technology. Students will gain an understanding of geothermal energy as a sustainable form of energy and learn the fundamental science behind harnessing the earth's heat and converting it to useful energy. We will look at the process for siting, developing, constructing, operating and maintaining geothermal energy projects of different scales, from residential and small commercial to municipal and utility scale.
This course is designed for people with no electrical background who plan to work in the clean energy or construction industries in positions which require electrical knowledge. Students will gain an understanding of how electricity works in residential, commercial and industrial settings. Topics covered will include generation and distribution of electricity, circuits, transformers, and the National Electrical Code.
An introduction to sustainability studies through the lens of human ecology: exploring relationships between nature and culture; understanding current challenges to global and local ecologies and the cultures imbedded in them; considering varied solutions to social/environmental problems; creating new visions of healthy nature/culture relations; enhancing personal motivations for engaging in solutions.
The 21st century has been labeled the green century, and promises expanded opportunities for careers oriented toward sustainability. This course explores the diverse array of expanding green career opportunities and the impact of sustainability on existing occupations and industries. Students identify local career opportunities while engaging community members and organizations. Students develop important work-finding skills such as resume creation, interviewing and networking.
This course provides a comprehensive training in the application of solar thermal technology. Students will gain an understanding of the solar energy resource and its adaptive application in a variety of strategies including passive solar and active solar thermal. In addition, students will practice designing systems on site for a given location and explore the potential of a solar-based economy. The laboratory will train students to conduct solar energy site assessments, install solar thermal systems and promote the use of solar energy in residential, commercial and municipal facilities.
This course provides a comprehensive training in the application of solar technology. Students will gain an understanding of the solar energy resource and its adaptive application in the use of photovoltaics. In addition, students will practice designing systems on site for a given location and explore the potential of a solar-based economy. The laboratory will train students to conduct solar energy site assessments, install solar photovoltaic systems and promote the use of solar energy in residential, commercial and municipal facilities.
Recent emphasis on making buildings greener has led to considerable confusion. Just what is meant by the term? This class will explore that multi-level problem and take a hands-on approach to implementing tested strategies for designing and building structures that are highly energy efficient, environmentally friendly, healthy, and durable. The course will cover the connections between occupant health and the choice of structural and finish materials, the careful control of air exchange and thermal transfer, the use of renewable energy sources, and industry standards for system efficiencies.
The choices we make in our everyday eating habits, whether we choose to eat fast food, or healthy meals, has an impact on the sustainability of our environment. Choosing to eat locally grown, organic produce can help to preserve our soil, water and biodiversity resources while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. This course will examine the history of agriculture, how contemporary food culture is defined, and current agricultural practices, including the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Scientific analysis of soil and water will be included. Students will explore a variety of farming practices while working in community-based field labs at a local farm and at the HCC organic garden.
This course will cover the fundamentals of system- level ecological interactions, such as populationecology and stability, as applied to sustainable agricultural systems. In addition, we will explore ways to make the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle through participation in a local food system. Topics covered will include GMO's, species interactions in agricultural systems and landscape diversity. The laboratory will include composting, worm castings, green manures and cover crops.
This supervised field training program will further the hands-on skills students have acquired in previous Sustainable Agriculture courses. Students will work with an appropriate agricultural industry partner to gain field experience in sustainable farming practices. Students will be expected to work 225 hours in this internship. Prerequisites: SUS 116, SUS 216 and SUS 220
This course will explore in depth a current and/or historical topic in environmental sustainability. The focus of the course will vary and will include topics in agriculture, energy, and green building among others. This topics course will possibly explore concepts such as permaculture and the differences between genetically modified, hybrid and heirloom varieties of plants, including experiments with growth patterns, variability, yield and taste. Field studies may be conducted in the HCC organic garden. Research on topics of interest may include primary source materials. Prerequisite: None
Clean energy is becoming a priority as our global community faces the challenge of climate change. At the same time agriculture is changing to meet the needs of a more environmentally aware consuming public. In this intercollegiate and collaborative course students will learn how to apply clean energy technologies to sustainable agriculture practices. This class brings together students at Holyoke Community College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to learn a variety of emerging technologies. Topics will include solar, wind, and geothermal technologies, ecological farming, greenhouse management, rainwater collections, root zone heating and considerations of social justice. This course is intended for second year students.Prerequisite: Permission of instructor is required. Field trips will involve physical activity and appropriate dress.

Program Electives II (select 6-10 credits)

6-10 CREDITS
A study of the interrelationships between plants and animals and the physical factors in their environment. Population, distribution, community structure, and ecosystems are analyzed by laboratory and field observations. (Field trips require moderate walking.) Prerequisite: A semester course in college biology or environmental science
Conventional (neoclassical) economics assumes that the economy can continue to grow forever, that well-being is determined only by market goods, and that people always act selfishly. Ecological economics in contrast, starts from the understanding that the economy is a sub-system of the global environment, and subject to its bio-physical limits. In addition, human well-being is determined by many other factors besides market goods: friendship, love, status, rights, freedom, etc. and that human behavior is far more complex than simple self-interest.The primary insight of ecological economics is that the human economy is part of the global environmental system. Ecological economics situates human activity within the environment, and the study of the natural environment includes human interests and activities. Ecological economics is a systems approach with a global perspective on human resource use, economic development, and the environment. Ecological economics is concerned not only, like other economists, with efficiency and equity, but also with environmental and social sustainability.This course provides a historical overview of various schools of economic thought, presents the major principles required to fuse ecology with economics, and helps students to analyze economic policies under the lens of ecological reality. Particular attention is paid to economic growth theory and policy as it pertains to the sustainability of human society and management of natural resources. This is a transdisciplinary course, incorporating relevant principles and practices from political science, economics, psychology, philosophy, the natural sciences and physics.Prerequisite: Any ECN course with a passing grade of C- or eligibility for MTH 095, or by permission of instructor.
Today and throughout history, some of the greatest works of literature, culture, politics, and spirituality have been rooted in the earth (to use an earthly metaphor). This class will explore various forms of literature to seek a deeper appreciation of how the world's most engaging thinkers human and non-human have embraced the beauty of the world around us and pondered the awe-inspiring power of our environment. Prerequisite: ENG 102
A study of the scientific principles and processes underlying the interrelationships between humans and the environment. Concepts used to evaluate problems and options available in dealing with population growth, wise use of natural resources, and environmental degradation and pollution are considered in this course. Major topics include the evolution of human-environment relationships; principles of matter and energy; structure, function, and dynamics of ecosystems; and water, food, agriculture, land wildlife and plant resources. Laboratory exercises include field experiences and computer simulations.
An introduction to the rich geologic history and the diverse natural flora and fauna of the region. New England possesses a great assortment of landforms and ecological systems in a relatively small geographic area. The geologic past included volcanoes, lava flows, collisions and divergences of continental plates, and most recently retreating glaciers. This newly renovated landscape made way for a succession of varied forest types and other ecosystems as the flora and fauna adapted to this newly warming and geologically overhauled environment. Geologic history of the New England, natural and human disturbance, forest succession, and the resulting shifting mosaic of the biotic community will be discussed. Field experiences require some walking over uneven terrain.
The exploration of environmental geology, an applied science, will include the fundamentals of geologic processes and the Earth's natural resources, with an emphasis on the human interaction within the geologic environment. Lecture topics included in this course: general overview of rocks and minerals, geologic hazards (e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, mass wasting, flooding), soil formation and documentation, geological landscapes (e.g., glacial deposits, lava flows, and floodplains), groundwater, waste management, land-use planning and current events in geology. Laboratory exercises, which are intended to reinforce the lecture topics, will include: field visits to local geologic points of interest, computer simulations, and hands-on investigations.
This course is an overview of the major principles and techniques required for the detailed investigation and documentation of soil conditions. Consideration is given to the physical and chemical properties of soil development. Topics to be covered include soil forming factors, soil profile genesis, layer and horizon nomenclature, soil texture and the applications of soil science to scientific studies. Lecture and field/laboratory exercises are designed to introduce the student to the qualitative and quantitative methods of the soil assessment process. A major component of this course will be a student project that emphasizes field investigation integrated with internet research.
This course focuses on the biological, chemical, and physical aspects of environmental pollution and considers the relationships between environment and society. Major topics include mineral and energy resources; pesticides; environment and human health; solid and hazardous wastes; and air, water, and land pollution. Environmental ethics; environment and law; and the relationships between the environment, economics and government are also covered. Laboratory exercises include field experiences and computer simulations.
This course is an overview of the major principles and techniques required for the assessment and reporting of site conditions utilized to identify any potential environmental problems. Consideration is given to the sources of pollution and the current methods available (aerial photo-interpretation, GIS, soil maps, vegetation identification) to measure and assess extent of pollution. Classroom lecture is designed to introduce the student to qualitative and quantitative methods of the site assessment process. A major component of this course is a groundwater simulation project which emphasizes the team approach to solving complex environmental problems.Prerequisite: ENV 120, ENV 140Corequisite: ENV 137 (concurrently)
A study of the aquatic environment as an ecosystem with emphasis on responses to pollution. The physical, chemical, and biological parameters of the aquatic ecosystem are systematically surveyed. Eutrophication as a natural process of succession in lentic systems is described and interrelationships within the lake are defined. Responses of lakes and streams to both natural enrichment and anthropogenic pollution are explored. In-lake restoration and watershed management are investigated as technologies to restore and prevent water quality degradation. Laboratory investigations and field studies stress collection, identification, classification, and analysis of biotic and abiotic ecosystem components as a means of assessing water quality and pollution effects. Students will design and conduct a small scale water quality sampling/analysis program. Prerequisites: One semester of environmental science or biology
An introduction to the scientific concepts that provide an explanation for the formation of mountains, continents, and oceans. Topics include plate tectonic theory, minerals and mineral formation, rock cycle, weathering and erosion, geologic time, historical geology, volcanoes and earthquakes, rivers and streams, glaciers, landscapes, and ocean basins.
An introduction to the scientific concepts that provide an explanation to the formation of oceans and the nature of the global marine environment. Topics include seafloor dynamics and plate tectonic theory, the origin of oceans basins, the earth beneath the sea, marine sedimentation, properties of seawater, wind and ocean circulation El Nino weather patterns, waves and tides, beaches and coasts, coastal habitats, marine ecology and coral reefs.
This is a course that prepares English Language Lear5ners to enter the renewable energy workforce. This course will emphasize the integration of reading and communication skills at the advanced level through in-depth examination of the topic. Students will be immersed in the topic of renewable energy resources through discussion and oral presentations based on the reading o textbooks, newspapers, and essays as well as interviews, films, and community events. Prerequisite: ESL 141 or ESL Placement Test
Environmental history examines how humans and nature have interacted through time and with what results. The natural environment (water, land, climate, geological changes, disease, plant and animal ecology, etc.) and human factors (population, capitalism, technology, social relations, cultural attitudes, etc.) from an interrelated system. However, the environmental history of a period and place is a matter of interpretation, and this course actively explores the many facets of this new field of study. As an introduction to interpreting America's environmental past, students will explore such themes as Native American ecology, hunting, the impact of agriculture, mining, industrialization, as well as the emergence of ecology and the modern environmental movement. Prerequisite: Eligibility for English 101
This course is an introduction to the study of the different approaches to how one should treat the natural environment. Beginning with a historical overview of various indigenous technical and cultural knowledges, and then progressing to assess literature on environmental concerns, the course will proceed to interrogate such philosophical concepts as ecology, alienation, web of relations, dominant hierarchies, stewardship, survival, among others. Finally, more recent developments in contemporary philosophy such as ecofeminism, naturalist ethics, and ecological postmodernism will be explored.
This is a survey of the emerging field of ecopsychology, an integration of ecology and psychology. By drawing upon the science of ecology to re-examine the human psyche as an integral part of nature, ecopsychology attempts to inspire lifestyles that are both ecologically sustainable and psychologically healthy. This course provides an overview of the psychological principles and practices relevant to environmental education and action, while exploring the contributions of ecological thinking and values of the natural world to psychotherapy and personal growth. Prerequisite: PSY 110


This certificate is not yet approved for financial aid.

Kathleen Maiolatesi

Faculty, Sustainability

Science, Engineering & Math

Marieb 235

413.552.2462 (Tel)

College Catalog Information