Sustainable River City: Space and Place in the Climate Crisis

Earth, our planet and home, is a finite sphere, but we humans continue to put more and more pressure on our limited space.  Students in this Endeavor community will learn geographic tools and concepts to develop a sustainable worldview and become an agent of positive change for a sustainable future in an interconnected and changing world. Explorations of our own River City by foot and paddle will empower students to consider how people and the environment can co-exist sustainably in river cities far and near.

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  • Coursework Overview

    The coursework for this Endeavor community involves taking a one-unit course in the fall semester and a one-unit course in the spring semester, both taught by Dr. Salisbury.

    Fall 2023 Semester

    Spring 2024 Semester

    GEOG 210/GS 210: Planet Earth: People and Place    (1 unit)

    SUST 101: Introduction to Sustainability (1 unit)

    GEOG 210/GS 210 satisfies a general education requirement for social analysis (FSS), a required course for the Geography, Environment, & Sustainability major, one of two introductory options for the Global Studies major.

    SUST 101 is a required course for students minoring in Sustainability, and is a required course for the Geography, Environment, & Sustainability major

  • Specific Course Information

    GEOG 210/GS 210: Planet Earth: People and Place

    This course, like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, will engage global development from a sustainability perspective. To this end, we will learn geographic tools and concepts to work toward a sustainable future. Place, space, scale, landscape, connectivity, distance, borders, and human-environment interaction are just a few fundamental aspects of human geography we will use to learn about our world. Never before have we had access to so much information and so many tools to better understand our diverse and changing world. Despite this, we struggle to understand other cultures and environments, not to mention our own. Here we will learn geographic concepts to better grasp our relationship with the world and each other.

    SUST 101: Introduction to Sustainability

    This course covers what may be the most important (and most nebulous) topic in today’s world: sustainability. Throughout the semester we will pursue both research in and critical analysis of sustainability. We will examine and critically analyze the geographic, environmental, social, cultural, and economic dimensions of sustainability. We will accomplish this by analyzing the connections embedded within the dimensions of sustainable development. The emphasis in this class will be on effective communication (speaking, writing, visuals), critical thinking, and creativity. Moreover, this course will allow students to explore real-world applicability of these concepts, case studies addressing relationships and contradictions between human desires for material well-being, environmental protection, and maintenance of cultural and/or social traditions.

    SUST 101: Learning Objectives:

    • Sustainable Worldview: Develop a sustainable worldview by clarifying how your values, knowledge, dispositions, and skills converge to form your worldview while you question and evolve a deeper understanding and experience with yourself, others, and the world around you
    • Systems Thinking: Develop an understanding of systems thinking by being able to identify and make connections between different systems (e.g., ecological, social, economic, infrastructure, governmental)
    • Justice: Develop an understanding of justice (environmental, social, generational, spatial, and inter-species) and understand the linkages between environmental quality, power, and social justice, and the importance of promoting dialogue, increased understanding, and appropriate action
    • Sustainability Knowledge: Grasp the principal definitions of, debates around, and challenges to sustainability
    • Awareness and Integration: Connect your knowledge with that of others in terms of interdisciplinarity, multi-scalar connections, and cross-cultural understanding to solve complex problems in different regions around the world
    • Agents of Change: Demonstrate the ability to act for positive change by being engaged citizens and producing applied research in class with potential real-world impact

    Shared Research Endeavor (Across both Classes):

    Geographers increasingly analyze the sustainability of human-environment interactions. Within a globalizing and urbanizing world, the relationship of cities and their environment has never been more complex. One urban sustainability theme that continues to grow in importance is fresh water. Most major cities sit next to running fresh water. The city of Richmond is no exception and provides an opportunity to analyze the relationship of a city and a river in the field. Richmond River City Field Trips will give geography students the opportunity to visualize the river city interface and give context to their own research project of a river city abroad. The Sustainable River City Research Project will analyze the link of cultural and natural landscapes across time, space, place, and scale. Student exploration of the geographic dimensions of a chosen river city will provide insight into how that city can become more sustainable even as they reflect on their own field experiences in Richmond. After two field trips to Richmond’s interface with the James, including kayaking to campus from the river, each student will select an international river city, most cities are situated near/on rivers, and research the geographic relationship between that city and the river. The student will analyze this relationship from a variety of geographic perspectives: cultural geography, economic geography, political geography, environmental geography, and more. They will incorporate spatial analysis to create a sustainable River City Story Map replete with maps, images, video, and text that will inspire them and their fellow students to reflect on urban planning, human geography, and sustainability in cities far and near.

  • Faculty Information

    Dr. David Salisbury
    Dr. David Salisbury is Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment, Geography Advisor, Chair, Department of Geography and the Environment, Environmental Studies Advisor, Global Studies Concentration Advisor, Development and Change.  Learn more about him on page 10 of the Viewbook PDF

  • Roadmap Short Course Information

    As part of the Endeavor program, you will participate in the popular Roadmap to Success pre-orientation program, where you will take a short course led by Dr. Salisbury.

    Short Course Description:  Exploring the Cultural Landscape

    Humans alter the landscapes around them just as the landscape influences human culture.  In this short course, students will use a participatory mapping exercise to discuss the cultural landscapes of their hometowns.  Students will take a field trip to one of Richmond’s immigrant neighborhoods to read the cultural landscape and reflect on difference, resiliency, and place-making in a globalized world.