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Urban Environmental Studies

BSC Programs and Practices

Program #1
Urban Environmental Studies Program

The purpose of the UES program is to provide students with a solid interdisciplinary background in natural and social sciences and humanities from which to explore and apply the concept of urban sustainability. With faculty from across campus, the program links classroom learning to life and field practices through faculty-student research, engaged learning, and internships.  Field trips in classes such as Introduction to UES andInterns doing water testing Environmental Earth Sciences take students to wastewater treatment plants, stream restoration sites, and local urban parks - Railroad Park, Ruffner Nature Center and Red Mountain Park.  Students study issues such as global climate change and urban planning through the lens of environmental, social and economic sustainability to become highly informed and analytic citizens and leaders.

Program #2
Urban Environmental Studies Internships

“The Urban Environmental Studies program and the faculty have been immensely important in preparing me for life after graduation. The faculty has gone out of their way to help me get internship experiences in the summer and during the school year.” Patrick, 2012 UES graduate.  Birmingham-Southern College began its Urban Environmental Studies (UES) internship program in 2007. Students selected as UES interns serve with local or national organizations focusing on environmental education, environmental monitoring, restoration projects, land acquisition and preservation, and environmental policy. The internships afford students the opportunity to learn about conservation efforts, sustainable growth, applications of natural and social sciences in environmental work, and public and private funding for environmental programs. Additionally, students are encouraged to think broadly about how their internship relates to their liberal arts education and complements their academic pursuits and interests.

TrekBirmingham WebsiteProgram #3

Short: The Urban Environmental Studies program launched the TrekBirmingham website, an educational and recreational resource for greater Birmingham. Trek Birmingham pinpoints and describes destinations in the city where visitors can experience and learn about the city’s natural environment.

The website offers authoritative information about each destination’s ecology, geology, biodiversity and watersheds and links them together to provide new ways to explore.The overarching goal is to teach on-line and real-world visitors how Birmingham and its citizens interact with their environment. On the TrekBirmingham site, there are 6 locations that are linked by ‘treks’ with a common theme including the Iron Age, Nature Center, and Urban Wilderness. For example the Nature Center Trek connects the four outdoor learning experiences in Jefferson County – Ruffner Nature Center, Oak Mountain State Park, Vulcan Park and Museum and Southern Environmental Center.

#1 Practice:
Department of Administration Green Initiatives

  • Print Shop
  • Facilities and Events
  • Operations
  • Campus Police
  • Book Store
  • Landscaping
  • Human Resources

Greenest College

  • BSC was named one of the 286 "Greenest Colleges" by The Princeton Review.  According to the review, BSC is one of the nation's 286 "Greenest Colleges." The New York-based education services company, in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council, features the college in its new (2010) "Guide to 286 Green Colleges." (click here for more)
  • a newly expanded recycling program; upgrading of various physical plant features that reduce energy and water usage (e.g., variable frequency drives on HVACs); campus police use of hybrid vehicles and mountain bikes; a natural gas-powered maintenance truck; increased use of drought-hardy perennials and native plants in landscaping; and significant reductions in the use of office paper.

#2 Practice:
Green Initiatives from General Officers

  • Enrollment management
  • Finance
  • Presidents office
  • Communications
  • Information Technology
  • Residence life

#3 Practice:
Student Involvement

Campus Foot Print 

In a class project, UES classmates will address the issue of making our urban campus more environmentally sustainable.  Along the way, they will gain a better understanding of the constraints and challenges of dealing with urban environmental problems.

Class Topics 2011

  • Aluminum Recycling on Fraternity Row
  • Reducing the Campus Footprint with White Roofs
  • Paper Recycling at BSC
  • Solar Paneled Golf Carts – Striving for a Greener Campus
  • No Idling Campaign
  • Dual-Flush Toilets
  • LED Lighting for Hilltop Apartments

Return to the Sustainability Tour.