Sustainable Societies  James River Basin
Sustainable Societies James River Basin explores the most critical social, economic and environmental sustainability challenges in the region and examines strategies to address these challenges and the opportunities such challenges create. The issues are viewed in global context using EFI’s internationally peer-reviewed methodology. Students develop the ability to apply their new knowledge to better serve their careers and their communities. Regardless of your degree track, during the Sustainable Societies-James River BasinTM (SS-JRB) course you will learn to see your future and the region in which you live, differently. This course will expose you to many different opportunities to use your interests, talents, and abilities, as well as what you are learning in your academic field of study, to do something that interests you and can make a real, positive difference in your community. It may even lead to a rewarding career. Sustainable Societies James River Basin uses a learner-centered approach and a combination of face-to-face and online delivery.
The course consists of fifteen classes using a combination of face-to face classroom sessions and online resources. Highlights: 1. Pre-course preparatory readings and personal assessment. 2. Four-step process which includes seven thematic blocks composed of twenty-five issue modules. 3. Experiential learning including short segment instructor lectures, guest speakers, group activities, individual assignments, on-line learning resources and daily post-class assignments. 4. A final personal project that demonstrates a student’s understanding of a specific sustainability challenge and his or her strategy to address it. 5. Individual journals posted on Blackboard that document each student’s learning experience. 6. Online resources that support inside classroom group work and outside-of-classroom research which are available to the student for a full year. 7. Approximately one hour of work outside of class for each hour in class. This course is divided in the following thematic blocks: Human Societies: How many are we and what are our most basic needs — Population, Agriculture and Human Settlements. Lifestyle Patterns: Beyond basic needs, choices and consequences— Energy, Transportation, Climate, Consumption, and Waste. Ecosystem Services and our relationship to the bio-physical world — Land, Forests, Mountains, Water, Oceans and seas, and Biodiversity. Indicators of human well‐being and quality of life — Health, Education and Poverty. Innovative Technologies and the potential for technological transformation — Biotechnology and Environmentally‐sound Technologies. The Economic Drivers that support our priorities — Finance and Trade. Interest Groups: Why we are where we are — Culture, Justice and Peace, Public. Awareness and Decision‐making.
This course can be developed as a semester-long course or a compressed summer course with one or two classes per week. This is a sample sequence of lessons: Class 1 – Introduction to the class and concepts of sustainability. Class 2 – Human Societies: Population, Agriculture and Human Settlements. Class 3 – Lifestyle Patterns: Energy, Transportation and Climate. Class 4 – Lifestyle Patterns: Consumption, and Waste. Class 5 – The Global Sustainability Challenge. Class 6 – Ecosystem Services: Land, Forests and Mountains. Class 7 – Ecosystem Services: Water, Oceans and Seas, and Biodiversity. Class 8 – Indicators of Human Well‐being: Health, Education and Poverty. Class 9 – Innovative Technologies: Biotechnology and Environmentally‐sound technologies. Class 10 – The Economic Drivers: Finance and Trade. Class 11 – Interest Groups: Culture, Justice and Peace Class 12 – International Policies, Protocols and Opportunities. Class 13: Interest Groups: Public Awareness and Decision‐making. Class 14: Oral Presentations.
The James River in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the US is 348 miles (560 km) long and drains a watershed of 10,432 square miles (27,020 km2) with a population of 2.8 million people. The James begins in the Appalachian Mountains and flows into the Chesapeake Bay. From there, its waters enter the Atlantic Ocean. Tidal waters extend west from the Bay to Richmond, the capital of Virginia. The James River Basin is an ideal geographic region to study American social, economic and environmental sustainability issues because it transects the full width of the state from sparsely populated mountain areas in the west, through agricultural lands in the center to urban areas and an extensive tidewater area to the east. Natural and cultural  resources are diverse, cultural groups are becoming increasingly more varied, commercial operations range from intrastate to international, and political traditions reach far back before the founding of the United States.