Rollins College

Sustainability Academic Programs

Delving Deeper Into the Green

Rollins students participate in a sustainable development course in Costa Rica.Sustainable development courses are as common now on college campuses as recycling bins, but Rollins College was at the vanguard more than 20 years ago, offering some of the first sustainable development classes in the country.

Sustainable development—an academic intersection of environmental studies and international business—has been taught at Rollins since 1986 and the campus was the first to develop a sustainable development program in Costa Rica. “Up until then, no one had organized a program that would bring environmental studies and international business students together,” said Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Barry Allen. “It works because it brings those different viewpoints together and the required field work also allows students to see these issues in practice.”

Although sustainable development courses center on business and environmental studies, they encompass multiple disciplines on campus: political science, languages, Latin American and Caribbean studies, anthropology, literature, economics, geography. For instance, the sustainable development and the environment minor examines the concept of sustainability in the context of the global economy, with firsthand experience gained during a Costa Rican field study where students learn about the convergence of agriculture, tourism, and ecology and what that means for Costa Rica’s sustainable future. Other students might tour Dominica’s farmlands or Peru’s ecotourism industry, all with an eye on sustainability. Continue reading this article, check out our academic programs, or scroll down for more features on environmental studies and sustainable development courses at Rollins.

Environmental Studies and Civic Urbanism

The interdisciplinary Environmental Studies major examines natural and cultural systems from many viewpoints -- scientific, economic, ethical, historical, political, and sociological. Students study the uses and protection of resources essential for economic development and public well-being.

The curriculum provides a foundation of knowledge that enables students to analyze and recommend actions on environmental issues, problems, and opportunities. It also offers preparation for an environmental career; broad background in several related areas of study or concentration in a particular discipline; and a basis for graduate study.

Since Florida has been at the forefront of environmental issues in recent years and has pioneered solutions, environmental studies majors at Rollins have a distinctive advantage. Courses involve students in real; environmental problems through field experiences and guest lectures.

Course Offering Include:

  • The biosphere with Lab
  • Environmental Planning
  • Environmental Literature
  • National Parks and Protected Areas
  • Conservation of Biodiversity

Sustainable Development

Rollins College has developed a model for undergraduate education, establishing a program linking the environmental studies and international business majors. This interdisciplinary minor in Sustainable Development and Transnational Corporations offers students the opportunity to understand and experience firsthand the economic context of environmental issues in the developing world. The primary strength of the program is in its experiential approach, linking each course to a study-abroad practicum in Latin America.

Course Offerings Include:

  • Political Economy of Environmental Issues
  • Sustainable Development
  • Environment and Development in Central America
  • Sustainable Development in the Amazon Basin

Class Projects

Sustainability Scholars

Master of Planning in Civic Urbanism

Design Smarter, More Sustainable Communities

Communities around the country are striving to make life better for their citizens through well designed public spaces, energy efficient infrastructures, and convenient public transportation.

The new Master of Planning Civic Urbanism will provide the skills needed to help these cities and towns shape their futures. The program combines classroom work, professional expertise, studio projects, and internships to prepare you for a career in either private practice or government. Grounded in the liberal arts, the program will emphasize integrated knowledge rather than the technical aspects of the field of urban planning.

Learning Laboratory

The rapidly growing Central Florida region provides numerous opportunities for student involvement in local and regional development projects, while the beautiful Rollins campus and the city of Winter Park serve as models of the type of walkable communities students will learn to design.

Hands-On Environmentalism

Ron Presswood ’85 was working as an engineer with the City of Satellite Beach in Brevard County, Florida in 2004 when a series of hurricanes devastated the area’s beaches and dunes. Fortunately, he had stayed in close touch with his Rollins faculty adviser, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies Joseph Siry. More…

New Urbanism and the Death of Sprawl

For half a century, if the American dream had an address, it would have looked like this: Big house on a big lot with big cars in a big garage.

The mortgage on that dream address appears to have come due. Because of the economic and environmental realities of our time, Americans have begun to question how and where they live. Many people believe the answer is a movement called New Urbanism, a systematic approach to city planning intended to do away with sprawl and urban blight. The state of Florida is at the forefront of that movement, and Rollins Professor of Environmental Studies Bruce Stephenson is one of its most well-known proponents. More…

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Did you know? 

RFK Jr at Mowbray

The average college student produces 640 pounds of solid waste each year, including 500 disposable cups and 320 pounds of paper. (From the Institute for Sustainable Solutions)

A ton of paper made from 100% wastepaper, instead of virgin fiber, saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water and 60 pounds of air-polluting effluents, 4100kwh of energy, three cubic yards of landfill space and taxpayer dollars which would otherwise be used for waste-disposal costs. (From the Institute for Sustainable Solutions)

The world consumes more than one million plastic bags every minute. It takes 60 million barrels of oil to produce these bags every year, and it can take nearly 1,000 years for each bag to break down in a landfill. (From Sierra Club)

Electric ovens use twice as much energy as small, energy-efficient appliances such as microwave ovens, toaster ovens, and Crock-Pots. (From Sierra Club)

Many coffee/cocoa farmers are trapped in poverty and unwillingly forced to rely on child labor to meet the demands of large corporations. Pickers are mistreated and even trafficked into slavery. The purchase of only organic Fair Trade certified coffee, chocolate, and teas ensures a fair, living wage for the growers/pickers and more sustainable farming practices for the environment. (From


Dr. Lines with students