LA 12 | Environmental Science for Sustainable Development

Course Description

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of environmental science as a basis for sustainable development, planning, and design.  We get students outside to maximize interactive, hands-on learning, taking advantage of the Berkeley campus and region as an outdoor laboratory, to gain hands-on field experience with local environmental issues such as stream hydrology and ecology, air pollution, biogeochemical cycling, and strategies for sustainable design, including urban agriculture and energy efficiency in buildings.

>> LA12 Course Description 2019

>> LA12 Syllabus 2019 Draft


LA12 meets the biological science breadth requirement.

Lectures: Tues & Thurs 1230-2pm Rm 112 Wurster

Lab sections: attend one 2-h section (select from sections Tues, Wed, Thu, Friday)

Instructor: Matt Kondolf

Lab Sections


Macroinvertebrates lab

This lab is conducted at Strawberry Creek. The goal is to learn to sample macroinvertebrates and to learn how it can be used as a direct measure of water quality  Students collect macroinvertebrates and record them. Then, students correlate those filed measurements with the River Continuum Concept at Strawberry Creek.


Urban forestry Lab

In this lab students familiarize with data collection and tools used by urban foresters to assess the characteristics of trees in urban areas and the elements of the microclimate. Students measure the characteristics (tree height, canopy cover, etc) of the different locations on the Berkeley Campus. Elements of the microclimate (temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, etc.) will also be measured in the tree groves and over a lawn area to serve as a control. Once students have taken the various measurements, they use the data to calculate solar heating and determine if the microclimates within the tree grove and the adjacent open area are within the human comfort zone using the Olyagay Bioclimatic Chart.


Hydrogen car demonstration.

Hydrogen fuel cell car demonstration.

Strawberry Creek Lab

In 1857 University of California moved to its current campus, on land adjoining Strawberry Creek. Strewberry Creek and its watershed have a rich history on changes due development, then followed by environmental management, and creek restoration efforts. In a walk trough the creek the creek we will learn restoration fluvial characteristics and ecological restoration features. Students will conduct channel morphology measurements, such as width, depth, and river flow velocity, to estimate river flow discharge.

Urban Garden Lab

Students learn about urban agriculture at Berkeley’s student organic garden and the history of the garden as well as its current management. Students learn about compost and some of the critical issues facing this urban garden. We will also perform a series of tests of the soil structure and infiltration rate.

Sustainable Building Tour

UC Berkeley office of sustainability and energy has initiated a number of strategies as part of a campus-wide sustainability aspiration. The Lower Sproul Plaza redevelopment project showcases the use of buildings and infrastructure to achieve sustainability on campus. The Lower Sproul redevelopment project was truly cross-disciplinary effort. Many different campus offices and organizations have provided input and help throughout the process. In this lab, we will be guide through buildings that have incorporated sustainability features.