Undergraduate Minors

The School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in public and urban affairs, as well as majors and minors.

Two undergraduate majors are available:
Major in Smart and Sustainable Cities (SSC)
Major in Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP)

Four undergraduate minors are available:
Minor in Public and Urban Affairs (PUA)
Minor in Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP)
Minor in Real Estate (RE)
Minor in Watershed Management (WM)

Degree Requirements

The graduation requirements in effect at the time of graduation apply. When choosing the degree requirements information, always choose the year of your expected date of graduation. Requirements for graduation are referred to via university publications as “Checksheets”. The number of credit hours required for degree completion varies among curricula. Students must satisfactorily complete all requirements and university obligations for degree completion.

The university reserves the right to modify requirements in a degree program. However, the university will not alter degree requirements less than two years from the expected graduation year unless there is a transition plan for students already in the degree program.

Please visit the University Registrar website at http://registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/index1.html for degree requirements.

Satisfactory Progress

University policy requires that students who are making satisfactory progress toward a degree meet minimum criteria toward the General Education (Curriculum for Liberal Education) (see “Academics“) and toward the degree in Urban Affairs and Planning.

Satisfactory progress requirements toward the B.A. in Public and Urban Affairs and B.S. in Environmental Policy and Planning can be found on the major checksheet by visiting the University Registrar website at http://registrar.vt.edu/graduation-multi-brief/index1.html.

Undergraduate Minor in Environmental Policy and Planning (EPP)
A minor in Environmental Policy and Planning requires the completion of 20-22 credit hours. Please visit the checksheets website to find an approved list of courses for your year of graduation.

*View the current checklist on the university site to confirm

Courses are to be selected from the following groups:
Environmental Values, History and/or Ethics (3hrs). Select one from the following:
Issues in applied environmental ethics. Contributions of diverse religious and philosophical traditions to contemporary perspectives on the human-nature relationship. Examination of environmental policies from utilitarian economic, deep ecology, and ecofeminist perspectives. Junior, senior or graduate standing required. (3H,3C)
Explores interactions between Americans and the environment from the time of European contact to the recent past. Traces the sometimes unexpected ways in which nature has shaped history, humans have altered the natural world, environmental attitudes have evolved, and environmental inequalities have arisen. (3H,3C)
Examine and interpret physical changes in the rural and urban landscapes of the United States as they reflect cultural values; technologic innovations; immigration patterns; the roles of diverse professions over time; changing views of use, conversation and preservation of national resources; and expectations for places of live, work and play using an iterative writing process and reflective course discussions.
Introduces students to the evolving relationship between nature and American society; emphasizing the ethics and values which underlie forest, park, and wildlife management. Students are introduced to contemporary land use issues and learn to articulate, defend, and critique the ethical positions surrounding these issues (i.e., wilderness, sustainability, biodiversity, hunting, old growth, suburban sprawl, environmental activism). (3H,3C)
Core Evironmental Science, Policy and Planning (6hrs). Select two (2) courses as listed:
Introduction to the interdisciplinary principles of environmental policy, planning, economics, and ethics to address pollution abatement, resources conservation, habitat protection, and environmental restoration. The course will focus on practical means of identifying environmental problems and creatively solving them. (3H,3C)
Interrelationships between human activities and the environment; provides national and global perspective; emphasis is on the physical, chemical, and biological principles and processes that are essential to an understanding of human-environment interactions; the role of energy in human and natural systems; environmental legislation and human behavior. Pre: BIOL 1105 or CHEM 1035. (3H,3C)
General Environmental Policy and Planning (9 hrs). Select three (3) courses from the following:
Critical examination of major global environmental problems (e.g., global warming, atmospheric ozone depletion, acid rain, tropical deforestation, toxic waste) with emphasis on their social, economic, political, ethical, and policy implications and solutions. Completion of Area 4 of University Core required. (3H,3C)
Issues, concepts, and techniques of citizen participation in community development. Institutional frameworks and their historical precedents. Exercises developing group communications skills, public meeting facilitation, and design of community involvement programs. Pre: Senior standing required. (3H,3C)
This course examines the legal principles and policy debates involved in the regulation and protection of critical environmental resources. Specific topics vary but will likely include wetlands law and policy, endangered species habitat, open space, forestland and farmland protection, coastal zone management, and floodplain regulation and policy. (3H,3C)
Environmental factors involved in land use planning and development, including topography, soils, geologic hazards, flooding and stormwater management, ecological features, and visual quality. Techniques used in conducting environmental land inventories and land suitability analyses. Policies and programs to protect environmental quality in land use planning and development. Pre: Junior standing. (3H,3C)
Planning and policy aspects of managing residuals and environmental contaminants and their effects on human health and environmental quality. Technical and economic factors involved in management of water quality, air quality, solid and hazardous wastes, toxic substances, and noise. Implementation of pollution control legislation, policies, and programs at federal, state, and local levels. (3H,3C)
Environmental Policy and Planning Applications (2-4 hrs). Select one (1) course from the following:
Interdisciplinary, experiential problem solving studio focusing on specific environmental problems. Working in groups, students interact with local officials, consultants, developers, environmental groups to explore the processes of environmental management, regulation and mitigation, applying techniques and skills frequently used by environmental planners and policy-makers. Senior status required and 9 credit hours, 3000-level or above, in the Environmental Policy and Planning major or minor; Pre: 3354, 3224. (2H,5L,4C)
Critical examination of the social, political, economic, legal, scientific, and technological contexts underlying processes of environmental change, problems, and solutions, as seen from various conceptual and disciplinary perspectives. Senior status required and 9 credit hours, 3000-level or above, in the Environmental Policy and Planning major or minor. Pre: 3354, 3224. (2H,2C)
UAP Faculty
SPIA Contacts

Ralph Hall, Undergraduate Program Director
201 Architecture Annex
540-231-7332 | rphall@vt.edu

Chris LaPlante, Undergraduate Advisor
209 Architecture Annex
(540) 231-3831 | chrisl@vt.edu

Myriam Lechuga, Graduate Student Coordinator
(703) 706-8111 | mlechuga@vt.edu

SPIA Locations

Washington D.C.
1021 Prince Street | Alexandria, VA 22314

Contact SPIA

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