Asee peer logo

A Curriculum in Urban Agriculture and Sustainability, and Lessons Learned

Download Paper |


2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Biological and Agricultural Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lisa Deane Morano University of Houston, Downtown

visit author page

Lisa Morano is a Professor of Biology and Microbiology at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). She is also the Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture and Sustainability (CUAS) at UHD. Her research has focused on the bacteria found inside plants including plant pathogens and non-pathogenic inhabitants called endophytes. Her research has also included multiple USDA-NIFA funded programs that have led to the creation of new curriculum and experiential learning opportunities through the CUAS. She teaches multiple courses in environmental biology and sustainability and she organizes an experiential learning program where students work in teams to build solar-powered technology that addresses a need in urban agriculture.

visit author page


Vassilios Tzouanas University of Houston, Downtown

visit author page

Vassilios Tzouanas is an Associate Professor and Chairman of the Computer Science and Engineering Technology department at the University of Houston – Downtown, in Houston, Texas. He received all his degrees in chemical engineering and obtained his Ph.D. from Lehigh University. He has worked in the industry for 19 years where he held technical and management positions with major operating companies as well as process control technology development companies. Since 2010, he has been with UHD. Dr. Tzouanas' research interests include process modeling, simulation and design, process control, and renewable energy systems. Dr. Tzouanas is an ABET Program Evaluator (PEV) for Engineering and Engineering Technology programs. He is also member of AIChE and ASEE, and currently serves as ETD Director.

visit author page

Download Paper |


A Curriculum in Urban Agriculture and Sustainability and Lessons Learned


Large cities, like Houston, are growing fast and they face numerous environmental and food distribution problems. These problems require collaborative and multi-disciplinary approaches to solve. Furthermore, many city residents are interested in more locally grown food, better water quality and more sustainable city practices. However, most residents (and many college graduates) do not have access to the information which would allow them to help solve complex issues needed to engage in sustainable practices and urban agriculture. This paper describes the curriculum and an experiential learning program developed within the Center for Urban Agriculture and Sustainability (CUAS) at the University of XXX. All XXX undergraduates have access to four new courses that can be taken as individual electives or collectively (with a couple of additional XXX courses) for a minor in Sustainability. Unlike many universities where sustainability is only in environmental engineering or biology, this minor is open to every students. Undergraduates interested in sustainability can also apply for Experiential Learning in CUAS (EL CUAS). Through EL CUAS, 8 to 10 undergraduates per year work collaboratively in a yearlong program where they complete courses, participate in professional development and carry out a project with a sustainability or urban agricultural focus. Students selected for the experiential learning (both science and non-science majors) gain valuable project management skills, communication skills and the ability to scientifically analyze project data. The benefits of this program are more educated citizens with the skills to tackle the complex food and environmental issues facing cities. Our goal is for this curriculum to eventually be expanded so that it may be offered to members of the Houston community as a certificate in Sustainability.

This paper presents the new curriculum and minor in sustainability, discusses experiential learning projects developed by undergraduate students and summarizes learning experiences and skills developed by students.

Morano, L. D., & Tzouanas, V. (2020, June), A Curriculum in Urban Agriculture and Sustainability, and Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--33994

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2020 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015