Virginia Tech® home

Ecological Cities Minor

In little more than a decade, global urban land area is expected to triple, creating a host of complex sustainability challenges. The way we design, create, and manage cities and other urbanized areas will have a significant impact on our future quality of life and the global environment. Professionals are now faced with a new and complex challenge: integrating the natural world into the built environment for the benefit of society.

Students completing the Ecological Cities Minor will be better prepared to critically analyze sustainable design and practice in cities and its scientific and cultural underpinnings.

Why do it?

Students will gain unique experiences working with classmates from other disciplines on common problems, giving them a considerable advantage in their future careers.

The minor will be at the leading edge in training professionals to work in collaborative, interdisciplinary integrated design teams. Such collaborative problem-solving is increasingly a feature of professional life for those in careers that shape the urban environment and are particularly in demand where ecological systems are interwoven with urban systems to achieve specific outcomes.


The 18-credit hour minor in Ecological Sciences includes 9 hours of required Pathways courses and 9 hours of elective courses (some of which are Pathways General Education courses) selected from a list.

LAR 1254: Environment and Natural Systems
HORT/FREC: 2134 Plants & Greenspaces in Urban Communities
FREC/BSE/HORT/LAR/SPIA 4554: Creating the Ecological City (senior standing required)

Students select 9 credit hours of elective courses, one from each category: ecology and related sciences, humanities and social sciences, and design and practice. For a complete list of elective courses, consult the Registrar checksheet (follow this link, click on 'checksheets', scroll down to Minors, and find the minor checksheet you're interested in).

Who is it for?

Although the minor is appropriate for students from across the university, the minor targets students preparing for careers that shape the outdoor urban environment, as well as those who would like a synthesized exploration of urban systems that brings together STEM disciplines, the humanities and social sciences, and design.

In particular, students studying biological systems engineering, building construction, civil engineering, environmental resource management, environmental science, horticulture, landscape architecture, sustainable biomaterials, urban forestry, or urban affairs and planning would be well-served by this minor.

Photo Gallery

This minor is hosted by the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in collaboration with numerous departments across Virginia Tech.

Pathways Concepts

Core Concepts*
1a - Advanced/Applied Discourse
2 - Critical Thinking in the Humanities
3 - Reasoning in the Social Sciences
4 - Reasoning in the Natural Sciences
5f - Foundational Quantitative and Computational Thinking
5a - Advanced/Applied Quantitative and Computational Thinking
6ad - Critique and Practice in Design and the Arts
7 - Critical Analysis of Identity and Equity in the United States
*Students are guaranteed to meet at least three of the core concepts listed

Integrative Concepts
Ethical Reasoning
Intercultural and Global Awareness