Academics and Research

Educating for Sustainable Development 


Undergraduate Course Catalog   

Undergraduate Sustainability Focused/Related Course Catalog   

Our world needs a new kind of professional.

At UTRGV, that’s what our bilingual, bicultural, and biliterate learning experience delivers.

We are driven by visionary thinking, the most modern technology, internationally acclaimed faculty, and offerings necessary for students to achieve career success and make a difference in the Valley, the Americas, and the world.

Grad catalog

Graduate Sustainability Focused/Related Course Catalog

Courses listed in the catalogs are not necessarily offered every semester or by the same faculty.


The Strategic Planning Steering Committee worked with the Office of the Provost to fund 10 Transforming Our World Strategic Plan proposals for the 2017-2018 academic year that were strongly linked with UTRGV's strategic plan and aligned with UTRGV's Vision, Mission, Values, Core Priorities, and Other Key Areas of Focus, including Sustainability.    

Learn more about the initiatives that were funded, and the U.N. SDG that each proposal works toward.




Each UTRGV College is educating for sustainable development.

Through service learning by using the campus as a living lab, UTRGV faculty empower students to contribute to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Read highlights from each college below!


  • College of Health Affairs


    College of Health Affairs

    “Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages is important to building prosperous societies; healthy people are the foundation for healthy economies.”  

    -U.N. SG 3: Good Health and Well-being

    Goal 3 Goal 4  2017: The UTRGV Master of Physician Assistant Studies Program (MPAS) has approved to expand the class size to 65 effective August 2017, 80 effective August 2018 and 100 effective August 2019. Educating these professionals is important for improving the health and well-being of our under-served region.
    Goal 3 Goal 4  UTRGV’s nursing programs received full accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation means that the nursing programs meet or exceed standards accepted by nursing education programs throughout the country.
    Goal 4 The Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program is a comprehensive career development program that supports the training of undergraduates on UTRGV’s campuses in conducting research, with the overall goal of preparing and placing them in research intensive biomedical / behavioral Ph.D. programs across the country.
    Goal 3 Goal 4 Goal 4 The University of Texas System Board of Regents has approved the leasing of a building located at 2300 E. Dove Ave by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. The facility will expand UTRGV’s footprint in the Valley and create ever-expanding opportunities for research that will positively affect healthcare, education and economic development in the region. 
    Goal 4 Goal 4
    The UTRGV Physician Assistant (PA) program has twice been recognized by Apple as an Apple Distinguished Program for the numerous ways faculty members use iPads, include designing online courses and supplementing live courses, grading video assessments, communicating asynchronously with students and other faculty, and projecting presentations in class through Apple TV-equipped classrooms.
  • College of Education & P-16 Integration


    College of Education and P-16 Integration

    “Education is the key that will allow many other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved. When people are able to get quality education they can break from the cycle of poverty. Education therefore helps to reduce inequalities and to reach gender equality. It also empowers people everywhere to live more healthy and sustainable lives. Education is also crucial to fostering tolerance between people and contributes to more peaceful societies.” 

    -U.N. SG 4:  Ensure inclusive and quality lifelong education for all

    Goal 4 Goal 10 A partnership between UTRGV’s College of Education and P-16 Integration and the Harlingen CISD was selected via competitive process to attend the national Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, D.C.. The theme of the proposal was improving teacher preparation field experience for bilingual teachers.
    Goal 4 Goal 5 Goal 10 The “Girls Adventuring in Math, Engineering and Science” (GAMES) camp, is a branch of P-16 Outreach’s Mother and Daughter Program (MDP), which focuses on improving mother/daughter relationships while supporting the completion of high school and pursuing higher education in STEM. The summer camp gives students the opportunity to explore these fields through demonstrations, classroom presentations, hands-on activities, and contact with STEM professionals.
    Goal 10 Goal 11 Goal 17 The second annual three-day Critical Issues Leadership Conference brought together administrators from local school districts across the Valley along with UTRGV faculty and administrators to discuss best practices in educating an ever-growing and diverse group of students, including English-language learners and students from low-income households.

    Goal 4 


    Dr. Veronica Estrada, UTRGV professor in the College of Education and P-16 Education, accepted the first McGraw Hill Distinguished Scholar Award at the national inaugural Conference on Academic Research in Education (CARE). An ad hoc committee of scholars chose Estrada for the honor based on her research conference presentations, journal publications and other scholarly contributions to her field. 

    Goal 4 Goal 4 Goal 11

    More than 70 students from UTRGV’s College of Education and P-16 Integration have experienced a real-life classroom through a virtual reality environment. The software offers students and faculty a unique mixed virtual reality environment, where they can interact in real-time with student and parent avatars in scenarios ranging from behavior management in the classroom, the teacher introducing new content, or a parent-teacher conference.


  • College of Engineering & Computer Science


    College of Engineering and Computer Science

    “Technological progress is the foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency. Without technology and innovation, industrialization will not happen, and without industrialization, development will not happen. Investments in infrastructure – transport, irrigation, energy and information and communication technology – are crucial to achieving sustainable development and empowering communities in many countries.” 

    -U.N. SG 9:  Build resilient infrastructure,  promote sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation

    Goal 4 Goal 5 Goal 11 A top researcher in the field of nanotechnology, and the first female to receive a mechanical engineering degree from Rice University, Dr. Karen Lozano inspires young women in this field. At HESTEC's Latina Day, Lozano said hard work and self-responsibility was key to becoming the inventor of a more efficient way to produce nanofibers that was turned into a successful company.
    Goal 4 Goal 11 Goal 17 The College of Engineering and Computer Science at UTRGV unveiled an ambitious plan which includes building relationships with area industries that will foster research and educational opportunities for students, creating an “ecosystem” that attracts and develops new industries, and expanding its facilities and its academic programs.
    Goal 10 Goal 11 Goal 17 As South Texas has become a destination for investors interested in renewable energy, research at UTRGV prepares students for the field. Students study UTRGV's solar panels, which produce a small percentage of the university's energy.

    Goal 4 Goal 4 Goal 17


    UTRGV will house the South Texas Industrial Assessment Center (STIAC), the only Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) in the UT System. The center will conduct energy assessments, at no cost, to local small- and medium-size enterprises identifying opportunities to improve productivity, reduce waste and save energy. This program is also designed to benefit graduate and undergraduate students with knowledge and skills in the energy field. The team for this project is made up of COEC professors and colleagues.

    Goal 10 Goal 4 Goal 4 Goal 11

    Veronica Gonzales, UTRGV vice president for Governmental and Community Relations, and Velinda Reyes, assistant vice president for Community Programs and Operations, went to Washington, D.C., to participate in a STEM-centered roundtable discussion that is part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper +STEM Initiative. Gonzales and Reyes not only discussed HESTEC, but also shared the latest developments on the long-awaited UTRGV School of Medicine, among other STEM programs offered at the university. 
  • College of Fine Arts


    College of Fine Arts

    “Peaceful, just and inclusive societies are necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To achieve peace, justice and inclusion, it is important that governments, civil society and communities work together to implement lasting solutions to reduce violence, deliver justice, combat corruption and ensure inclusive participation at all times. Freedom to express views, in private and in public, must be guaranteed...” 

    -U.N. SG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions 

    Goal 4 Goal 5 Goal 10 Amalia Ortiz, Albuquerque’s poet laureate, and Jessica Helen Lopez, UTRGV student, performed their show titled “Más Palabras: Slam Poetry by the City Poet Laureate of Burque,” to the UTRGV community as part of UTRGV’s observance of Hispanic Heritage Month.  “I’d like students to feel a sense of pride in their Latino heritage.” Ortiz said. “I hope that in hearing our stories they feel inspired to write and share stories of their own.”
    Goal 4 Goal 10 Goal 17 Students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus for a remembrance of Américo Paredes – musician, scholar, activist, folklorist and beloved native son of Brownsville. Paredes founded the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program at UT Austin in 1970. The Bachelor of Arts in Mexican American Studies is now offered to students on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus.

    Goal 8 Goal 4 Goal 10 Goal 11 Goal 12 Goal 17 

    Housed primarily in the jewelry studio within the Visual Arts Building, the UTRGV Fabrication Lab aims to make technology accessible to students, faculty, and the public to foster education, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the region. Open to the public, the FabLab contributes to interdisciplinary projects between STEM areas and the School of Art. 
    Goal 4 Goal 5 Goal 10 UTRGV’s Gender and Women's Studies Program (GWSP)  received the 2016 Humanities Initiatives Grant, one of 11 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant categories, for its project entitled “Revising the Women’s Studies Program.” The grant will provide critical funds to support the UTRGV program’s structure, curriculum and course offerings in further incorporating gender-focused topics into their teaching.
    Goal 4 A program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Big Read, broadens our understanding of the world, our communities and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. 2018 marks the fifth successfully funded NEA Big Read grant written by Dr. Steven Schneider,professor of Creative Writing in the College of Fine Arts at UTRGV. The university is one of 77 nonprofit organizations to receive a grant to host an NEA Big Read project - taking place at UTRGV during FESTIBA.
    Goals Wheel Meraki: A Vision of Sustainability was the title of the 2018 Graphic Design BFA Exhibition. The theme gave students an opportunity to educate others about ending hunger, protecting the environment, fair labor practices, and other U.N. SDG goals through their posters, game design, and other works of art. The exhibition was on display at the UTRGV School of Art in Edinburg, and later displayed at UTRGV's 2018 Earth Fest.
    Goal 4 Goal 10 UTRGV Ballet Folklórico and the Mariachi Aztlán, two well-known and award winning ensembles, represent UTRGV College of Fine Arts as artistic ambassadors, showcasing the rich cultural traditions of our University.
    Goal 4 Goal 5 Goal 10 Emmy Pérez, one of UTRGV’s Associate Professor of Creative Writing, has been awarded a highly coveted poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is one of 37 selected as a 2017 Literature Fellow. 
    Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4 The 2017 Zombie Walk Food Drivehosted by students in the English 1302 class taught by lecturer Mary Ann Escamilla, helped the UTRGV Student Food Pantry collect food donations to continue serving the student population and make students aware that there is a food pantry available for the public. Escamilla’s class developed a social media campaign: #needtofeed and created a promo video to draw attention to food insecurity, and the university food pantry's efforts. 





  • College of Liberal Arts


    College of Liberal Arts

    “A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. These inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.” 

    -U.N. SG 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development 

    Goal 4 Goal 11 Goal 17 Dr. Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, UTRGV associate professor of Public Affairs and Security Studies, was in Washington, D.C., to participate in a panel discussion Feb. 7 on “Crime and Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean: Prevention and Migration.” The panel discussed how countries can help define policy approaches to dealing with widespread violence and its byproducts. 
    Goal 4 Goal 6 Goal 11  Students in the UTRGV Environmental Sociology program dedicated their weekend to learn the ins and outs of the City of Edinburg’s Department of Solid Waste Management and to help find creative solutions to sustainable waste management practices.
    Goal 4 Goal 5 Goal 10 The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation has awarded the UTRGV College of Liberal Arts a $6 million grant that over the next five years will help develop a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology. Upon earning this degree, students will be qualified as clinical practitioners, working directly with mental health consumers. They also will be qualified to teach the next generation of clinical psychologists and participate in cutting-edge research.
    Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4 Dr. Alfonso Mercado, a licensed psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at UTRGV has directed his latest research to documenting the effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) within the Latino population. Mercado and his undergraduate students, with the cooperation of Sister Norma Pimentel have started volunteering at the immigrant respite center regularly.



  • College of Sciences


    College of Sciences

    “Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it underpins can also be the basis for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies as they can deliver benefits that will increase the resilience of people to the impacts of climate change.” 

    -U.N. SG15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss 

    Goal 11  Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) announced that the National Science Foundation has awarded a grant to UTRGV through the 'IOS Animal Behavior: Sibling influences on vocal babbling and vocal development' project under the direction of Dr. Karl Berg. The project presents a unique opportunity to test if sibling social interactions foster learning processes indirectly, or directly, through provisioning of vocal templates to younger siblings, especially given the large variation in brood size.. 
    Goal 13 Goal 14 Goal 11 Dr. Christopher A. Gabler, an assistant professor in the UTRGV School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences, has authored a paper with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that says climate change in the coming century will drive transformative changes in the coastal wetlands of the northern Gulf of Mexico.
    Goal 11 Brenda Hernandez-Barron, a senior biology major at UTRGV, was awarded first place in her category in the Undergraduate Student Poster Competition: Medical and Veterinary Entomology, at a joint meeting of the 25th International Congress of Entomology and the Entomological Society of America..
    Goal 13 Goal 14 Goal 11 Goal 17 UTRGV has been named one of six universities that will participate in a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant that will enhance research opportunities for students in the School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences (SEEMS).
    Goal 3 Goal 11 Goal 17 Two UTRGV professors have been chosen to participate in a multi-institutional consortium to establish the Western Gulf Center for Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases, with a focus on Zika research and monitoring. Dr. Christopher Vitek, associate professor of biology at UTRGV, and Dr. John Thomas, assistant professor of biology at UTRGV, will be involved in the surveillance activities and will be actively involved in developing a vector biology training certificate program for graduate students at UTRGV.
    Goal 3 Goal 17 Healthcare officials and epidemiologist representing 11 states from both sides of the United States-Mexico border met at UTRGV to plan a pilot gram aimed at monitoring mosquitoes capable of spreading viruses such as Zika as a preventive measure.
    Goal 13 Goal 14 Goal 11 Buford Lessley, a UTRGV multidisciplinary sciences graduate student, has monitored the restoration of three resacas in Brownsville and developed an index that will show the health of the ecosystem. The index will include baseline data that private citizens and interest groups can use to plug their numbers and understand the overall health of the resaca.
    Goal 3 Goal 10 Students from the UTRGV chapter of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) hosted the group’s first public health fair. HOSA leaders said they plan to host more fairs that will address geographically pertinent health issues.
    Goal 4 Goal 10 Mathematics and Science Academy (MSA) at UTRGV Brownsville campus is the only academy within the University of Texas System. It is built around high school students who are in the 11th and 12th grades. MSA helps students finish their last two years of high school at a university, taking 15 to 18 college-credit hours per semester. 
  • Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship


    Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship

    “Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty.” 

    -U.N. SG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 

    Goal 4 Goal 11 Goal 12

    The naming of the UTRGV College of Business & Entrepreneurship marks the university’s gratitude, after receiving a $15 million donation from Robert C. Vackar, CEO of the Bert Ogden Auto Group, to establish an endowment benefitting the College of Business and Entrepreneurship. It is the largest single donation in the history of higher education in the Rio Grande Valley and will provide student scholarships for years to come.

    Goal 5 Goal 11 Goal 10

    Dr. Marie T. Mora, associate vice provost for Faculty Diversity and professor of economics at UTRGV was invited to the White House to participate in the “Fulfilling America’s Future: Latinas in the U.S.” summit presented by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Events like the summit increase the visibility of the key economic and social roles that Hispanics, and Hispanic women, are playing in shaping the direction of the country. 

    Goal 8 Goal 11 Goal 17 The presidents of eleven South Texas banks shared their thoughts during the annual Border Economics, Development, and Entrepreneurship Symposium (BEDES) Before and after the symposium, UTRGV business students were able to present their research projects.The students said BEDES gave them a great opportunity to network and become familiar with working with data sets to ensure finding decent jobs in the future.
    Goal 8 Goal 11 Goal 12 Goal 17 
    Twelve students from UTRGV’s Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship will have the opportunity to participate in a mentorship program with 12 banks executives in a six-week pilot program, The Great Conversations Mentorship Program, which will offer advice and guidance through one-on-one meetings. The idea of the mentorship program is to give students an inside look at the world of business and offer insight not available in the classroom.
  • School of Medicine

     UTRGV School of Medicine

    “Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce, to provide access to safe and affordable medicines and vaccines for all. Supporting research and development is an essential part of this process as well. ” 

    -U.N. SG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 8 Goal 4Goal 10 Goal 11Goal 17

    A delegation of Texas legislators and their staff visited the UTRGV Brownsville Campus as part of a special Valley tour organized by the RGV Partnership and UTRGV. Legislators visited with and heard updates from the leaders of cutting-edge initiatives like UTRGV’s South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute and STARGATE, and heard from education partners like Space X. 

    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 8 Goal 17 UTRGV, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System and the City of McAllen celebrated in a groundbreaking event to transform the Rio Grande Valley with a new facility designed to expand research opportunities, improved healthcare, and increased economic development.
    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 11 Goal 17
    The Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation gave a donation to UTRGV’s School of Medicine to developed undergraduate and graduate degree programs for the Institute for Neuroscience. The programs will focus on multidisciplinary research, integrated clinical services, educational programs, and community outreach and engagement with hospital partners focusing in the areas of mind/brain health, behavior, and prevention.
    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 10 Goal 11Goal 17 Health promoters in the Indian Hills community in Hidalgo County have been certified as part of a program that is a result of the partnership between UTRGV and the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. They will help inform the people of their community by participating in health clinics. The will offer a service for already certified promoters to continue their education, specializing in mental health. The third part would allow individuals to achieve college credit through the program.
    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 10 Goal 11 

    Under the supervision of UTRGV School of Medicine’s faculty and staff, first-year medical students traveled to the Indian Hills community north of Mercedes to administer flu shots for the first time. Having first-year med students administer the shots is another example of how the UTRGV School of Medicine differs from many other medical schools.


    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 10 Goal 11Goal 17 UTRGV’s School of Medicine received a $650,000 grant from the Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc., for its Integrated Care Collaborative Unit (ICCU). The School of Medicine has partnered with the Hidalgo County Health Department in operating the community-driven Peña Center, which provides integrated care for adolescents who are triply diagnosed at risk with medical, mental health, and appetitive drive disorders. Methodist Healthcare Ministries also has awarded a total of more than $1.6 million to UTRGV for its “Sí Texas: Social Innovation for a Healthy South Texas” project.
    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 11 Goal 17 The South Texas Environmental Education and Research (STEER) Program at UTRGV School of Medicine has been selected to receive the university’s 2017 Community Engaged Scholarship Champions Award. Designed for current and future health professionals, STEER transforms students by providing a community-based educational experience that allows them to make the connection between the environment, public health and medicine. 
    Goal 3 Goal 4Goal 11 Goal 17 The La Victoria community is one of six neighborhoods chosen throughout the Valley to which UTRGV sent interprofessional teams of medical students and students from other programs throughout the university, to assess those communities’ needs. Dr. John Ronnau, along with scores of faculty, staff, and students were on hand to perform health screenings, provide information and host activities.




  • Continuing Education


    UTRGV Continuing Education

    Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development .” 

    -U.N. SG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

    Goal 4 Goal 10 UTRGV offered a Professional Development Day for Teaching Assistants to develop as instructors and sustain student learning and development. The four sessions offered and each addressed instructional strategies that help with meeting the educational needs of specific student populations.
     Goal 4
    UTRGV’s Center for Teaching Excellence, a dedicated location where faculty can meet and network, is now open on the Brownsville Campus. The CTE is designed to promote teaching effectiveness across various disciplines and faculty ranks, and to enhance productive connections for faculty research and teaching.
    Goal 2 Goal 3 Goal 4 Goal 11 UTRGV Continuing Education and the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley are starting the season of giving with a special Healthy Holidays Lunch and Learn fundraiser, to promote healthy eating and making educated food choices throughout the holidays and beyond. The workshop aims to bring attention to the Food Bank’s community garden program, which allows individuals to cultivate a range of organic crops at the garden, and take home their produce during harvest.
    Goal 3 Goal 4 Youth Mental Health First Aid USA is an 8-hour public education program, which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.