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Sustainability (B.A.)

Website: School of Social Science and Human Services


About the Major

The BA in Sustainability requires thirteen courses (52 credits), including a three course (12 credit) disciplinary concentration. Of the thirteen courses, ten courses will be in the field of Sustainability and three courses will draw from foundational courses in a diverse array of majors across the College (negotiated in advance with these majors), which will ground students in foundational knowledge in a disciplinary field of their choice. Of the other ten Sustainability courses, eight courses will provide students a foundational understanding of Sustainability as a trans-disciplinary field, drawing on courses from the School of Business, the School of Theoretical and Applied Science and the School of Social Science and Human Services (four of the courses offered are preexisting courses, and the rest are built with a focus on trans-disciplinary methods of inquiry). The additional two courses are capstone courses, which will showcase trans-disciplinary engagement with pressing social, ecological and economic issues of our time, at the global, national and local levels.

Contemporary ecological, economic, and social crises represent unprecedented challenges and opportunities for the ways in which we interact with the ecosphere.  Driven by increases in population, coupled with rapidly increasing per capita consumption rates, and the consequent contamination and degradation of natural capital and a disproportionate distribution of the burden on vulnerable communities, our current path is clearly unsustainable. As local governments, civic society, organizations and businesses increasingly recognize the need for alternative practices, individuals who can implement trans-disciplinary and integrative approaches are sorely needed to
grapple with the problems of the Anthropocene (the term coined to describe our current geological age, the metaphor of our times; representing the environmental, economic, and cultural transformations wrought by humans on the ecosphere since the start of the industrial revolution).  This requires practitioners with substantial depth in some area of specialization and also, broadly trained in trans-disciplinary methodologies and with the habits of mind grounded in a systems approach, to address the intersection of human activities that are generating sustainability crises at unprecedented scales, and develop solutions that integrate across normally siloed domains. The Sustainability Major takes an approach to Education for Sustainability (EfS) that clearly transcends disciplinary boundaries, while being grounded in a systems approach to an equity-based nested-Triple Bottom Line model.

Outcomes for the Major

Goal 1 :  Sustainability Literacy: Students will acquire the knowledge and wisdom to foster a sustainable world, with particular attention to an transdisiciplinary and holistic systems approach.

Outcome 1: Students will examine the complex and dynamic network of relationships that exist in ecological systems, economic structures, and community dynamics: appreciate that these relationships exist at the national, local and global levels.

Outcome 2:  Students will develop foundational knowledge of theories of sustainability theories and its discourses, from the vantage of a systems approach to solving problems of sustainability.

Outcome 3:  Students will critically analyze public policy settings at the global, national and local level, and apply it to policy making for sustainable communities.

Outcome 4: Students will gain expertise in understanding the integrative nature of Food, Energy and Water to arrive at an agenda for action through the use of a Nexus approach.

Outcome 5:  Students will learn about leadership models for bringing change in varied and complex organizational settings.

Outcome 6:  Students will explore and develop the complex set of skills and abilities needed for sustainable interventions and assessment.

Goal 2:  Methods and Practice of Sustainability

Outcome 1:  Students will engage in systems perspective to address societal problems.

Outcome 2:  Students will learn the technique of conducting multi-method research design through training in qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Outcome 3:  Students will show the ability to apply diverse methods and techniques to sustainability research so as to guide decision
makers toward sustainable solutions.

Outcome 4:  Students will practice the methods of participatory decision-making among stakeholders to achieve sustainability.

Outcome 5:  Students will address an issue incorporating sustainability research methods and addressing the issue from a triple bottom line perspective.

Goal 3:  Critical Thinking & Communication:  Students will demonstrate an ability to critically acquire, analyze, synthesize and communicate information about sustainability—in oral, written and electronic media formats—to diverse audiences, so as to facilitate informed decision making.

Outcome 1:  Develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Outcome 2:  Learn to address decision-making under complex situations and within complex organizations.

Outcome 3:  Learn to apply sustainability to personal, professional and academic living experiences.

Requirements of the Major
  1. Transfer students who have 48 or more credits accepted at the time of transfer are waived from the courses marked with a (W) below. Waivers do not apply to Major Requirements.
  2. Double counting between General Education, School Core, and Major may be possible. Check with your advisor to see if any apply.
  3. Writing Intensive Requirement (five courses):  two writing intensive courses in the general education curriculum are required: Critical Reading and Writing and Studies in the Arts and Humanities the other three courses are taken in the major.
  4. Not all courses are offered each semester.  Please check the current Schedule of Classes for semester course offerings.
  5. The Career Pathways Program requirements must be completed prior to graduation.  Visit the Cahill Career Center.

Note: A 2.0 GPA in the major is required for graduation.