Sustainability Studies Major Requirements


Sustainability Studies majors are required to complete 12 course units as listed below.  These include three foundation courses in the academic disciplines (Environment, Sociology, and Economics) that serve as the theoretical basis of Sustainability Studies.  Students then take six more specialized courses - two courses in each of the three core areas (Human-Environment Connections, Social Justice and Social Movements; and Economics, Development and Business).  All courses in the Social Justice and Social Movements Area directly address the intersectional nature of social issues in relation to human difference, power relations, and equity - a key element of Sustainability Studies.  Students then have the opportunity to integrate perspectives among at least two of the core areas with two course units in the area of Policy and Practice that focus on sustainable problem-solving through policy, advocacy, or community-based work; and the CUE course SUS 405 Sustainable Solutions that integrates perspectives from all three core areas.

Required Foundation Courses 

Core Area Courses

Two courses with different prefixes in each of the core areas:       

Human-Environment Connection

Choose two with different prefixes.

Social Justice and Social Movements

Choose two with different prefixes: 

Economics, Development, and Business

Choose two with different prefixes.

Integration Courses  



Minor Requirements

Sustainability Studies minors are required to complete 6 course units. Students take two courses (one in the sciences, and one in the humanities or social sciences) that focus on the Human-Environment Connection; one in the area of Social Justice and Social Movements; and one in the area of Economics, Development, and Business.  One advanced course in the area of Sustainability in Practice, and SUS 405 Sustainable Solutions are also required.

Human-Environment Connection

Choose two, one must be in the Sciences (BIO, CHM, ESC), and one must be from the Humanities or Social Sciences (ATH, ENG, PHL, REL, or SOC).

Social Justice and Movements

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SUS 350. Environmental and Cultural Conservation in Costa Rica
Students explore solutions to the delicate problem of environmental and cultural conservation in developing countries with a focus on Costa Rica.Sustainability Studies During the spring semester, students develop projects and prepare for the two-week study/research/travel experience to Costa Rica at the end of May. This preparation includes study of the area’s ecological diversity; political, cultural and social issues; research skills; and relevant Spanish vocabulary and conversation skills. In Costa Rica, students explore a variety of habitats, live in and interact with members of a small town, and conduct both community service and independent research projects. Research projects focus on the ecology, sociology, culture, sustainability, and public health of the region. One of the objectives of the program is to remove the blinders of specific discipline-based learning and of our own culture to show that if we are to develop sustainable solutions.

SUS 355. Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Bangladesh
This team-taught course examines the impact of climate change on economic, social and political development by focusing on the nation of Bangladesh. In addition to introducing students to the science and politics of climate change, the course also examines the specific environmental, economic and social challenges confronting Bangladesh’s political development since its independence; investigates the environmental and social consequences of state-sponsored development strategies, especially recent market-based “neo-liberal” policies; and evaluates new “sustainable development” strategies that are emerging as a response to the challenges posed by climate change.

SUS 365. Local Sustainability
This course will take an interdisciplinary approach to analyzing sustainability at the local level either in the Muhlenberg community or communities in the Lehigh Valley, and will explore human-environment issues within the context of the relationship among individuals and institutions. Through readings, presentations, and the development of individual research projects, students will assess current sustainability efforts and develop recommendations for future efforts. Research projects may include surveying community members about perceptions and attitudes towards sustainability and environmental issues, assessing current sustainability efforts, and interviewing local experts, members of organizations and politicians. Priorities for research will be determined in collaboration with the community, and results and recommendations will be shared.
Prerequisite: Any single course in the Sustainability Studies Minor

SUS 405. Sustainable Solutions
An interdisciplinary approach to developing and assessing sustainable solutions to meet the needs of human society and the environment on local, regional, and global scales. Each offering of this course will focus on a particular issue such as food, energy, green design, or waste production. Students will read the trade and primary literature as it relates to each specific theme, and then through project-based learning will design and test potential solutions that might help achieve sustainability. Students will study the issues and focus on design, data collection, and dissemination related to solving the problem being analyzed.
Prerequisite: Any two courses in the Sustainability Studies Minor

SUS 960. Sustainability Studies Internship
Internships arranged with local, national, and international public or private organizations in the areas of development, environment, and sustainability in practice (Does not count towards Major or Minor)

SUS 965. Sustainability Studies Practicum
Internships arranged with local, national, and international public or private organizations in the areas of development, environment, and sustainability in practice with an academic component

SUS 970. Sustainability Studies Research
Faculty mentored student research focusing on sustainable problem solving emphasizing design, data collection, and dissemination.