Sustainability Studies Minor

About the Minor

The field of sustainability studies takes an interdisciplinary approach to what may be the defining challenge of the twenty-first century: how to transform human societies to meet everyone's needs while preserving the natural environment upon which we all rely. While environmental studies has always recognized the major role that social and economic factors play in environmental problems and solutions, sustainability studies brings a new emphasis to the complex interconnections between ecological health, economic welfare, and social justice, understanding that problems in one area cannot be solved without attention to the other two.

Sustainability studies is also profoundly future-oriented, always returning to the touchstone of how to move towards a world where both human and natural systems are not only healthy but also can be maintained that way indefinitely. The minor in sustainability studies provides students with an understanding of the complex, interconnected systems that affect ecological health, economic welfare, and social justice; the ability to recognize and analyze challenges to human and environmental health and well-being; and the skills to help transform local and global communities into sustainable ones.

Sustainability Studies Minor Learning Outcomes

Students who earn the minor in sustainability studies will be able to:

  • Explain and analyze the complex local and global systems that provide the foundation for environmental and human health and well-being.
  • Integrate knowledge of ecological, economic, and social systems in order to frame challenges to sustainability and produce potential solutions.
  • Communicate to explain and influence how individual and collective actions affect the environmental and social sustainability of interrelated systems.
  • Evaluate policies, practices, and belief systems for their environmental, economic, and social sustainability.
  • Apply principles of sustainability to transform their own lives, workplaces, and local and global communities.

Learn More About The Sustainability Studies Minor


Spring 2015 Sustainability Studies Courses


SUST 1000 Introduction to Sustainability Studies
TR 3:00-4:20
Instructor: Sheila Anglin Jordan

Introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of sustainability studies, which focuses on the goal of transforming human societies so that we may equitably meet current human needs (such as health, energy, food, shelter, and transportation) while preserving the natural systems required to meet the needs of future generations. Includes 1) frequent writing assignments to allow students to express their understanding of the complex systems that provide the foundation for environmental and human health and well-being and 2) experiential elements (field trips and a campus sustainability project) that allow them to apply and test classroom theories and information. Guest speakers will represent different disciplines that contribute to sustainability studies. Fulfills GCP requirements for Physical and Natural Word content area and Critical Thinking skills area.

SUST 4500 Sustainability in Action
Offered as a directed study for students who need it.
Contact Karla Armbruster at if this is the case.

For Research and Communication Requirement

WRIT 2072: Writing for Change (3 credits)
TR 3:00-4:20
Instructor: Kenneth Harrison

Students will learn the research and writing skills necessary to work for change as consumers, citizens, and activists. The course will emphasize how to rhetorically analyze a writing situation and then plan and craft an effective message; specific writing assignments could include complaint letters, letters to the editor and to elected officials, position papers on controversial issues, and proposals addressing community problems. Students will engage in frequent peer workshops to discuss drafts of each other's writing.

For Science and Sustainability Requirement

SCIN 1520 and 1521: Environment and Environment Lab (4 credits total)
TR 1:30-4:20
Instructor: Jeff DePew

Concerns problems of the world ecosystems. Includes the nature of ecosystems, pesticides, water pollution, air pollution, solid waste, nonrenewable natural resources, energy, nuclear power, radioactivity, agriculture, human food supply, and environmental health. Laboratory required. SCIN 1520 and SCIN 1521 must be taken concurrently. Intended for non-majors. An American Studies course. An Environmental Studies

SCIN 2530 Global Ecologies and Sustainable Living (3 credits)
Instructor: Alix Henry
Online Spring II

The course focuses on how different societies around the planet interact with their local and global ecosystems:  how those natural systems enable and constrain specific cultures and their ways of life; how various cultures impact their natural environments; how humans meet basic needs such as food, energy, water, shelter, and transportation in different locales; and to what degree the ways they meet them are sustainable. Examples of zones for focused study include Temperate, Arid, Tropical, Mountainous, and Mediterranean rural and urban regions of the world. Fulfills Global Citizenship requirements for Physical and Natural World and Critical Thinking.

For Social Science and Sustainability Requirement

ANTH 3490 Environmental Anthropology/SOCI 3575 Human Ecology (each is 3 credits)
TR 8:30-9:50
Instructor: Don Conway-Long

ANTH 3490: How has the environment shaped various human populations socially, culturally, and economically? What does the history of human/environmental interaction tell us about the choices we have to make in this twenty-first century? In this course, we will examine human ecology from a cross-cultural perspective, seeking to understand the different ways societies throughout human history have perceived and interacted with the natural world. Prerequisite: ANTH 1100/SOCI 1100 and 9 credit hours of anthropology or permission of the instructor.

SOCI 3575:Examines sociological perspectives on human ecology. A variety of topics illustrating the relationship between humans and the physical environment will be presented, such as consumption and sustainability, globalization, environmental politics and law, urban systems and development, residential patterns and housing, metropolitanization and suburbanization, the environmental impact of population structure, dynamics, and migration. Prerequisite: SOCI 1100, SOCI 2825, and 6 credit hours of sociology; or permission of the instructor.

INTL 3500 Environmental and Energy Security
Tuesday 5:30-9:30 Spring II
Instructor: Amanda Rosen

This course introduces students to the role that environmental and energy issues play in causing and exacerbating conflict between groups and states in the international system. Students will learn theories of international conflict and then apply them to pressing issues in environmental studies. Prerequisite: POLT 1050 or permission of instructor.

EDUC 4250 Economics and Geography for Global Sustainability (4 credits)
Online (full semester)
Instructor: Thomas Zinselmeyer

This course is designed to provide elementary, middle and secondary educators the information they need to understand and be able to teach the fundamentals of economics, geography and global sustainability. Economic content includes: economic systems, concepts, and institutions; economic change over time; modern global economics; and the relationship between producers, consumers, and the government. Geography content includes: Physical geography skills (apply and use geographic representations, tools, and resources such as maps, atlases, aerial photographs, globes, etc.), and concepts; locales, regions, nations, and the world relative to location, size, climate, and geology; and how individuals and groups are affected by events on an international and global scale. Sustainability concepts and skills will be integrated throughout the course with emphasis on current environmental and social equity issues as well as systems thinking. Students will explore the interconnectedness of people, profit and planet.

For Arts and Humanities and Sustainability Requirement

PHIL 2360 Environmental Ethics
Online Spring II
Instructor: Michael Brady

This course considers how one ought to live, given what we know (and are learning) about ourselves in the physical and natural world. Students explore the values, rights, responsibilities, and obligations relevant to environmental problems, such as climate change, air pollution, waste disposal, land degradation, water depletion and pollution, threats to biodiversity, and population growth.

RELG 2430 Environment and Religion: Nature Spirituality and Activism (3 credits)
Wednesday 5:30-9:30 Spring I
Instructor: Chris Parr

Related Courses

(contact Sustainability Studies Chair Karla Armbruster at to ask about substituting these courses into the minor)

JOUR 2350.01 Outdoor/Nature Journalism
MWF 11:00-11:50
Instructor: Don Corrigan

This course has a three-fold purpose: to acquaint new journalists and writers with the best works of those who have found inspiration for their prose from the outdoors; to familiarize student writers with journalism about nature sites in the Missouri and Midwest region; to encourage developing outdoor/nature writers to experiment with expository and advocacy journalism.

SCIN 1510.01 Global Climate Change
MW 2:00-3:20
Instructor: Jeff DePew

This course will be an in depth investigation into the science of Global Climate Change; its symptoms as determined by scientific observations and data throughout the world, and what the proposed solutions are. The course is not meant to follow a politically charged agenda or ideology. The course will use the internet, published data, films, media, guest speakers, field trips and inquiry to investigate the science, measure examples, effects, outcomes and proposals that define Global Climate change. Intended for non-majors.