Problems of environmental degradation, social justice and economic inequality are more pressing than ever, and the demand for people with the determination and skills to address them has never been greater. Employers in all fields seek to hire Auburn graduates who understand the complexities of the world’s challenges, who think outside the box and who can find innovative, sustainable solutions to those challenges. Billions of dollars are invested annually in green technology, renewable energy, green jobs and ethical business solutions around the world.

With a diverse selection of 90+ courses and study abroad programs, the interdisciplinary minor in sustainability studies offers students the opportunity to gain wide-ranging expertise and hands-on experience with the most crucial issues in contemporary society.

Why Minor in Sustainability Studies?

Sustainability Studies students come from a wide variety of majors, and courses in the minor run the gamut from engineering and biology to history and philosophy. The minor trains students to view the world through multiple disciplinary lenses, and to bring those perspectives together in search of creative solutions to contemporary challenges.

Sustainability students care about the world around them, on both a global and a local scale. Courses in the minor help them identify, evaluate and implement ways they can make a positive difference for themselves, their communities and the world.

Courses in the minor emphasize a wide range of skills and knowledge that are sought after by employers, including interdisciplinary and systems thinking, creative problem-solving and hands-on experience. A minor in sustainability studies signals to employers that you have specialized expertise in and commitment to questions of economic, environmental and social viability. Recent graduates have gone on to prestigious graduate programs and found employment in a wide range of fields including interior design, environmental services, land and water management, engineering, business, consulting and the public and nonprofit sectors.

Get your hands dirty working in a community garden; wade into rivers and ponds to collect samples; explore local parks and forests to learn about Alabama’s flora, fauna and natural resources; or mentor children from the local community. For many of your sustainability-affiliated courses, the woods, streams, gardens and neighborhoods of Auburn and its surrounding communities will be your classrooms. Affiliated study abroad programs in Fiji, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Costa Rica and beyond let you earn credit towards the minor while you explore the world.

Sustainability studies minors find that the lessons they learn in the classroom permeate every aspect of their lives, from consumption patterns and diet to self-care and personal relationships. Sustainability's systems-thinking and interdisciplinarity push students to consider multiple perspectives and the ramifications of their actions, while an expanded awareness of the impacts of individual actions empowers them to make informed choices on a daily basis.

Minor Requirements

Students from any major may pursue the minor in sustainability studies. The minor requires 15 credit hours with at least 9 hours at the 3000-level or above. Sustainability studies offers a variety of courses. Classes that are offered every semester are listed on the course listing page. Courses can also be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Required Courses

SUST 2000 (or HONR 1027): Introduction to Sustainability, 3 credits

SUST 5000: Senior Capstone in Sustainability, 3 credits

Electives

Nine credits of electives are required from the following list of classes. Study abroad opportunities may also count as electives, with the approval of the Director of the Academic Sustainability Program.

Our electives are categorized by the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that are addressed in each class. Students can choose any elective they want. Focusing on one or two SDGs can allow students to learn more deeply about sustainability in one or two areas, while taking classes over a broad range of SDGs can help students learn about systainabiilty broadly. To find the electives that address each SDG, use the menu below. Choose “all electives” to see a list of all of the electives that count toward the Minor in Sustainabilty Studies. To learn more about the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, and how Auburn is addressing the SDGs, visit: https://sustain.auburn.edu/learn/sustainable-development-goals/

Study Abroad

Study abroad classes can count for the minor in sustainability studies. For approval please contact the director of the Academic Sustainability Program.

Course Contracts

Course contracts are a great way for sustainability studies minors to receive credit for classes that are not ordinarily part of the Academic Sustainability Program. If you are enrolled or plan to enroll in a course that addresses sustainability-adjacent issues, or which you can complete with a special focus on issues of sustainability, you may want to create a contract with the instructor that will allow you to earn credit for the course towards your minor.

In order to count a class as an elective toward the sustainability studies minor, it must have a significant sustainability-related component. In many cases, students can choose to focus on sustainability themes within the existing structure of the class: you might select a sustainability-related topic for your final paper, for instance, or complete service-learning or field studies in relevant venues.

To request a course contract, the first step is to talk to the instructor of the class and ask them if you can complete the class for credit toward the minor in sustainability studies, and decide how you will focus on sustainability in the class. Next, contact the director of the Academic Sustainability Program at acadsustain@auburn.edu, to discuss the course contract. You will need to provide a written description of how you will incorporate sustainability into the class.

Course Additions

Faculty who would like to add their class to the minor in sustainability studies should send a request to Rebecca Retzlaff, director of the Academic Sustainability Program, and include their syllabus.