Majors in Sustainability
Undergraduate Majors with Sustainability Focus or Emphasis
Architecture is an interdisciplinary, collaborative program that embraces spirited, socially progressive, and environmentally responsive design.
Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) allows sustainability-oriented students to create their own interdisciplinary majors, drawing from areas such as environmental science, sustainable agriculture & food systems, climate & energy studies, public health & nutrition, public policy & planning, green building & design, engineering, socially conscious management & entrepreneurship, and many more.
This major offers a sustainability-focused curriculum, providing students with a grounding in general issues of sustainability and the built environment and in depth knowledge of subjects including green building practices, energy efficiency and sustainable materials.
The Civil and Environmental Engineering major preparesstudents to design a sustainable future. A key to sustainability is ensuring our water, energy, building construction and transportation systems are conducive to environmental sustainability. Engineers also design solutions to environmental problems that emerge as the human footprint expands.
The Earth Systems degree offers a sustainability-focused curriculum that will provide you with a holistic understanding of the Earth’s geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and cryosphere, as well as the impact of human activities on these systems. The degree is suitable for students interested in the interface of earth science and related fields, and in issues related to the long-term management and sustainability of the planet.
The Economics department advocates sustainable economic policies for developing as well as postindustrial economies. The broad spectrum of faculty, scholarship, research interests and course offerings in Asia, Africa, the OECD, and Eastern Europe provide ample opportunity for students to explore what sustainability requires with regards to formulating economic policy.
The Environmental Design degree offers a sustainability-focused curriculum that will give you a sound theoretical understanding of both environmental and human issues and a solid foundation of knowledge to work in a wide range of design and planning fields. Professionals in these fields oversee and direct the building of beautiful and sustainable places in which to work and live; they humanize cities, protect farm land, and conserve significant landscape resources. There are four areas of concentration within the major: horticultural, landscape, urban, and built environment. (see more under Concentrations below).
Environmental Science offers a sustainability-focused curriculum that provides students with rigorous interdisciplinary professional training in environmental systems, encompassing an understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological processes of the Earth and their effects on living organisms, while focusing on finding sustainable solutions to today's environmental problems.
Geography offers a sustainability-focused curriculum that focuses on the study of the physical and social processes that shape the world we live in. It is an integrative discipline especially well-suited to sustainability studies: geographers examine complex and dynamic interactions between factors such as physical environmental processes, resource use, urbanization, economic development, conservation, population change and migration, geopolitics, cultural change, and a humanistic sense of place. Two concentrations are available: Environmental Geography (BA) and Physical Geography (BS).
The B.A. Geology degree program is intended to provide a firm background in geology while allowing sufficient flexibility to pursue other areas as well. This degree is suitable for Pre-Law and Pre-Dental/Pre-Medical students or as a second major. The B.S. Geology degree provides a strong background for students wishing professional careers in geology, and for students interested in teaching at the secondary school level there is a concentration in Earth Science.
The Hospitality and Tourism Management program offers undergraduate and MBA-level electives in Sustainable Service Management, as well as a capstone course for seniors in Travel and Tourism Policy and Planning, which covers the social, economic, and environmental dimensions of tourism.
The Management major includes courses in sustainable business practices, social entrepreneurship, and environmental law. The department's vision is to begin offering a certificate in Sustainable Business Practices during academic year 2013/14.
Natural Resources Conservation offers a sustainability-focused curriculum, in which students learn about the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and how these systems can be managed to conserve biodiversity and protect ecosystem functions while providing sustainable benefits to society. Students select among six possible concentrations within the major: Environmental Conservation; Fisheries Ecology and Conservation; Forest Ecology and Conservation; Urban Forestry and Arboriculture; Water Resources; and Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. Descriptions are found under 'Concentrations' below.
The Nutrition Department offers a Nutrition in a Global Society track for undergraduates,enabling students to incorporate courses related to food security and sustainability issues.
The Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences degree offers a sustainability-focused curriculum that provides interdisciplinary skills in agriculture, horticulture, and entomology for the sustainable use of ecosystems. It offers rigorous training in biology and laboratory methods with a plant science or general applied biology focus. Concentration options include plant science and biotechnology, entomology, horticultural sciences, plant pathology, conservation biology, and soil science.
Resource Economics is focused on choice and an important aspect of this are the tradeoffs associated with sustainability. We currently offer a 2-semester upper level course that focuses on economic decision making tools used to evaluate sustainability projects, and gives students an opportunity to conduct research or work on a project related to sustainability.
The Sustainable Food & Farming major offers a sustainability-focused curriculum that allows students who are interested in the social, political and scientific issues of sustainable agriculture and food systems to seek a broad exposure to this discipline in the liberal arts tradition. Students can tailor their individual programs to prepare for careers in sustainable farming, policy, advocacy, community outreach and education in topics related to crop production, food access, and hunger issues, as well as many others.
The Sustainable Horticulture major offers a sustainability-focused curriculum that applies biological science and sustainable practices in the production and use of landscape plants. Students receive scientific training in the production of herbaceous landscape plants, fruits, and vegetables, with a business management or science focus. Concentration options include Breeding and propagation, greenhouse horticulture, food crops, plant nutrition and soils, and pest management
The University Without Walls (UWW) gives adult students the opportunity to finish their bachelor’s degree 100% online with a focus in Sustainability Studies. UWW Sustainability Studies students design their own programs of study, taking courses in a range of disciplines, including food and farming, sustainable business and entrepreneurship, public health, and journalism and communications.
Sustainability-focused Concentrations and Certificates
The Architecture Studies concentration in the Architecture major is intended for students who plan to pursue a professional graduate degree in architecture. It requires more courses in architecture studios, architectural history, and technology, and more directed electives related to design.
The Built Environment concentration within the Environmental Design degree program has a pre-architecture studies focus. Students pursue their interest in the relationship between the environment and built forms.
The Design Studies concentration in the Architecture major is intended for students with a broader interest in the design fields, including interior design. It has more flexibility in requirements for studio, history, technology, and directed electives related to design. Because it has fewer requirements, it will also allow students to double major.
The Earth Science concentration within the Geology BS degree is recommended to students interested in teaching at the secondary school level, or in pursuing graduate studies leading to the M.A.T. or M.Ed. degrees. Undergraduate students wanting to pursue teacher certification in Massachusetts must achieve a passing score on the Communication and Literacy Skills Test of the Massachusetts Educator Certification Tests (MECT) prior to admission into professional preparation programs for educators.
Environmental Conservation is one of six possible concentration areas within the Natural Resources Conservation undergraduate major. It is designed for students who are interested in developing a general educational focus in the broad area of Environmental Studies for one of the many areas of the environment and conservation not directly covered by the other five concentrations in the NRC major.
The Environmental Geography concentration within the Geography B.A. major allows students to take a broad, integrative social science approach to studies of the environment. Students in this concentration first gain foundational breadth, methods, and skills in geography, and then focus their studies on geographic approaches to environmental issues, policy, and history.
Fisheries Ecology and Conservation is one of six possible concentration areas within the Natural Resources Conservation undergraduate major. Its focus is on aquatic systems and their inhabitants: how to manage, conserve and restore fish and aquatic animal populations and their habitats; how to develop sustainable fisheries programs; effects of land use, water flow and contaminants on aquatic ecosystem health and fish community structure; and how to conserve and enhance biological diversity.
Forest Ecology and Conservation is one of six possible concentration areas within the Natural Resources Conservation undergraduate major. The goal of forestry, especially in the complex urbanized northeast, is to sustainably maintain the provision of the full suite of forest benefits for society: watershed protection, wilderness and other forms of outdoor recreation opportunities, maintaining biodiversity of both plants and animals, sustainably producing wood, paper, and fiber products to meet societal needs, and even controlling global climate.
The Horticultural Studies concentration within the Environmental Design degree program teaches you how to apply sound ecological and scientific principles in conserving nature and adding beauty through the use of plants. This concentration combines the scientific knowledge of horticulture with the theoretical and practical aspects of landscape design, technology, and business management.
The iCons program offers a sustainability-focused integrative science curriculum, teaching students how to apply basic science and engineering concepts to problems of global significance, including consideration of environmental and economic facets of current problems.
This certificate in International Agricultural Studies prepares agricultural scientists for careers involved in the worldwide effort to increase food production and improve food distribution. Estimates suggest that the world food production must almost double in the next thirty years if we are to maintain our current (inadequate) nutritional levels, and it must triple if we are to achieve an adequate diet for everyone. An overseas professional experience in an agricultural development program (at the village level if possible) is considered essential for a career in International Agriculture.
The Landscape Studies concentration within the Environmental Design degree program focuses on landscape planning policy and conservation. Acting within a framework of sociological and ecological principles, landscape designers and planners seek ways to conserve or revitalize the contextual landscapes of existing communities.
The Physical Geography concentration in the Geography BS degree program the involves studying the physical processes, both natural and anthropogenic, that affect the earth’s surface, atmosphere, and biosphere. The department has strengths in the study of climate, climate change, landforms and land surface processes, remote sensing of the environment, and GIS analysis and applications.
Urban Forestry and Arboriculture is one of six possible concentration areas within the Natural Resources Conservation undergraduate major. Urban Forestry & Arboriculture involves the sustainable management of trees in cities and suburbs, where more than 80% of people in the world live. Urban foresters and arborists work to ensure healthy populations of trees to provide sustained benefits to millions of people.
The Urban Studies concentration within the Environmental Design degree program explores the evolving forms of cities and towns and the issues of their residents. The urban planner develops alternative methods of achieving community goals, anticipating developmental impacts, and planning for a sustainable future.
Water Resources is one of six possible concentration areas within the Natural Resources Conservation undergraduate major. Water is essential to life and is a critical resource that needs careful management to sustain human populations and ecosystems. This concentration emphasizes skills in understanding and applying concepts to manage water resources with applications related to ecosystem impacts, water quality, climate change, storm water, and water supply.
Wildlife Ecology and Conservation is one of six possible concentration areas within the Natural Resources Conservation undergraduate major. The concentration emphasizes the biology and ecology of wildlife; how to sustainably manage, conserve and restore wildlife populations and their habitats; how to resolve human-wildlife conflict and wildlife disease problems; and how to conserve and enhance biological diversity.