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Sustainability Education

Two Options for the Capstone Requirement in the Sustainability Studies Minor

November 11, 2013Elizabeth HokeGeneralComments Off on Two Options for the Capstone Requirement in the Sustainability Studies Minor

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If you are in the sustainability studies minor or are considering it, now is the time to add the following courses into your graduation plan.


SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities

Technical details: 3.0 credits; Prerequisites: Must have taken 3003 or GLOS 3304 and be a junior or senior in sustainability studies, Grading system is A-F only; This course is offered during the fall and spring of every year.

Students will synthesize multiple disciplinary perspectives and integrate insights gained from various approaches/methods. This course will cover concepts and scholarship related to sustainability, while emphasizing the application of knowledge and experience to real sustainability problems. A trip to Morris, MN during this course will feature visits to large and small farms, renewable energy sites and sustainability research facilities. You can find out more about the required core courses of the sustainability studies minor here.

CE 5571: Design for Sustainable Development– Acara Innovate

Technical details: Receiving a permission number and registering for the Spring 2014 Acara Challenge course (CE 5571: Design for Sustainable Development: Innovate) requires an application. Applications are due by December 15, 2013 for the Spring 2013 Acara Challenge courseTo submit an application, email your application PDF to Fred Rose at Your application should consist of two parts: (1) a resume (up to 1 page) and (2) an essay (up to 2 pages) answering three questions: (i) why you wish to take the class, (ii) what your relevant background experience is, and (iii) what you will contribute to an interdisciplinary team. After December 15 course applications will be accepted only if space remains. The next course offerings will be for spring 2014 from 9am-12 and fall 2014 from 9am-12.

This four credit course is co-taught by the Institute on the Environment (Fred Rose, Brian Bell), Department of Civil Engineering (Julian Marshall, John Gulliver) and Carlson Venture Enterprises (Toby Nord, Connie Rutledge). This course is known as the Acara Challenge course.

In this course, students work on multidisciplinary teams to develop sustainable business and technical solutions for an environmental or social challenge. Typical team size is 4-6 UMN students. Technical and business development professionals will be available as mentors to provide advice to each team. A primary focus of the course is to identify the “right” problem to solve, including design thinking techniques for analysis of observation data. Good involvement of all team members is crucial to success.  A financially-sustainable business model must be created to address the identified social-environmental problem and market opportunity.

The Spring 2014 CE 5571 course will be focused on developing venture solutions with the City of North St. Paul. This course is collaborating with North St. Paul through the Resilient Communities Project (RCP).

Presentations will be required on the preliminary and final business solutions. A plan and presentation before a panel of potential investors will be the final product of the group effort. The best plans will have an opportunity to apply for incubation support from Acara following the course.

You can learn more about this course by watching this video by Acara Co-Director, Fred Rose.

Fall 2013 Course Syllabus

Fall 2013 Course Handbook

Feel free to contact us with questions on anything related to these courses or the Sustainability Studies minor in general. 

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The Sustainability Education website is administered by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

The University of Minnesota offers sustainability courses in most of its colleges and campuses around the state. These courses encompass biophysical sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, design, engineering, business, and health. The Sustainability Studies minor is one of several interdisciplinary programs through which such diverse courses come together.
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