University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Sustainability Education

Sustainability Studies Minor | Make an advising appointment

Beth Mercer-Taylor

Sustainability Education Coordinator
(612) 624 – 9430


Beth Mercer-Taylor is the sustainability education coordinator at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She administers the Sustainability Studies Minor, an interdisciplinary, free-standing program with nearly 200 undergraduates enrolled. Her work involves recruiting and advising students, creating community-building activities, coordinating the efforts of the curriculum committee that oversees the minor’s academic program, and leading new initiatives related to sustainability on campus.

Barrett Colombo

Portrait: Barrett Colombo

Sustainability Education Curriculum Developer
(612) 626-2167


Barrett Colombo works with the Global Landscapes Initiative, where he is producing online projects that translate GLI’s cutting-edge scientific research to a broader audience of environmental decision makers. Current projects include a science-based narrative about the world’s food system using text, interactive graphics, and a repository of maps and slides. Barrett is also a curriculum and program developer within the Sustainability Education program, wher he is a developer and co-instructor for an Honors challenge course on global food systems.

He has worked previously as a policy analyst as well as a high school teacher outside Boston and in Washington, D.C. Barrett has a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Kate Flick

Portrait: Kate Flick

Research Assistant


Kate Flick is pursuing a PhD in natural resource science and management/landscape architecture and a research assistantship with Sustainability Education. She is interested in engaging multicultural healing/permaculture landscapes geared toward public education and learning design in changing climates and times. She most recently worked at the College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainable Development Institute exploring diverse ways of knowing in place-based science education as well as student empowerment through systems thinking, experiential learning and media projects. She received her B.S. in community and environmental sociology (UW-Madison) and her M.S. in forest ecology and management (University of Freiburg) as a D.A.A.D scholar.

Lauren McCarthy

Sustainability Education Minor Adviser

Lauren McCarthy is the Sustainability Studies minor adviser, as well as a scholarship coordinator for CFANS undergraduates. Lauren worked with scholarships, orientation services, and Honors students at the University of Iowa. She received her BA in Political Science and International Studies from the University of Iowa in 2006 and her MPhil in Latin American Studies from Cambridge University in 2007.

Mary Oldham

Portrait: Mary Oldham

Educational Coordinator


Mary Oldham supports Sustainability Education at IonE, including coordinating the host committee and University of Minnesota’s delegation to the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2015 conference in Minneapolis, developing the Living Learning Labs program and leading a visioning process for Sustainability Education. Mary has a master of public policy degree from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a B.S. in chemical engineering from Iowa State. She has worked in manufacturing in the Los Angeles area and with students in Mombasa, Kenya. She enjoys empowering students to follow their passion for a sustainable future and connecting people with disparate interests across curriculum and sectors.

Sustainability Faculty Network


Carissa Schively Slotterback

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
(612) 625-0640

Carissa Schively Slotterback directs the Graduate Sustainability Education Network, a grassroots collaboration of U of MN faculty focused on enhancing sustainability education.  In addition, she is an Associate Professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. She teaches courses in environmental and land use planning, participation, and sustainability planning. Her research is focused on participation in environmental and land use decision-making, environmental impact analysis, and planning processes and implementation, with a particular focus on how people use information to make decisions. Her current projects focus on collaborative environmental planning processes focused on landscape-scale forest planning in NE Minnesota and watershed planning to support biomass production and water quality in agricultural landscapes. In addition, she is working on a study of complete streets planning and implementation.  She also serves as Director of the Urban and Regional Planning graduate program.  She has faculty appointments in Conservation Biology; Natural Resource Sciences and Management, and Landscape Architecture. In addition, she is a Resident Fellow in the Institute on the Environment and Faculty Scholar with the Center for Transportation Studies.

Student Employees

Liz Hoke

Portrait: Liz Hoke

Communications Assistant

Liz Hoke joined IonE as a communications assistant in September 2013 while an undergraduate student in the College of Biological Sciences. Prior to joining the IonE team, she contributed two summers of neurobehavioral toxicology research for the Children’s Environmental Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She has channeled her passion for sustainability through internships at the 2013 Washington Youth Summit on the Environment as well as the 2013 Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation Ecology Week.

Liz plans to keep sustainability education and activism part of her life as she builds her career as a biological research scientist.

Nathan Michielson


Undergraduate Assistant for Communications and Research

Nathan Michielson is an undergraduate student studying environmental sciences, policy, and management focusing on policy and law. He also plans on pairing this with a double minor in social justice and sustainability studies. With this, Nathan plans to focus on environmental justice and work towards social and policy change surrounding environmental oppressions such as environmental racism.  He is involved with the Research Apprenticeship Program and Dean’s Engaged Leaders Program both within CFANS, and plans on getting the most of his University of Minnesota experience by joining student organizations with sustainable and social change goals. In Nathan’s free time he enjoys hiking, cross country skiing, and going to farmer’s markets.

Erica Vanden Bush

Portrait: Erica Vanden Busch

Graphic Design Intern

Erica Vanden Busch is an undergraduate student studying graphic design and minoring in mass communication. It is exciting for her to combine her interests in sustainability and her passion for design. At work, her goal is to capture all that is sustainability education and communicate it visually. Erica enjoys photography, exploring the outdoors, yoga, and spending time with friends, family, and her dog.

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.