One of the greatest challenges facing our world in the 21st century is jointly sustaining the environment, as well as human health and well-being. Seeking sustainability means seeking solutions that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A sustainable perspective recognizes the conflicts and trade-offs of balancing economic growth, social equity, and environmental integrity. Students who learn to approach complex environmental problems from this perspective today will become the leaders, scientists, and engaged citizens of tomorrow.
The University of Minnesota’s Sustainability Studies Minor immerses students in the study of real-world problems from a variety of academic perspectives, incorporating disciplines from across the natural, social, and applied sciences. Administered by the Institute on the Environment, the program is unique in its efforts to engage students from every college at the U of M, offering collaborative opportunities that transcend disciplines. Through these diverse perspectives, students will better understand the values, choices, technologies, and policies that create a sustainable world.
For those students who are interested in making sustainability a more integral part of their education, the U of M offers many undergraduate majors that are especially compatible with the Sustainability Studies Minor. You can see a detailed list of majors that are considered complementary to the Minor here. Sustainability can be incorporated into a more diverse range of disciplines than you might think!
The U of M faculty who participated in creating the Sustainability Studies Minor deliberately created a stand-alone, interdisciplinary minor, rather than a full-fledged department or major in sustainability. Because of the breadth and wide-ranging applicability of the principles of sustainability, many faculty members envisioned sustainability as a bridge across different disciplines, rather than as a new discipline unto itself. They wanted students to become educated in particular fields or specialized disciplines, with sustainability as an additional element. Some faculty envision more opportunities in sustainability education at the undergraduate level, including majors emphasizing sustainability themes like food systems or renewable energy. To learn more about the emerging suite of graduate-level opportunities to study issues of sustainability, go to the Graduate section of this website.