Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability: SUS minor

What is the SUS minor?

Are you concerned about the state of the world – for example, the climate crisis? Threats to vulnerable human populations? Mass extinctions? Bad water or air quality?

Are you hopeful about the future – your ability to have your voice heard, enact change, protect and defend threatened people and other species, create the healthy and equitable world you want to live in with your families and friends?

Then the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability & Resilience is for you!

This minor program draws from class options across the campus – all fields, majors, and departments – to address the environmental, humanitarian, and economic crises facing us through classroom and applied projects. The required classes give you foundational skills and then allow you to pull all of your knowledge together in practical, applied projects in a capstone course. This minor will give you the broad, interdisciplinary knowledge, leadership dispositions, and practical tools you will need to confront the complex problems of your futures.

With whom do I speak about this minor?

For more information: Director of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability, Dr. Cheryl Wanko, Department of English.

Looking to add the minor? Go to myWCU. Find "Change/update/add a Plan." Choose "Select a minor." For Department, select "Interdisciplinary Studies." You should see the Sustainability minor in the drop-down list.

Can I get financial support for this minor?

Check out these scholarship opportunities.

What is required?

Students building structure

Download the advising sheet here

  • SUS100Introduction to Sustainability and Resilience. Core course, Interdisciplinary Gen Ed.
    In this course, students will identify and imagine solutions for unsustainable patterns in social, economic, and environmental systems and individual behavior, both on campus and in the broader world.
  • SUS400Sustainability Capstone: Application & Leadership. Capstone course, Writing Emphasis Gen Ed.
    In this course, students will apply prior sustainability knowledge in collaborative and individual projects to develop the interpersonal and managerial capacities necessary to be change leaders for sustainability.
  • Four electives
    • two must be upper level
    • one must be a sustainability-related course in your major (under advisement of the director)
    • choose from the approved list – other courses approved with advisement of the director


Other classes (upon Director's approval):

  • ARH 401. Contemporary Art. (permission req)
  • BIO 277. Vertebrate Ecology. (pre-req)
  • BIO 270. Ecology. (pre-req)
  • BIO 315. Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. (pre-req)
  • BIO 476. Freshwater Ecology. (pre-req)
  • BIO 470. Population Biology. (pre-req)
  • CRJ 318. Environmental Crime. (pre-req)
  • CRJ 325. Animal Cruelty. (pre-req)
  • ENV 324. Environmental Sustainability.
  • EXS 487. Physical Activity and the Environment. (pre-req)
  • ESS 127. Movies, Media, and Entertainment from an Earth and Space Science Perspective.
  • ESS 128. The Science of Natural Disasters.
  • ESS 336. Environmental Geology. (pre-req)
  • ENV 447. Environmental Regulations. (pre-req)
  • ENV 451. Environmental Toxicology. (pre-req)
  • ENV 462. Water Quality and Health. (pre-req)
  • MDC 420. Mass Media & Social Protest. (ethics, pre-reqs)
  • NTD 304. Global Nutrition.
  • NTD 305. Vegetarian Nutrition. (pre-req)
  • NTD 315. Food - Mind - Spirit. (pre-reqs)
  • NTD 415. Community Nutrition. (pre-req)
  • NTD 426. Farm to Table Food Product Development. (pre-req)
  • PAX 200. Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies. (I)
  • PAX 377. Community Organizing: Strategies and Practice. (pre-reqs)
  • PHY 125. Theology and Science: Enemies or Partners.
  • PLN 316. Planning for Resilient Communities and Natural Disasters.
  • PLN 336. Environmental Planning.
  • PSC 325. Campaigns and Elections.
  • PSC 351. Energy and the Political Process.
  • PSC 371. State and Local Government.
  • RUX 110. Introduction to Urban Community Change.
  • RUX 215. Liberation Psychology: Sustaining Community Change. (pre-req)
  • RUX 377. Community Organizing: Strategies and Practice. (pre-req)
  • WOS 366. Gender, Labor and Globalization.

Students Rafting

What are some related student activities?

  • Sustainability general education pathway - a transcripted certificate program that allows students to focus on sustainability as they complete their gen eds.
  • Students for Sustainable Action - student-run organization designed to encourage all students to participate in campus-wide sustainability efforts by providing a student-centered environment for discussion and collaboration. By bringing different student organizations together to collaborate, divide, and conquer on projects, we can achieve the common goal of advancing sustainability at WCU. Email the Office of Sustainability to get in touch with current student leaders.
  • Office of Sustainability: Get Involved! - to find other student organizations and events.

What can I do with this minor?

Working with FabricNo industry or sector in the American economy remains untouched by the growing demand for sustainability. Regardless of whether you desire to work in education, business, non-profit or government sectors you will find organizations in need of sustainability leaders and sustainability-minded thinkers.

  • Schools are looking for educators who can teach about sustainability and incorporate sustainability thinking into traditional academic subjects like art, history, language arts and foreign language, mathematics, and social science. In addition, you will find that educational institutions are often looking for educators to help lead schools in the adoption of more sustainable practices and to develop extracurricular sustainability programs for students.
  • Businesses often see sustainability initiatives as advantageous it at least two ways: 1) implementing sustainability practices often reduces the cost of operation and production, thereby increasing profitability; and 2) sustainability initiatives help businesses show the public, clients, and investors that the business cares about social responsibility and corporate citizenship. Some large companies have a sustainability director or manager whose sole job is to help the company become more sustainability and produce annual reports about those improvements. Other companies look for employees that can bring sustainability thinking to their general duties.
  • Non-profit organizations do a great deal of work in environmental stewardship and advocacy such as land preservation and conservation, environmental research, legal and political advocacy, and community-based agricultural and educational organizations. These organizations are often looking for employees that can bring to the organization both primary training in skills like writing, media production, marketing, education, and research both also secondary knowledge of sustainability and environmental science.
  • Local, county, state, and federal government departments are often compelled by legal mandates to identify opportunities for sustainable practices and where feasible to implement those practices. The City of Philadelphia, for example, has an Office of Sustainability that does this work. The Pennsylvania Department for Conservation of Natural Resources (DCNR) has a Sustainable Practices programs that looks to implement sustainability measures on state lands and buildings. At the national level, the Office of Federal Sustainability works to implement sustainable practices across all federal government operations.

Check out these web resources!

What are the goals of this minor?

Goal 1: Envision and create positive futures

  • 1A. Students will identify their role in the local and global community and reflect on their own values, perceptions, feelings, desires and actions as they relate to living sustainably
  • 1B. Students will critique their thinking and to compare their ways of knowing in an effort to learn and to flourish over time in a diverse, interconnected world
  • 1C. Students will imagine, create, and express their own positive visions for the future and for socio-environmental change (i.e. visions that promote improved quality of life and wellbeing for all; meeting the needs of present and future generations; justice and equity; and living within ecosystem limits)
  • 1D. Students will anticipate and construct plausible futures, and implement actions in the service of their individual and collective visions.

Goal 2: Cultivate a sustainability perspective

  • 2A. Students will develop a perspective that recognizes and integrates multiple dimensions of sustainability (e.g. social, economic, environmental, historical, cultural, aesthetic, etc.)
  • 2B. Students will identify the ethical implications of their actions and assess the potential of ethical systems to guide humans to live sustainably
  • 2C. Students will explain the value of multiple, diverse perspectives in creating shared visions and actions that contribute to a sustainable future locally and globally.
  • 2D. Students will question norms, practices and opinions and formulate a position in the sustainability discourse.

Goal 3: Understand and employ systems thinking to solve problems

  • 3A. Students will apply the tools and concepts of system dynamics and systems thinking to their present lives, and to choices that will affect our future.
  • 3B. Students will plan and organize efforts to advance sustainability in their local and global communities
  • 3C. Students will apply different problem-solving frameworks to complex sustainability problems and develop viable, inclusive and equitable solution options that promote sustainable development.
  • 3D. Students will explore the link between the health of the biosphere and the health of the “ethnosphere” and will assess what to preserve and what to change in order for future generations of cultures and communities to thrive over time.

Goal 4: Understand the dynamics and limits of natural and social systems

  • 4A. Students will explain the origins and meanings of sustainability and living sustainably
  • 4B. Students will explain characteristics of sustainable and unsustainable social, economic, and political systems
  • 4C. Students will describe the interrelationships among the social, economic, environmental, historical and other facets of our bioregion and contribute to its regeneration and health.
  • 4D. Students will identify the laws and principles that govern life on Earth, and will describe their interdependence with other humans and their dependence on natural systems
  • 4E. Students will develop projects that recognize and address these limits.
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