Certificate in Environmental and Sustainability Studies

The certificate is open for student enrollment as of August 2017 – ask your advisor or the Certificate Faculty Coordinator (Prof. Robert Marzec) today about more information!

The Certificate in Environmental and Sustainability Studies is a new, interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate administered by the Center for the Environment. The Certificate gives students working in multiple disciplines a broad exposure to how environmental and sustainability challenges and solutions are conceived, represented, and researched in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Agriculture, and STEM disciplines. The certificate introduces students to a wide range of environmental issues from diverse perspectives so that they can more effectively comprehend and evaluate today’s environmental and sustainability challenges.

Certificate Learning Outcomes

The certificate is designed to help students in all majors take a more sophisticated and integrated approach to solving environmental and sustainability challenges in their future careers.  Students acquiring the Certificate in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (CESS) will achieve the following learning outcomes:

  1. KNOWLEDGE: Students will be able to identify, describe, and relate the diverse causes (social, cultural, political, economic, historical, scientific) and consequences of pressing environmental and sustainability challenges, such as climate change, resource scarcity, biodiversity, population growth).
  2. COMPREHENSION: Students will be able to distinguish, paraphrase, and translate different disciplinary perspectives on these key environmental and sustainability challenges.
  3. ANALYSIS: Students will familiarize themselves with, and learn to push the boundaries of, different disciplinary approaches by comparing and contrasting solutions to environmental issues (scientific, technical, engineered, social, economic, historic, and ethical components).
  4. SYNTHESIS: Students will learn to combine different disciplinary approaches by synthesizing, reorganizing, and reformulating diverse viewpoints.
  5. APPLICATION: Students will demonstrate ability to communicate across disciplines on environmental and sustainability problems through the production of appropriate interdisciplinary instructional assignments. Students will illustrate their diversity of knowledge by applying their work in multi-disciplinary teams on sustainability challenges.
  6. EVALUATION: Students will estimate the efficacy of different disciplinary approaches through assessing that efficacy in real-world applications. 

Certificate Requirements

The CESS requires 15 credits hours as described below:

1) 3-credit course: Introduction to Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ANTH 326/ENGL 393). All students must complete this team-taught interdisciplinary course introducing diverse perspectives on environment and sustainability problems, and skills in interdisciplinary communication and teamwork.

2) 3-credits in each of the three categories below:

  • Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political Dimensions
  • Stewardship, Conservation, and Management Dimensions
  • Science, Engineering, and Technological Dimensions 

Students participating in the Certificate in Environmental and Sustainability Studies are required to complete at least one course in each of the above three categories. By doing so, students will learn about the diversity of causes and consequences of environmental and sustainability challenges, and about the different disciplinary approaches to addressing these issues. 

3) 3-credit interdisciplinary capstone project:

The capstone project offers an opportunity to develop an extended interdisciplinary analysis of a significant sustainability or environmental problem. To complete this requirement, students must enroll in a 3-credit independent research project or directed reading class that will be designated by the faculty advisor and student to apply to the CESS capstone requirement, with approval by the CESS faculty committee.

For detailed information on certificate requirements, including specific classes qualifying for each course category, see the official plan of study.

Student Projects and Comments on Certificate Coursework

"I have never had a class structured this way, and it has helped me understand what working ‘in the real world’ might be like and beyond that has just led me to better understand complex environmental issues."

"It is helpful to have professors from multiple disciplines talk about the environment form their perspectives. It gives the students an access to a wealth of knowledge."

Final Presentations, Intro to Environmental and Sustainability Studies Spring 2017

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