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New minor broadens scope of sustainability offerings

September 13, 2010

Arizona State University has launched a new minor in sustainability that can complement a student’s major in another academic discipline. This unique 18-credit program enables undergraduate students to explore the challenges of sustainability and learn what determines the sustainability of human institutions, organizations, cultures and technologies in different environments at the local, national and international levels.

The minor offered this fall marks a milestone for ASU’s initiative to make sustainability education and practices universitywide across all four campuses.

The minor is available for undergraduate students in all major programs that do not already offer a sustainability minor or concentration. The series of courses will introduce sustainability principles and explain how sustainability relates to various academic disciplines and professional fields. In addition to two new courses on sustainability principles, students will be required to take courses that touch on two of four themes: Earth Systems; Human Transformation of the Earth; Coupled Human-Environment Systems; and Social, Political, and Economic Treatment of Natural Resources and Environment.

“The demand already exists for sustainability education," said Chris Boone, associate dean of education for the School of Sustainability. "The minor allows students unable to commit to a sustainability major to apply sustainability principles and practices to their own field of study. An increasing number of companies and agencies ask for students with a sustainability background, and the minor in sustainability is designed to offer a path for students to create their own jobs in the area of sustainability.”

Sustainability is a core educational principle at ASU and courses offered under this minor will continue to develop and grow. One currently under way is Advanced Concepts and Integrated Approaches in Sustainability. This course will connect students with outside professionals, providing students with multiple perspectives and real world learning experiences.

“The sustainability minor is a university-wide minor, meaning that it is owned by the university and not by one particular department. Students can receive advising from the department of their current major,” said Lisa Murphy, program development specialist for the School of Sustainability. “Advisers across the university will be equipped to answer questions and add the sustainability minor to their student’s plan of study.”

“The multidisciplinary nature of ASU’s minor in sustainability is very appealing to students, and enrollment is predicted to eventually reach the thousands,” Boone added.

ASU has been ranked 81st in the top 100 universities in the world by the Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Further, ASU has been named one of the country’s best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review in its 2011 annual college guide, “The Best 373 Colleges.” ASU also made the “Green Honor Roll,” rating as one of the nation's 18 "greenest" universities, and is named among the top 120 Best Western Colleges.

For more information about the sustainability minor visit: