Sustainability

Karen L. Eckert, Professor

Faculty from other disciplines also support this program.

The purpose of the interdisciplinary minor in sustainability is to provide an opportunity for students to focus their intellectual inquiry on issues and problems related to local and global sustainability. The program emphasizes connections between society and the environment, and is designed to complement any Principia College major. Sustainability minors join a community of students, faculty, and staff committed to seeking solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems in ways that “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

Students complete an introductory course, four courses selected from within five content spheres, and an independent project. Courses in the social sphere look at how human behavior and relations, ethical and theological values, and societal organization function as related to increasing sustainability. Courses in the economic sphere deal with business practices and governance systems that lead to sustainable societies. Courses in the environmental sphere focus on sustainable natural resource use and management, analyze environmental issues, and seek solutions to today's resource needs, while also conserving for future generations. Students choose between a built environment content sphere (prepares students to design human and mechanical systems that reduce resource consumption and environmental damage, promote regenerative processes, encourage innovation, build community, and enhance quality of life) and a leadership and communication sphere (prepares students to become successful “change agents” by examining strategies for motivating sustainable behavior, communicating effectively, resolving conflict, and developing effectual, ethical leadership styles).

To be listed as part of the sustainability minor, a course must address at least one of the sustainability minor learning outcomes and (with the exception of the skills-based leadership and communication sphere) must include a significant project or assignment looking at sustainability from the perspective of the course discipline. No more than two courses may be taken from any single academic department other than sustainability. SUS 280 Topics in Sustainability can be applied to any one of the content spheres, depending on the specific course topic when it is offered. SUS 395 Sustainability Internship and SUS 401 Sustainability Project must be taken for a minimum of 3 SH to be included in the six courses required to achieve the minor.

SUS 151Introduction to Sustainability3.0 SH[  ]

An introduction to the basic principles underlying the topic of sustainability. Students discuss sustainability from different perspectives and scales, explore how sustainability relates to their lives and values, and demonstrate knowledge of sustainable practices and their effects on the economy, the environment, and social equity. Guest lecturers provide students with a view of contemporary issues from a multi-disciplinary approach.
Class Level Restriction: Freshman and Sophomore only.

SUS 250Energy and Living Systems3.0 SH[  ]

In this course students begin to think about the mechanical and living systems in everyday life and how to make them more sustainable. Students learn a systems approach to thinking as they focus on the home and building energy systems such as insulation, conservation measures, and home energy generation important to sustaining our modern way of life.

SUS 260Sustainable Development3.0 SH[  ]

An introduction to the interdisciplinary field of sustainable development. Drawing from the social, policy, and physical sciences, the course explores how the world economy can continue to develop in a way that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable and offers a broad overview of the key challenges and potential solutions to achieve sustainable development in the 21st century.
Prerequisite: SUS 151.

SUS 280Topics in Sustainability1.0-4.0 SH[  ]

Offered when regular or visting faculty are available to work with students on advanced topics in sustainability. May be offered on Principia abroads. The title will be extended to describe the current topic or region. May be repeated more than once for a maximum of 8 SH, provided the topics differ. Depending on Abroad timing, a star(*) grade may be offered until the following midterm.

SUS 395Sustainability Internship1.0-3.0 SH[  ]

The issue of sustainability is one of the most theoretically and practically complex questions of our time. Experiential learning outside the classroom provides an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with corporations, organizations and agencies successfully acting as change agents in solving problems related to local, national and global sustainability. Available to students enrolled in any major degree discipline.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.

SUS 401Sustainability Project1.0-3.0 SH[  ]

Practical project under faculty supervision designed in accordance with student qualifications and interests. May be offered on a contract basis. May receive a star (*) grade if the project spans more than one semester, with a final grade assigned upon completion of the project. May be repeated up to a maximum of six semester hours, which may apply to the sustainability minor.
Class Level Restriction: Junior and Senior only.