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Sustainability Studies Undergraduate Minor

Problems of environmental degradation, social justice and economic inequality are more pressing than ever, and the demand for people with the determination and skills to address them has never been greater. Employers in all fields seek to hire Auburn graduates who understand the complexities of the world’s challenges, who think outside the box and who can find innovative, sustainable solutions to those challenges. Billions of dollars are invested annually in green technology, renewable energy, green jobs and ethical business solutions around the world.

With a diverse selection of 90+ courses and study abroad programs, the interdisciplinary minor in sustainability studies offers students the opportunity to gain wide-ranging expertise and hands-on experience with the most crucial issues in contemporary society.

Why Minor in Sustainability Studies?

Sustainability Studies students come from a wide variety of majors, and courses in the minor run the gamut from engineering and biology to history and philosophy. The minor trains students to view the world through multiple disciplinary lenses, and to bring those perspectives together in search of creative solutions to contemporary challenges.

Sustainability students care about the world around them, on both a global and a local scale. Courses in the minor help them identify, evaluate and implement ways they can make a positive difference for themselves, their communities and the world.

Courses in the minor emphasize a wide range of skills and knowledge that are sought after by employers, including interdisciplinary and systems thinking, creative problem-solving and hands-on experience. A minor in sustainability studies signals to employers that you have specialized expertise in and commitment to questions of economic, environmental and social viability. Recent graduates have gone on to prestigious graduate programs and found employment in a wide range of fields including interior design, environmental services, land and water management, engineering, business, consulting and the public and nonprofit sectors.

Get your hands dirty working in a community garden; wade into rivers and ponds to collect samples; explore local parks and forests to learn about Alabama’s flora, fauna and natural resources; or mentor children from the local community. For many of your sustainability-affiliated courses, the woods, streams, gardens and neighborhoods of Auburn and its surrounding communities will be your classrooms. Affiliated study abroad programs in Fiji, Spain, Denmark, Australia, Costa Rica and beyond let you earn credit towards the minor while you explore the world.

Sustainability studies minors find that the lessons they learn in the classroom permeate every aspect of their lives, from consumption patterns and diet to self-care and personal relationships. Sustainability's systems-thinking and interdisciplinarity push students to consider multiple perspectives and the ramifications of their actions, while an expanded awareness of the impacts of individual actions empowers them to make informed choices on a daily basis.

Minor Requirements

Students from any major may pursue the minor in sustainability studies. The minor requires 15 credit hours with at least 9 hours at the 3000-level or above. Sustainability studies offers a variety of courses. Classes that are offered every semester are listed on the course listing page. Courses can also be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Required Courses

SUST 2000 (or HONR 1027): Introduction to Sustainability, 3 credits

SUST 5000: Senior Capstone in Sustainability, 3 credits


Nine credits of electives are required in at least three of the five fields: (1) engineering, technology and design; (2) natural and physical sciences; (3) social and human sciences; (4) arts and humanities; and (5) study abroad.

  • BSEN 3230: Natural Resource Conservation Engineering (Spring; PR BSEN 3310 or instructor permission)
  • BSEN 5510: Ecological Engineering (PR BSEN 3230)
  • BSEN 5540: Biomass and Biofuels Engineering (Fall, PR CHEM 1040, Math 2650 & BSEN 3310)
  • CADS 5150: Global Issues in Interior Design
  • CADS 5310: Sustainable Design and LEED Accreditation (Spring)
  • CPLN 5060: Sustainable Transportation Planning (Spring)
  • CPLN 5110: Sustainable Urbanism and Growth Management (Spring)
  • ELEC 5970: Renewable Energy
  • ENVD 2200: Readings in Landscape Architecture (Spring, Instructor Permission)
  • GEOG 5850: GIS Applications - Environmental Justice (Spring)
  • LAND 5250: Construction II: Materials & Detailing (Spring)
  • MATL 2210: Materials for Sustainable Energy Production and Storage (1 Credit)
  • MATL 2220: Materials and the Environment (1 Credit)
  • MATL 2230: Mineral Resources: Availability and Processing (1-Credit)
    *NOTE: Take all three MATL 2210/2220/2230 to count as one 3-credit course. One of these courses is offered each fall / spring and the courses do not need to be taken in sequence.
  • MECH 5050: Renewable Energy Resources and Applications (Spring of even-numbered years; PR ENGR 2010, ENGR 2200 or instructor permission)


  • APBT 5660: Figure Fundamentals: Scientific Illustration (Fall, contract required) *NOTE: you must create a course contract to receive credit for this class towards your sustainability studies minor.
  • BIOL 3060: Ecology (Every semester, PR 8 hours Biology)
  • BIOL 5090: Conservation Biology (Fall, PR BIOL 3060)
  • BIOP 2120: Frontiers in Sustainable Materials (Every semester)
  • BIOP 4840: Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment (Fall, PR BIOP 3390 or instructor permission)
  • CSES 1010: Soils and Life (Fall)
  • CSES 1020: Crops and Life (Spring)
  • CSES 5000: Soils and Environmental Quality (Fall)
  • CSES 5400/3: Bioenergy and the Environment (Spring, Summer & Online)
  • ENTM 2040: Insects (Fall)
  • ENTM 4020: Economic Entomology (Fall, PR BIOL 1040)
  • ENTM/PLPA 5330: Integrated Pest Management (Spring of even-numbered years, PR BIOL 1030)
  • ENTM 5500: Bee Biology and Management (Spring, PR BIOL 1030, BIOL 1037 or instructor consent)
  • FOWS/FORY 5400: Forest Economics (Spring)
  • FOWS 5220: Landscape Ecology (Spring of even-numbered years, PR BIOL 3060 or WILD 3280)
  • FOWS 5340: Invasion Ecology (Spring)
  • GEOG 2020: Physical Geography (Every Semester)
  • GEOG 5010: Urban Geography (Spring)
  • GEOG 5210: Climatology (Fall)
  • HORT 2040: Organic Gardening
  • HORT 2050/2053: Food for Thought (Every semester, Online and F2F)
  • NATR 4240: Watershed Management (Spring)
  • NATR 5050: Urban Ecology (Fall of even-numbered years)
  • NATR 5250: Wetland Ecology and Management (Spring, PR BIOL 3060: Ecology)
  • WILD 3280: Wildlife Ecology, Conservation and Management (Fall, PR BIOL 1020)


  • ANSC 2010: Animals and Society
  • ANTH 3700: Political Ecology (Fall)
  • ANTH 3950: Archaeological Curation (Every other year)
  • ANTH 5200: Gender, Culture, and Development (Every third spring)
  • CADS 2000: Global Consumer Culture (Every semester)
  • CPLN 5010: Introduction to Community Planning (Every semester)
  • CPLN 5020: Cities, Planning and Climate Change (Every 2-3 semesters)
  • CPLN 5040: Land Use Planning (Spring)
  • CPLN 5080: Affordable Housing Planning and Policy (Spring)
  • CPLN 5090: Community Development (Fall)
  • CMDS 2503: Communication Disorders in Society (2 credits; every semester)
  • FORY 4970: Special Topics. Please note that this is a "special topics" course. ONLY the listed topics are acceptable for the minor without the permission of the director of the Academic Sustainability Program.
    • FORY 4970: Coastal Law (Summer)
  • FORY 5540/5543: Environmental Law (Spring)
  • FOWS 4310: Ecotourism (Spring)
  • FOWS 5270: Natural Resource Policy (Every semester)
  • FOWS 5320: Environmental Services (Spring)
  • FOWS 5620: Natural Resource Finance and Investment (Spring)
  • GEOG 2010: Human Geography (Every semester)
  • GEOG 5510: Human-Environment Interaction (Spring of odd-numbered years)
  • GEOG 5550: Geography of Water Resources (Fall)
  • HDFS 4700: Gender in Close Relationships (Spring)
  • HUSC 2000/2003/2007: Hunger Causes, Consequences and Responses (Every semester)
  • NATR 2050: People and the Environment (Fall)
  • NATR 5430: Human Dimensions of Fisheries, Wildlife and Natural Resources (Spring)
  • NATR 5630: Conservation Planning (Spring)
  • NATR 5880: Ecological Economics (Fall)
  • POLI 2120: Urbanization and the City (Fall)
  • POLI 5550: Environmental Policy and Administration (Intermittent)
  • PRCM 4970: Special Topics in Public Relations. Please note that this is a "special topics" course. ONLY the listed topics are acceptable for the minor without the permission of the Director of the Academic Sustainability Program.
    • PRCM 4970: Public Interest Communication (Intermittent)
  • RSOC 3190: Food, Agriculture and Society (Fall)
  • RSOC 3560: Environment, Society and Justice (Fall)
  • RSOC 5190: Sociology of Sustainable Agrifood Systems (Fall of odd-numbered years)
  • RSOC 5650: Sociology of Natural Resources and the Environment (Spring)
  • SCMN 4620: Sustainable Supply Chain Management (Fall, PR SCMN 2150/2153 and SCMN 3710/3713)
  • SOCY 1100: Current Issues in Race and Ethnicity (Spring)
  • SOCY 3500: Social Inequality (Every semester, PR SOCY 1000 or 1007)
  • SOCY 5680: Social Movements (Intermittent, PR SOCY 1000 or 1007)
  • UNIV 1110: Live Green, Save Green (Fall)
  • WMST 3500: Gender, Beauty, and Culture


  • ENGL 4040: Public Writing (Annually)
  • ENGL 4310: Renaissance English Literature. Please note that this is a "special topics" course. ONLY the listed topics are acceptable for the minor without the permission of the director of the Academic Sustainability Program. For other topics, approval is needed.
    • ENGL 4310: Environmental Literature in Early Modern England
  • ENGL 4450: Black Male Joy within American Absurdity (Every other year)
  • ENGL 4700: Topics in Literature. Please note that this is a "special topics" course. ONLY the listed topics are acceptable for the minor without the permission of the director of the Academic Sustainability Program.
    • ENGL 4700: Writing About Nature in the 21st Century (Intermittent)
  • ENGL 4710: Gender and Literature (Every other year)
  • ENGL 4740: Environment, Literature and Culture (Spring)
  • FLIT 3510: Please note that this is a "special topics" course. ONLY the listed topics are acceptable for the minor without the permission of the director of the Academic Sustainability Program.
    • Italian Environmental Literature and Culture (Intermittent)
  • HIST 3020: Women in American History (Fall of odd-numbered years)
  • HIST 3060: Issues in African American History
  • HIST 3080: The Civil Rights Movement (Every other spring)
  • HIST 3090: History of Appalachia (Fall of odd-numbered years)
  • HIST 3590: Food and Power 
  • HIST 3550: American Environmental History (Intermittent)
  • HIST 3970: Please note that this is a "special topics" course. ONLY the listed topics are acceptable for the minor without the permission of the director of the Academic Sustainability Program.
    • Global Environmental History (Intermittent)
    • Issues in Af-Am Hist: Migration, Movement, and Landscape (Intermittent)
  • HIST 5970: Please note that this is a "special topics" course. ONLY the listed topics are acceptable for the minor without the permission of the director of the Academic Sustainability Program.
    • Gender and Technology in Historical Perspective (Intermittent)
    • Race and Landscape at Auburn
    • History of American Energy
  • MDIA 3750: Race and American Film History (Intermittent)
  • NATR 5310: Environmental Ethics (Every semester)
  • PHIL 1123: Introduction to Environmental Ethics (Spring)
  • THEA 4690: Artists and Communities (Spring of even-numbered years)


The following programs are pre-approved. If you believe another program or course should be added to this list, please contact the director of the Academic Sustainability Program.

  • ANTH 4960 Special Topics: Water, Waste, and Tourism in Quintana Roo, Mexico (3 credits)
  • FOWS 3800/3810: The Role of Forests in Human Livelihood and Health in Africa: South Africa and Madagascar (5 credits)
  • INTL 1977: Honors College Special Topics in International Sustainability (Pre-Freshman Study & Travel) (2 credits)
  • HUSC 5940: Sustainability in Action: Fiji (6 credits)
  • ENGR 3970: Regional Sustainable Technologies and Practices in Northern Spain (6 credits)
  • BIOL 4970: Biodiversity, Conservation and Sustainability: Costa Rica (3 credits)
  • BIOL 4970: Conservation and Research in the Peruvian Rainforest (3 credits)
  • ENVD 4100 (6 credits, open to ENVD students only) or ENVD 4970 (3 credits, open to all): Environmental Design Program in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • VBMS 3050: Tropical Veterinary Science and the Great Barrier Reef (2 credits)


Course Contracts

Course contracts are a great way for sustainability studies minors to receive credit for classes that are not ordinarily part of the Academic Sustainability Program. If you are enrolled or plan to enroll in a course that addresses sustainability-adjacent issues, or which you can complete with a special focus on issues of sustainability, you may want to create a contract with the instructor that will allow you to earn credit for the course towards your minor.

In order to count a class as an elective toward the sustainability studies minor, it must have a significant sustainability-related component. In many cases, students can choose to focus on sustainability themes within the existing structure of the class: you might select a sustainability-related topic for your final paper, for instance, or complete service-learning or field studies in relevant venues.

To request a course contract, the first step is to talk to the instructor of the class and ask them if you can complete the class for credit toward the minor in sustainability studies, and decide how you will focus on sustainability in the class. Next, contact the director of the Academic Sustainability Program at, to discuss the course contract. You will need to provide a written description of how you will incorporate sustainability into the class.

Course Additions

Faculty who would like to add their class to the minor in sustainability studies should send a request to Rebecca Retzlaff, director of the Academic Sustainability Program, and include their syllabus.