Humans are currently facing some of the greatest environmental challenges ever experienced by our species. Global climate change, energy shortages, loss of species and ecological diversity, deforestation, environmental pollution, and acidifying oceans, combined with vast differences in political power and wealth, lend urgency to studies devoted to sustainable policies and environmental management.

The SDSU sustainability program is intended to meet these challenges by enabling students to explore the interacting cultural, sociopolitical, and biophysical aspects of complex environmental problems and devise practical solutions. To accomplish this, sustainability majors are introduced to concepts and methodologies from the humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences and gain an interdisciplinary understanding of the many pressing environmental issues facing the nation and the world.

Program Overview

The requirements for the sustainability major involve 15 units of premajor courses, 12 units of integrative core courses, 24 units of field distribution courses, a study abroad experience, and a three-unit capstone course. These requirements are in addition to the University's general education requirements.

The central focus of the degree is the interface of human and natural systems. The curriculum emphasizes the study of cultural, historic, social, economic, and political values and forces that shape resource use and constrain responses to sustainable development.

A minor is not required with the sustainability major; however, we recommend that students gain competency in a chosen geographic region, tied to their choice of foreign language and study abroad experience.

Currently this program does not offer a minor in sustainability. However, students may consider a similar minor called Environment and Society.

Special Features

The sustainability major is one of several options for students interested in sustainability, environmental quality and related fields. This program is for the student who wants to approach these issues from both social and natural science perspectives. Students who are deeply engaged by the scientific or engineering questions behind sustainability should also consider the Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering programs.

A number of student groups on campus are concerned with sustainability and the environment:

Career Opportunities

In both the academic and business worlds many are arguing that the 21st century will be the "century of the environment." There's a growing consensus that sustainability and environmentalism are growing mega-trends and that they will offer "ahead-of-the-curve" careers.

Graduates from the SDSU sustainability program are well prepared to pursue these careers, particularly in the areas of public lands, parks, and natural resource management, environmental conservation and restoration, environmental education, and environmental planning. There is also demand for sustainability majors in nonprofit organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Green Peace, and Sierra Club or for teachers in primary or secondary education or universities, or interpreters at museums or parks. Students may also create their own careers in such areas as organic farming, managing cooperatives, or social action.

The major also prepares students to go on to professional and graduate schools in environmental advocacy, energy, private consulting, law, natural resource management, social sciences, and the humanities.

Although San Diego State does not yet offer a sustainability internship as part of the major, students are encouraged to seek out internship or volunteer opportunities in their fields of interest. An internship or volunteer experience is very useful for almost all careers. Internships and volunteering also give students a chance to put their education to work in the community.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services website.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Sustainability major in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a General Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.