Core Courses & Electives

The Sustainability Studies Minor is an interdisciplinary program drawing students from all colleges and departments who want to learn about sustainability, with no pre-requisites. Students must earn at least 15 credits through five or more courses. A current listing of required core courses and all electives is available at the University Catalog Sustainability Studies Minor web page. The program is flexible, allowing students to petition for courses that are not listed to count towards the Minor, allowing study abroad to count for up to 6 credits and allowing courses that count towards the major or another minor to count towards the Sustainability Studies Minor. More about the curriculum information can be found here.

The requirements are easy to follow:

  • Two core courses, SUST 3003 and SUST 4004, are required for the Sustainability Studies Minor and provide an immersion in the history, practice and future of sustainability.
  • Three or more elective courses, drawn from at least 3 of 4 categories, are required for the Sustainability Studies Minor. The elective categories are:
    • Economics and Policy
    • Social Sciences and Humanities
    • Biophysical Sciences
    • Design and Technology
  • NEW SUMMER 2020! An optional summer course, SUST 3480, will lead students on an exploration of how sustainability is key to our resilience in the face of crises like COVID-19. 
  • An optional internship course, SUST 4096, matches students to sustainability-related opportunities and may count as an elective in the Sustainability Studies Minor.
  • An optional course on environmental justice, SUST 3017, offers community-engaged learning and may count as an elective in the Sustainability Studies Minor.

SUST 3003: Sustainable People, Sustainable Planet (3 credits)

Introduction to interdisciplinary sustainability studies minor. Scientific, cultural, ethical and economic concepts that affect environmental sustainability and global economic justice. Key texts. Participatory classroom environment.

SUST 4004: Sustainable Communities (3 credits)

Students synthesize multiple disciplinary perspectives and integrate insights gained from various approaches/methods. Concepts/scholarship related to sustainability. Applying knowledge/experience to real sustainability problems.

SUST 3480/5480: COVID-19 and the United Nations Sustainability Goals: Resilience, Connections, and Threats (3 credits)

New Summer 2020!

How are sustainability & global pandemics connected?  Join us this summer to hear from interdisciplinary experts, explore systems thinking and plan for a more resilient future with this new online course.

SUST 4096: Sustainability Internship & Leadership Projects (2-4 credits)

Four to ten hour per week internship experience related to a sustainability theme or approach, such as sustainable foods, green building, renewable energy or environmental justice. Intern in a non profit, governmental, educational or business organization or work on a campus sustainability leadership project, from choices provided or approved by instructor(s).

SUST 3017: Environmental Justice (3 credits)

With a focus on understanding environmental justice, including interconnections between health, economic and environmental disparities, this course shows students how they can take action for sustainability. Students synthesize multiple disciplinary perspectives and participate in small group collaborative activities, service learning, and digital mapping, all related to contemporary challenges.


Sustainability Studies Minor students are required to complete 9 credits from electives.  Current information on electives is available on the University Catalog Sustainability Studies Minor web page.

Take three courses, not more than one from each of four categories.

  • Economics and Policy
  • Social Science and Humanities
  • Biophysical Sciences
  • Design and Technology

Sustainability Studies Minor students may also petition for study abroad, summer, Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA), special topics, new, and other courses to count toward elective requirements. Students may complete up to one online course as an elective. Students may complete up to one 1xxx or 2xxx level elective, pending approval from the minor advisor or coordinator. For course petitions, please contact the Minor Advisor, Beth Mercer-Taylor, at or 612-625-6443. You can also find her advising schedule here. (You must be logged in to Gmail or Google to view it.)

There are many options for completing the minor in a way that suits your academic and professional interests. While all students must complete the two core courses (SUST 3003 and SUST 4004), there is a lot of flexibility in choosing electives.

Sustainability Topics

Look for courses titled “SUST 3480: Topics in Sustainability.” These courses may vary by semester.

Study Abroad

Students who have taken relevant courses while studying abroad can earn up to 6 elective credits. See the Sustainability Studies Minor Advising Page for a list of possible programs. Other programs can also fulfill the elective requirement.

Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs

The Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs is an off-campus study program based in the Twin Cities. The program incorporates classroom studies with an internship and fieldwork. HECUA curriculum options include a fall semester program in environmental sustainability and a spring semester program in agriculture and food justice. Sustainability studies minor students enrolled in these programs will receive elective credit. Visit the Center for Community-Engaged Learning for more information.

Directed Study

Students may design studies or research projects and have these options approved for elective credit. Check with professors for more information about this option, or learn more about undergraduate research opportunities at the University.

Petition Unlisted Courses

Students may petition courses for elective credit. Contact the Sustainability Education program for more information.