Sustainability in Academics

Whether you dream of uncovering the next renewable energy innovation, educating future generations or becoming a top news anchor, sustainability is woven into the fabric of our diverse academic experiences. Studies in sustainability are among the fastest growing programs at MSU, and are continually improved to integrate curriculum that is applicable to careers in the field.

Embedding Sustainable Development Goals into Education

MSU incorporates education on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and sustainability through a variety of formal education and co-curriccular approaches. This comprehensive approach ensures that all Spartans gain an awareness and understanding of the principles of sustainability as a part of their Spartan Experience and have the opportunity for more intense experiential learning and engagement as well. This includes:

  • Sustainability majors, minors and certificates in undergraduate and graudate education
  • Other majors that include sustainability in undergraduate education
  • Courses in sustainability in graduate education
  • Integrative Studies
  • Study abroad programs
  • Residential intensive learning curriculum
  • Internships and experiential learning opportunities
  • Visiting International Professionals Program
  • Executive Business Management through the School of Business
  • Continuing education for youth and adults through MSU Extension
SDG Wheel

SUSTAINABILITY MAJORS

With three terminal degree programs in sustainability and multiple majors with a sustainability focus, there are ample opportunities for students to explore sustainability and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Environmental Studies and Sustainability

    The Environmental Studies and Sustainability major examines resource use and allocation through the lenses of community engagement, sustainability and environmental justice. Students benefit from a broad range of interdisciplinary courses, as well as disciplinary and methods courses carefully selected to enhance students’ technical knowledge. Professional internships, a legacy project and study abroad experiences are encouraged to provide students with experiences beyond the classroom and the campus.

    Department: Community Sustainability

    Degree Program Website

    Registrar Information

  • Environmental Economics and Management

    The Environmental Economics and Management (EEM) program prepares you for a career that requires balancing environmental sustainability and economic development goals. The major is a broad, integrated study of environmental economics, public finance, economic development, community and regional studies and environmental science. The major also offers students the opportunity to prepare for graduate study in environmental economics or environmental policy studies programs.

    Department: Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics

    Degree Program Website

    Registrar Information

     

  • Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism

    The Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism major combines an understanding of natural resource recreation and tourism with sustainability. It also effectively links theory with practice and community engagement. This major includes learning concepts of leisure, tourism, recreation and sustainability, as well as the operation of recreation delivery systems, policy, administration, management, planning and evaluation.

    Department: Community Sustainability

    Degree Program Website

    Registrar Information

  • Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education

    The Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Education major has a unique focus on agriculture, food and natural resources sustainability for the benefit of communities in Michigan, the U.S. and the world.

    This major prepares graduates as teachers (grades 6-12) in agriculture and natural resources, as well as educators in government, community organizations and nonprofits and graduate studies. The U.S. Department of Education aims to incorporate green- and sustainability-related knowledge and skills standards into the existing National Career Clusters including agriculture, food and natural resources.

    Department: Community Sustainability

    Degree Program Website

    Registrar Information

  • Fisheries and Wildlife

    The Fisheries and Wildlife undergraduate program provides a strong base in the foundational and applied sciences of natural resource management. The program is designed to develop understanding of the cultural, recreational and economic values of biological resources. Majoring in Fisheries and Wildlife is also a path to pre-veterinary graduate studies.

    Department: Fisheries and Wildlife

    Degree Program Website

    Registrar Information

  • Environmental Geography

    The Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geography provides comprehensive academic training in the environment and how its many aspects interrelate across the landscape. Geographic knowledge is essential for understanding rapid social and environmental change in a globalized society. Environmental geographers describe, analyze, and explain the arrangement of the Earth’s physical features. With training in both the natural and social sciences, environmental geographers have a wide range of career opportunities in public and private sectors. They find work in consulting, government, tourism, teaching, environmental analysis, non-profit organizations, and natural resource management. Environmental scientists are increasingly in demand for jobs that require expertise in bridging the gap between the social science and physical science aspects of natural systems.

    Department: Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences

    Registrar Information

  • Horticulure with Sustainable and Organic Horticulture Concentration

    The undergraduate Horticulture program integrates plant and soil science, entomology, pathology, technology and business management to prepare students to meet the challenges of an expanding multi-billion dollar-industry in intensively cultivated, high-value crops. Students may select from three concentrations, including Sustainable and Organic Horticulture.

    Horticultural crops are diverse, including annual and perennial species, food and ornamental plants and plants grown outdoors and in controlled environments. The dynamic Horticulture program offers students hands-on and interactive learning experiences and opportunities inside and outside of the classroom.

    Department: Horticulure

    Degree Program Website

    Registrar Information

  • Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities

    Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities provides a solid grounding in methods and issues necessary to understand global conditions, connections and interactions. The major is especially suitable for students who are committed to learning about global issues and at the same time developing critical, analytical and research skills to address these issues. The program of study is extremely adaptable to the particular interests of each student who can select from core courses and a wide range of elective courses. The GSAH Core Course requirements allow for students to explore a range of issues from global justice to global digital cultures.

    College: College of Arts and Letters

    Degree Program Website

    Registrar Information

SUSTAINABILITY MINORS

Explore sustainability related minors below, all of which are open to any undergraduate student at MSU.

  • Environmental Studies and Sustainability

    For students who want to integrate sustainability into their chosen program of study, whether environmentally-related or not, MSU offers a minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, including myriad courses across colleges. The minor can be tailored to a range of disciplines and is easily malleable to suit your career interests.

    College: College of Natural Science

    Minor Program Website

    Registrar Information

  • Sustainable Natural Resource Recreation Management

    The Minor in Sustainable Natural Resource Recreation Management is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at Michigan State University. Focusing on the management of people, facilities, natural resources and organizations that provide natural resource recreation opportunities, it targets students considering careers in public land management, commercial recreation enterprises, non-profit resource based camps and educational facilities, rural community development, forestry, fisheries, wildlife, criminal justice (conservation/recreation law enforcement), landscape architecture, environmental policy or agriculture. The minor offers students the opportunity to integrate knowledge of social, biological and physical sciences, natural resources and ecosystems to sustainably manage for outcomes that include outdoor recreation.

    Department: Community Sustainability

    Registrar Information

  • Sustainable Bioproducts Science and Technology

    Open to any undergraduate student at MSU, this minor is designed to prepare students to pursue a career or graduate degrees in renewable wood-based bioproducts. Upon graduation, students will be academically and professionally well positioned in acquiring employment in companies or government departments whose focus is green building construction and furnishings, bioproducts engineering, structural design, and other green bioproducts employment opportunities.

    Department: Forestry

    Program Website

    Registrar Information

MSU'S INTEGRATIVE STUDIES PROGRAMS 

As issues such as climate change, water security, food supply and energy demand continue to shape the global landscape, MSU is cultivating students who champion sustainability in all industries, regardless of their career field. Through the university’s required Integrative Studies program, students have the opportunity to take courses that address common sustainability themes and provide knowledge about our integrated social, economic and environmental systems.

SUSTAINABILITY COURSES

MSU has over 800 courses that address sustainability and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Click the button below to find courses of interest and how they align with the SDGs. 

View list of courses


SUSTAINABILITY AFFILIATED DEPARTMENTS AND PROGRAMS

For students who have a deep passion or career aspirations for sustainability, there are numerous colleges, departments and programs that cultivate knowledge and practical skills in fields of environmental stewardship, social justice, sustainable business and more.

  • Department of Community Sustainability
    An interdisciplinary department within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Community Sustainability programs address contemporary issues of sustainability in agriculture, recreation, natural resources and the environment. Learn more.
  • Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE)
    The RISE program is an interdisciplinary living-learning program focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship. Supported by seven colleges, RISE allows first-year students at MSU to engage in environmental-related undergraduate research, hands-on projects and co-curricular initiatives that explore sustainable practices. Learn more. 
  • Environmental Engineering
    The Environmental Engineering program provides graduates with the engineering and scientific principles to analyze, design and manage environmental systems, including water supplies, wastewater treatment facilities, air pollution control systems, surface and groundwater resources, and landfills. Learn more.
  • College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
    MSU's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources offers a diverse number of programs that focus on using the principles of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, business and creative design to tackle the world's leading problems related to food, energy and the environment. Learn more.
  • College of Natural Science
    Home to 5,000 undergraduate students, MSU's College of Natural Science provides education and career opportunities through 28 departments and programs in the biological, physical and mathematical sciences. Learn more.
  • Knight Center for Environmental Journalism
    The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism teaches student and professional journalists how to better report and explain complex environmental issues, while maintaining traditional values of fairness and accuracy. Learn more.
  • Department of Forestry

    The Department of Forestry at MSU allows students to explore their role in sustaining forests and the ecosystem services they provide. The undergraduate forestry program integrates ecology, biology, economics and social science to help students find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges in areas of climate change, conservation and sustainable energy.There are eight research labs affiliated with the department including the Global Observatory for Ecosystem Services and the Ecosystem Policy Institute of China.

    Recent graduates, current graduate students and lifelong learners are also eligible to apply for the department's Graduate Certificate in Forest Carbon Science, Policy and Management. The Certificate equips participants with the interdisciplinary tools and conceptual backgrounds to plan, implement, manage, and evaluate forestry-based climate change mitigation projects. 

  • Environmental Science and Policy Program
    The Environmental Science and Policy Program is the umbrella organization for interdisciplinary studies relating to the environment at Michigan State University. Fostering connections between social and natural sciences, ESPP offers a doctoral program, numerous research supports, events and networking activities to create an interdisciplinary community of scholars. Learn more.

Collage of students engaged in sustainable learning