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Climate ChangeWhat Is a Sustainability Degree

What Is a Sustainability Degree

Sustainability offers a path toward slowing, stopping, and potentially reversing climate change, making the world a greater place now and in the longer term. So, what exactly is sustainability? It’s avoiding the depletion of our natural resources to assist maintain an ecological balance. Some examples are making paper from sources apart from trees and switching to solar energy relatively than depending on fossil fuel-burning power plants. 

Suppose you must make sustainability a bigger a part of your life. In that case, you may earn a sustainability degree and land a job on this necessary sector specializing in improving the environment. Below we explain what a sustainability degree is, what areas of study there are, how sustainability ties in with various other sciences, and more to assist you to resolve if a sustainability degree is a superb option for you. 

Is Sustainability a Field of Study?

Yes, sustainability is a field of study, nonetheless, it’s an interdisciplinary field covering many majors and minors. For instance, Stony Brook University’s Sustainability Studies program offers five majors, six minors, and a graduate certificate. Plus, students can proceed into graduate programs in law, politics, business, food studies, and more. 

What Area of Study Is Sustainability?

Sustainability degrees fall into a comparatively broad range of areas of study. These areas of study can include engineering, environmental sciences, architecture, business, public policy, and technology. It’s so broad because achieving true sustainability involves getting many moving pieces to work. For instance, to develop renewable energy options and support their adoption, we want environmental scientists to check the potential real-world impact and make recommendations, engineers to design the renewable energy options, business people to put out the supply chain and market them, architects to work them into constructing designs, and policymakers to develop laws that promote their adoption. 

Since it’s a multidisciplinary field, almost anyone who desires to earn a sustainability degree can find an area of focus that matches their lifestyle and personality. 

What Are the 4 Pillars of Sustainability?


Sustainability is a fast-growing field that goals to make the world a greater, healthier place by integrating social science, environmental science, and civil engineering. Sustainable practices aim to prevent resource depletion and retain a stable ecological balance, which may play a job in slowing and reversing climate change. 

Global sustainability has 4 predominant pillars: human sustainability, social sustainability, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability. You’ll be able to tweak your sustainability degree to give attention to any certainly one of the 4 pillars. 

Let’s delve deeper into the 4 pillars of sustainability and explore a few of the bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs you may pick from inside each pillar. 

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Human Sustainability

Human sustainability ensures that each one humans have access to health and education systems, nutrition, knowledge, and skills. This pillar helps improve and sustain the economic well-being of the masses. This also extends to businesses, since they’re to view themselves as an element of society and interact in business practices that support human sustainability. 

Some examples of graduate and undergraduate degree options and certificate programs specializing in human sustainability include: 

  • Sustainable food systems 
  • Sustainable tourism 
  • Sustainable leadership 
  • Food policy and sustainability 

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability seeks to keep up and improve society through cohesion, reciprocity, and honesty, and by establishing the importance of human relationships. This could be achieved through laws and the sharing of data and concepts about equality and rights. That is all to preserve the Earth for future generations and to acknowledge that our actions impact others worldwide. 

Some social sustainability degree majors you may pick from include: 

  • Global human development 
  • Sustainable urban planning 
  • Environmental studies or advocacy for social justice and sustainability 
  • Social responsibility 
  • Green constructing/construction 
  • Holocaust and genocide studies 

Economic Sustainability

All of us want an economically stable world. Nevertheless, we are able to’t go gangbusters on economic stability and ignore the impact attaining stability has on the social, environmental, and cultural elements of our society. That is where economic sustainability is available in. Its goal is to achieve long-term economic growth without negatively impacting social, environmental, and cultural elements — locally or globally. 

Economic sustainability degree options you may pick from include: 

  • Sustainability management 
  • Business for social impact and sustainability 
  • Environmental policy and sustainable management 
  • Sustainable business 
  • Sustainable engineering 
  • Sustainable agriculture 
  • Sustainable fashion 
  • Sustainable systems 

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is available in many forms, but an all-encompassing definition is that it seeks to conserve natural resources and protect global ecosystems with the intention to support the present and future health and well-being of our planet. Environmental sustainability degrees are understandably broad, but some examples of majors that may result in sustainability careers include: 

  • Environmental and sustainability studies 
  • Earth, society, and environmental sustainability 
  • Environmental sustainability 
  • Environmental science 
  • Sustainability and the built environment 

What Do You Study in Sustainability?

Sustainability Gardeningsource

Because sustainability is such a far-reaching topic, there are just too many courses and electives to list. Each school and higher education program could have its own courses to assist you to prepare on your sustainability degree. Some courses you might encounter include: 

  • Environmental history: That is the study of major interactions between human populations and the natural world. You’ll find out about natural resources and the social conflicts over them, how humans have modified the environment, and the recent environmentalism movement. 
  • Introduction to geographic information systems (GIS): On this course, you’ll learn the fundamentals of GIS software and the right way to use it. This may assist you to to visualise and present information to decision-makers in organizations. 
  • Conservation biology: This manner of biology is anxious with how biological principles and conservation theories could be put into motion to preserve endangered and threatened plants and animals. 
  • Sustainable communities: On this course, you’ll learn strategies to encourage sustainable development inside communities. 
  • Natural resource management: The main focus here is on the interdependence between the land, water, and air and the way critical biodiversity and environmental stewardship are. You’ll also study current environmental policies and the challenges large-scale resource use and management pose. 

What Branch of Science Is Sustainability?

Whenever you earn a sustainability degree, you’ll likely have a bachelor of science or master of science degree. Nevertheless, sustainability doesn’t fall into one science area specifically. As an alternative, it’s multidisciplinary, meaning it covers multiple sciences. This has led to the determination that sustainability science is an emerging science branch. 

So, what branch of science is sustainability? Easy! It’s within the sustainability science branch. 

Is Sustainability A part of Engineering?

A convincing “Yes!” Sustainability is a critical a part of engineering. Regardless of what engineering sector you’re in — mechanical, civil, or one other — sustainability plays an increasingly necessary role. 

In accordance with Colorado University Boulder Engineering Management Program Instructor Anne Wrobetz, engineering has long had an impact on the environment, but people worldwide are actually “starting to acknowledge that we also might need some form of responsibility within the engineering projects we’re taking up and the way they impact the broader environment.“ 

Whether it’s a software engineer designing a latest program to make power plants more efficient or an electrical engineer designing a recyclable electric vehicle battery pack, this all comes back to sustainability. 

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Is Sustainability A part of Ecology?

Ecology studies how living organisms — humans included — interact with one another and their environments. It’s also the study of using natural resources in a way that leaves the environment healthy now and for the longer term. By those definitions, sustainability is a large a part of ecology. 

Actually, a complete subset of sustainability is devoted to it, ecological sustainability. This sector of sustainability involves every little thing connected to the Earth’s ecosystems, corresponding to climate, water, land, and air. 

What Are the 5 Major Fields of Environmental Science?

It’s necessary for somebody studying sustainability to pay attention to the five environmental sciences: atmospheric science, ecology, environmental chemistry, geoscience, and the social sciences. Nevertheless, be mindful that there are more specific disciplines inside these five major fields. Let’s review each of those fields and what they cover: 

  • Atmospheric science: This science mostly covers global warming and the way it affects the world. Scientists on this field use computer models to display atmospheric circulation, how chemicals react in it, and animals’ contribution to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. 
  • Ecology: This can be a broad science that appears at how the environment or a facet of the environment influences various species. 
  • Environmental chemistry: This in-depth science examines how chemicals impact plants and the environment. It also examines how chemicals are transported through the environment. 
  • Geoscience: This planetary science examines the chemical and physical structure of Earth and the atmosphere. 
  • Social sciences: The social sciences explore the inner workings of society, corresponding to economic growth, causes of unemployment, what people desire in life, and more.  

What Are the three Branches of Science?

Under the large “science” umbrella are three predominant branches of science. The branches are physical science, earth science, and life science — and problems with sustainability affect all of those. Here’s what each of those three branches covers. 

Physical Science

Physical science studies energy and nonliving, inanimate objects and their governing laws. Physical scientists examine structures, properties, and changes of matter. Some subsets of physical science that play a job in sustainability include: 

  • Mechanics 
  • Chemistry 
  • Electrochemistry 
  • Analytical chemistry 

Earth Science

Earth science focuses mainly on the planet and its physical makeup. Scientists on this field examine the land, oceans, weather, and atmosphere and the way they influence each other. Additionally they research how humans can protect the planet. Some subsets of Earth science that play a job in sustainability include: 

  • Meteorology 
  • Atmospheric science 
  • Climatology 
  • Glaciology 

Life Science

Life science is the study of all organic things and living organisms. Life scientists will study plants, animals, and humans in an try and higher understand them and their place on this planet. Some life science subsets that play a job in sustainability include: 

  • Genetics 
  • Biochemistry 
  • Microbiology 
  • Marine biology 
  • Biotechnology 
  • Ecology 

Earn a Sustainability Degree — or Just Live a Sustainable Life

Sustainability Degree Two Students Smilingsource

Earning a sustainability degree is a fantastic solution to directly impact the world and play a job in reversing climate change. You can too work toward this goal by living a sustainable life. One solution to do that is by reducing your carbon footprint through carbon offsets. 

Terrapass offers carbon reductions as a solution to neutralize all the differing kinds of carbon we produce each day as we live our lives, whether you’re driving or traveling on a plane or simply powering your own home. Terrapass also offers loads of options to assist businesses reduce their carbon footprint. 

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