Sustainability Minor

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Sustainability is often defined as "meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The minor in sustainability at Iowa State University is available to any ISU student who wants to further learn about sustainability issues affecting humans today and in the future.

The interdisciplinary minor in sustainability exposes students to ideas and issues related to a sustainable, balanced and ethical future for the planet and its inhabitants. The minor is at the interplay between environmental, social and economic factors in improving the quality of human life within the capacity of supporting ecosystems.

The minor will help students understand the dynamics of biological population growth and decline in the natural world, predator-prey models, over-exploitation of natural resources, energy balances, and much more. Students also will study how human behavior affects the natural world and the ability of earth to sustain life and understand how the decisions they make as consumers, workers, resource owners, citizens and policymakers affect human welfare in this and future generations.

Student Learning Outcomes

As a result of their coursework for the sustainability program students will be able to:

  • articulate why some environmental, social and economic profiles are sustainable and others are not.
  • apply sustainable practices in their personal and professional lives.

The colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Design, Engineering, and Liberal Arts and Sciences sponsor the minor in sustainability.


The minor in sustainability may be earned by completing a total of 15 credits including two required courses and nine elective credits from an approved list. Of the nine elective credits, at least six credits must be at the 300 level or higher. The minor must include at least 9 credits that are not used to meet any other department, college, or university requirement.

Required courses:

SOC 220Globalization and Sustainability3
ANTHR 230Globalization and the Human Condition3

Emphasis Electives:

A B E 325Biorenewable Systems3
A B E 380Principles of Biological Systems Engineering3
A B E 388Sustainable Engineering and International Development3
A B E 480Engineering Analysis of Biological Systems3
AGRON 120Introduction to Renewable Resources3
AGRON 160Water Resources of the World3
AGRON 342World Food Issues: Past and Present3
AGRON 404Global Change3
AGRON 450Issues in Sustainable Agriculture3
ANTHR 336Culture and Capitalism3
ARCH 345Building Science and Technology I2
ARCH 346Building Science and Technology II3
ARCH 346LBuilding Science and Technology II Lab2
ARCH 347Building Science and Technology III3
ARCH 347LBuilding Science and Technology III Lab2
ARCH 348Building Science and Technology IV3
ARCH 348LBuilding Science and Technology IV Lab2
ARCH 445Building Science and Technology V2
ARCH 558Sustainability and Green Architecture3
ARCH 575Contemporary Urban Design Theory3
ARCH 597Seminar on the Built Environment III: Theory3
ARTIS 460Sustainable Design and Fabrication of Furniture3
ARTIS 465Artists, Designers and Sustainable Development3
ARTIS 466Studio Abroad: Africa3
BIOL 204Biodiversity2
BIOL 319Analysis of Environmental Systems3
BIOL 355Plants and People3
BIOL 471Introductory Conservation Biology3
BIOL 484Ecosystem Ecology3
C E 388Sustainable Engineering and International Development3
C R P 201The North American Metropolis3
C R P 291World Cities and Globalization3
C R P 293Environmental Planning3
C R P 320Urban Geography3
C R P 417Urban Revitalization3
C R P 429Planning in Developing Countries3
C R P 445Transportation Policy and Planning3
C R P 484Sustainable Communities3
C R P 491Environmental Law and Planning3
ECON 380Energy, Environmental and Resource Economics3
ECON 385Economic Development3
ECON 480Intermediate Environmental and Resource Economics3
E E 388Sustainable Engineering and International Development3
ENGL 355Literature and the Environment3
ENSCI 201Introduction to Environmental Issues2
ENSCI 319Analysis of Environmental Systems3
ENSCI 402Watershed Hydrology3
ENSCI 404Global Change3
ENSCI 480Engineering Analysis of Biological Systems3
ENSCI 484Ecosystem Ecology3
ENT 471Insect Ecology3
ENV S 101Environmental Geology: Earth in Crisis3
ENV S 108Introduction to Oceanography3
ENV S 120Introduction to Renewable Resources3
ENV S 160Water Resources of the World3
ENV S 201Introduction to Environmental Issues2
ENV S 204Biodiversity2
ENV S 270Foundations in Natural Resource Policy and History3
ENV S 293Environmental Planning3
ENV S 319Analysis of Environmental Systems3
ENV S 324Energy and the Environment3
ENV S 334Environmental Ethics3
ENV S 342World Food Issues: Past and Present3
ENV S 345Population and Society3
ENV S 355Literature and the Environment3
ENV S 380Energy, Environmental and Resource Economics3
ENV S 382Environmental Sociology3
ENV S 404Global Change3
ENV S 424Sustainable and Environmental Horticulture Systems3
ENV S 450Issues in Sustainable Agriculture3
ENV S 484Sustainable Communities3
ENV S 491Environmental Law and Planning3
FOR 452Ecosystem Management3
FS HN 242The US Food System3
FS HN 342World Food Issues: Past and Present3
FS HN 460Global Nutrition and Health3
GEOL 101Environmental Geology: Earth in Crisis3
GEOL 108Introduction to Oceanography3
GEOL 160Water Resources of the World3
GEOL 324Energy and the Environment3
GEOL 402Watershed Hydrology3
GLOBE 201Introduction to Global Resource Systems3
GLOBE 385Economic Development3
GLOBE 402Responses to Global Resource System Challenges3
HORT 424Sustainable and Environmental Horticulture Systems3
JL MC 347Science Communication3
JL MC 474Communication Technology and Social Change3
L A 270Foundations in Natural Resource Policy and History3
L A 302Ecological Design6
L A 491Environmental Law and Planning3
M E 433Alternative Energy3
M E 484Technology, Globalization and Culture3
MTEOR 160Water Resources of the World3
MTEOR 324Energy and the Environment3
MTEOR 402Watershed Hydrology3
MTEOR 404Global Change3
NREM 120Introduction to Renewable Resources3
NREM 270Foundations in Natural Resource Policy and History3
NREM 402Watershed Hydrology3
NREM 452Ecosystem Management3
NREM 471Agroforestry Systems3
PHIL 334Environmental Ethics3
PHIL 343Philosophy of Technology3
RUS 375Russia Today3
SOC 345Population and Society3
SOC 348Global Poverty, Resources and Sustainable Development3
SOC 382Environmental Sociology3
SOC 411Social Change in Developing Countries3
SUS E 501Sustainable Design in Communities5
SUS E 511Sustainable Design Colloquium I3
SUS E 521Foundation of Sustainable Design3
SUS E 531Human Dimensions of Sustainability3
SUS E 540Methods for Sustainable Design3
SUS E 550Making Resilient Environments3
TSM 324Soil and Water Conservation Management3
TSM 325Biorenewable Systems3
WLC 484Technology, Globalization and Culture3