(9 Credits)

Two courses in this area teach students the scientific underpinnings of the complex interactions between human beings and nature. The courses require that students integrate their knowledge of Earth observation, measurement, analysis, and modeling skills, as well as the use of scientific tools, to inform sustainability policy, management, and decision-making.

Required courses:

SUSC PS5001 Fundamentals of Sustainability Science

Instructor: Dr. Art Lerner-Lam

The course covers the fundamentals of sustainability science with a focus on the application of science to the practice of sustainability. Basic research, especially in the environmental and social sciences, explores the Earth as a system of systems, wherein the physical, chemical and biological systems interact with each other as well as human systems to affect our future. The results of this research are often difficult to apply in practice unless the research in translated into actionable advice for individuals, governments and private enterprise. Even so, the actual or perceived complexities of interactions between human and “natural” systems are often seen by decision makers as barriers to long-term planning, an essential element of pursuing sustainability. A simple definition of sustainability is based on intergenerational equity. Thus, the relationships between the here-and-now and possible global futures need to be understood.

Units include the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, the cryosphere, the anthrosphere, and the lithosphere. In certain units, students will utilize standard software environments for statistical analysis (e.g., R), in addition to several web-based program (e.g., Climate Explorer), to analyze and model real observations.

SUSC PS5999 Capstone Workshop in Sustainability Science

Instructor: Benjamin Bostick

Students study the sustainability science behind a particular sustainability problem, collect and analyze data using scientific tools, and make recommendations for solving the problem. The capstone course is a client-based workshop that will integrate each element of the curriculum into an applied project, giving students hands-on experience.