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The College of St. Scholastica

Sustainability isn’t just a corporate buzzword. At its core lies a deep concern for those who will come after us. Sustainability means stewardship of our natural resources combined with social transformation and market innovation so that we can meet the needs of future generations without exceeding our planetary boundaries.

As a student in our Sustainability Studies and the Environment program, you will focus on the three E’s of sustainability:

  • Environment
  • Equity
  • Economy

Your coursework, grounded in the liberal arts, will offer an interdisciplinary, holistic education. You’ll gain the knowledge you need to understand the challenges that face us and the skills to develop and communicate solutions.

A Sustainability Studies major or minor can be combined with other academic programs, from biology to business. Students engage in experiential learning, create an internship portfolio and pursue research in their area of special interest. Program graduates will be well-prepared for roles in the government agencies, corporations and non-profit organizations that are shaping our future. The principles of sustainable development are key to the success of companies and communities and they’ll need your leadership.

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Benedictine Scholarship

All new first-year applicants to St. Scholastica will be awarded either the Benedictine Scholarship or the Access Award, upon admission to the College.

Financial Aid

100% of traditional incoming undergraduates receive some type of financial aid. The average for scholarships, grants and/or loans is $31,841.

Degree Details


Are You Looking for a Face-to-Face (on-campus) Experience?

St. Scholastica’s longstanding commitment to inclusivity and generous financial aid packages make our world-class educational programs accessible to students from any background.


Program Requirements

Major: 42-46 credits
Minor: 24 credits

Here are some classes you could take as part of this major or minor. Be sure to create your course plan in consultation with your advisor.

Required Courses

BIO 1103 – Current Environmental Topics

Discussion of environmental problems which have developed through man’s impact on nature: water resources, food supply, overpopulation and pollution problems are stressed.

CHM 1010 – Chemistry and Sustainability

Course description Introduces basic concepts of chemistry and their relationship or application to sustainability and social issues.

SUS 1117 – Introduction to Sustainability

Examining the three “Es” of sustainability –– environment, economy, and equity –– this introductory course explores how each of these categories is equally necessary for building a sustainable world in the future. The student will explore systemic problems in our current civilization related to sustainability and possible solutions to those problems.

Elective Courses

ART 3500 – Design Thinking

Uses methodologies from across the field of design to apply creative problem solving to real world problems. Students will unlock their creative potential through concept development, applied creativity, prototyping, and experimentation, and will apply this practice to various types of problems to foster change and positively impact environments.

ECN 2410 – Environmental Economics

Examines how economic activity and policy affect the environment in which we live. Some production generates pollution and some consumption results in environmental degradation. However, pollution and environmental degradation are not inevitable consequences of economic activity. Environmental policies can reduce pollution and environmental degradation. Environmental economics provides a framework for addressing key environmental issues.

ENG 4415 – Writing Nature

Engaging ways in which language can be used to explore the natural world and humankind’s place within it, Writing Nature takes a seminar approach to analyzing and producing writing that centers on natural and built environments. Emphasis is on reading nature writing, practicing nature writing from field notes to polished essays, and adapting discourse for various audiences and purposes with attention to issues of the environment and sustainability.

GCL 2480 – Community Nonprofits

Engages with a group of nonprofit organizations in our community focused on striving for economic, racial, cultural, gender, and earth justice, and each student will have a placement with one of these organizations for the full semester. Individually and together we will learn from community members who have a wealth of experience at social change-making, one step at a time: by building relationships, analyzing social dynamics, understanding systems of power, privilege, and oppression, devising strategies, collecting tactics, using imagination and resourcefulness, thinking shrewdly, and still remaining idealistic. We will learn the working structure of non-profits, and will look critically at what some have called “the non-profit industry,” while recognizing the way in which nonprofits have woven themselves indispensably into the fabric of American economic and social life.

GCL 3305 – Contemporary Africa

Investigations Africa’s diverse beauty, political challenges, economic realities and social and cultural possibilities. How do we understand political and economic development in Africa? As decision-makers and members of communities pursue this development, how do they consider land, language, culture, education, business, governance, conflict, and human rights? Our multidisciplinary approach addresses the life experiences of women, men, children, communities, clans, tribes, and nation-states, land and biodiversity, languages, health, education, artistry, political struggles for independence and autonomy, challenges past leaders have faced, and especially the plans of tomorrow’s leaders.

GCL 3401 – Healthcare Across Cultures

A course in Health Humanities and cultural competency. It proceeds from the premise that since a person’s experience of health and illness is highly dependent on his or her culture, cultural understanding is essential for humane health care in today’s multicultural societies. The course aims to help students achieve cultural competency, with particular attention to the development of culturally competent communication skills. It analyzes the influence of culture on human experiences of health and illness, and on health beliefs, values, and healthcare practices. Through interactive exercises, case studies, interviews, role plays, guest speakers, reflection papers, research and literature, the course investigates the increasingly complex intersection between healthcare delivery and culture. Students also examine the value assumptions of their own health beliefs in an effort to increase their effectiveness in intercultural healthcare settings

HHU 2301 – Health, Happiness, and Human Well-being

Examines concepts like health and illness, ability and disability, and happiness and well-being from a philosophical perspective. It explores the philosophical aspects of some of the central questions in medicine and health care: What is health? What is health in relation to happiness and human well-being? What are suffering and healing? What are the goals of medicine and what is the purpose of health care? To what extent are health, disease, and illness biological realities or social constructions? How have concepts of health, disease, and illness been used to harm people? What is mental health and illness, why are their meanings contested, and how has psychiatry been abused? Further, the course considers such issues as the different types of knowledge in health care, medical knowledge and power, human rights and health care, ethical principles and practices in health care, and current ethical dilemmas and controversies in the field.

HIS 2250 – Environmental History of the Americas

Introduces the field of environmental history. Just as flora, fauna, wind, and pollution do not adhere to political boundaries, we will take a transnational and border-crossing approach, considering environmental histories of the Americas, north and south. Through course readings, we will take stock of the evolving field of environmental history and address convergences with other thematic areas, including race and political identity, gender and representation, urban and rural communities, capitalism and economics, the politics of natural disasters, science and climate change, and the transnational flow of people, plants, animals, natural resources, and ideas. In this course, we will set a local, place-based foundation in order to think expansively about the Americas. We will build toward a final written project about place, paying close attention to the research process throughout the semester, including writing proposals, finding sources and materials, producing a draft, and peer review.

MGT 3550 – Organizational Behavior

Explores the behavior of people within organizations in terms of the factors that most influence it. These include factors related to individuals, groups and the larger organization system. The course relies heavily on experiential learning as a means of teaching students how to apply lessons in organizational settings. Prerequisites: junior status or permission of instructor.

MKT 3350 – Designing Successful Products

Explores the identification of potentially commercial products. Students learn to gather information about the marketplace, create prototypes, refine concepts, and cluster product benefits into a marketing communication to customers. Students develop a basic marketing strategy that relates to product design and segment needs.

NAS 2777 – Topics in Indian Studies

Courses not a part of the regular curriculum but taught because of a special need, interest or opportunity.

NAS 3301 – American Indian Philosophy

Philosophy and religious systems, shamanistic and priesthood societies, reversion and amalgamation religions, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, philosophy and social movements.

PHL 2250 – Environmental Ethics

Ethics is a sub-discipline in the academic field of philosophy that deals with moral principles that guide human behavior. Environmental ethics is itself a sub-discipline of ethics that examines human interaction with the natural world. This examination takes into account questions such as: Should the natural world have rights? Should animals have rights? How much should we be willing to sacrifice to ensure the continuation of the biotic sphere? What does our generation owe future generations (Intergenerational justice)?

PHL 3351 – The Ethics of Consumption

Discuss contemporary ethical problems that arise related to buying, selling, and using products and services. Topics vary and can include the environmental impact of human consumption, sweatshop labor, animal rights, surrogate pregnancy, whether or not people should “shop their values”.

POL 4402 – Environmental Politics

An examination of debates dealing with global environmental problems and the varying roles of nongovernmental organizations. Topics vary from resource wars to environmental racism as issues confronting the human community.

SUS 1777 – Topics in Sustainability

Special topics in sustainability studies.

SUS 3777 – Topics in Sustainability

Special topics in sustainability studies.

SWK 3350 – Understanding Systems of Privilege and Oppression

Deconstructs systems of privilege and oppression using the vehicles of race and class. Contrasts varying experiences with systems of privilege and oppression within the United States. Connects these systems to our individual and collective socialization to allow for a critique of how each has been impacted by such systems. Examines the internal and external, individual and systemic supports for inequity and provides a framework for deconstructing, dismantling and resisting those systems of oppression, individually and collectively.

TRS 2777 – Topics in Religion

Topics in Theology and Religious Studies.

Career Outlook

Students who successfully complete a Sustainability Studies and the Environment major, along with interdisciplinary courses outside the program, will be exceptionally well prepared for the modern-day workplace and a variety of graduate degrees.

This program is also ideal for students who have an interest in integrating sustainability and the environment into their careers across all industries.

Sustainability now has an impact in all areas of human endeavor. Governments, corporations, religious institutions, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, hospitals, etc. are all incorporating principles of sustainability into their everyday practices.

Additionally, students can prepare themselves for the job market by combining a sustainability major with any field of interest: business, economics, biology, marketing, nursing, management, fine arts, pre-law, etc.

Pair with a Language

Boost your brainpower and give yourself a competitive edge in our global economy by pairing your major with a language. St. Scholastica offers programs and courses in American Sign Language, French, German, Latin, Ojibwe, Russian and Spanish.