Sustainability Minor

Sustainability is defined by the United Nations as a way for humankind to “meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” As businesses and organizations are putting more emphasis on “going green,” there will be a growing demand for employees with knowledge of sustainable practices.

WSU created the Sustainability Minor to arm future graduates with the knowledge and skills to employ sustainable ideas and technology in the workplace and at home.

The Sustainability minor encompasses subjects in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and education. 

Each student must complete a variety of courses for this minor, including 18-19 credits of required courses and 6 elective credits. 

Declare Your Minor

Because an increasing number of companies are focusing on how to become more sustainable, there is a demand for employees who have a background in sustainability.


The Sustainability Minor will complement just about any program or major.

Whether you are majoring in marketing, political science, biology, or anything in between, this minor can enhance your potential career prospects.

Personal Knowledge

Not only will this minor help you in the workplace, but also in your personal life.

You can apply sustainability practices to your home and every life, doing your part to maintain a more sustainable society.

Alumni Testimonials
Kaitlyn O’Conner

“The people who I met from participating in this program have shaped the person I’ve become, are a continuous source of inspiration and growth, and have provided me with opportunities to advance my career in a way I never dreamed possible 4 years ago.

My favorite thing was community involvement—being a part of the Arboretum and Land Stewardship Committee, volunteering for local environmental causes, picking up trash on the river, learning how to fix my bike, growing my own food in the community garden, building a prairie garden in front of the IWC building, etc.”

Sarah Fraser

“The most fulfilling thing about the minor was actually seeing sustainable living habits.

I can’t remember what class it was, but we got to go to Lanesboro and see what composting was like, and tour a house that was built sustainably, along with the homework in that class which was to actually calculate out how much energy we use, etc.

I loved that course and actually taking a look at my life and seeing how I can change my habits and help improve the future.”

Andrew Johnson

“I plan to use my Sustainability Minor as a complement to my Business Major. I want to change the way business views sustainability.

The idea of saving the environment is something that awoke within me over the last two years. I’ve even had a chance to put some of that drive, and cross use of my business major in coordination of the Climate Summit this year.

I hope to use my knowledge about sustainability and businesses to create a new way of going green.”

Emma Rude

“Water quality and quantity are visible representations of environmental health and therefore show whether our natural resources are being used sustainably.

I plan to use my minor in sustainability to both educate people about this need and be an active participant of this change of mentality and lifestyle.

I hope to help provide safe, plentiful and affordable water as well as sanitation and hygienic services either for those who currently have inadequate services or for those who undergo natural disasters and are in need of these services immediately to maintain health.

I hope to be part of a community that promotes sustainable infrastructure and management that not only saves money and resources but also the quality of life for future generations.”

Frequently Asked Questions

A common misconception about sustainability is that it is only being green and recycling. But really, it’s about so much more. It is about taking care of the environment, the economy and being socially responsible.

These 3 pillars all represent different ways we can live sustainably:

  • Social: We must all share the planet that we live on and take care of the other inhabitants of this world.
  • Economic: We must live within our means rather than placing the burden onto others.
  • Environmental: We must care of the world around us.

Professionals in fields such as engineering, sales and marketing, the hard sciences of chemistry, biology, and physics, journalism, education, computer science, communications and healthcare find their skills more marketable if they have a background in sustainability.

Sustainability is more than just throwing a can into the recycling bin rather than the wastebasket. It affects everything around us, which is why it can supplement nearly any major.

College graduates who think sustainably, thinking about the entire life cycle of a product or operation are in high demand.

For example, a Graphic Design major working as a delivery driver over the summer heard her customers complain about the packaging of the food for the deliveries she made. She relayed this to her employer and offered concrete solutions based upon her recent course in sustainable packaging (an elective course in the minor).

This is just one of many examples of how attaining this minor can help you in more ways than you would expect.

Trends from the past five years have suggested that renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies have generated 8.5 million new jobs in the U.S., which greatly contrasts an earlier figure of 750,000 green jobs in 2004.

According to a recent report from Deloitte, every company is an energy company or will at least be thinking about energy use in a very comprehensive way within the next ten years. The report also predicts that a company without an energy and sustainability department will be as rare as a company without a human resources department.

The broadness of sustainability makes it a great skillset for graduates to have. Even if you do not end up with a job that is directly related to sustainability, you may be more likely to get a job just because you have sustainability training.

Whether your degree path requires a minor or not depends on each individual major. However, even if your major does not require a minor, you can still benefit from having a minor.

Yes, absolutely. Though some math and science courses are required for this major, but the requirements cover a variety of disciplines. This allows you to pick the direction you want your education to go.

Contact the Chemistry Department
Chemistry Department
Pasteur 320


Jeanne Franz
Chemistry Department Chair, Professor

Pasteur 344


Email Jeanne Franz
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