Sunset on Lake

Frequently Asked Questions

The great thing about the sustainability minor, vs. other minors on campus, is that the term sustainability is so broad it applies to many fields.

A common misconception about sustainability is that it is only being green and recycling, but sustainability is about so much more. It is about taking care of the environment, the economy and being socially responsible. These three pillars all represent different ways, we as people, can live sustainably.

Three Pillars of Sustainability

  • 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. these work together to create the broad term of sustainability

These three pillars work together to create the broad term of sustainability.

Because of the broadness of sustainability, people in fields such as engineering, sales and marketing, the hard sciences of chemistry, biology, and physics, journalism, education, computer science, communications and health care are already finding their skills more marketable if they are educated in sustainability.

Sustainability is more than just throwing a can into the recycling bin rather than the wastebasket, which is why it can be applied to any major, not just students with a science focus. 

Demand for college graduates who think sustainably and think about the entire life cycle of a product or operation will be 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 example of how attaining this minor can help you in more ways than you would expect. Other benefits of the minor include how well it complements any major that you may have, and that many of the professors who teach sustainability courses are truly passionate about the subject. 

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.

Also, as mentioned in the question above (“How do I apply this minor to my major?”), because of the broadness of sustainability, people in fields such as engineering, sales and marketing, the hard sciences of chemistry, biology, and physics, journalism, education, computer science, communications and health care are already finding their skills more marketable if they are educated in sustainability. That means that 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.

To see specific benefits to this minor, see "What are the benefits of this minor?" question above.  

Of course! Though some math and science courses are required by the major (you can always take more if you want to through electives), the courses required by this minor cover a variety of disciplines which allows you to pick the direction you want your education to go. That is the biggest reason why anyone can succeed at this minor.  

If you are still hesitant or still have some questions about the minor, please feel free to contact Jeanne Franz or any of the other professors listed on the faculty page.

Each of them should be able to help you if you are interested in the minor or just need more information, and even if they aren’t able to answer your question, they should be able to point you in the right direction.