Sustainability Studies

2017-18 General Catalog

Rachel Carson College Office
(831) 459-2361


Program Statement

Among the most critical societal challenges of the next 50 years are the rapidly-growing and linked ecological and social crises arising from stresses on supplies of energy, water, and food.  These crises are not simply about the adequacy of supply relative to demand, however; they are also the result of the complex social relations within and among societies, in the past, present, and future. Dealing with such socio-ecological problems therefore requires robust interdisciplinary collaborations among engineers, social scientists, and natural scientists. Moreover, in today’s rapidly-changing economy, college graduates will need to be flexible and adaptable, able to learn new knowledge and skills rapidly, and cognizant of the complex organization of society and technology.  The minor in Sustainability studies is administered by Rachel Carson College and is designed to foster both analytical ability and provide necessary learning.

The pedagogical underpinnings of this minor are premised on relationships between classroom learning, service learning, and research and application. Broad interdisciplinarity and individual facility in both STEM and social sciences are critical elements at the center of the minor’s core courses. The curriculum is therefore structured to 1) facilitate interdisciplinary academic and research collaborations among faculty and students across multiple UCSC divisions (drawing on but outside of the divisional structure); 2) teach and train students in the ecology and sustainability of design and application in the built environment, and the use of STEM skills and social science knowledge to these ends; and 3) meet undergraduate demand for a sustainability curriculum with focuses distinct from those offered in existing UCSC departments.

Program learning objectives are as follows:

  • Students will understand the causes, features, data, complexities, policies, and practices giving rise to and needed to address the contemporary global socioecological crisis; the role of production, consumption, politics, policies, markets and behavior in this crisis; and options and alternatives for moving toward and achieving sustainability.

  • Students will learn basic applied Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills needed for dealing with real-world applications including assessments, measurements, technologies, behavior, and other factors related to the first objective (above).

  • Students will become cognizant of appropriate social science knowledge and methods needed to design and implement social enterprise and service learning projects in sustainability and ecological design and practice.

  • Students will design and conduct interdisciplinary research projects in issues and topics that are related to sustainability, including energy, food, water, the built environment, life-cycle analysis, waste disposal, and recycling.

  • Students will design and participate in service-learning projects in collaboration with on- and off-campus units, agencies, and organizations; and apply the knowledge and skills acquired through the minor.

No specific prior preparation or prerequisites are required for entry to the minor.

Requirements of the Minor

Lower-division courses:

Electrical Engineering 80S (Fall), Sustainability Engineering and Design

CRSN 55, Service-learning sustainability internship (2 credits, 3 quarters required)

Upper-division courses (5 credits each)

CRSN 151A, Sustainability Praxis in the Built Environment

CRSN 151B, Innovation and professionalization for sustainability designers, engineers and entrepreneurs 

CRSN 151C, Sustainability Laboratory tools, techniques and applications

CRSN 161, Education for Sustainable Living Program

Upper division electives, either

CRSN 152, IDEASS Laboratory Practicum (2 credits; 3 quarters required)


One breadth elective from the list below


Two breadth electives from the list below.

  • Anthropology 110K, Culture Through Food (F)
  • Anthropology 110W, Water and Landscape (W)
  • Anthropology 111, Human Ecology (S)
  • Anthropology 135A, Cities
  • Anthropology 137, Consuming Culture
  • Anthropology 146, Anthropology and the Environment (W)
  • Anthropology 147, Anthropocene
  • Anthropology 160, Reproductive and Population Politics
  • Anthropology 161, The Anthropology of Food
  • Art, 125, Environmental Art Studio (W)
  • College Ten 105, The Making and Influencing of Environmental Policy
  • Community Studies 133, Making California: Landscapes, People Politics, Economy
  • Community Studies 149, Political Economy of Food and Agriculture
  • Community Studies 156, Politics of Food and Health (W)
  • Community Studies 162, Community Gardens and Social Change
  • Community Studies 186, Agriculture, Food, and Social Justice (S)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 107, Remote Sensing of the Environment (W)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 116, Hydrology (S)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 121, The Atmosphere (W)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 142, Engineering Geology for Environmental Scientists (F)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 146, Ground Water
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences 191, Climate Change Science and Policy (S)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 107, Ecology (W,S)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 108, Marine Ecology (W)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 145, Plant Ecology (F)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 147, Community Ecology (S)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 155, Freshwater Ecology (F)
  • Economics 170, Environmental Economics (F)
  • Economics 171, Natural Resource Economics
  • Economics 175, Energy Economics (S)
  • Electrical Engineering 175/L, Energy Generation and Control (S)
  • Electrical Engineering 176/L, Energy Conservation and Control (F)
  • Electrical Engineering 177/L, Power Electronics (W)
  • Electrical Engineering 180J, Advanced Renewable Energy Sources (S)
  • Feminist Studies 124, Technology, Science, and Race Across the Americas (F)
  • Feminist Studies 133, Science and the Body
  • History 101C, Oceans in World History (F)
  • History 106C, Food Empires (W)
  • History 177, Smoke, Smallpox, and the Sublime (F)
  • History 196F, European Environmental History
  • History of Art and Visual Culture 141I, Environments, Installations, and Sites
  • History of Art and Visual Culture 141K, Activist Art Since 1960: Art, Technology, Activism (F)
  • History of Art and Visual Culture 143B, History of Urban Design
  • History of Consciousness 139A, Market Crises and the Future of Capitalism (F)
  • Latin American and Latino Studies 152, Consumer Cultures Between the Americas (F)
  • Latin American and Latino Studies 164, Environmental Justice
  • Legal Studies 131, Wildlife, Wilderness, and the Law
  • Legal Studies 132, California Water Law and Policy (W)
  • Legal Studies 137, International Environmental Law and Policy
  • Legal Studies 149, Environmental Law and Policy (S)
  • Legal Studies 159, Property and the Law (F)
  • Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology 101, Sources and Fates of Pollutants (S)
  • Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology 144, Groundwater Contamination (S)
  • Ocean Sciences 101, The Marine Environment(W)
  • Ocean Sciences 102, Oceans and Climate
  • Philosophy 125, Philosophy of Science (W)
  • Politics 170, International Relations of the Environment (W)
  • Politics 174, Global Political Ecology
  • Psychology 159E, Peace Psychology (F,W)
  • Sociology 115, Green Governance
  • Sociology 119, Sociology of Knowledge (W)
  • Sociology 125, Society and Nature (F)
  • Sociology 130, Sociology of Food
  • Sociology 132, Sociology of Science and Technology (S)
  • Sociology 167, Development and Underdevelopment (W)
  • Sociology 173, Water
  • Sociology 177E, Eco-Metropolis
  • Sociology 177G, Global Cities
  • Sociology 179, Nature, Poverty, and Progress
  • Technology and Information Management 115, Entrepreneurial Organization and Leadership

Substitutes for any of the required classes must be approved by the Program Director.

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Revised: 09/01/17