Sustainable Development Minor

Sustainability is increasingly being understood as critical in the wider field of Development Studies. This stands to reason in contemporary global society, given the environmental, social, and economic pressures on the peoples and places of the world. While many of these pressures have persisted for centuries, others are new and pose particular challenges for those interested in development.

The U.N. World Commission on Environment and Development—commonly known as the Brundtland Commission—defines sustainable development as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
(http://www.un-documents.net/wced-ocf.htm) The three components of sustainable development are: social equity, economic viability and ecological integrity. Implicit in these three components is the importance of cultural integrity, as well as the critical role of resident participation in planning for sustainable development.

The overarching objective of the minor in Sustainable Development is to help students interested in entering the field of development think critically and analytically about the processes and projects of development vis-à-vis the three constitutive components. Accordingly, students graduating from the program will be equipped to make well-informed contributions to work in the field of development, or to pursue a graduate degree in Development Studies.

Required Courses
NSM222 Environmental Science
SOC335 Social Change and Development (prerequisite: 100-level Sociology course)

Elective Courses (12 credits, selected from the following)
BIO302 Crops and Society
BIO304 Conservation Biology
ECB305 Economic Development
ECB307 Environmental Economics
ECB416/POL416 International Political Economy
PHI233 Environmental Ethics
POL219 Politics of the Developing World
SOC/SWK291 International Seminars in Production and Place
SOC340 Women and World Development
SWK401 Community and Sustainability

Required Field Experience 
Students choose an internship or off-campus experience that focuses on sustainable development.

  • Internship experience with an agency doing work in the field of sustainable development.  (For social work students, this may be combined with senior practicum experience.)
  • Off-campus courses of study:

American Studies Program (with approved internship)
Au Sable Institute
BIO291: International Seminar in Sustainable Tropical Agriculture
Creation Care Study Program (Belize or New Zealand)
Gordon in Romania
Gordon in South Africa
Latin American Studies Program (Environmental Science concentration)
SOC/SWK291: International Seminars in Production and Place

Faculty contact:


Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Work