Land use, climate, water, economies, energy, mobility, resources, ecology, conservation, social equity
The Sustainability program features a bachelor of science (B.S.) and a minor for students to focus on environmental, economic, and social sustainability to prepare for the growing job market in this dynamic and valuable multi-disciplinary career area.
An overarching goal of sustainability science is to help society and its economy meet the needs of today's generation in ethical and environmentally responsible ways without jeopardizing the needs and health of future generations or our planet's ecosystems. Essentially, sustainability scientists are responsible for helping businesses, government agencies, educational institutions, and others develop and implement ways to be better stewards of our natural (minerals, rocks, soils, water, air) and living resources (forests, oceans, reefs, crops, microorganisms, etc.), while facilitating enhancement of our collective human resources (cultures, languages, diversity, etc.) and economies by solving challenges on a planet with a growing population.
The major provides an opportunity to become a broadly-trained environmental scientist with expertise in Sustainability and proficiency in GIS and other geotechnologies. Our successful graduates have strong written communication skills and a well-developed portfolio that includes real-world work experiences. Students in the major will complete core coursework in Geography, Geology, and Biology (focus on the environment), develop a solid understanding of allied sciences including Psychology and Sociology (focus on ethics), and gain experience in Economics and Business (focus on economics). Students are also encouraged to earn a GIS certificate or minor in the Geography-Earth Science Department and/or to take a minor in a related field.
All students will complete an internship and are encouraged to take advantage of other high-impact learning activities to complement their coursework. These include service-learning experiences, student research projects, and other field-based and hands on learning made available through the Center for Land Use and Sustainability (CLUS), The Burd Run Interdisciplinary Research Watershed, the Chincoteague Bay Field Station, the Campus Community Farm, and a variety of student clubs and organizations including the Geography-Earth Science Organization (GESO), Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) Honor Society, Students for Environmental Action and Sustainability (SEAS).
The need for sustainability scientists is projected to grow significantly in Pennsylvania and beyond. Around the U.S. and the globe there will be a demand for well-trained workers who have a strong disciplinary knowledge in sustainability and related qualitative and quantitative skills centered in the Geosciences. Our programs prepare graduates to enter this emerging and growing field and become leaders in this industry.
The department is continually updating our courses to keep them current and impactful for your future success. Official course descriptions are available in the university catalog here:
Undergraduate Earth Science | Undergraduate Geography
Graduate Earth Science | Graduate Geography
However, check with your instructor for the most up to date course outline and content as updates may be made.
Example Earth Science Courses (ESS)
ESS 108: Introduction to Environmental Sustainability
ESS 413: Rock and Mineral Resources
ESS 442: Environmental Geology
ESS 451: Coastal Environmental Oceanography
Example Geography Courses (GEO)
GEO 203: Climate, Energy, and Sustainability
GEO 230: Economic Geography
GEO 244: Land Use
GEO 310: Transportation Geography
GEO 322: Urban Geography
GEO 427: Environmental Sustainability
GEO 444: Environmental Land Use Planning
GEO 446: Water Resources Management
GEO 490: Food Systems