Sustainability is a new field of study that deals with understanding, maintaining and preserving Earth’s natural systems that are disrupted or influenced by humans. In addition, this field of study focuses on sustaining human populations within environments that have limited resources. Sustainability is multi-disciplinary and includes traditional sciences such as chemistry, geology, geography and physics. Sustainability encompasses a wide array of topics, which include: water resources, human populations, ecosystem function, importance of biodiversity, human health, development and engineering, air quality, and water quality. Here are some specific examples of challenges sustainable scientists face:
- Understanding and maintaining a rapidly growing desert city such as Phoenix with the future challenge of a water crisis due to a diminishing (Colorado) river.
- Scientists are examining ways to mitigate and restore the desertification of natural grasslands due to overgrazing by cattle.
- Restoring the ‘natural’ ecology of river systems that have been altered by humans through mining or damming rivers.
- Designing buildings that have a minimal impact on its surrounding environment deemed LEED certified by the US Green Building Council.
The completion of sustainability courses does not lead to a specific Sustainability program degree; however, some courses satisfy the global (G) requirements, or program electives, in fulfillment of an Associates Degree or Certificate.
For specific course or program requirements, meet with one of the academic advisors.
Career and Employment Outlook
There are numerous job opportunities in various fields of consulting, non-profit organizations, public sector, and government agencies (i.e. USGS, USDA, EPA).