Gateway to Sustainability

Author: Rachel Novick


The new Minor in Sustainability will launch this Spring with Sustainability: Principles and Practices, an interdisciplinary gateway course open to everyone and required for all those enrolled in the Minor. The course explores the challenges of environmental sustainability in cultural, social, historical, ethical, technical, and aesthetic dimensions.

Each semester, the course will be taught jointly by a team of faculty from the natural sciences, humanities, engineering, and social sciences. This Spring, that team will consist of Joe Fernando of the Civil Engineering Department, Tony Serianni of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, John Sitter of the Department of English, and Andrew Weigert of the Sociology Department. Their diverse backgrounds and perspectives will make for a fascinating exploration of sustainability’s multifaceted challenges.

The course aims to instill broad, integrative and critical thinking about contemporary global environmental problems whose solutions will depend on multidisciplinary approaches. “I can think of no topic more important than substainability or one that is better suited to interdisciplinary collaboration,” said Prof. Sitter. “Ecology is a cultural as well as physical reality, and the prospect of learning together with engaged students and committed colleagues is an exciting invitation.”

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to expand my understanding of the multiple interdependent components of global sustainability through personal study and reflection, and through discourse with the other instructors and students in the course,” added Prof. Serianni. “I plan to focus on the science of sustainability in a qualitative or semi-quantitative manner, provide rational assessments of the predictions and forecasts, and discuss practical paths to create a more sustainable world.”

No prerequisites are required for enrolling in Sustainability: Principles and Practices, which is 3 credits. Requirements include mid-term and final examinations, short written responses to readings, and a final reflection paper.