Initial Publication Date: August 1, 2012

Bachelor of Science in Sustainability at ASU

Information for this profile was provided by David Feary, School of Sustainability and School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


The School of Sustainability takes a transdisciplinary approach to addressing a broad spectrum of global challenges, including energy, materials, and technology; water quality and scarcity; international development; ecosystems; social transformations; food and food systems; and policy and governance.


The recognition of the need to develop future leaders and scientists with transdisciplinary perspectives who can identify practical solutions to some of the most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges of sustainability, especially as they relate to urban areas.

Program Goals

The emphasis is heavily on transdisciplinary and problem-oriented learning, to think in a holistic way about sustainability problems and to understand the concepts of sustainability, the issues involved, and the disciplines needed to address real-world problems.

Alumni Careers

Our program is designed to prepare graduates for these career paths:
The range of career paths are extremely broad, including environmental economics, sociology, anthropology, environmental politics, ethics, design, and human geography, ecology, environmental biology, hydrology, environmental chemistry, engineering, earth-systems management, etc.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

Core courses are 'Sustainable World' and 'Sustainable Cities.'


Students can pursue the following tracks (requires satisfactory competencies in a higher level Calculus course, Applied Mathematics for the Life and Social Sciences, Mathematical Tools and Modeling for the Life and Social Sciences, and a Second Language at the 102-level):

Sustainable Energy, Materials, and Technology:

  • Focuses on technological issues relevant to energy and materials including overall energy needs and impacts, current and future urban energy systems, thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanisms, atmospheric energy systems and field investigation.
  • Stresses technical literacy or the ability to perform physical reasoning supported by order-of-magnitude calculations and idealized models.
  • Requires strong ability in mathematics, physics, and chemistry.
Economics of Sustainability:
  • Applies economic principles to the allocation of environmental goods and services.
  • Uses the principles that govern the behavior of firms and consumers in and out of markets, to gain knowledge of the underlying drivers of environmental degradation.
  • Examines the role of institutions and markets in shaping firms' and consumers' incentives to design sustainable policies.
  • Examines environmental costs and benefits alongside economic benefits and costs to evaluate the tradeoffs associated with business and policy domain decisions.
Sustainable Ecosystems:
  • Focuses on the environment "sphere" of the 3-sphere sustainability model.
  • Analyzes the biophysical science aspects necessary to understand sustainability challenges and solutions and their environmental implications.
  • Implements a whole systems approach which conceptualizes sustainability in terms of socio-ecological systems which include humans.
  • Concentrates on ecosystem services as the linkage between human systems and ecosystem structure and
  • Stresses the complexities and co-dependencies between human and natural systems, recognizing that sustainable solutions must include and address both systems holistically.

Core courses

Students must complete five 'challenge area' courses for a total of fifteen hours:
  • Society and Sustainability
  • Policy and Governance in Sustainable Systems
  • International Development and Sustainability
  • Sustainable Urban Dynamics/Smart Growth & New Urbanism
  • Sustainable Energy, Materials, and Technology
  • The Economics of Sustainability
  • Sustainable Ecosystems
  • Sustainable Food and Farms
  • Sustainability and Enterprise


All students must complete at least six hours of approved electives that relate to the main track they are studying. A minimum of three of these six hours must be upper-division.

Electives include:

  • Equity, Justice, and Sustainability
  • Future Thinking and Strategies
  • Practical Skills for Sustainability Problem Solving
  • Systems Thinking
  • Careers in Sustainability


All students are required to successfully complete a three-hour pre-approved applied/capstone experience. Applied/Capstone experience options include internships, workshops, research experience, or service learning.