Systems and Solutions Certificate Program Details

Meghann Jarchow, Ranjeet John, Karen L. Koster, KC Santosh, and Bess Vlaisavljevich, College of Arts & Sciences, University of South Dakota

Program Design


The Systems and Solutions Certificate will prepare students to use systems thinking and STEM tools to model complex systems and to use design thinking to innovate and iterate toward solutions within these complex systems.Back to program overview »

Design Philosophy

Societal problems are multi-faceted and complex. Devising solutions to these problems requires a systems approach that integrates humanistic and scientific knowledge. This certificate in Systems and Solutions is designed to introduce students to concepts about systems thinking using real-world examples in an introductory course, then requires them to acquire a suite of STEM tools and humanistic understanding through intermediary coursework, culminating in a capstone project that requires students to integrate their knowledge via construction of conceptual and implementation models that address a societal problem.

Courses and Sequencing

Required Courses (10-13 Credits)

  • Introduction to Systems Thinking (3 credits): In this foundational course, students will be introduced to concepts of systems, systems thinking, design thinking, and conceptual modelling through the use of trans-disciplinary case studies.
  • A STEM Course that Introduces a Modern Tool for Solving Complex Problems (3 credits)
    • Introduction to Biostatistics & Computational Biology (BIOL 420/520, 3 credits)
    • Programming for Engineering & Science (CSC 170, 3 credits)
    • Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (ANTH/ESCI/POLS 425/525, 3 credits)
    • Remote Sensing (BIOL 484/585/L, 3 credits)
    • Data Analysis, Decision Making, and Visualization (CSC 457, 3 credits)
    • Advanced Chemical Characterization (CHEM 429/529/L, 3 credits)
    • Unmanned Aerial Systems (BIOL 492/592, 3 credits)
    • Analytics Programming Fundamentals (CSC 505, 3 credits)
    • Structural Equation Modeling (PSYC 492/592 or PSYC 775, 3 credits)
  • A Course Focused on Developing Trans-disciplinary Knowledge (3-4 credits)
    • For STEM Majors
      • Science Communication (SPCM 452/552, 3 credits)
      • Virtual Reality (PSYC 492/592)
      • Environmental Communication (SPCM 418/518, 3 credits)
      • Environmental Law and Policy (POLS 407/507, 3 credits)
      • Introduction to Public Policy (POLS 226, 3 credit)
      • Environmental Ethics (PHIL 454/554, 3 credits)
      • Upper-level humanistic course (3-4 credits, with coordinator approval)
    • For non-STEM Majors
      • Environmental Science (BIOL 310, 3 credits)
      • Virtual Reality (PSYC 492/592)
      • Introduction to River Studies (BIOL/ESCI 425/525, 3 credits)
      • Principles of Ecology (BIOL 311/L, 4 credits)
      • Fundamental Organic Chemistry (CHEM 310/L)
      • Environmental Chemistry (CHEM 482/582, 3 credits)
      • Global Climate Change (ESCI 416/516, 3 credits)
      • Energy and Sustainability (ESCI 415/515, 3 credits)
      • Upper-level STEM course (3-4 credits, with coordinator approval)
  • Capstone Course (1-3 credits): Students in the Certificate must complete the capstone project as their final course in the sequence. In this course, students will construct conceptual and implementation models that address a societal problem and will describe these with an explanatory narrative. Students will keep a journal based on prompts that ask them to reflect on their willingness and ability to effect change with respect to a societal problem, on their experiences with any challenges encountered, and how these journal entries have changed compared to those made during the introductory course.

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