Redefining Progress: Sustainable Development
This piece is part of a series on how universities and colleges around the world are integrating theories of sustainability into traditional majors to give students the skills they need to build a more sustainable future for all.
Where to Study: The University of St. Andrews and Columbia University
At the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, the school of Geography and Geoscience offers a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Development. This program was created in response to the United Nations' call for a decade of education for sustainable development. Students learn about the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development by taking courses such as "The anthropogenic effect on ecosystem functions and services," and "The use of technology in environmental management."
Courses in the field of Sustainable Development take an interdisciplinary approach to social science, natural science and policy. At Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, students can earn their Ph.D. in Sustainable Development. Required courses through Columbia's Earth Institute include human ecology, microeconomics and sustainable development, science policy and natural science courses. After graduation, students go on to leadership roles in government, international institutions or private firms, where they work on environmental protection and sustainable development programs.
From how we grow our food, to how we extract natural resources, to how we run our economy, developing a sustainable world will require a multidisciplinary understanding of social and natural systems. With a degree in Sustainable Development, students leave school with the knowledge necessary to tackle big-picture issues like extreme poverty, global demographic change, natural disasters and ecosystem preservation.
More Places to Study
The United Nations University
The SIT Graduate Institute’s Master of Sustainable Development
Hawaii Pacific University
The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis
The International Sustainable Development Studies Institute
The United Nations Economic and Social Development Department
Images by Morgan Greenseth
Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands is a life sciences university whose motto is "For Quality of Life" and also "To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life".
Several green Masters courses are offered including Urban Environmental Management and Environmental Sciences. There is a strong Environmental Technology department which is doing great research for Biological Fuel Cells among other cutting edge renewable energy projects.
The university is also special because it is an education center for many students coming from 'developing' countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.