Minor in Sustainability

Plants in a greenhouse overlooking a window

For students eager to learn about sustainable, science-based solutions to environmental problems, the minor in sustainability is a popular choice. Overseen by the Provost and involving several departments across the university (including biology, social justice, law, business and geography), this minor pairs classroom instruction with community-based learning and research. Minors must complete 18 credits from one of three tracks, with Track B offering the deepest focus on geography.

Minor in Sustainability Requirements

Students at GW come from around the world to connect to diverse ideas, cultures, and ways of life. The 18-credit minor in sustainability offers students a rigorous platform to examine critical sustainability issues and solutions. The program begins with Introduction to Sustainability, a team-taught course that equips students with a strong foundation in global sustainability principles and paradigms. Students build on this foundation by further investigating sustainability through the lenses of ecosystems, economies, communities, and practices. The capstone experience provides students with a structure for applying what they’ve learned through a semester-long research, service, and/or internship project. Students are empowered to consider the competing perspectives of stakeholders, the unintended consequences of decisions, and how interventions at different levels and scales affect systems and their component parts. Ultimately, students gain the tools necessary for creating healthy and thriving resource systems.


All students in the minor program are required to take SUST 1001 Introduction to Sustainability; at least one course in each of four pillars (below); and at least 3 credits in an experiential learning course (below) selected from SUST 3094 Culminating Experience in Sustainability, SUST 3096 Research in Sustainability, or SUST 3097 Culminating Experience in Sustainability, acts as a capstone course for the minor.

At least 9 credits (3 courses)—e.g., SUST 1001, the student’s selected capstone course, and one selected pillar course—must be unique to the minor and cannot be double counted toward the requirements of any other major and/or minor program. The unique course requirement does not apply to SEAS students, who are governed by their school's policy regarding unique/double counting course requirements with the minor program.

At least 6 credits (two courses) must be taken at the 2000 level or above. These courses could include the student’s selected capstone course and one of their selected pillar courses.


  • Pillar I: Sustainable Ecosystems—Earth Sciences and Public Health
  • Pillar II: Sustainable Economies—Business, Markets, Technology, and Trade
  • Pillar III: Sustainable Communities—Culture, Politics, and Society
  • Pillar IV: Sustainable Practices—Leadership, Values, Norms, and Behaviors

Experiential Learning Experience

The experiential learning experience is required as a capstone for the minor. Students may fulfill this requirement in their junior or senior year through directed research, fieldwork, an internship (paid or unpaid), or community service. Students may enroll in SUST 3094, SUST 3096, or SUST 3097 to fulfill the requirement. Successful completion of SUST 1001 and approval of the instructor or program director are required prior to enrollment in the capstone course.

Each semester, GW departments and programs offer special topics courses that may fulfill the pillar requirement. Topics relevant to the concentration must be approved by the program director prior to enrollment. Consult the Schedule of Classes for topics offered.

With prior approval of the program director, courses taken in study abroad programs may be used to fulfill one of the pillar requirements.