Purpose & Pedagogy

Among the most critical societal challenges of the next 50 years are the rapidly-growing and linked ecological and social crises arising from stresses on supplies of energy, water and food.  These crises are not simply about the adequacy of supply relative to demand, however; they are also the result of the complex social relations within and among societies, in the past, present and future. 

Dealing with such socio-ecological problems therefore requires robust interdisciplinary collaborations among engineers, social scientists and natural scientists. Moreover, in today’s rapidly-changing economy, college graduates will need to be flexible and adaptable, able to learn new knowledge and skills rapidly, and cognizant of the complex organization of society and technology. This minor is designed to foster both analytical ability and provide necessary learning.

The pedagogical rationale (what we study and why) of this minor is premised on relationships between classroom learning, service learning, and research and application. Broad interdisciplinarity and individual facility in both STEM and social sciences are critical elements at the center of the minor’s core courses.

Learning Objectives:

 learning objectives

The curriculum is therefore structured to:

(i) facilitate interdisciplinary academic and research collaborations among faculty and students across multiple UCSC divisions (drawing on but outside of the divisional structure);

(ii) teach and train students to apply entrepreneurial design skills to the ecology and sustainability of design and application in the built environment, and combine STEM skills and social science knowledge to these ends; and

(iii) meet undergraduate demand for a sustainability curriculum with focuses distinct from those offered in existing UCSC departments.

(iv) prepare students for professional careers in sustainability and entrepreneurship

The minor is designed to be a complement to students’ majors, allowing them to broaden their applied skills and knowledge, and their ability to analyze and understand complex systems and their interactions through society and the environment.  The minor will provide skills useful for work with non-profits, government agencies, small businesses and startups.  Businesses are increasingly interested in sustainability and specific positions are difficult to fill. Institutions of higher education, government agencies and others are also seeking staff with expertise in sustainability.

Program goals and course learning objectives are available here.