Faculty and students examining plants in the outdoors

Sustainability

Create the world you want as a change-maker in the sustainability program. With course topics ranging from environmental science to public policy, this program prepares you with the real-world experiences and knowledge you need to make a difference.

Why Study Sustainability?

As a sustainability major at USD, you will learn in a highly experiential major, which results in high-impact learning. As one of the only schools in the region to offer an undergraduate sustainability degree, we make sure to incorporate real-world experiences throughout the curriculum. This includes completing a required internship or conducting undergraduate research. Many of the classes include community-based learning, and we encourage students to participate in study-abroad opportunities. 

At USD, we take a personal interest in our students. As a sustainability major, you'll have hands-on learning with your professors as we learn your interests and try to help you structure your college career. We'll help position you to succeed in fields such as natural resource conversation, public relations, sustainable and local food, public education and outreach, sustainability consulting, policymaking and more.

Join this exciting and rapidly growing field and help safeguard the planet for future generations through sustainability!


Degrees & Offerings

Sustainability (B.A., B.S.)

Major
  Vermillion Main Campus

Students majoring in sustainability may choose either an Environmental Science Specialization or a Human and Natural Systems Specialization.

Sustainability: Human & Natural Systems (B.S.)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Sustainability: Environmental Science (B.S.)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Sustainability Minor

Minor
  Vermillion Main Campus

A minor in sustainability prepares you for building sustainable practices for the earth, and studying the experiential 18 credit hour curriculum in courses such as Sustainable Society or Environmental Science.

Program Details

Undergraduate

College

Department

Contact

Admissions

Known for Excellence

At USD, you'll find a high quality educational experience strengthened by our faculty's research and creative scholarship. See what makes our department exceptional.

Student Opportunities

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

USD is home to more than 170 student organizations, including Environmental Club, United Nations Association of the USA, Alternative Week of Off-campus Learning, and Food Recovery Network (part of SERVE).

Explore Student Organizations

There are even more ways to get involved! Check out our campus and community sustainability initiatives below to learn more about how you can make a difference at USD.

Bike Share

The Muenster University Center offers a fleet of red bicycles that students may check out for free from the front desk. Biking is a great way to get around! If you have your own bicycle, you may register it at the University Police Department for peace of mind.

Recycling Team

Students run our campus recycling program - it's a great opportunity for students to earn money, gain work experience, and reduce waste. Check Coyote Careers for openings.

Vermillion Community

Our community features the Vermillion Area Farmers Market, Vermillion Community Garden, Heikes Family Farm CSA, Missouri Valley Recycling Center, Spirit Mound Historic Prairie, and Missouri National Recreational River. Visit Greening Vermillion's website to learn about other off-campus opportunities. 

Move-Out Donation Days

Move-Out Donation Days helps prevent usable items from going to the landfill when students move out at the end of the year.  This event provides students convenient donation options that educate them of the benefits of reuse, waste reduction and local donation.

Dining

Campus dining strives for sustainability through responsible sourcing, plant-based options, waste reduction, and more. Learn more about dining commitments here.

Buildings & Grounds

Our Facilities Management staff maintain water bottle refill stations in every building, use green cleaning practices, and continually work to improve energy efficiency. We are a certified Tree Campus, and our landscaping includes attractive and drought-tolerant native prairie plants.

Memberships

USD is a member of Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS), and Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). Students are encouraged participate in conferences and events through these organizations.

Recycling

The student-run recycling program accepts paper, cardboard, cartons, cans, tubs, jugs, bottles, and jars (both glass and plastic). Watch what happens to our recyclable materials here. Learn more or submit a recycling request on Coyote One Stop.

Academics

We are the only school in the region offering degrees in Sustainability from a minor through a PhD. Many courses are open to students of all majors. Learn more about the Department of Sustainability & Environment here.
Student Dropping Plastic Water Bottle into Recycling Bin

The Green Initiative Fund gives USD students the opportunity to enhance campus and turn their ideas into reality by implementing innovative projects that reduce waste, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and motivate continued progress toward a sustainable campus environment. The fund helps provide support and guidance for students who want to make a lasting impact on campus. 

USD offers a range of scholarships for students, including scholarships specifically for sustainability majors looking to make a positive difference. The Department of Sustainability & Environment strives to recognize and reward outstanding students for their accomplishments and potential whenever possible.

Learn More

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in Sustainability.
Faculty and students researching on Spirit Mound near Vermillion

Sustainability & Environment

The field of sustainability invites us to examine the world we live in and imagine the possibilities for a brighter future. Find solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges through the Department of Sustainability & Environment.

Overview of the Missouri River

Missouri River Institute

Located along the free-flowing Missouri National Recreational River, the Missouri River Institute explores the natural and cultural resources of the river through its focus on research, education and outreach.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Sustainability & Environment. Our faculty are experts in the field, bringing practical experience in ecology, behavior change, hydrology, energy, climate change and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Meghann Jarchow

Meghann Jarchow

Chair, Sustainability & Enviro
Bio Image for Faculty Member Joseph Kantenbacher

Joseph Kantenbacher

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Sweeney

Mark Sweeney

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mike Allgrunn

Mike Allgrunn

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Carr

David Carr Ph.D.

Chair, ECON & DSCI
Bio Image for Faculty Member Dale Clark

Dale Clark

Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Paul Formisano

Paul Formisano

Director of Writing
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kenneth Green

Kenneth Green

Instructor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jacob Kerby

Jacob Kerby

Chair, Biology
Bio Image for Faculty Member Tony Krus

Tony Krus

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Pere Miro

Pere Miro

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Shane Nordyke

Shane Nordyke

Coordinator, Chiesman Center
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lynn Riley

Lynn Riley

Lecturer
Bio Image for Faculty Member Molly Rozum

Molly Rozum

Assoc Prof/R.Nelson Distg Prof
Bio Image for Faculty Member David Swanson

David Swanson

Dir of Research, MO River Inst
Bio Image for Faculty Member Bess Vlaisavljevich

Bess Vlaisavljevich

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mandie Weinandt

Mandie Weinandt

Director of CTL
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jeff Wesner

Jeff Wesner

Associate Professor
Students Posed for Club Photo

Serving Our Communities

At USD, you'll find opportunities to get involved in your community and make a difference through sustainability initiatives. Every spring the Environmental Club hosts Earth Days along with the local organization Greening Vermillion and local businesses and farms. 

 

Make a Difference in a Sustainable Entrepreneurship

USD sustainability students turn their ideas into action. See how three USD students made fashion more sustainable and second-hand shopping more accessible.

 

Tuition & Costs

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.
SD Residents, SD Advantage* & Child of Alumni
MN Residents
Out-of-State
Tuition (30 cr.)
7773
8718.9
11283
Fees (30 cr.)
1659
1659
1659
Books (estimate)
1200
1200
1200
Housing
4454
4454
4454
Food Service
3770
3770
3770
Total

* SD Advantage: The in-state rate is available to residents of South Dakota, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and children of alumni of USD.

More About Tuition & Costs

This is an estimated annual cost. Other factors may change the cost of tuition.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.

Scholarships

USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.


Hear From A USD Alum

Success story Emily Roberson smiling.
Sustainability is a broad major that focuses on the environment, social systems, economic systems, and how all three interact. I've found through coursework that I really enjoy the economic and societal aspects of the major, and that has lead me to obtain a minor in political science in the pursuit of a career in policy research and analysis. In my time at USD, I have gotten to interact with professors across campus and build connections that I hope to keep for the rest of my life.

Emily Roberson

B.A. Sustainability, Anthropology '16
Executive Director, Youth Garden Project
Moab, Utah

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