Principles of Sustainability


Although I was always conscious of sustainability and my actions to decrease footprint, I never considered implementing my care for the environment into my studies. As a freshman, I went into school as a Finance and Management major, I did not even know about the sustainability dual major program.

After joining organizations at school and finding friends that were similarly minded to myself, I found myself thinking more and more about climate change, carbon footprints, etc. I realized there was nothing holding me back from studying the environment as well. This led me to add a minor in ECS – environmental conservation and sustainability into my program. As I was working towards completing the course requirements for this program, I realized again that I wanted an even more in-depth education on sustainability, and more importantly wanted to work it into my education as a Finance major. Within one of my beginning courses for the ECS minor, the head of the SDM program, Cameron Wake, came and talked to the class about this opportunity and that same day I applied for the program.

I was so excited about the opportunity to have such vast classes to choose from within the SDM where I could pick and choose courses that were more related to sustainability within a business lens. Because I had already started my work as an ECS minor, I was able to count my Principles of Sustainability (NR 437) as a replacement for Sustainability 401 to complete my coursework on time with my expected graduation date. The course I took was a very similar introductory course, giving me knowledge of sustainability in my own life as well as in relation to many different aspects of the economy today.

This was the first course I took that was heavily discussion based. The communicative aspect is a great learning environment when working with like-minding individuals from different disciplines. Within this course, we focused heavily on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and had many discussions over which we thought were the most important to focus on. Gender inequality was something that I never realized had such a huge impact on climate change. In many places today, there are still many women that do not have the ability to make decisions about their future for themselves. They are not given equal education and it is still expected that their main role be as the care giver for the children they will create. Lack of education and equality, especially in impoverished nations for women is something that contributes heavily to population increase and unsustainable living environments. I learned so much in this class about the changes that would come from simply empowering and educating women equally to that of men. The in-depth view we took on each and every of the UN SDGs made me examine much more thoroughly about even things that seem small that contribute in huge ways to climate change today.

The field of sustainability is so vast and interconnected. There are so many different definitions of sustainability and this introductory course did a great job touching on multiple of them. A huge takeaway I got from this course is that sustainability problems are complex and interdisciplinary, as are the solutions to these issues.