SDSU students at climate change protest

Program Information

To address some of the most critical environmental and social challenges of our time no single academic discipline or perspective is adequate. For this reason, the SDSU sustainability major is an interdisciplinary program that involves coursework across many areas on campus. Housed in the College of Arts and Letters, the Sustainability Major builds on faculty from a wide-range of disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

The central focus of the degree is the interface of human and natural systems. The curriculum emphasizes the study of cultural, historic, social, economic, and political values and forces that shape resource use and constrain responses to sustainable development. Students gain an understanding of sociopolitical, historical, philosophical, moral, and scientific aspects of environmental problems and have the flexibility to concentrate their studies in one or more of these areas. Emphasis is placed on strong writing, research, and quantitative skills and broad liberal arts perspective.


The sustainability major is an impacted program. To be admitted to the sustainability major, students must meet the following criteria:

  • Complete preparation for the major (see below);
  • Complete a minimum of 60 transferable semester units;
  • Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

To complete the major, students must fulfill the degree requirements for the major described in the catalog in effect at the time they are accepted into the premajor at SDSU (assuming continuous enrollment).

Sustainability 100 [or Environmental Science 100]; Economics 102; Geography 101; and one course selected from Economics 201, Linguistics 270, Philosophy 120, Political Science 201, Psychology 280, Sociology 201, Statistics 119, or 250; three units from Geography 170 or Professional Studies and Fine Arts 100 (15-16 units).

A minimum of 33 upper division units to include Sustainability 495 (three units), 12 units of integrative core courses: Sustainability 332 [or Philosophy 332]; Sustainability 353 [or Anthropology 353]; Biology 315 or Geography 370; History 441 or Sustainability 334 [or Political Science 334]; and 18 units selected from three of the following fields, at least three units of which must be 500-level courses:

  • Field A, Human-Nature Interface: Anthropology 355, 402, 510, Economics 455, English 305, 491 (with relevant content), Geography 348, History 441 (if not applied to the core), 584, International Security and Conflict Resolution 310, Philosophy 496 (with relevant content), Religious Studies 376, Sustainability 334 [or Political Science 334] (if not applied to the core), Women’s Studies 580, 582. (3-12 units)
  • Field B, Applied and Regional Studies: Anthropology 532, Asian Studies 320, Environmental Engineering 320, Geography 340, 354, 426, 440 [or Political Science 440], 554, 572, 575, Latin American Studies 545, Oceanography 320, Political Science 564, Recreation and Tourism Management 305, 470, 487, Sociology 350, Women’s Studies 580. (3-12 units)
  • Field C, Scientific and Analytical Thinking: Biology 315 (if not applied to the core) 324, 327, 354, 517, 540, 544 [or Environmental Science 544], Economics 455, 456, Geography 370 (if not applied to the core) 375, 401, 409, 440 [or Political Science 440], 454, 506, 507, 512, 554, 570, 572, 573, 574, Geological Sciences 305, Public Health 304, 362. (3-12 units)

Core courses not selected for the core may be used to satisfy the field distributions as indicated.

All sustainability majors are required to complete an international experience. Please see our International Experience for more information.

Please see the SDSU general catalog for other requirements needed for graduation.

Students who graduate with a B.A. in sustainability will gain a general understanding of sustainability issues from diverse perspectives and be able to:

  • examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens;
  • communicate the concept of sustainability both orally and in writing;
  • demonstrate the ability to understand, evaluate, and explain an environmental problem;
  • critically analyze a controversial environmental issue;
  • clearly differentiate between scientific statements and value judgments;
  • distinguish between sustainable and unsustainable human activities through comparison and taking into account how the earth’s systems and human systems interact;
  • assess a sustainable solution in its social, economic, and environmental dimensions;
  • describe the major physical and sociopolitical processes regulating the management of water (or open space, marine life, or wildlife);
  • formulate policy that could be applied to a regional or local environmental problem
  • describe how cultural histories guide interactions between humans and nature by means of their representations of humans in nature.

Download the Curriculum Matrix


Please use the Sustainability major checklist to track your completion of the courses required.


The minor in sustainability consists of 15 units* to include:

  • three units from Sustainability 100 [or Environmental Science 100], Geography 101, 370, Biology 315;
  • three units from Sustainability 353 [or Anthropology 353], Sustainability 332 [or Philosophy 332], 334 [or Political Science 334], History 441; and
  • nine additional units selected from Sustainability 332 [or Philosophy 332], 334 [or Political Science 334], 353 [or Anthropology 353], American Indian Studies 420, Asian Studies 320, Biology 324, 327, Economics 455, 456; Environmental Engineering 320; Geography 354, 409, 426, 573, Geological Sciences 303, 305, History 584, International Security and Conflict Resolution 310, Oceanography 320, Political Science 564, Public Health 302, Recreation and Tourism Management 305, 485, Religious Studies 376, Sociology 350, Women’s Studies 580, 582.

Courses in the minor may not be counted toward the major, but may be used to satisfy preparation for the major and general education requirements, if applicable. A minimum of six upper division units must be completed in residence at San Diego State University.

*Additional prerequisites may be required for courses in the minor

Please use the Sustainability minor checklist to track your completion of the courses required.


Dr. David Carruthers
Office: NH 117
Email: [email protected]
Spring 2021 Office Hours: Mon. and Tues. 12-1 via

Important Links: Spring 2021 Course List |  Major Academic Plan |  General Catalog |  Class Schedule