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Bachelor's in Sustainability Studies (BA)

The first sustainability bachelor’s degree in the Chicago area, this program prepares graduates to tackle the sustainability problems of the 21st century. Using insights and analytic methods from science, policy, and environmental justice, students explore natural and social ecosystems, recognize national and international implications of sustainability issues, and apply their knowledge on behalf of campus and community projects.

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Location: Chicago
Start Term: Fall, Spring, Summer
Program Type: Major, Minor

Roosevelt's Sustainability Studies Program, established in 2010, was the first sustainability-focused undergraduate degree program in the Chicago region, and remains one of the few in Illinois. Its foundation in the Three Es of sustainability -- environment, economy, and equity -- emphasize how sustainability education embodies Roosevelt's mission of promoting social justice. The city of Chicago and its surrounding communities constitute an exciting and diverse learning laboratory for our students and faculty to put sustainability principles into practice in service of environmental justice, community development, and ecological restoration.

What Differentiates Us

Flexible Coursework

Flexible Coursework

Students can take courses in our LEED-Gold and National Historic Landmark Chicago Campus buildings as well as online; either way you'll learn from expert faculty from a wide variety of disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Become a Campus Leader

Become a Campus Leader

Take leadership roles in campus- and community-based projects to make Roosevelt a more sustainable university, including growing food in our rooftop and community gardens in Chicago and Schaumburg, respectively.

Engage with Chicagoland

Engage with Chicagoland

Study and do research onsite at urban farms, nature centers, and world-renowned museums; partner with students and faculty from other universities on city-wide and regional sustainability projects; and take advantage of myriad hands-on learning and sustainability-related internship opportunities.

Expectations & Requirements

Standards

  • Rigorous interdisciplinary courses that challenge you to think critically, write clearly, research deeply, and connect the dots among concepts such as climate change, food security, water quality, waste reduction, and more;
  • Supportive and enthusiastic faculty who set high academic expectations while providing personalized advising and long-term mentorship;
  • Opportunities to learn about water conservation by paddling the Chicago River, sustainable agriculture by working on an urban farm, ecological restoration by exploring local prairies and forest preserves, biodiversity by doing research at the Field Museum of Natural History, and social justice by interning or volunteering at a grassroots environmental organization;
  • A campus community of sustainability activists who are working hard to transform Roosevelt into a truly sustainable university, and who value and depend upon the ideas and energy of students;
  • Research, presentation, and publication venues such as our biannual SUST Student Symposium, the Roosevelt Urban Sustainability Lab, the SUST at RU Blog, the Writing Urban Nature environmental humanities project; and the Schaumburg's Sustainable Future online project;
  • Opportunities for off-campus study through travel courses, internships, and Roosevelt's participation as a founding member of the new Resilience Studies Consortium of U.S. colleges and universities dedicated to place-based sustainability education and research;
  • A growing network of sustainability studies alumni with whom to connect at Roosevelt events and online via Facebook and LinkedIn.

Minor Requirements

The SUST minor is a six-course sequence that consists of SUST 210 "The Sustainable Future" plus five more SUST courses of the student's choosing, for a total of 18 credit hours. Students in any Roosevelt undergraduate major/college may complete the SUST minor.

Sample Courses

  • Sustainable Future: Environment, Economy, Equity
  • Energy and Climate Change
  • Sprawl, Transportation and Planning
  • Biodiversity
  • Service and Sustainability
  • The Sustainable Campus

Several SUST courses provide outstanding opportunities for hands-on, applied, community-based learning. SUST 330 "Biodiversity" is offered onsite each fall semester at the Field Museum of Natural History, where students conduct conservation research under the guidance of museum scientists. SUST 350 "Service Learning" is taught onsite at Chicago-based urban farms and nature centers. Most SUST classes utilize field trips and/or campus sustainability projects to provide practical learning opportunities.

Outcomes

Career Options
Sustainability management

Environmental policy
Sustainability communication
Environmental education
Ecological restoration
Conservation research
Urban planning
Environmental justice advocacy
Community development
Energy conservation and management

Grad Schools Attended By Our Alumni
University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Chicago

Meet Our Alumni
Check our annual Year in Review on the SUST at RU blog for updates on the educational and professional accomplishments of our alumni.

More Opportunities

Clubs & Activities

  • RU Green (student environmental organization)
  • Environmental Sustainability Committee (campus-wide group of students, alumni, faculty, and staff)
  • Earth Month events and activities
  • SUST Student Symposium (biannual research symposium)
  • Sustainability internships (throughout the Chicago region)
  • Service learning classes and volunteer activities

Testimonials

"Roosevelt's locations in Chicago and Schaumburg means we have access to, and the chance to make positive impacts upon, both urban and suburban ecosystems here in the Chicago region. This is an ideal setting for studying sustainability issues and working to advance environmental justice in human and natural communities. In all of my SUST classes, even those which are fully online, I build in field trips and outdoor learning experiences to enhance what we do in the physical and virtual classrooms. My students have paddled the Chicago River, done research in the animal and plant collections at the Field Museum of Natural History, worked on urban farms, presented at local sustainability conferences, hiked through forest and prairie preserves, analyzed water quality in area streams and wetlands, and implemented many campus-based sustainability projects here at Roosevelt."

Mike Bryson
Professor & Director of Sustainability Studies​, Roosevelt University

"After graduating in May of 2014 with a bachelor's degree in Sustainability Studies, I pursued opportunities in the “green” field. Three months later, I was hired as a Project Specialist at GE Energy Management’s Digital Energy Division, within their Power Delivery group. In my role at GE, I am responsible for managing the office operations for engineers, project managers, and designers who design and manage smart grids that provide sustainable technology solutions that modernize and optimize how we generate, move, and consume energy. My primary responsibility is to work with project management teams and systems engineers to manage these complex engineering systems and develop processes that measure the efficiency and coordination of internal controls. Obtaining a degree in sustainability at Roosevelt and using my previous experience in operations management have played an essential role in my career development. My current job is an amazing opportunity to work with people who provide sustainable solutions in energy consumption."

Cheryl Green - Sustainability Studies, BPS '14