Tips for Greening Your Major

This post was co-authored by Laura Barnes, Elizabeth Luber, and Lauren Murphy.


These days we hear a lot about “Green” energy or “Sustainable” products, but what do “Green” and “Sustainable” really mean?  How do these words affect your life and your major?


According to the US Environmental Protection Agency,

“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.”


This diagram about sustainable development, designed by Johann Dréo in 2006, might clear things up.  The three pillars of sustainability – social, environment, and economic, sometimes called people, planet, profit – must be balanced in order for something to be entirely sustainable.




What Does This Have To Do With Your Major?

Whether you want to add a sustainability minor to your resume or just become better educated on the subject, sustainability experts at ISTC have developed a tailored list of minors and general education courses that cover the University of Illinois’ requirements and can be added to just about any major.


Sustainability Minors for Any Major:

Earth, Sustainability, Environment
Designed to provide students with a background in environmental studies and enhance their major field.
Environmental Economics & Law
Designed for students who wish to obtain basic skills in economic and legal analysis and learn to apply their in-depth knowledge to various environmental issues, including: environmental protection; natural resource management; sustainable development; and land-use planning. There are no prerequisites for this minor.
Environmental Fellows Program
This selective undergraduate minor was created for students in any major with an interest in environmental issues.  Individuals tailor their own program of study to meet their unique goals. From the humanities, sciences and the arts, students can choose from a wide variety of courses to satisfy the introductory and advanced requirements.
Food and Environmental Systems
Designed primarily for students who are enrolled in the Agricultural Communications Major, but can be added to other majors with approval from an academic advisor. Students will be able to explore consumer sciences, agricultural management and production, and environmental and natural resources, while enhancing their background Agricultural Communications.

Spatial and Quantitative Methods in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
This minor is ideal for NRES students, but is open to students in all majors who wish to pursue a major related to natural resource and environmental issues while distinguishing themselves with more advanced analytical skills.


For a complete list of sustainability majors and minors please visit the Programs and Minors page by the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment (ISEE) at UI.


General Education Courses:

We’ve highlighted a starter list. ISEE has a complete list of undergraduate courses on sustainability.








For those who wish to dive deeper: