student working at the garden

Major in Sustainability Science

Program Overview

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science

Department Name

Earth, Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

Department Chair Name

Suresh Muthukrishnan

Department Assistant Name

Nina Anthony

What is a sustainability science degree?

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” – Robert Swan, explorer and conservationist

A sustainability science major is a course of study that explores the critical linkages between global environmental, human and social systems. We are bombarded by sustainability news headlines covering polar ice melt, sea-level rise, coastline erosion, climate change, global warming, species extinction, greenhouse gas emissions, ocean plastic, and the list goes on. Increasingly, companies, governments and citizens need experts in sustainability science to help navigate humanity’s way on a singular, vulnerable planet. A degree in sustainability science gives you a seat at the table in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) roles, environmental policy, sustainable urban planning, and social justice and climate equity discussions that emanate from extreme weather events.

Why study sustainability science at Furman?

The ultimate challenge of sustainability science lies in finding ways to elevate the standard of living for all humans above a social foundation that protects against human deprivation, while at the same time lowering environmental impact below critical natural thresholds. Our sustainability science curriculum addresses this challenge and associated issues, training you to solve the most pressing complex challenges we face as a global society.

Our program provides you with a marketable skill set and a problem-based, solution-driven way of thinking, grounded in a holistic, systems approach. Classes focus on real-world sustainability challenges, such as food security, energy production, climate change, population growth, production and consumption, economic growth, human security and health, and access to clean water. Many courses include project-based learning opportunities that integrate theoretical and methodological training in practical settings. Plan a visit to Furman’s beautiful campus or start your application today.

How will you learn?

As the nation’s first sustainability science degree at a liberal arts and sciences institution, our program includes courses and undergraduate research programs that are engaging, interdisciplinary and include field-based experiences. We’ll provide you with the theoretical and practical knowledge to understand the basis of the Earth’s environmental and geological processes and their inextricable link to today’s social challenges.

Our educational model follows a systems-level understanding of the physical, chemical, biological, and social interactions that shape the Earth and potential solutions to the “one planet problem.” We emphasize the breadth of the complexity and dynamics of human-environment systems and have adopted a cutting-edge position bridging the natural and social sciences.

Our expanded viewpoint for the program allows us to not only uncover the problems caused by human transformation of the environment, but also to explore potential solutions to evolving environmental conditions. Through Furman’s liberal arts and sciences curriculum, and through intentionally small classrooms, we offer a range of perspectives to help you develop the skills, values and knowledge to pursue solutions.

All of our sustainability science students participate in a practicum or research project. Partner with faculty on research and present findings at national and international conferences.

Careers for sustainability science majors

As a sustainability science major, you’ll become workforce- or grad school-ready with finely tuned critical thinking, data analysis, quantitative reasoning, collaboration, and verbal and written communication skills. Our alumni have landed positions such as:

  • Corporate sustainability director
  • Campus sustainability director
  • Program manager for nonprofit
  • Civic engagement data coordinator
  • Toxics policy advisor
  • Community engagement and collective impact director
  • Corporate responsibility associate
  • Technical recruiter
  • Energy audit coordinator
  • Sustainability assessment coordinator
  • Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) compliance associate
  • Sustainability associate for skin care company
  • Sustainability analyst
  • Business development manager for recycling firm
  • Construction and building materials testing technician
  • Sustainability director or coordinator, health care systems

Sustainability science courses

A rich complement of courses underscores our systems approach to teaching sustainability science. Some sample courses include:

Social Systems

Loading...

Sustainability Science Practicum

Loading...

100%
Sustainability science majors who conduct research or finish a practicum
2012
Year sustainability science becomes a major at Furman
1
and only science B.S. nationally at a liberal arts and sciences institution
54%
Sustainability science students who complete at least one internship

What our students say

Riley hall, Furman University

“I chose sustainability science as a major because I love its interdisciplinary nature. Through faculty support, I had access to high level-research opportunities that I would not have had as an undergraduate at most other institutions.” – Kat Denney ’20, B.S. sustainability science; business development manager for recycling firm

Our faculty

Your academic advisor will help you explore your passions, define your interests and achieve your goals. You’ll tap into a widespread network of community and alumni mentors to help you on your individual educational path – and to the opportunities at the end of it. Furman’s sustainability science faculty represent decades of study and real-world expertise. Take your first steps by contacting admissions or reading more about how to apply.

  • Karen Allen
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Sustainability Science; Anthropology

    Karen Allen

    Karen Allen
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Sustainability Science; Anthropology

    Phone Number: 8642942504

    View Profile

  • Brannon Andersen
    Title:

    Rose J. Forgione Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences

    Brannon Andersen

    Brannon Andersen
    Title:

    Rose J. Forgione Professor of Earth, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences

    Phone Number: 8642943366

    View Profile

  • Ruth Aronoff
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences

    Aronoff

    Ruth Aronoff
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences

    Phone Number: 8642943363

    View Profile

  • Matthew Cohen
    Title:

    Associate Professor of Sustainability Science

    Cohen

    Matthew Cohen
    Title:

    Associate Professor of Sustainability Science

    Phone Number: 8642942505

    View Profile

  • Geoffrey Habron
    Title:

    Professor of Sustainability Sciences

    Geoffrey Habron

    Geoffrey Habron
    Title:

    Professor of Sustainability Sciences

    Phone Number: 8642943413

    View Profile

  • Emma Hunt
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences

    Emma Hunt

    Emma Hunt
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences

    Phone Number: 8642943364

    View Profile

  • Valeska Minkowski
    Title:

    Adjunct Professor

    Valeska Minkowski

    Valeska Minkowski
    Title:

    Adjunct Professor

    Phone Number: 9892558258

    View Profile

  • Suresh Muthukrishnan
    Title:

    Professor and Chair of Earth, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences Department; Director of GIS and Remote Sensing Center

    Muthurishnan

    Suresh Muthukrishnan
    Title:

    Professor and Chair of Earth, Environmental, and Sustainability Sciences Department; Director of GIS and Remote Sensing Center

    Phone Number: 8642943361

    View Profile

  • Courtney Quinn
    Title:

    Adjunct Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Leadership Development Program Fellow; Undergraduate Evening Studies Faculty

    Quinn

    Courtney Quinn
    Title:

    Adjunct Professor, Earth and Environmental Sciences; Leadership Development Program Fellow; Undergraduate Evening Studies Faculty

    Phone Number: 8642942052

    View Profile

  • Melissa Ranhofer
    Title:

    Visiting Assistant Professor, Earth, Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

    Ranhofer

    Melissa Ranhofer
    Title:

    Visiting Assistant Professor, Earth, Environmental and Sustainability Sciences

    Phone Number: 8642943647

    View Profile

  • Christopher S. Romanek
    Title:

    Laboratory Coordinator

    Romanek

    Christopher S. Romanek
    Title:

    Laboratory Coordinator

    Phone Number:

    View Profile

  • FAQ

    What can you do with a sustainability science degree?

    An array of transferable skills such as critical thinking, data analysis, quantitative reasoning, collaboration, and verbal and written communication competencies position you for a wide range of career options in areas from consulting to construction, and from government service to environmental advocacy and policy. Our sustainability science majors have gone on to occupations such as corporate sustainability director, campus sustainability director, program manager for nonprofit, civic engagement data coordinator, toxics policy advisor, community engagement and collective impact director, corporate responsibility associate, technical recruiter, energy audit coordinator, sustainability assessment coordinator, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) compliance associate, sustainability associate for skin care company, sustainability analyst, business development manager for recycling firm, construction and building materials testing technician, and sustainability director or coordinator for health care systems.

    What opportunities are there for local impact?

    Engage with the community by joining Furman’s Community Conservation Corps, a collaboration with Greenville County and Habitat for Humanity to weatherize homes for low-income residents. The program helps reduce energy consumption and promote the financial stability of homeowners through weatherization, energy conservation and education.

    Are there any residential experiences connected to this field of study?

    Some of our students immerse themselves in housing arrangements that foster sustainable living.

    Our Environmental Community of Students is aimed at developing student knowledge and passion for sustainability and environmental consciousness from the local to the global scale. ECOS is an intentional residential community focused on understanding the science behind global environmental challenges while allowing students a chance to explore and experience environmental sustainability issues and efforts on campus, in the Greenville community, and within their own personal lifestyles.

    The Greenbelt community is a sustainability-based living and learning community comprising a small group of upper-class students who opt to live in the cabins along Furman Lake. The Greenbelt bolsters sustainable living and lifestyle choices and provides a residential community for sustainability-minded students to live, learn and develop sustainability leadership skills.

    Learn more about other sustainability initiatives and programs on campus.

    Can students study away as part of a sustainability studies degree?

    Study away for a semester or embark on a three-week May Experience (MayX) course to take classroom theory to whole new levels. Our domestic MayX courses have sent students to nearby Southern Appalachians, caves, swamps and coastal regions as well as farther destinations in the Sierra Nevadas and national parks. Internationally, our students have trekked to Iceland, Tanzania and Guatemala. In semester study away programs led by other departments, our students have journeyed to India, Brussels and Costa Rica. We also have an affiliate relationship with the Danish Institute of Study Abroad to facilitate semester-long study in Denmark that offers immersive experiences in a broad range of areas, including energy, sustainability and climate change.

    What is the average salary for sustainability science majors?

    According to Payscale.com, a Bachelor of Science in sustainability science commands an average annual starting salary of $47,000.

    How long does it take to earn a sustainability science degree?

    The sustainability science B.S. at Furman is a four-year program.

    Request Information

    Loading…

    /**/