Sustainability Majors & Programs

Sustainability is a concept that first emerged out of ecology to address the capacity of biological systems to remain diverse and productive over time. A variety of disciplines now use the term to describe continued existence as the condition of the interaction among three things: the natural environment; the economic activity through which we transform it; and society, which both directs and lives from this productive work. Sustainability is, in effect, the idea of a balance between the environment, society, and the economy in which each finds a level that permits the flourishing of the other two. In a sustainable world, economic production proceeds without degrading the environment or society to the point they are no longer diverse and productive. The environment is protected, without stifling economic activity, and society flourishes without sacrificing the interests of future generations for short-term economic growth.

In the Sustainability program at JU, the question of sustainability is addressed by a variety of disciplines: economics, business, biology, chemistry, geology, geography, political science, ethics and philosophy. The common goal of the courses in the major is to encourage students to look at the complex of social, economic and environmental systems as a unity and to enquire into the conditions that will permit all three to flourish. The Sustainability major at JU brings into sharper focus the question asked by education in the liberal arts and sciences:

  • What is the best way of life for free people in a free society?
  • What are the conditions of human flourishing?
  • How can we harmonize the needs of the environment, the economy, and society to best sustain all three?

The courses students will take in the Sustainability major will clearly show how this question relates to the complex challenges we currently face. By uniting courses in business, the sciences, the humanities and the social sciences, the Sustainability major teaches the thinking, skills, and values that prepare students for a wide range of environmental, energy, and policy related jobs. As business, government, and non-governmental organizations respond to the complex task of reconciling continued growth with limited natural resources, there will be an increasing need for workers with an interdisciplinary training that permits them to grasp these problems in more than one way. The JU sustainability program meets that need by training students in a new interdisciplinary thinking that will prepare them for the challenges of the new millennium.

A seminar series in the sustainability will bring students in the program together to foster a broad campus-wide interdisciplinary dialogue about sustainability and related issues among students in the major and across the JU campus.

The Major in Sustainability includes the JU core courses; Sustainability Major required core; mathematics and statistic courses; a Sustainability Major concentration (Science & Mathematics; Business & Economics; and Social Sciences & Humanities Concentration); and one outside concentration course. The BA in Sustainability with concentrations in Science & Mathematics and Social Sciences & Humanities Concentration will be conferred by the College of Arts & Sciences.

A minor in Sustainability must complete at least six courses from those required for the Sustainability Major.