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Undergraduate School of Sustainability courses

Undergraduate School of Sustainability courses

Undergraduate School of Sustainability courses

List of sustainability courses at ASU

The School of Sustainability maintains a list of courses that are sustainability focused or that are believed to include elements of sustainability. The last time this list was updated was summer 2016.

List of sustainability courses at ASU


Introductory core courses

Students will learn about ASU’s mission as the New American University, the importance and benefits of an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving, solutions to sustainability challenges, and the importance of social embeddedness. Additionally, through various course discussions and assignments, students will examine the concept of academic integrity and its potential impact on their future, gain awareness of the value of engaging in research activities, and learn about taking an interdisciplinary perspective.

*For New Incoming Freshmen

Lays the groundwork for understanding the fundamental geological, biological, and social processes that gave rise to the world we live in and continue to maintain its viability for human life.

Satisfies General Studies – SB

Introduces technological, social, and cultural principles and innovations for cities under the notion of sustainability and sustainable development within the global, regional, and local contexts.

Satisfies General Studies – (HU or SB) & G

SOS 201 is a required, one-credit course (starting Fall 2012) offered in sections capped at 19 and designed to introduce all ASU transfer students to the unique elements, culture, challenges, and opportunities of the university. The course covers several core topics. Specifically, as a result of taking this class you will be able to explain and define:

  • How to be successful at ASU
  • The significance of academic integrity and professional behavior
  • How to sustain yourself during the college experience
  • Campus resources available to assist you
  • What work habits and study skills contribute to your success
  • Considerations in choosing a track and minor

**For new incoming transfer students only


Challenge area courses

SOS 320-328 have the following pre-requisites: Completed SOS 110, and SOS 111 (or PUP 190), with a grade of C or better.

Establishes an understanding of the human, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability from multi- and interdisciplinary perspectives and at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

Satisfies General Studies – SB

Explores the wide array of political questions that are raised when we view the Earth’s environment as an integrated, global system.

Historical roots of the idea of development; economic theories of growth and their implications for sustainability; interrelationship among population growth, food security, poverty, inequality, urbanization, technological change, international trade, and environmental change at local, regional and global scale.

Human and physical processes shaping urban ecologies and environments; human-environment interactions in the context of an urban region; effect of the institution and regulatory framework on the ability of social and urban-ecological systems to be resilient and sustainable; urban design, materials, transport, planning, and regulation.

Sustainable engineering; overall energy needs and impacts; thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid mechanisms; atmospheric energy systems; field investigation; current and future urban energy systems.

Application of economic principles to the allocation of environmental goods and services, external environmental effects, and environmental public goods; decision-making under uncertainty, adaptation to and mitigation of environmental change.

How human activities and management practices alter biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and the provisioning of ecosystem services; use of economic and other social science perspectives to estimate the value of ecosystem services; evaluation of options for achieving the sustainable flow of services from ecosystems.

Food systems and sustainability. Theories of food security, rural livelihood sustainability, and food sovereignty. Critically examines the social, ecological, economic, and institutional dimensions of the many sustainability challenges associated with food system activities (production, processing, distribution, consumption, waste). Students develop a food system framework and apply knowledge to an assessment of the sustainability of one aspect of the local food system.

The course will examine the evolving interface between sustainability and human enterprise. The class will first explore and review key fundamental concepts in the sustainability arena, including economic and scientific drivers and select historical and structural aspects that create the current context for the enterprise and sustainability interface found today. The class will then delve into more specific case studies of attempts by current businesses to become “greener” and “more sustainable”; exploring challenges and opportunities that are commonly found as well as how decisions are often made in today’s business settings and by whom. Alternative enterprise models and examples of businesses that are using the current context to redefine the sustainability and enterprise interface will be explored and discussed. Given the emergent nature of this effort, timely and real-world examples from current events will be utilized when possible. Finally, participants will explore and apply an integrated approach to sustainability and enterprise. Popular texts, original research articles and current events will make up the basis of course readings.


Challenge area electives

Most of these courses are not offered through the School of Sustainability. They are sustainability-related courses offered through other departments that fulfill undergraduate challenge area electives. Selection of these courses should be done in consultation with an advisor.

Approved challenge area electives


Upper division SOS electives

Not all courses listed below are regularly offered – please check the current schedule of classes for courses that are being offered. *Intended for juniors and seniors only (some may have prerequisites).

Focuses on sustainability practices at the organizational level. Describes how business and consumer products impact our physical environment and the communities that they interact with, and identifies ways to measure and improve the sustainability of products and the supply chains that deliver them. Students will examine organizational practices with regard to sustainability, evaluate the impact of products and services on the environment, and explore a business case for sustainability.

Efforts to shift societies onto a sustainable trajectory are facing profound challenges from the degree and dynamics of global inequalities of income, wealth, and life chances. Data and ideas from a spectrum of disciplines are employed to examine, analyze, and criticize the prospects for redressing global inequalities in a sustainable manner.

Focuses on sustainability practices at the organizational level. Describes how business and consumer products impact our physical environment and the communities that they interact with, and identifies ways to measure and improve the sustainability of products and the supply chains that deliver them. Students will examine organizational practices with regard to sustainability, evaluate the impact of products and services on the environment, and explore a business case for sustainability.

  • History and Philosophy of Sustainability (3 units)
  • Campus Sustainability Applications (3 units)
  • Global Governance for Sustainability (3 units)
  • Human Rights and Sustainability (3 units), etc.

Integrates theory and practice of social sciences (including anthropology, demography, and human geography) to understand environmental contexts of health, particularly urban.

Introduces the development and use of dynamic mathematical models to study social and ecological phenomena.

History, theory, principles and practice of New Urbanism, including current critiques and counter-critiques of both movements.

SOS 494 Topics Include

  • Collective Action and Decision Making for Sustainability (3 units)
  • Sustainability Indicators and Indices (3 units)
  • Design for the Developing World (3 units)
  • Mathematical Concepts and Tools in Sustainability (3 units)
  • Foresight Methodologies (3 units)
  • Global Impact Entrepreneurship (3 units)
  • Energy Use and Conservation (3 units)
  • Long-Term Research in Urban Systems (1 unit)
  • Renewable Energy (3 units)
  • Solar for Sustainability (3 units)
  • Survey Analysis in Sustainability (3 units)

Applied/capstone experience

Undergraduate sustainability majors can select one of the following options for their applied/capstone experiences. These options are for majors only and have the following prerequisites: SOS 110 and 111 (or PUP 190) with a grade of “C” or better, 9 hours of Challenge Area courses, and a minimum SOS GPA of 3.0. *Intended for seniors only and overrides are required.

BA/BS Capstone Quick Facts

Students must have an internship opportunity lined up prior to enrolling in the class portion of the internship experience. Please contact Caroline Savalle (Caroline.Savalle@asu.edu) with any questions about the doing an internship for your applied/capstone experience.

Students who are interested in doing a research experience as part of their applied/capstone experience should contact their advisor for more information about what may be available.

Particular workshop classes will be offered each semester under the number SOS 498. Students should check with their advisor for available workshops. Past workshops include: Solar for Sustainability, Urban Design Practice, Urban Water Workshop, Achieving Sustainability Career Success, Energy and Environmental Policy, Energy Efficiency in Policy and Practice, Sustainability and Business Strategy, Urban Public Policy and Sustainability. and Placemaking and Community Building.