Sustainability Advising

The minor consists of a required gateway course called Sustainability: Principles and Practices (3 credits); electives selected from an approved list (totaling 10 credits); two-semesters of independent study (2 credits); and a capstone. Individualized advising helps each student to craft a combination of course that suits their interests and goals.

Sustainability: Principles and Practices (SUS 20010) 

Introduces students to the breadth and complexity of sustainability studies and includes components from the natural sciences, social sciences, and liberal arts. Students in the minor are required to take this course before their final year and are encouraged to take it sophomore year. This team-taught, interdisciplinary course is typically offered every semester.

Elective Courses

Students select from a list of approved electives totaling at least ten (10) credits. The Sustainability Minor offers several courses and the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability, and the program, allows students to take approved courses from other departments.

The minor requires 10 credits of sustainability electives, of which

  • Electives in three out of four course categories are required.*
  • At least two electives must be from outside of the major college.**
  • Up to 6 credits of electives may be from study abroad.
  • Some electives double-count for core requirements.

*Exceptions can be made if electives within one category are in substantially different disciplines
**For Arts and Letters majors, only one outside their college is required

Course Categories

  • SUS1: Sustainable design

    • Explores engineering, architecture, and design thinking as solutions for environmental concerns.
  • SUS2: Natural Systems

    • Includes the science of environmental problems and the historical, narrative, and sociological implications. 
  • SUS3: Social institutions

    • Institutions affect environmental attitudes, students study sustainable solutions through business and economics, law, politics, sociology, and religion. 
  • SUS4: Individual behavior and values

    • Human ideologies affect environmental problems and sustainable solutions to those problems, including psychology, ethics, and religious values. 

Capstone Experience

The capstone project can include work done during any academic year or during a summer research or study program. The following are general guidelines intended to help students in developing a capstone proposal. Students with a specific project in mind are encouraged to consult with the director of the minor.

  • The senior capstone is an academically rigorous project represented through the independent work directed by the student. It incorporates thorough analysis of the current state of the field in question and creating new knowledge that adds substantively to that field.
  • Interdisciplinary content is encouraged, meaning that the project engages scholarly work outside of the student’s primary discipline.
  • The project must include an impact plan that maximizes the dissemination and/or practical application of the project’s results. For example, this could be a publication, a guest lecture, a conference presentation, or a community education program.
  • Students may use research from a course or independent study as a starting point, but must need to develop a project that is generative and conclusive.  
  • Students are encouraged to work on the capstone project with peers, but in order to gain approval such a project must have a rationale for requiring two people and be appropriate in scope for a two-person team. The two students must also be in different majors. 

Capstone Timeline:

  • Students must meet with the director of the minor to discuss their capstone project during the spring semester of their junior year (4th year for architects), but are encouraged to set up an initial meeting sooner, especially if they plan to study abroad in the spring.
  • Students are required to submit a brief description of the project proposal at the end of the junior year (4th year for architects) and identify a faculty member who has agreed to serve as an advisor.
  • Students will receive feedback on the proposals and may be required to resubmit the proposals with revisions for approval by the director of the department and the Board of Advisors for the minor. Students who wish to start their project earlier (for example, the summer before their junior year) should submit their project proposal before their research begins.
  • During the fall of the final year, students will enroll in a 1-credit independent study course (SUS 48001) to pursue the capstone projects under the guidance of their advisors. Deadlines in the fall semester include an expanded proposal (September) and a Literature Review (November).
  • During the spring of their final year, students enroll in 1-credit of independent study course (SUS 48002) to complete the capstone project. Spring deadlines include a complete draft (March) and final capstone submission (April).

Capstone Advising:

  • Students are encouraged to have mentors outside of Notre Dame, if appropriate, but all students are required to have a Notre Dame faculty member as an advisor. 
  • Students seeking advice on identifying potential advisors are encouraged to look at the advisors on related topics among previous capstone projects and to consult with Dr. Sakimoto.
  • Students are encouraged to meet with their advisors on a weekly, or bi-weekly, basis to seek feedback on the research and writing.

Visit the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) for a list of funding entities on campus that can provide research support.