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Sustainability Studies Major


Earn a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability Studies

Sustainability is the pursuit of a livable world for all life at present and in the future. Our program takes a social justice approach to analyze social, environmental, and economic issues including how climate change impacts different groups in different ways. 

If you choose to major in sustainability studies, you will:

  • investigate the historical and contemporary ways environments change (and are changed by) human activity
  • explore comparative, interdisciplinary, transnational, feminist approaches to the theories and practices of building a sustainable future with a focus on everything from climate change and energy, to pollution and environmental justice
  • study coursework ranging from gender and sustainability, to health and medicine, to media and policy, and more.
  • train in a framework of feminist paradigms and methodologies associated with intersectionality, dialogue, and relation from a local, regional, and worldwide perspective
  • participate in in-depth, engaged learning experiences
  • prepare for careers in health care, public service, policy advocacy, education, and social activism relevant to sustainability
  • participate in internships with local environmental organizations, health advocates, and other institutions connected to sustainability

We welcome transfers from the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences who have considerable amounts of training in science and aspire to get an interdisciplinary education in sustainability.

Major Requirements

  • Major Requirements

    1) Lower-division requirement (four courses, 14-16 units)

    1. GSST 001
    2. GSST 021
    3. Two courses from the following list of courses in natural, earth, and environmental sciences. Cannot double count with the CHASS math and science 20-unit requirement.
      BIOL 003, BIOL 005C, BIOL 040, BPSC 011, BPSC 021, ENTM 010, ENTM 020, ENTM/BPSC 050, GEO 002, GEO 004, GEO 009, GEO 010, GEO 011, GEO 012, CEE 010 (2 units), ENGR/NAS/HASS 096, ENSC 001, ENSC 002, ENSC 006/ECON 006, ME 004, PHYS 007, PHYS 010, PHYS 016, PHYS 018, PHYS 024, PHYS 037

    2) Quantitative method requirement (one course, four units)
    One of the following courses or sequences OR an additional science course with a lab:

    SOC 001/004/005, STAT 048 (with pre-req. MATH 004, 005, 008A, or 009A), STAT 100A (with pre-req. MATH 005, 008, 008B, or 009A), PSYC 011 (with pre-req. MATH 004, 005, or 008A & PSYC 001, 002), POSC 114, ECON 101, GEO 157

    3) Upper-division requirements (nine courses, 36 units)

    1. GSST 100
    2. Two GSST courses, of which at least one is from the following courses on gender and sustainability: GSST 104, GSST 131, GSST 147, GSST 161, GSST 171, GSST 173, GSST 181, GSST 183
    3. Four courses from any of the following lists:
      • Environmental policy and politics PBPL 129, POSC 106, POSC 127, POSC 137, POSC 139, POSC 160, POSC 180, POSC 189
      • Health and medicine ANTH143/GSST 185, ANTH 158, ANTH 160, ANTH 162, ANTH 166, ESTS 116, HIST 107
      • Science, technology, and related topics ANTH 110, ANTH 132, ANTH 140T, ANTH 164/LNST 164/GSST 164, AST 107, ESTS 183, HIST 105, HIST106, HIST 109/ENGR 109, MCS 122, PHIL 117, RLST 164, SOC 137, SOC 161, SOC 184
      • Internship or honors thesis focusing on sustainability GSST 195, GSST 198-I
      • Up to two courses for this requirement may be replaced by any of the following CNAS courses (you are responsible for fulfilling the relevant prerequisites): BIOL/ENTM 100, BIOL/PBSC 165, ECON/ENSC 143A, ENSC 101, ENSC 102, ENSC 141, ENSC 174, ENTM 124, ENTM 125, ENTM 126, GEO 160, GEO 161, GEO 167, GEO 169.)
    4. Capstone course sequence (required for all seniors) GSST 191A + GSST 191C


    Sustainability Map

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is sustainability studies housed in the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department?

    There are institutional and substantive reasons. The institutional answer is that the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department is home to a critical mass of faculty members with research and teaching interests in sustainability. Substantively speaking, sustainability is inherently a gendered issue in many parts of the world because of how environmental changes affect women based on their division of labor and social statuses. Gender also is a critical element in devising and implementing sustainable practices around the world. Gender and sexuality studies has a long tradition of developing research methods aligned with social justice that can be applied to studies of sustainability issues.

  • What is the difference between the sustainability studies major and the environmental science major?

    The sustainability studies major is within the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS), while the environmental science major is offered by the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (CNAS). The environmental science major focuses on the scientific study of the environment and environmental issues, while the sustainability studies major approaches environmental changes as social issues and covers sustainability more broadly as a subject.

  • What can I do with a degree in sustainability studies?

    According to, “sustainability professionals may help their employers conserve resources (from energy to water to dollars) and improve efficiency; create new, more environmentally and socially responsible technologies or services; educate stakeholders about environmental and social issues and engage them in planning and programming accordingly and more. Regardless of job title, the work of all sustainability professionals focuses on the intersection of environment, economics and social and cultural issues.”

    Careers that require a rigorous understanding of broader issues around sustainability are increasing in government, industry, education, and nonprofit sectors. A sustainability studies degree prepares you with a solid foundation to enter a career or pursue a graduate degree in related fields.

  • What is the curriculum like?

    The curriculum has been put together with specific goals in mind.

    First, we aim to equip you with the research methods, analytical tools, and social theories developed within the field of gender studies to reinforce the social justice approach to sustainability. You are required to take introductory and advanced courses (including ones that are specific to gender and sustainability) as well as a capstone series from the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies.

    Second, we believe that familiarity with scientific approaches and research on environmental problems and the ability to converse with scientists are an important set of skills for professionals who are tasked with the development of programs and policies around sustainability. You are required to take two additional lower-level science courses applicable to sustainability and one quantitative methods course in order to fortify scientific literacy.

    Third, we seek to provide you with interdisciplinary training in sustainability. You are required to select from a variety courses that are offered by UCR faculty members across campus in areas of policy and politics, health and medicine, science technology, and other sustainability related topics such as environmental ethics, ecohumanities and media. You have the option of focusing on one area or taking courses from multiple areas in accordance with your academic and career interests.

  • Are internships encouraged?

    Yes. Many sustainability professions are action-driven jobs that require the kind of creative problem solving and critical thinking skills built by internships. While our classes will challenge you to develop solutions and work in teams, the real-world experience you can gain as an intern is invaluable. You can earn academic credit for your internship when you enroll in GSST 198. Getting involved in on-campus sustainability initiatives or multi-campus, student-led projects are also great ways to acquire experience.

  • I am transferring from CNAS and have taken a lot of science courses. Would I be able to apply some of them to this major?

    Yes. This major is designed to accommodate transfers from CNAS to CHASS. On a case-by-case basis, the program director may substitute one or more requirements with a course taken in CNAS. If you have fulfilled the prerequisites for upper-level CNAS courses related to sustainability issues, you may use up to two courses from the approved list to substitute the major’s upper-level course requirements.