The Major

One of the first degree programs of its kind in the United States, Columbia University’s undergraduate major in sustainable development is founded on the principle that students must be trained in a variety of disciplines in order to be effective leaders in the field of sustainable development. The program is designed to ensure that graduates, upon completion of the degree, will understand the basics of the natural and social sciences and will be equipped to address complex problems across a wide range of challenges facing humanity.

A minimum of 15 courses and a practicum are required, for a total of approximately 47 points, to complete the major. Students will take courses within the following framework:

I. Sustainable Development Foundation (three courses)*

SDEV UN1900 Introduction to Sustainable Development Seminar (Fall, Spring)
SDEV UN2300 Challenges of Sustainable Development (Spring) **
EESC W2330 Science for Sustainable Development (Fall)

The program recommends students take the above 3 foundation courses prior to completing the remaining program requirements.

* No substitutions will be permitted for foundation courses.

** Taking Principles of Economics prior to Challenges of Sustainable Development is recommended but not required.

II. Basic Disciplinary Foundation (five courses)

One of the following science sequences:

CHEM UN1403 General Chemistry I – UN1404 General Chemistry II (Fall, Spring)
PHYS UN1201 General Physics I – UN1202 General Physics II (Fall, Spring)
EEEB W2001 Environmental Biology I – EEEB UN2002 Environmental Biology II (Fall, Spring)
EESC W1600 Earth Resources & Sustainable DevelopmentEESC UN2100 Earth’s Environmental System: Climate (Fall, Spring)
EESC W1600 Earth Resources & Sustainable DevelopmentEESC UN2300 Earth’s Environmental System: Life (Fall, Spring)
EESC UN2100 Earth’s Environmental System: Climate – EESC UN2200 Earth’s Environmental System: Solid Earth (Fall, Spring)
EESC UN2100 Earth’s Environmental Systems: Climate – EESC UN2300 Earth’s Environmental System: Life (Fall, Spring)
EESC UN2200 Earth’s Environmental System: Solid EarthEESC UN2300 Earth’s Environmental System: Life (Fall, Spring)

* EAEE E2100 A Better Planet By Design will not be approved as a science sequence after Fall 2016.

Two social science courses to be chosen from an approved list in conjunction with the program adviser:

ECON UN1105 Principles of Economics (Fall/Spring)
SDEV UN2000 Intro to Environmental Law (Spring)
SDEV W3400 Human Populations and SDEV (Fall 2016)
POLS UN1501 Introduction to Comparative Politics or POLS UN1601 International Politics (Fall/Spring)
SOCI UN1000 The Social World (Fall/Spring)
ANTH UN1002 The Interpretation of Culture (Fall/Spring)
ANTH UN2004 Intro to Social and Cultural Theory (Fall)

One of the following Quantitative Foundations courses:

EEEB W3005 Introduction to Statistics for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (Fall)
EESC BC3017 Environmental Data Analysis (Fall)
MATH UN2010 Linear Algebra (Fall/Spring)
STAT UN1201 Introduction to Statistics (with Calculus) (Fall/Spring)*
STAT W2103 Applied Linear Regression Analysis (Fall)
STAT W3105 Applied Statistical Methods (Spring)
STAT W3106 Applied Data Mining (Spring)
STAT GU4203 Probability Theory (Fall/Spring)
STAT GU4204 Statistical Inference (Fall/Spring)
STAT GU4207 Elementary Stochastic Processes (Fall/Spring)
STAT W5203 Probability
STAT W5205 Linear Regression Models (Fall/Spring)

* Introduction to Statistics must be taken with Calculus. Taking Introduction to Statistics and Calculus separately will not fulfill the quantitative requirement.

III. Analysis and Solutions to Complex Problems (two courses)

CIEE E3260 Engineering for Developing Communities (Spring)
EAEE E4304 Closing the Carbon Cycle (Fall)
ECIA W4100 Management and Development of Water Systems (Spring)
EESC BC3032 Agricultural & Urban Land Use (Offered next Spring 2017)
EESC BC3045 Responding to Climate Change (Spring)
EESC W4600 Earth Resources & Sustainable Development (Fall)
PLAN A4579 Introduction to Environmental Planning (Fall)
PUBH W3100 Fundamentals of Global Health (Spring)
SDEV W3330 Ecological and Social Systems for Sustainable Development (Fall 2017)
SDEV UN3355 Climate Change and Law (Spring)
SDEV W3360 Disasters and Development (Spring)
SDEV W3366 Energy Law (Fall)
SDEV W3410 Urbanization and Sustainability (Fall)
SOCI BC3932 Climate Change, Human Rights and Global Migration (Fall)
URBS V3565 Cities in Developing Countries: Problems and Prospects (Fall)
The Summer Ecosystems Experience for Undergraduates (SEE-U) Summer Program

IV. Skills/Actions (two courses)

EAEE E4257 Environmental Data Analysis and Modeling (Spring)
EESC W4050 Global Assessment Remote Sensing (Fall)
SDEV W2320 Economic and Financial Methods for Sustainable Development (Fall)
SDEV UN3390 GIS for Sustainable Development (Fall/Spring)
SDEV UN3450 Spatial Analysis and Modeling for Sustainable Development (Spring, Fall)
SDEV W4015 Complexity Science 
SOCI UN3010 Methods for Social Research (Fall/Spring)
SUMA PS4100 Sustainability Management (Fall/Spring)
The Summer Ecosystems Experience for Undergraduates (SEE-U) Summer Program

V. Electives (two courses)

Two of the following:

Additional courses from Analysis and Solutions to Complex Problems
Additional courses from Skills/Actions
Senior Thesis Seminar (EESC BC3800 and EESC UN3901)
Any upper division course that is approved by the program directors
List of Previously Approved Electives

VI. Practicum (one course)

INAF U4420 Oil, Rights and Development (Spring)
SDEV W3998 Supervised Individual Research (Spring, Fall)
SUMA PS4310 Practicum in Innovation Sustainability Leadership
SUMA K4734 Earth Institute Practicum (Fall)

VII. Capstone Workshop (one course)

SDEV UN3280 Workshop in Sustainable Development (Spring, Fall)

Though a Bachelor of Arts degree, the major focuses heavily on the sciences and is meant to provide students with a working knowledge of issues on a range of interacting subject areas. After declaring the major, students will be assigned an academic advisor with expertise in an area of sustainable development, who will be able to advise them on class selection and answer questions about course mapping and career development.

A letter grade of C- or better is needed in all program related courses in order to satisfy the requirements for the major. P/F grades are only permitted in SDEV W3998 and INAF U4420.