Requirements for the Environment & Sustainability Minor

The Environment & Sustainability Minor is comprised of five to six subjects (minimum of 57 units). Students must fulfill three requirements to complete the minor:

  1. The required foundational subject, “People and the Planet: Environmental Governance and Science” (9 units)
  2. One subject in each of two core areas of study, Context and Perspective and Sustainable Solutions (24 units)
  3. Elective subjects, totaling a minimum of 24 units

1. The Required Foundational Subject

Every student in the minor must complete 12.387, 15.874, IDS.063 People and the Planet: Environmental Governance and Science, taught every fall semester. The class introduces students to a series of in-depth case studies of environmental challenges, to demonstrate how natural and human systems intertwine to create environmental problems, and how solutions to those problems must in turn grapple with both the science of the natural world and the policy, governance and behavioral complexities of human societies.

2. The Core Areas of Study

Students must complete one subject from the Context and Perspective list, and one subject from the Sustainable Solutions list (below).

Context and Perspective subjects place the concept and practice of sustainability in a big-picture, human context, with an emphasis on how real societies have addressed environmental problems past and present. These classes will help students understand the significance of political, historical, economic and cultural factors in decision-making by individuals and institutions, in order to translate, localize and implement environmental solutions to a particular social context.

Sustainable Solutions subjects challenge students to envision viable solutions to current and emerging environmental and sustainability challenges. In these classes, students will engage in project-based, experiential learning and apply problem-solving strategies informed by an understanding of sustainable design and practice.

View the list of subjects in the two core areas of study:

Context and Perspective
11.169 Global Climate Policy and Sustainability
21A.312 Planetary Change and Human Health
21A.410 Environmental Struggles
21H.185/STS.031[J]/12.386[J] Environment and History
21H.186 Nature and Environment in China
21H.187 US Environmental Governance: from National Parks to the Green New Deal
Sustainable Solutions
1.006 Tools for Sustainable Design
2.722/EC.720[J] D-Lab: Design
1.UAR / 3.UAR / 5.UAR / 12.UAR / 15.UAR / 22.UAR Climate and Sustainability Undergraduate Advanced Research
EC.715 D-Lab: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
EC.719 D-Lab: Water, Climate Change, and Health
11.025/EC.701[J] D-Lab: Development


3. Elective Subjects

Over 110 electives in 17 different departments (including many with CI-H options) count toward the Environment & Sustainability Minor. Students may choose any combination of electives to finish the required 57 units for the minor. Students can narrowly focus their electives in a single department or disciplinary area, or sample a variety of different classes.

In addition to the subjects listed below, students may be able to count additional environment and sustainability-related classes toward the minor, including IAP classes. Please contact Sarah Meyers to discuss the eligibility of any relevant courses that are not listed.

Search all classes by department or semester here, or view the list of electives organized by theme:

1.008 Engineering for a Sustainable World
1.009 Climate Change
1.091 Traveling Research Environmental eXperience (TREX): Fieldwork
2.00C/1.016[J]/EC.746[J] Design for Complex Environmental Issues: Building Solutions and Communicating Ideas 4
2.981 New England Coastal Ecology
3.002 Materials for Energy
12.000 Solving Complex Problems 4
12.12 Nature's Sandbox: The History of Ancient Environments, Climate, and Life
22.011 Nuclear Engineering: Science, Systems and Society
SP.310 Engagement and Discovery Through the Terrascope Field Experience 4
SP.360 Terrascope Radio 4
SP.361 Majors and Careers Through a Terrascope Lens 4
Applied Problem Solving
1.004 Startup Sustainable Tech
1.013 Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design
1.020 Engineering Sustainability: Analysis and Design
1.102 Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Design II
1.107 Environmental Chemistry Laboratory
2.00A Fundamentals of Engineering Design: Explore Space, Sea and Earth
2.651/EC.711[J] Introduction to Energy in Global Development
4.218 Disaster Resilient Design
4.411/EC.713[J] D-Lab Schools: Building Technology Laboratory
6.C01 & 1.C01 Modeling with Machine Learning: from Algorithms to Applications (6.C01) and Machine Learning for Sustainable Systems (1.C01)
10.496/1.096[J] Design of Sustainable Polymer Systems
11.007 Urban and Environmental Technology Implementation Lab
11.173/1.103[J] Infrastructure Design for Climate Change
Economic and Global Systems
14.42 Environmental Policy and Economics
14.43/15.0201[J] Economics of Energy, Innovation, and Sustainability
14.44/15.037[J] Energy Economics and Policy
15.8731 System Dynamics: Tools for Solving Complex Problems
21H.383 Technology and the Global Economy, 1000-2000
IDS.437/1.813[J]/11.466[J]/15.657[J] Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development
Energy x Sustainability
3.18 Materials Science and Engineering of Clean Energy
5.371 Continuous Flow Chemistry: Sustainable Conversion of Reclaimed Vegetable Oil into Biodiesel
8.21 Physics of Energy
10.04 A Philosophical History of Energy
10.05 Foundational Analyses of Problems in Energy and the Environment
10.390/2.60[J] Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion
22.081/2.650[J]/10.291[J] Introduction to Sustainable Energy
IDS.521 Energy Systems and Climate Change Mitigation
Ethics and Just Futures
6.9320/1.082/2.900/10.01/16.676/20.005/22.014 Ethics for Engineers
11.148 Environmental Justice: Law and Policy
11.171 Indigenous Environmental Planning
21A.155 Food, Culture, and Politics
22.04/STS.084[J] Social Problems of Nuclear Energy
24.03 Good Food: The Ethics and Politics of Food
24.07 The Ethics of Climate Change
24.191 Being, Thinking, Doing (or Not): Ethics in Your Life
STS.032 Energy, Environment, and Society
WGS.160/STS.021[J] Science Activism: Gender, Race, and Power
WGS.275/21A.407[J]/21G.057[J]/STS.022[J] Gender, Race, and Environmental Justice
Life and Ecology
1.089 Earth's Microbiomes
7.30/1.018[J]/12.031[J] Fundamentals of Ecology
12.007 Geobiology: History of Life on Earth
21A.303/STS.060[J] The Anthropology of Biology
Materials and Material Culture
1.035 Mechanics of Materials
3.081 Industrial Ecology of Materials
3.094 Materials in Human Experience
3.19 Sustainable Chemical Metallurgy
3.982 The Ancient Andean World
3.983 Ancient Mesoamerican Civilization
4.657 Design: The History of Making Things
Media, Communications and Literature
21L.449 The Wilds of Literature
21W.012 Writing and Rhetoric: Food for Thought
21W.036 Science Writing and New Media: Writing and the Environment
21W.775 Writing about Nature and Environmental Issues
CMS.374[J] Transmedia Art, Extraction, and Environmental Justice
CMS.375/4.376[J] Reading Climate Through Media
STS.034 Science Communication: A Practical Guide
Negotiations, Politics and Policy
11.003/17.303[J] Methods of Policy Analysis
11.011 The Art and Science of Negotiation
12.385 Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy
17.181 Sustainability: Political Economy, Science, and Policy
17.30/11.002[J] Making Public Policy
17.309/IDS.055[J]/STS.082[J] Science, Technology, and Public Policy
IDS.060/17.393[J]/1.801[J]/11.021[J] Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Control
IDS.062[J] Global Environmental Negotiations
Planet Earth and Climate Science
1.061 Transport Processes in the Environment
1.061A Transport Processes in the Environment I
1.071/12.300[J] Global Change Science
1.080 Environmental Chemistry
1.085/12.336[J] Air Pollution and Atmospheric Chemistry
12.001 Introduction to Geology
12.002 Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science
12.003 Introduction to Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics
12.021 Earth Science, Energy, and the Environment
12.086 Modeling Environmental Complexity
12.104 Geochemistry of Natural Waters
12.301 Climate Science
12.306 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry
12.349 Mechanisms and Models of the Global Carbon Cycle
12.372 Elements of Modern Oceanography
12.377 The History of Earth's Climate
12.390 Fluid Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean
18.352/12.009[J] Nonlinear Dynamics: The Natural Environment
The Built Environment
4.211/11.016[J] The Once and Future City
4.401 Environmental Technologies in Buildings
4.432 Modeling Urban Energy Flows for Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods
11.113 The Economic Approach to Cities and Environmental Sustainability
11.123 Big Plans and Mega-Urban Landscapes
11.149 Decarbonizing Urban Mobility
11.158 Behavioral Science and Urban Mobility
11.165 Urban Energy Systems and Policy


Please note that not all electives in the minor are offered every academic year. Visit the MIT Subject Listing for a comprehensive and up-to-the-minute list of offered classes.


A minimum of four subjects (or 48 units) taken for the Environment and Sustainability Minor cannot also count toward a student’s major or other minor. In other words, only one subject that counts toward a student’s major or other minor degree may also count toward the E&S Minor elective requirement. In addition, only two Terrascope subjects can be counted toward the E&S Minor.

Getting started

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