Minoring in Environment & Sustainability at MIT

The Environment & Sustainability Minor is an undergraduate minor offering interdisciplinary coursework and investigations into the real-world challenges facing people and the planet.

Why should I consider the Environment & Sustainability Minor? Because…

  • You will learn from stellar faculty members across all five schools of MIT with deep expertise advancing environmental solutions.
  • You will be part of a multidisciplinary cohort of students brought together by a common interest in the environment and sustainability.
  • You will apply your STEM and your major-course knowledge to some of the most critical and challenging problems facing humanity.
  • You will tailor your MIT education to your professional goals.
  • You are passionate about making a difference in the world.

Who can enroll in the Environment & Sustainability Minor?

Any MIT undergraduate, in any major.

E&S Minor Requirements

The E&S Minor combines two core required classes with three to four electives from a diverse menu of more than 100 other subjects. The required classes, titled “People and the Planet,” give all students in the Minor a common language and toolkit for understanding sustainability, across the fields of history, engineering, governance and science. Electives in the Minor let students approach their environmental studies through those areas of greatest relevance to their majors and future careers, exploring topics in depth or gaining a broad understanding of an environmental theme or approach to sustainability.

Core Classes

Students must take 21 units from two core subjects:

  1. People and the Planet: Environmental Governance and Science (12.387, 15.874[J], IDS.063[J]) – Offered fall semester (9 units)
  2. People and the Planet: Environmental Histories and Engineering (11.004, STS.033 [J]) – Offered spring semester (12 units, HASS-E)

If a core subject is not offered in a particular semester, or if a student is unable to enroll, other classes may occasionally be substituted for these requirements. If you are struggling to fit these classes into your schedule, please contact Sarah Meyers to discuss possible substitutes.

* NOTE: The spring semester core subject “People and the Planet: Environmental Histories and Engineering” will not be offered in the 2019-2020 academic year. Students minoring in Environment & Sustainability may substitute any of the following classes for this requirement:

Elective Classes

Students must take a minimum of 36 units from elective subjects (generally 3 or 4 subjects).

Pick from 110+ electives across 17 different departments (including D-Lab and Terrascope, with many CI-H options). Download the full list of electives in the Environment and Sustainability Minor here. Please note that not all electives in the minor are offered every academic year; below is the full list of classes offered in the 2019-2020 academic year.

Fall Semester Electives:

Subject Number Subject Title Units GIRs Fulfilled
EC.701/11.025 D-Lab: Development 12 HASS-S
EC.713/4.411 D-Lab Schools: Building Technology Laboratory 12 LAB
EC.715 D-Lab: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 12
EC.733/15.772 D-Lab: Supply Chains 12
1.007 Big Engineering: Small Solutions with a Large Impact 6
1.018/7.30/12.031 Fundamentals of Ecology 12 REST
1.061 Transport Processes in the Environment 12
1.075 Water Resource Systems 12
1.082/2.900/6.904/10.01/16.676/22.014 Ethics for Engineers 6
1.085/12.336 Air Pollution and Atmospheric Chemistry 12
2.650/10.291/22.081 Introduction to Sustainable Energy 12
2.982 Ecology and Sustainability of Coastal Ecosystems 9
3.081 Industrial Ecology of Materials 12
3.983 Ancient Mesoamerican Civilization 9 HASS-S
4.401 Environmental Technologies in Buildings 12
11.007 Urban and Environmental Technology Implementation Lab 12
11.011 The Art and Science of Negotiation 12 HASS-S
11.148 Environmental Justice: Law and Policy 12 HASS-S
11.165 Urban Energy Systems and Policy 12 HASS-S
12.000 Solving Complex Problems 9
12.001 Introduction to Geology 12 REST
12.003 Introduction to Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics 12 REST
12.021 Earth Science, Energy, and the Environment 12
12.086 Modeling Environmental Complexity 12
12.104 Geochemistry of Natural Waters 12
12.301 Climate Science 12
12.335 Experimental Atmospheric Chemistry 12 LAB
12.372 Elements of Modern Oceanography 12
12.385 Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy 9
12.386/21H.185 Environment and History 12 HASS-S; CI-H
12.390 Fluid Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean 12
14.43/15.02 Economics of Energy, Innovation, and Sustainability 12 HASS-S
15.873 System Dynamics for Business and Policy 9
21A.155 Food, Culture, and Politics 12 HASS-S
21W.012 Writing and Rhetoric: Food for Thought 12 HASS-H; CI-HW
21W.036 Science Writing and New Media: Writing and the Environment 12 HASS-H; CI-HW
22.033 Nuclear Systems Design Project 15


IAP Electives:

Subject Number Subject Title Units GIRs Fulfilled
1.091 Travelling Research Environmental eXperience (TREX): Fieldwork 3
2.981 New England Coastal Ecology 3


Spring Semester Electives:

Subject Number Subject Title Units GIRs Fulfilled
EC.711/2.651 Introduction to Energy in Global Development 12
EC.719 D-Lab: Water, Climate Change and Health 12
EC.720/2.722 D-Lab: Design 12
IDS.055/STS.082/17.309 Science, Technology, and Public Policy 12 HASS-S; CI-H
IDS.060/1.801/11.021/17.393 Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Control 12 HASS-S
IDS.061/1.802/11.022 Regulation of Chemicals, Radiation, and Biotechnology 12
SP.360 Terrascope Radio 12 HASS-A; CI-H
STS.022/WGS.275/21G.057 Gender, Race, and Environmental Justice 12
STS.034 Science Communication: A Practical Guide 12 HASS-H; CI-H
STS.084/22.04 Social Problems of Nuclear Energy 12 HASS-S
1.013 Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design 12
1.020 Engineering Sustainability: Analysis and Design 12
1.035 Mechanics of Materials 12
1.080 Environmental Chemistry 12
1.082/2.900/6.904/10.01/16.676/22.014 Ethics for Engineers 6
1.089 Earth’s Microbiomes 12
1.092 Treveling Research Environmental eXperience (TREX); Fieldwork Analysis and Communication 9
1.102 Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Design II 6
1.107 Environmental Chemistry Laboratory 6
2.00C/1.016/EC.746 Design for Complex Environmental Issues: Building Solutions and Communicating Ideas 9
2.60/10.390 Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion 12
2.813 Energy, Materials, and Manufacturing 12
3.094 Materials in Human Experience 9 HASS-S
3.180 Materials Science and Engineering of Clean Energy 12
3.19 Sustainable Chemical Metallurgy 12
3.982 The Ancient Andean World 9 HASS-S
4.211/11.016 The Once and Future City 12 HASS-H; CI-H
4.432 Modeling Urban Energy Flows for Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods 12
4.657 Design: the History of Making Things 12
8.21 Physics of Energy 12 REST
10.04 A Philosophical History of Energy 12
10.05 Foundational Analyses of Problems in Energy and the Environment 12
11.011 The Art and Science of Negotiation 12 HASS-S
11.123 Big Plans and Mega-Urban Landscapes 9 HASS-S
11.142 Geography of the Global Economy 12 HASS-S
11.158 Behavior and Policy: Connections in Transportation 12
11.167/14.47/15.1691/17.399 Global Energy: Politics, Markets, and Policy 12 HASS-S
11.169 Global Climate Policy and Sustainability 12 HASS-S
12.002 Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science 12 REST
12.009/18.352 Nonlinear Dynamics: The Natural Environment 12
12.306 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry 12
12.307 Weather and Climate Laboratory 12 LAB
12.349 Mechanisms and Models of the Global Carbon Cycle 12
15.873 System Dynamics for Business and Policy 9
15.913 Strategies for Sustainable Business 6
15.915 Laboratory for Sustainable Business 6
21A.410 Environmental Struggles 12 HASS-S
21L.449 The Wilds of Literature 12 HASS-H
24.07 The Ethics of Climate Change 12 HASS-H; CI-H
24.191 Being, Thinking, Doing (or Not): Ethics in Your Life 6


In addition to the above subjects, 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 above.

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 one Terrascope subject can be counted toward the E&S Minor.

Applying for the E&S Minor

To apply for the Environment & Sustainability Minor, complete the following steps:

  1. Print/download and fill out the Application Form, leaving sections blank that you’d like to discuss;
  2. Email the form to esi@mit.edu and request a meeting with Sarah Meyers, Education Program Manager;
  3. Bring your transcript and questions to your meeting with Ms. Meyers.  You’ll go over plans for fulfilling requirements, advising group options, and steps for completing the application with an advisor’s signature.

While students can apply for the Minor at any time before their final semester, we recommend that you do so early in your career at MIT to make the most of the E&S Minor program.

Completing the Minor

In addition to fulfilling the subject and application requirements above, students must complete the following steps before the 3rd week of their final semester (the semester after which they’ll receive an S.B. degree) – in February for students who graduate in June.

  1. Print/download and fill out the Completion Form and email it to esi@mit.edu.
  2. Email the Completion Form to your advisor with a request for certification that you’ve met all the criteria for the E&S Minor. A student will need to provide his/her advisor with an unofficial transcript and may need to schedule an in-person meeting.
  3. Deliver/send your final Completion Form – with signatures – to the Environmental Solutions Initiative, esi@mit.edu.


Email the Environmental Solutions Initiative at esi@mit.edu