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

Situated at MIT, the Environment & Sustainability Minor is one of several academic programs that equips students in any major to tackle deeply challenging problems facing societies worldwide.  The complexity of environmental issues and MIT’s unique approach to solving problems present MIT students with extraordinary opportunities:

  • To join forces and tackle problems with classmates from wildly different majors (think electrical engineering and political science; or chemistry and urban planning);
  • To access the knowledge of leading experts and educators in sustainability; and
  • To bring new ideas and diverse perspectives to MIT and a world that urgently needs solutions.

E&S Minor requirements

Two Core classes are the foundation of the E&S Minor, and 70 other classes are offered as electives for students to explore topics in depth and/or gain a broad understanding of an environmental theme or approach to sustainability.

Subject requirements – complete the following in any sequence:

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)

Note: During the 2019 spring semester, 11.004 will not be offered. Students may substitute the following courses for this requirement:

  1. Introduction to Energy in Global Development (EC.711[J], 2.651[J])
  2. D-Lab: Water, Climate Change, and Health (EC.719)
  3. D-Lab: Smallholder Agriculture (EC.724)
  4. Humanitarian Innovation: Design for Relief, Rebuilding, and Recovery (EC.750)

36 units (min.) from elective subjects (generally 3 or 4 subjects):

Pick from electives across 17 different departments (including D-Lab and Terrascope, with many CI-H options) that span 4 topic areas – mix and match across topics, or focus on just one.  See below for a list of Fall 2018 electives or click here for a downloadable pdf of all electives.

Fall 2018 Electives

1.007 Big Engineering: Small Solutions with a Large Impact 6 Fall
1.078 Soil and Environmental Biogeochemistry 12 Fall
 & 1.018B[J] Fundamentals of Ecology I 
and Fundamentals of Ecology II 12 Fall
1.801[J] Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Control 12 Fall
3.982 The Ancient Andean World 9 Fall
4.401 Environmental Technologies in Buildings 12 Fall
4.411[J] D-Lab Schools: Building Technology Laboratory 12 Fall
10.05 Foundational Analyses of Problems in Energy and the Environment 12 Fall
12.000 Solving Complex Problems 9 Fall
12.001 Introduction to Geology 12 Fall
12.003 Introduction to Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics 12 Fall
12.021 Earth Science, Energy, and the Environment 12 Fall
12.102 Environmental Earth Science 12 Fall
12.170 Essentials of Geology 12 Fall
12.174 Biogeochemistry of Natural and Perturbed Systems 12 Fall
12.335 Experimental Atmospheric Chemistry 12 Fall
12.385* Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy 9 Fall
17.051 Ethics of Energy Policy 12 Fall
17.181 Sustainability: Political Economy, Science, and Policy 12 Fall
20.106[J] Systems Microbiology 12 Fall
21H.185[J] Environment and History 12 Fall
21H.380[J] People and Other Animals 12 Fall
21W.012 Writing and Rhetoric: Food for Thought 12 Fall
21W.036 Science Writing and New Media: Writing and the Environment 12 Fall
22.033 Nuclear Systems Design Project 15 Fall
22.081[J] Introduction to Sustainable Energy 12 Fall
EC.701[J] D-Lab: Development 12 Fall
EC.715 D-Lab: Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene 9 Fall
EC.733[J] D-Lab: Supply Chains 12 Fall
IDS.062[J] Global Environmental Negotiations 6 Fall

* Please note that 12.385 cannot serve as both the substitute core class for 12.387 AND an elective. It counts as one or the other.

IAP Elective:  2.981 New England Coastal Ecology, 3 units

All electives being offered in Spring 2019:

2019 Spring Electives
1.011 Project Evaluation and Management 12 Spring
1.016[J] (same subject as 2.00C) Design for Complex Environmental Issues: Building Solutions and Communicating Ideas 9 Spring
 & 1.080B Environmental Chemistry I
 and Environmental Chemistry II 12 Spring
1.089 or 1.089A Environmental Microbiology or Environmental Microbiology I Spring
1.802[J] Regulation of Chemicals, Radiation, and Biotechnology 12 Spring
3.094 Materials in Human Experience 9 Spring
3.983 Ancient Mesoamerican Civilization 9 Spring
4.432 Modeling Urban Energy Flows for Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods 12 Spring
4.622 Islamic Gardens and Geographies 12 Spring
8.21 Physics of Energy 12 Spring
10.04 A Philosophical History of Energy 12 Spring
10.05 Foundational Analyses of Problems in Energy and the Environment 12 Spring
11.016[J] The Once and Future City 12 Spring
11.123 Big Plans and Mega-Urban Landscapes 9 Spring
11.142 Geography of the Global Economy 12 Spring
12.002 Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science 12 Spring
12.007 Geobiology: History of Life on Earth 12 Spring
12.307 Weather and Climate Laboratory 15 Spring
12.349 Mechanisms and Models of the Global Carbon Cycle 12 Spring
17.309[J] Science, Technology, and Public Policy 12 Spring
21G.417 Cultural Geographies of Germany: Nature, Culture, and Politics 12 Spring
21H.383 Technology and the Global Economy, 1000-2000 12 Spring
21W.775 Writing about Nature and Environmental Issues 12 Spring
22.04[J] Social Problems of Nuclear Energy 12 Spring
EC.711[J] D-Lab: Energy 12 Spring
EC.714 D-Lab: Earth 6 Spring
SP.360 Terrascope Radio 12 Spring
STS.032 Energy, Environment, and Society 12 Spring


Additional electives (not offered in 2018-2019):

Additional Electives (not offered 2018-19)
2.00A Fundamentals of Engineering Design: Explore Space, Sea and Earth 9
2.627 Fundamentals of Photovoltaics 12
11.148 Environmental Justice: Law and Policy 12
11.162 Politics of Energy and the Environment 12
12.104 Geochemistry of the Earth and Planets 12
12.120 Environmental Earth Science Field Course 6
12.170 Essentials of Geology 12
12.213 Alternate Energy Sources 6
17.411 Globalization, Migration, and International Relations 12
21A.155 Food, Culture, and Politics 12
21A.303[J] The Anthropology of Biology 12
21A.410 Environmental Struggles 12
21L.449 The Wilds of Literature 12
24.03 Good Food: The Ethics and Politics of Food 12
EC.716 D-Lab: Waste 9
IDS.062[J] Global Environmental Negotiations 6
STS.009 Evolution and Society 12


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

Applying for the E&S Minor

Apply for the minor in four simple steps – definitely before your final semester, and ideally early in your MIT career to make the most of the E&S Minor program:

  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.
  4. Look for emails from ESI or Ms. Meyers with details on your advising group assignment for Fall 2018.

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 Environmental Solutions Initiative, esi@mit.edu.

Advising and Activities Outside the Classroom

Students enrolled in the E&S Minor are matched with a faculty-led advising group that meets to discuss topics ranging from career exploration and research trends, to subject selection and the overlaps between the E&S Minor curriculum and students’ majors.

Outside the classroom, students have the opportunity to connect with stellar MIT faculty and find a community of supportive peers – through undergraduate research opportunities (UROPs), student groups, field trips, lectures and other activities.  MIT’s Environmental Solutions Initiative regularly hosts events to inspire and connect students with thought leaders from civil society, business and industry, and innovative research.  Check out our Events page for upcoming events, and look for UROP announcements on our list of Current Opportunities – and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the Home page.


Email Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI): esi@mit.edu