ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABILITY MINOR

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 presents 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 (including Nobel laureates); 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:

People and the Planet: Environmental Governance and Science (12.387, 15.874, IDS.063 [J]) – offered fall semester (9 units)

Introduces governance and science aspects of complex environmental problems and approaches to solutions. Introduces quantitative analyses and methodological tools to analyze environmental issues that have human and natural components. Demonstrates concepts through a series of in-depth case studies of environmental governance and science problems. Students develop writing, quantitative modeling, and analytical skills in assessing environmental systems problems and developing solutions. Through experiential activities, such as modeling and policy exercises, students engage with the challenges and possibilities of governance in complex, interacting systems, including biogeophysical processes and societal and stakeholder interactions. Prereq: None. Units: 3-0-6.
N. Selin, S. Solomon, J. Sterman

People and the Planet: Environmental Histories and Engineering (11.004, STS.033 [J]) – Offered spring semester (12 units, HASS-E)

Offered spring semester (12 units, HASS-E)

Explores historical and cultural aspects of complex environmental problems and engineering approaches to sustainable solutions. Introduces quantitative analyses and methodological tools to understand environmental issues that have human and natural components. Demonstrates concepts through a series of historical and cultural analyses of environmental challenges and their engineering responses. Builds writing, quantitative modeling, and analytical skills in assessing environmental systems problems and developing engineering solutions. Through environmental data gathering and analysis, students engage with the challenges and possibilities of engineering in complex, interacting systems, and investigate plausible, symbiotic, systems-oriented solutions. Prereq: None. Units: 3-3-6 HASS-E.

J. Knox-Hayes, R. Scheffler, J. Trancik, B. Anthony

 

36 units (min.) from elective subjects (generally 3 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 by topic areas or click here for a downloadable pdf of all electives.

Elective subjects in Engineering for Sustainability
1.007 Big Engineering: Small Solutions with a Large Impact 6 Fall
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
2.00A Fundamentals of Engineering Design: Explore Space, Sea and Earth 9 Spring
2.627 Fundamentals of Photovoltaics 12 Fall
3.094 Materials in Human Experience 9 Spring
3.983 Ancient Mesoamerican Civilization 9 Spring
4.401 Environmental Technologies in Buildings 12 Fall
4.411[J] D-Lab Schools: Building Technology Laboratory 12 Fall
4.42[J] Fundamentals of Energy in Buildings 12 Fall
4.432 Modeling Urban Energy Flows for Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods 12 Spring
12.000 Solving Complex Problems 9 Fall
12.213 Alternate Energy Sources 6 IAP
22.033 Nuclear Systems Design Project 15 Fall
22.04[J] Social Problems of Nuclear Energy 12 Fall
22.081[J] Introduction to Sustainable Energy 12 Fall
EC.701[J] D-Lab: Development 12 Fall
EC.711[J] D-Lab: Energy 12 Spring
EC.714 D-Lab: Earth 6 Spring
EC.715 D-Lab: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Environmental Innovations for the Common Good 9 Fall
EC.716 D-Lab: Waste 9 Fall
EC.733[J] D-Lab: Supply Chains 12 Fall
Elective subjects in Environmental Histories and Cultures
1.016[J] (same subject as 2.00C) Design for Complex Environmental Issues: Building Solutions and Communicating Ideas 9 Spring
3.094 Materials in Human Experience 9 Spring
3.982 The Ancient Andean World 9 Fall
3.983 Ancient Mesoamerican Civilization 9 Spring
4.622 Islamic Gardens and Geographies 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
17.051 Ethics of Energy Policy 12 Fall
24.03 Good Food: The Ethics and Politics of Food 12 Spring
21A.155 Food, Culture, and Politics 12 Spring
21A.303[J] The Anthropology of Biology 12 Fall
21G.417 Cultural Geographies of Germany: Nature, Culture, and Politics 12 Spring
21H.185[J] Environment and History 12 Fall
21H.380[J] People and Other Animals 12 Fall
21H.383 Technology and the Global Economy, 1000-2000 12 Spring
21L.449 The Wilds of Literature 12 Spring
21W.012 Writing and Rhetoric: Food for Thought 12 Fall
21W.036 Science Writing and New Media: Writing and the Environment 12 Fall
21W.775 Writing about Nature and Environmental Issues 12 Spring
EC.701[J] D-Lab: Development 12 Fall
EC.715 D-Lab: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Environmental Innovations for the Common Good 9 Fall
SP.360 Terrascope Radio 12 Spring
STS.009 Evolution and Society 12 Fall
STS.032 Energy, Environment, and Society 12 Spring
Elective subjects in Environmental Governance
1.801[J] Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Control 12 Fall
1.802[J] Regulation of Chemicals, Radiation, and Biotechnology 12 Spring
11.123 Big Plans and Mega-Urban Landscapes 9 Spring
11.142 Geography of the Global Economy 12 Spring
11.148 Environmental Justice: Law and Policy 12 Fall
11.162 Politics of Energy and the Environment 12 Spring
12.385 Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy 9 Fall
17.181 Sustainability: Political Economy, Science, and Policy 12 Fall
17.309[J] Science, Technology, and Public Policy 12 Fall
17.411 Globalization, Migration, and International Relations 12 Spring
21A.410 Environmental Struggles 12 Spring
EC.701[J] D-Lab: Development 12 Fall
EC.711[J] D-Lab: Energy 12 Spring
EC.714 D-Lab: Earth 6 Spring
EC.715 D-Lab: Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Environmental Innovations for the Common Good 9 Fall
EC.716 D-Lab: Waste 9 Fall
EC.733[J] D-Lab: Supply Chains 12 Fall
IDS.062[J] Global Environmental Negotiations 6 Fall
Elective subjects in Earth Systems and Climate Science
1.018A[J]
 & 1.018B[J] Fundamentals of Ecology I 
and Fundamentals of Ecology II 12 Fall
1.078 Introduction to Soil Science 12 Fall
1.080A
 & 1.080B Environmental Chemistry I
 and Environmental Chemistry II 12 Spring
1.089 or 1.089A Environmental Microbiology or Environmental Microbiology I 6-12 Spring
2.981 New England Coastal Ecology 3 IAP
3.982 The Ancient Andean World 9 Fall
8.21 Physics of Energy 12 Spring
12.000 Solving Complex Problems 9 Fall
12.001 Introduction to Geology 12 Fall
12.002 Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science 12 Spring
12.003 Introduction to Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics 12 Fall
12.007 Geobiology: History of Life on Earth 12 Spring
12.021 Earth Science, Energy, and the Environment 12 Fall
12.102 Environmental Earth Science 12 Fall
12.104 Geochemistry of the Earth and Planets 12 Fall
12.120 Environmental Earth Science Field Course 6 IAP
12.170 Essentials of Geology 12 Fall
12.174 Biogeochemistry of Natural and Perturbed Systems 12 Spring
12.307 Weather and Climate Laboratory 15 Spring
12.335 Experimental Atmospheric Chemistry 12 Fall
12.349 Mechanisms and Models of the Global Carbon Cycle 12 Spring
12.385 Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy 9 Fall
20.106[J] Systems Microbiology 12 Fall
EC.714 D-Lab: Earth 6 Spring

 

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. 

Advising

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.

Applying for the E&S Minor

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

  • Print/download and fill out the application form, leaving sections blank that you’d like to discuss;
  • Email the form to esi@mit.edu and request a meeting with Dr. Amanda Graham, Executive Director of ESI;
  • Bring your transcript and questions to your meeting with Dr. Graham.  You’ll go over plans for fulfilling requirements, advising group options, and steps for completing the application with an advisor’s signature.

Beyond academics and advising

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.  The 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.

Questions?

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