What is the Sustainability Studies Program?

Sustainability at UNM

The UNM Sustainability Studies Program offers an undergraduate minor degree to students in any department or college on campus. We provide interdisciplinary, hands-on, community-engaged learning that informs students' academic work, future careers, and personal lives.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, UNM Sustainability Studies will host a variety of on-campus events. Dr. Vandana Shiva spoke on the main campus on Tuesday, October 13, 2015. A podcast interview with Dr. Vandana Shiva along with her lecture was provided by Future Primitive (.org).

Last year, we supported the Lobo Reading Experience with a series of events highlighting various topics from Edward Humes' book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. Check out the awesome stop motion film about waste that the SUST-334 students produced, entitled What if Our Trash Followed Us? You can also read about various UNM students' experiences collecting their trash for three days in the blog What Does Your Waste Say About You?

There are so many ways to get involved in sustainable initiatives at UNM. Check out Dr. Bruce Milne's recent presentation - The Odyssey of Creating a Sustainable Campus at UNM: Assets, Barriers, and Strategies - from the 2012 American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment Southwest Regional Collaborative Symposium. Sustainability is a core value of UNM, and it shows!

SSP Staff
Meet our team! From left to right: Eileen, Michael, Terry, Bruce, Warner & Jessica

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability, as defined by the Brundtland Commission, is a way of life that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It is the capacity to endure. Sustainability encompasses the three pillars of environmental health, economic vitality and social equity.

Sustainability is a nationally and internationally recognized interdisciplinary field that seeks creative solutions to promote environmental health and restoration, social equity, and economic vitality. The goal is to meet the needs of the present (such as health, energy, food, shelter, and transportation) while ensuring the satisfaction of those same needs for future generations. In light of unprecedented environmental degradation, social instability, and economic uncertainties in today’s world, the sustainability minor cultivates the complex knowledge and skills needed to secure a healthy future for all.

Sustainability is linked to rapidly growing career opportunities in business, education, government, and the non-profit sector. The Sustainability Studies minor provides students from all disciplines the opportunity to acquire pertinent knowledge and skills that complement their major, thereby preparing them for the challenges and opportunities ahead.


The Sustainability Studies Program utilizes experiential learning, research, and service activities to implement practical solutions for a sustainable future on the UNM campus, in the state of New Mexico, and for the Earth as a whole. Sustainability Studies integrates knowledge and methodologies from the Sciences, Humanities, and Arts to provide a roadmap for students that can be applied to the design, selection, and implementation of sustainable policies, practices, technologies, and strategies. Sustainability Studies provides a dynamic feedback loop of information and practice.

Sustainability Studies Strategic Plan

Sustainability Studies Outcomes Assessment

Sustainability Studies Minor Degree Plan

Sustainability Studies

 Photo-Claudia Denton 2016

Claudia Denton earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Planning and Design with a minor in Sustainability Studies from UNM in Spring 2014. She moved to Eugene, Oregon to pursue a Leadership in Sustainability graduate program and participate in an AmeriCorps program. She now works as a Contracting Equity Analyst for the City of Eugene to promote social equity in city contracting.


Sharlynn Lee Photo
Sharlynn Lee is a member of the Navajo Nation and a first year graduate student in the Community and Regional Planning Masters program within the School of Architecture and Planning. She received her B.A. in Environmental Planning and Design with a minor in Sustainability Studies. During her internship with Food and Water Watch, a non-profit organization, she founded the UNM Take Back the Tap student organization. This student group advocates to remove the sale of non-reusable plastic water bottles from the UNN campus and promotes filtered tap water while educating the student body and faculty about water-related issues. Sharlynn's learned knowledge gained from the Sustainability Studies Program about environmental issues has led her to a community development concentration within her Master's program. She intends to further her knowlege on affordable housing. Her overall goal is to promote affordable housing within New Mexico that prioritizes culture and sustainability. She credits her path into sustainability to the Sustainabililty Studies Program and their creation of the Foodshed Field School. Her overall experience, which ranged from a classroom setting to participating in hands on projects throughout northern New Mexico, has broadened her appreciation for individuals trying and succeeding in making the world a better place for the future today.

Emelia Goldfarb photo

Sustainability is a way of life for former student Emilia Goldfarb, entrepreneur and owner of the awesome Haven Skate Shop near campus. She offers sustainable bamboo decks as a truly sustainable form of transportation – carbon neutral! Emilia says, “The Haven hosts flea markets for swapping and trading everything related to board sports in all seasons.” Her shop recycles all sorts of packaging materials that are part of the retail scene. Haven was an early adopter of low-power lighting that cuts carbon emissions. Emilia sources clothes designed and manufactured by local artists. As part of Albuquerque’s creative class, her next big innovation is a Ride to Ride app that will enable outdoor recreationists throughout the US and Canada to meet up for travel to wild areas for skating, hiking, snowboarding, kayaking, or other sports. Emilia says, “The app is a combination of Groupon meets Lyft meets couch surfing.” The app is free and transportation costs are negotiated between users. Emilia’s advice is, “Do what you love and apply sustainability to that. Be conscious that you are being as kind as you can to the environment in everything you do.” Words of wisdom that we can all abide by.