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.


Annie Swift

Annie Swift currently lives in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where she is pursuing a second undergraduate degree in Tourism at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. She intends to work with Haitian refugees in the local job market. Her experience in the Sustainability Studies program at UNM has served her in surprising ways. The Tourism department at UFMG focuses primarily on urban planning, social justice and environmental conservation. 

Kara Williard

Kara Williard is a graduate of the UNM BLA program where she focused on Sustainable Community Development, with a minor in Sustainability Studies. She currently lives and works at 8,500 feet in the Mora River Valley at Los Vallecitos Ranch, where she raises cattle, sheep, and chickens.