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.

Home Page

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

Program News

Exciting news! During the 2017-2018 academic year, UNM Sustainability Studies is celebrating its 10 year anniversary of academic success. To learn more about our academic program, find the syllabi and class descriptions for each of our courses on our website. Our program enrolls over 100 students each semester, and supports ongoing student projects that focus on various areas of the environment, social justice, innovation, and more. In 2017, students in the introductory course collectively reduced their ecological footprints - through small behavioral shifts in consumption and waste generation - by over 50 hectares, equivalent to erasing the annual impact of 6 average Americans!

To donate and support student project-based learning, please go to the UNM Foundation website and learn how to give to the Sustainability Studies Program.

Our program's amazing lecturer, Eileen Shaughnessy was awarded an Equal Justice Residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute for 2017/2018. The residency will focus on answering the following question: "How can art be used to engage systems of power and foster social and racial equity?" As a musician and educator, Eileen will explore music as a tool for social change with a focus on environmental justice in the Southwest. 

In early 2017 we had the honor of selecting four recipients of the inaugural La Montañita Co-op Marshall Kovitz Memorial ScholarshipThe scholarship is named for La Montañita founding owner and board member Marshall Kovitz, a proponent of strong local economies and equitable food systems. Through a generous 25-year partnership with the Co-op, the Sustainability Studies Program will offer annual scholarships to our students whose academic focus is on food systems. Congratulations to Keith Knutila and Coleen Geraghty, winners of the 2017-2018 La Montanita Co-op Marshall Kovitz Memorial Scholarship! 

Over the summer of 2017, our program hosted a group of 25 young African leaders from 21 sub-Sarahan African countries as a part of the highly competitive State Department funded Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). This 6-week intensive Institute focused on social business and entrepreneurship, and included academic content, site visits, networking events, service opportunities, and cultural activities for the Fellows. The Albuquerque Journal put together a story about the Institute.

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

Sustainability Studies


In May 2015, Elizabeth (Betsy) Fulreader earned a self-designed bachelor’s degree in Sustainability and Environmental Restoration through UNM's Liberal Arts and Integrative Studies program. A week later, after attending an environmental career fair, volunteering with environmental groups, she landed an interview with Talking Talons Youth Leadership (TTYL), and became a Conservation Crew Leader at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. She then became an Environmental Educator, through TTYL, bringing non-releasable wildlife into classrooms to encourage youth to be advocates and stewards for themselves, wildlife, and the environment. In January 2018, Betsy became Program Director for TTYL. She has continued educating K-college students through classroom visits and field trips, emphasizing nature discovery, data collection, and restoration of watersheds, forests, and wildlife. She continues to encourage youth advocacy through program and TTYL’s Youth Advisory Council, where youth are paid a generous stipend to offer their voice on a range of topics. 



Dana Sharp is working on her masters degree at the University of Oslo in Development, Environment, & Cultural Change. She is also part of an academic interdisciplinary environmental journal called Tvergastein and currently, they are accepting submissions for our next journal on Peace & Environment. 



Navida Johnson graduated with her bachelor degree in Environmental Planning and Design, with  Sustainability Studies minor, from UNM and Baccalaureate certificate from UC Berkeley. Navida's diverse travel experience leads her back to UNM's School of Architecture and Planning. She is in the Masters Landscape Architecture professional degree program and currently Forest Planning intern for the USDA's  Cibola National Forest. Navida wants to design sustainable recreation development in protected environments.