Critical Sustainability Studies, Minor

Department of Geography, Planning, and Recreation

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

The Critical Sustainability Studies minor is designed to provide students a background in the processes that lead to unsustainable outcomes in society, as well as how communities are responding to overcome these negative trends. The minor provides students a framework for understanding what causes environmental and social problems, and how people and communities are working to address those problems. The minor focuses on nature-society relations, urban systems, development, social theory, and social change. 

  • A minor is earned in conjunction with a bachelor's degree.

    To receive a minor (18 - 24 units) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject matter areas with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0. At least 12 units of the minor must be unique to that minor and not applied to any other minor.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

No more than fifty percent of the units used to satisfy minor requirements may be used to satisfy major requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 18
Major GPA 2.0

Purpose Statement

The Critical Sustainability Studies Minor is designed to provide students a comprehensive understanding of the processes and drivers of environmental and social sustainability. Students in the minor explore environmental and social systems, learning how nature and society are deeply intertwined and how political and economic processes affect ecological and social systems leading to a contemporary unsustainable society. 

Students will learn how to identify essential elements of change in social-ecological systems, including the political and economic forces that shape society. They will critically analyze societal outcomes, drawing on different theoretical approaches for diagnosing and explaining ecological and social outcomes. The courses in this minor provide practical understandings of city planning, environmental studies, and social theory by focusing on contemporary societal challenges including climate change, biodiversity loss, conservation, city planning, and international development. 

In addition, the minor provides students with analytical skills to envision and outline pathways for creating positive social and ecological outcomes. 

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Identify social and ecological problems, their causes, and their consequences
  • Deploy social theories to diagnose the drivers of unsustainability
  • Critically analyze social formations, especially around public policy and planning, and how they shape social and ecological outcomes
  • Understand development in the developed and developing world, including resource use, international policy, and how sustainability is invoked in this context
  • Research and analyze specific case studies based on student interest that exemplify key themes in the minor
  • Understand and describe social change and how it occurs
  • Describe social movements, how they emerge, and what effects they have on society

Minor Requirements
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.