Skip to Navigation
*
*
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
About RPI Academics Research Student Life Admissions News Tour
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
   
 
  Aug 22, 2017
 
 
    
Skip Navigation
Rensselaer Catalog 2017-2018

Sustainability Studies


Return to: Programs

The STS Sustainability Studies degree prepares students to use techniques and insights from the social sciences and humanities to address environmental problems. Students learn the history of the environmental thought and law, about current environmental controversies, and about sustainable pathways and design. Threats to human health in different locations are put in ecological and global context, drawing out how culture, politics, industry, and every-day ways of living impact the environment and human well-being.

Rensselaer’s STS Sustainability Studies degree has significant social science and humanities depth. The degree requires 40 social science and humanities credit hours (10 courses), including four communication-intensive courses. During the senior year, students move through a capstone sequence that includes a methods and research design course, and a senior thesis. Rigorous and creative teaching of social science methods is a signature aspect of the program. The degree also requires a four-course “technical option” in which students develop sustainability-oriented expertise in another department. Alternatively, students can pursue a dual degree, pairing the STS Sustainability Studies degree with a degree in physics, mechanical engineering, economics, or a wide array of other choices.

Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum
Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  • demonstrate ability to map the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts of environmental problems and sustainability opportunities.
  • demonstrate ability to identify sustainability problems, research needs and action pathways, recognizing diverse stakeholders and viewpoints, and uneven distributions of resources, risks, and rights.
  • demonstrate ability to identify the issues, debates, forms of expertise, ethical ideas, and policy positions associated with environmental sustainability.

First Year


Fall


  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Science Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 4 below)

Spring


  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Science Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 4 below)

Second Year


Fall


  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Science Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Spring


  • STSX 4XXX Sustainability Studies Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 5 below)
  • Science Elective Credit Hours 4
  • Technical Option I Credit Hours 4
    (See footnote 6 below)
  • Free Elective Credit Hours 4

Third Year


Summer Arch*


*For students who have applied for and been granted an exception, the Summer Arch courses would be taken during the fall semester. For listing of the exception process go to: http://info.rpi.edu/arch/students/#ExceptionProcess.

  • STSX 4XXX Sustainability Studies Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 5 below)
  • STSX 4XXX Sustainability Studies Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 5 below)
  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Technical Option II Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 6 below)

Fall OR Spring


  • STSS 4XXX Sustainability Studies Careers Seminar Credit Hours: 4
  • HASS Core Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Technical Option III Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 6 below)
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Fourth Year


Fall


  • STSX 4XXX Sustainability Studies Capstone Methods Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 7 below)
  • STSX 4XXX Sustainability Studies Option Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 5 below)
  • Technical Option IV Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 6 below)
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Spring


  • STSX 4XXX Sustainability Studies Capstone Thesis Credit Hours: 4
    (See footnote 8 below)
  • HASS Elective Credit Hours: 4
  • Free Elective Credit Hours: 4

Footnotes


  1. This course may be substituted with IHSS 1110 Nature/Society, IHSS 1240, Environment and Politics, or other appropriate first-year seminar as approved by the adviser or the STS Sustainability Studies Working Group.
  2. MATH 1010 may be substituted. Dual majors should follow the math requirements of their other major.
  3. MATH 1020 or MATH 1520 may be substituted; other MATH or MATP courses may be substituted with approval of adviser.
  4. Science Options I and II including the following approved sequences:  CHEM 1100 and CHEM 1200; ERTH 1030 and ERTH 1040; and PHYS 1100 and PHYS 1200.  Other sequences may be substituted with approval of adviser. Dual majors should follow the Science core requirements of their other major.
  5. Sustainability Studies Options include all STSH/S 43XX, STSH/S 45XX, and selected other 4000-level STSH or STSS courses. At least one of these courses must be designated communication intensive. Dual majors should work with their adviser to select these courses in a way that ensures coherence, and ensures that the HASS humanities and social sciences distribution requirements are met.
  6. The Technical Option sequence is equivalent to a minor outside of STS:  four sustainability-related courses, usually from a single department, two of which must be at the 4000 level. Students are encouraged to earn an official minor with this sequence. Dual majors automatically satisfy this requirement.
  7. May be met through an approved list of existing courses containing a substantial methods component.
  8. May be met by the existing course, STSS 4980 Senior Project. A dedicated course for the Sustainability Studies major will be developed upon sufficient enrollment.

Return to: Programs