Sample courses

Problem solving and leadership

The core ESS courses you take will help you analyze and understand a wide range of concepts relating to energy, water, climate change, population, and more. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, you’ll explore links between environmental issues and poverty, globalization, consumption, and urbanization. Through internships, group work, and community projects, you’ll gain hands-on experience and develop skills in decision-making.

This new type of education will change the way you think when you’re in the workplace. You'll examine conflicting positions on humanity’s place in the natural world. And you’ll identify, research, and address real-world problems—making you better prepared to meet the challenges of virtually any job in our complex society.

SUST 1000
Introduction to Environment, Sustainability, and Society I

In SUST 1000, you'll experience a new way of learning via a new, interdisciplinary way of teaching. In any given lecture, an architect, an historian, plant biologists, and a marine biologist—as well as guest speakers—may discuss everything from urbanization to poetry, from grain elevators to whale songs. Learn how to talk and listen to one another, and how to work together—toward a sustainable society.

Besides the flow of issues in class, every Thursday evening the College of Sustainability hosts a lecture or event that’s open to the public. Your journey of discovery can connect and be shared with the community outside the university.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

SUST 1001
Introduction to Environment, Sustainability and Society II

SUST 1001 takes your interdisciplinary journey a little farther with three main themes—global climate change, biodiversity, and food production—through a series of case studies that are considered from a holistic perspective.

In this class, you’ll look at some of the different ways humans make a living around the world and the impacts of those activities, focusing on the technology, social organization, and ideology of the people involved. You’ll gain a broad understanding of the types and magnitude of global change; how people and cultures both influence and are influenced by this change; and how people adapt to natural and human-caused change.

You’ll also learn about the tools and methods applicable to creative problem solving around issues of sustainability, while emphasizing the importance of scientific literacy.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

SUST 2000
Humanity in the Natural World: An Introduction to Problem-based Learning

This class introduces you to problem-based learning (PBL), a methodology that encourages a multifaceted perspective on a given issue.

Through lectures, readings, and group activities, you’ll examine the development of environmental thought, ideas of sustainability, and conflicting positions on humanity's place in the natural world. Issues are explored using multiple perspectives drawn from various disciplines across the university. You’ll participate in individual and group research, as well as develop critical analytical and quantitative skills.

Prerequisites: SUST 1000 or SUST 1001

SUST 2001
Environment, Sustainability, and Governance: A Global Perspective

In this class, you’ll explore the politics and governance of global environmental issues. With an introduction to the policy, politics, and processes that underpin these negotiations, you’ll join discussions on how we can move forward to a future that is more ecologically sustainable and socially just.

SUST 2001 focuses on three interconnected modules: biodiversity, food and agriculture, and environmental security. Your instructors’ combined expertise includes areas such as political science, geography, international development, and environmental management. 

Toward the end of the class, you’ll have the chance to participate as stakeholders in a simulated negotiation of an international environmental convention. This exercise will give you a unique and personal perspective on the challenges and compromises of international environmental governance.

Prerequisites: SUST 1000 or SUST 1001


See the course requirements, according to option (ESS combined with a second major subject, compared with ESS as second major subject).

Teaching green

So much progress in such a short time

In fall 2009, Dal's College of Sustainability offered its first core sustainability (SUST) course as part of the new Environment, Sustainability, and Society program (ESS). Hoping to attract 150 students the first year, the College's faculty members were blown away when more than double that number enrolled in SUST 1000. Read more about how the ESS program was started up, and why.