Sustainability is one of the 21st century’s most theoretically and practically complex fields of study. The purpose of the interdisciplinary minor in sustainability is to provide an opportunity for students to focus their intellectual inquiry on issues and problems related to local and global sustainability. Students consider problems and explore solutions from the perspective of a "triple bottom line," recognizing that truly sustainable decisions often must reconcile divergent priorities associated with ecological, social, and corporate points of view. The program is designed to complement any Principia College major.

As part of the minor, students complete an introductory course, a sustainability project of their own design, and four electives drawn from five academic spheres:

  • Social sphere. Courses explore how human behavior, ethical and theological values, and societal organization relate to increasing sustainability.
  • Business and economics sphere. Courses examine business practices and governance systems that lead to sustainable economies.
  • Ecology and natural resources sphere. Courses focus on sustainable natural resource use and management, environmental issues, solutions to resource needs, and conservation.
  • Built environment sphere. Courses focus on how human and mechanical systems of everyday life can be designed to reduce resource consumption and environmental damage, promote regenerative processes, encourage innovation, build community, and enhance quality of life.
  • Leadership and communication sphere. Courses prepare students to become successful "change agents" by examining strategies for motivating sustainable behavior, communicating effectively, resolving conflict, and developing effective and ethical leadership skills.
What our students do during college
  • Become active in the Sustainability Club
  • Join the solar car team, including racing in the U.S. and around the world
  • Design and implement sustainability projects on campus
  • Develop a Principia Green Purchasing Policy or a roadmap to becoming a Zero Waste campus
  • Visit local companies involved in sustainable product design, innovative building, or renewable energy
  • Serve as house or campus eco-head
  • Participate in sustainability-related community service
  • Volunteer at Three Rivers Community Farm, a chemical-free farm on campus
  • Help in the on-campus land and forest stewardship programs and the community garden
  • Study abroad in Europe, Asia, China, or Australia
  • Attend on-campus talks and professional conferences with industry experts
  • Intern with a green collar executive, conservaton biologist, LEED architect, or food entrepreneur
What our students do after college
  • Become involved in green entrepreneurship, research, or policy
  • Work for companies implementing environmentally conscious designs/technologies
  • Contribute to the fields of sustainable architecture, renewable energy, ecotechnology, or biological systems engineering
  • Lead an environmental, human rights, public policy, or other advocacy organization
  • Excel in graduate programs and law school
  • Teach in public or private schools or other settings
  • Work in natural resource management

Recognized at the Bronze Level in the Illinois Campus Sustainability Compact program, Principia stands as a leader in higher education sustainability. 

Read about Principia College's sustainability activities in PrincipiaWire.