• Joel F. Wilcox


Affiliated faculty

  • David A. Bennett (Geographical and Sustainability Sciences), Ann F. Budd (Earth and Environmental Sciences), Carolyn Colvin (Teaching and Learning), Charles E. Connerly (Urban and Regional Planning), Craig Just (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Laura Rigal (English/American Studies)
Undergraduate certificate: sustainability
Web site:

For decades, world leaders have defined sustainability as the implementation of policies, processes, and practices that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Achievement of sustainability requires an understanding of human and environmental systems and the complex interactions between them.

The Certificate in Sustainability provides students with the knowledge and skills they will need in order to contribute to sustainable systems and their interactions, especially those related to energy, society, culture, economics, the built environment, health, and public policy. The program helps students become effective leaders and agents of change for sustainability in a wide range of vocations, such as academic researcher, teacher, corporate officer, technology specialist, farmer, grassroots advocate, or government official.

The Certificate in Sustainability is administered by University College.

Undergraduate Program of Study

  • Certificate in Sustainability


The Certificate in Sustainability requires 24 s.h. of credit. The certificate program is open to current University of Iowa undergraduate students and to all individuals who hold a bachelor's degree and are not enrolled in a graduate or professional degree program. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 2.00 in work for the certificate. Completion of the certificate is noted on the student's transcript.

Individuals must declare their intent to earn the certificate; see the Certificate in Sustainability web site for details.

Sustainability embraces many disciplines, methodologies, and institutional practices. Certificate students must have knowledge of the multidisciplinary breadth of the field, which is represented by the program's four areas of breadth electives: changing environments and human health; energy, climate, and built environments; ethics, economics, and public policy; and the power of culture and society. They also must have experience with analyzing real-life problems in and outside of the classroom and with working collaboratively to solve such problems.

Work for the certificate includes three introductory core courses; four breadth electives—one from each of the program's four elective areas; and one project course. Students may be able to count some certificate courses toward requirements for their majors or minors. They may count a maximum of three courses in a single department or program toward the certificate. A maximum of 6 s.h. of approved transfer credit may be counted toward the certificate. Certificate courses may not be taken pass/nonpass. A course may be used to satisfy only one certificate requirement.

The Certificate in Sustainability requires the following course work.


Students complete the following three introductory core courses.

EES:1080 (012:008)/ENVS:1080 (159:008) Introduction to Environmental Science3-4 s.h.
ENGR:4013 (057:013) Introduction to Sustainability3 s.h.
GEOG:1070 (044:019) Contemporary Environmental Issues3 s.h.

Students complete at least 3 s.h. in each of the following four breadth areas, choosing from the courses in each list below.

Changing Environments and Human Health
BIOL:2346 (002:108) Vertebrate Zoology4 s.h.
BIOL:2374 (002:103)/GEOG:2374 (044:103) Biogeography3 s.h.
BIOL:2673 (002:134)/ENVS:2673 (159:134) Ecology3-4 s.h.
CEE:2150 (053:050) Natural Environmental Systems3-4 s.h.
CHEM:4873 (004:173) Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry3 s.h.
EES:1040 (012:004) Evolution and the History of Life3-4 s.h.
EES:1400 (012:140) Natural Disasters3 s.h.
EES:3070 (012:107) Marine Ecosystems and Conservation3 s.h.
EES:3080 (012:108) & ENVS:3000 (159:100) Introduction to Oceanography - Environmental Sciences Seminar3 s.h.
EES:3390 (012:139) Integrated Watershed Analysis3 s.h.
EES:4630 (012:166) Hydrogeology3 s.h.
EES:4700 (012:170)/ENVS:4700 (159:170) Evolution of Ecosystems3 s.h.
GEOG:1020 (044:003) The Global Environment3 s.h.
GEOG:2950 (044:088) Environmental Conservation3 s.h.
GEOG:3070 (044:107) Hungry Planet: Global Geographies of Food3 s.h.
GEOG:3310 (044:123) Landscape Ecology3 s.h.
GEOG:3320 (044:126)/EES:3260 (012:126) Wetlands: Function, Geography, and Management3 s.h.
GEOG:4150 (044:137) Health and Environment: GIS Applications3 s.h.
HIST:4160 (16W:137) History of Public Health3 s.h.
HIST:4162 (16W:138) History of Global Health3 s.h.
HIST:4605 (16W:140) Disease, Politics, and Health in South Asia3 s.h.
IALL:3131 (00L:131) Ecology4 s.h.
IALL:3163 (00L:163) Conservation Biology4 s.h.
OEH:3210 (175:101)/GEOG:3210 (044:174) Health, Work, and the Environment3 s.h.
OEH:4210 (175:111)/GHS:4210 (152:111)/EPID:4210 (173:111) International Health3 s.h.
OEH:4240 (175:197) Global Environmental Health3 s.h.
Energy, Climate, and Built Environments
ABRD:6560 (165:841) International Perspectives: Engineering (when topic is international perspectives in water science and management)3 s.h.
ARTH:3090 (01H:186) Contemporary Architecture3 s.h.
CBE:2030 (052:030) Energy and Society3 s.h.
CEE:3155 (053:055) Principles of Environmental Engineering4 s.h.
CEE:4102 (053:102) Groundwater3 s.h.
CEE:4103 (053:103) Water Quality3 s.h.
CEE:4157 (053:157) Environmental Engineering Design3 s.h.
CEE:4158 (053:158)/OEH:4920 (175:198) Solid and Hazardous Wastes3 s.h.
CEE:4159 (053:159)/CBE:4459 (052:235) Air Pollution Control Technology3 s.h.
CEE:4788 (053:126)/PHAR:8788 (046:126) International Perspectives: Xicotepec2 s.h.
CEE:4995 (053:195) Contemporary Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering (when topic is public transit operations and planning)3 s.h.
CEE:5092 (053:192) Graduate Seminar: Environmental Engineering Seminar0 s.h.
ECE:5630 (055:163) Sustainable Energy Conversion3 s.h.
ECE:5995 (055:195) Contemporary Topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering (when topic is energy harvesting: solar, wind and ocean energy conversion systems)3 s.h.
EES:3140 (012:114) Energy and the Environment3 s.h.
EES:3360 (012:136)/GEOG:3360 (044:186) Soil Genesis and Geomorphology3 s.h.
EES:4720 (012:172) Glacial and Pleistocene Geology3 s.h.
EES:4790 (012:179) Engineering Geology3 s.h.
EES:5120 (012:189) Global Change Seminar1-2 s.h.
GEOG:2310 (044:101)/EES:2310 (012:104) Climatology3 s.h.
GEOG:2930 (044:111) Water Resources3 s.h.
GEOG:3750 (044:127) Environmental Quality: Science, Technology, and Policy3 s.h.
GEOG:4750 (044:125)/URP:4750 (102:125) Environmental Impact Analysis4 s.h.
GEOG:4930 (044:135) Urban Geography3 s.h.
IE:4550 (056:155) Wind Power Management3 s.h.
ME:4048 (058:048) Energy Systems Design4 s.h.
OEH:3210 (175:101)/GEOG:3210 (044:174) Health, Work, and the Environment3 s.h.
OEH:4240 (175:197) Global Environmental Health3 s.h.
URP:3001 (102:101) Planning Livable Cities3 s.h.
URP:6253 (102:243) Healthy Cities and the Environment3 s.h.
Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy
AFAM:1000 (129:029) First-Year Seminar (when topic is Black New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina)1 s.h.
ANTH:4130 (113:139)/RELS:4730 (032:130) Religion and Environmental Ethics3 s.h.
COMM:2043 (036:043) Rhetoric, Science, and Technology3 s.h.
ECON:3625 (06E:133)/URP:3135 (102:135) Environmental and Natural Resource Economics3 s.h.
ECON:4090 (06E:183) Natural Resource Economics3 s.h.
ENGL:3152 (008:179)/CL:3379 (218:179) Literature and Society (when topic is locally grown)3 s.h.
ENTR:3500 (06T:147) Social Entrepreneurship3 s.h.
GEOG:2910 (044:030) The Global Economy3 s.h.
GEOG:2930 (044:111) Water Resources3 s.h.
GEOG:3001 (044:197) Special Topics (when topic is international environmental policy or globalization in the developing world)3 s.h.
GEOG:3530 (044:112) Mapping American Cities and Regions3 s.h.
GEOG:3750 (044:127) Environmental Quality: Science, Technology, and Policy3 s.h.
GEOG:3760 (044:175) Hazards and Society3 s.h.
GEOG:3780 (044:120)/GHS:3780 (152:178) U.S. Energy Policy in Global Context3 s.h.
GEOG:3910 (044:194) Geographic Perspectives on Development3 s.h.
GEOG:4750 (044:125)/URP:4750 (102:125) Environmental Impact Analysis4 s.h.
GEOG:4770 (044:177) Environmental Justice3 s.h.
LAW:8622 (091:291) International Environmental Law3 s.h.
OEH:4220 (175:252)/CEE:4220 (053:204)/GHS:4220 (152:252) U.S. and Global Environmental Health Policy3 s.h.
POLI:1400 (030:045) Introduction to Comparative Politics3 s.h.
POLI:1500 (030:060) Introduction to International Relations3 s.h.
URP:6257 (102:247) Environmental Management3 s.h.
Power of Culture and Society
AMST:1154 (045:050) Food in America3 s.h.
AMST:3047 (045:147) American Disasters3 s.h.
AMST:3050 (045:150) Topics in American Cultural Studies (when topic is nature and the American mind: environment and sustainability in U.S. history)3 s.h.
AMST:3063 (045:163) American Ruins3 s.h.
AMST:3090 (045:090) Seminar in American Cultural Studies (when topic is eco-criticism: the culture of nature in the U.S.)3 s.h.
ANTH:2100 (113:010) Anthropology and Contemporary World Problems3 s.h.
ANTH:2261 (113:113) Human Impacts on the Environment3 s.h.
ANTH:3103 (113:143) Environment and Culture3 s.h.
ANTH:3112 (113:114) Environmentalisms3 s.h.
ANTH:3260 (113:179) Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas3 s.h.
ANTH:3282 (113:126) Animals, Culture, and Food3 s.h.
ANTH:4130 (113:139)/RELS:4730 (032:130) Religion and Environmental Ethics3 s.h.
ARTH:1090 (01H:009) Earthly Paradises: A Global History of Gardens3 s.h.
ARTH:3090 (01H:186) Contemporary Architecture3 s.h.
BIOL:1260 (002:095) Plants and Human Affairs2-3 s.h.
CBE:2030 (052:030) Energy and Society3 s.h.
CHEM:1050 (004:005) Technology and Society3 s.h.
CW:3210 (08C:110)/INTD:3210 (145:110) Creative Writing and the Natural World3 s.h.
ENGL:2193 (008:052)/GWSS:2193 (131:052) Literature, Culture, and Women (when topic is women's nature)3 s.h.
ENGL:3105 (008:136) Topics in Popular Culture (when topic is food studies and popular culture)3 s.h.
ENGL:3120 (008:188) Prose by Women Writers (when topic is Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, and their legacy)3 s.h.
ENGL:3130 (008:175) Topics in Film and Literature (when topic is U.S. environmental literature)3 s.h.
ENGL:3152 (008:179) Literature and Society (when topic is capturing animals)3 s.h.
ENGL:3510 (008:164) Topics in Transnational Literature (when topic is story of water)3 s.h.
FREN:1007 (009:007) Nature/Ecology French Philosophy and Fiction3 s.h.
GEOG:1010 (044:001) Introduction to Human Geography3 s.h.
GEOG:1090 (044:010) Globalization and Geographic Diversity3 s.h.
GEOG:2110 (044:011) Population Geography3 s.h.
GEOG:2410 (044:104) Environment and Development3 s.h.
LEIS:1040 (169:040) The Good Society3 s.h.
LLS:1068 (410:068) Wilderness Appreciation1 s.h.
RELS:3976 (032:076)/AINS:3276 (149:076) American Indian Environmentalism3 s.h.
RHET:3700 (010:170) Rhetoric of Sustainability3 s.h.
TDSN:2220 (01T:022) Problems in 3-D Design II: Form and Function4 s.h.
TDSN:3210 (01T:137)/THTR:3206 (049:158) Environmental Design I4 s.h.

Students complete 3 s.h. from these.

AMST:3050 (045:150) Topics in American Cultural Studies (when topic is environmental history; food studies; nature in collections and museums)3 s.h.
CBE:5405 (052:237) Green Chemical and Energy Technologies3 s.h.
CEE:4107 (053:107)/CBE:4410 (052:107) Sustainable Systems3 s.h.
CEE:4141 (053:141) Design for the Developing World3 s.h.
CL:3222 (218:122) City as Text/Text as City3 s.h.
CNW:3660 (08N:145) Multimedia Writing (when topic is the green economy: environmental writing and filmmaking)3 s.h.
CNW:4642 (08N:133) Team Writing for Business (when topic is sustainability)3 s.h.
EES:3150 (012:193) Sustainability Projectarr.
ENGL:4000 (008:098) English Honors Seminar (when topic is the story of water)3 s.h.
GEOG:3001 (044:197) Special Topics (when topic is international development)3 s.h.
GEOG:3340 (044:179) Ecosystem Services: Human Dependence on Natural Systems3 s.h.
GHS:4100 (152:125) Topics in Global Health3 s.h.
INTM:3750 (01J:108) Art and Ecology4 s.h.
MKTG:4250 (06M:140) Marketing and Sustainability3 s.h.
TDSN:6295 (01T:249) Advanced Problems in Design (when topic is special issues and topics in design)4 s.h.