• Joel F. Wilcox
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.

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/ENVS:1080 Introduction to Environmental Science3-4 s.h.
ENGR:2013 Introduction to Sustainability3 s.h.
GEOG:1070 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 Vertebrate Zoology4 s.h.
BIOL:2374/GEOG:2374 Biogeography3 s.h.
BIOL:2673/ENVS:2673 Ecology3-4 s.h.
CEE:2150 Natural Environmental Systems3-4 s.h.
CHEM:4873 Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry3 s.h.
EES:1040 Evolution and the History of Life3-4 s.h.
EES:1400 Natural Disasters3 s.h.
EES:3070 Marine Ecosystems and Conservation3 s.h.
EES:3080 & ENVS:3000 Introduction to Oceanography - Environmental Sciences Seminar3 s.h.
EES:3390 Integrated Watershed Analysis3 s.h.
EES:4630 Hydrogeology3 s.h.
EES:4700/ENVS:4700 Evolution of Ecosystems3 s.h.
GEOG:1020 The Global Environment3 s.h.
GEOG:2950 Environmental Conservation3 s.h.
GEOG:3070 Hungry Planet: Global Geographies of Food3 s.h.
GEOG:3310 Landscape Ecology3 s.h.
GEOG:3320/EES:3260 Wetlands: Function, Geography, and Management3 s.h.
GEOG:4150 Health and Environment: GIS Applications3 s.h.
HIST:4160 History of Public Health3 s.h.
HIST:4162 History of Global Health3 s.h.
HIST:4605 Disease, Politics, and Health in South Asia3 s.h.
IALL:3131 Ecology4 s.h.
IALL:3163 Conservation Biology4 s.h.
OEH:3210/GEOG:3210 Health, Work, and the Environment3 s.h.
OEH:4210/GHS:4210/EPID:4210 International Health3 s.h.
OEH:4240 Global Environmental Health3 s.h.
Energy, Climate, and Built Environments
ARTH:3090 Contemporary Architecture3 s.h.
CBE:2030 Energy and Society3 s.h.
CEE:3155 Principles of Environmental Engineering4 s.h.
CEE:4102 Groundwater3 s.h.
CEE:4103 Water Quality3 s.h.
CEE:4157 Environmental Engineering Design3 s.h.
CEE:4158/OEH:4920 Solid and Hazardous Wastes3 s.h.
CEE:4159/CBE:4459 Air Pollution Control Technology3 s.h.
CEE:4788/PHAR:8788 International Perspectives: Xicotepec2 s.h.
CEE:4995 Contemporary Topics in Civil and Environmental Engineering (when topic is public transit operations and planning)3 s.h.
CEE:5092 Graduate Seminar: Environmental Engineering Seminar0 s.h.
ECE:5630 Sustainable Energy Conversion3 s.h.
ECE:5995 Contemporary Topics in Electrical and Computer Engineering (when topic is energy harvesting: solar, wind and ocean energy conversion systems)3 s.h.
EES:1290 Energy and the Environment3 s.h.
EES:3360/GEOG:3360 Soil Genesis and Geomorphology3 s.h.
EES:4720 Glacial and Pleistocene Geology3 s.h.
EES:4790 Engineering Geology3 s.h.
EES:5120 Global Change Seminar1-2 s.h.
GEOG:2310/EES:2310 Introduction to Climatology3 s.h.
GEOG:2930 Water Resources3 s.h.
GEOG:3750 Environmental Quality: Science, Technology, and Policy3 s.h.
GEOG:4750/URP:4750 Environmental Impact Analysis4 s.h.
GEOG:4930 Urban Geography3 s.h.
IE:4550 Wind Power Management3 s.h.
ME:4048 Energy Systems Design4 s.h.
OEH:3210/GEOG:3210 Health, Work, and the Environment3 s.h.
OEH:4240 Global Environmental Health3 s.h.
URP:3001 Planning Livable Cities3 s.h.
URP:6253 Healthy Cities and the Environment3 s.h.
Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy
AFAM:1000 First-Year Seminar (when topic is Black New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina)1 s.h.
ANTH:4130/RELS:4730 Religion and Environmental Ethics3 s.h.
COMM:2043 Rhetoric, Science, and Technology3 s.h.
ECON:3625/URP:3135 Environmental and Natural Resource Economics3 s.h.
ECON:4090 Natural Resource Economics3 s.h.
ENGL:3152/CL:3379 Literature and Society (when topic is locally grown)3 s.h.
ENTR:3500 Social Entrepreneurship3 s.h.
GEOG:2910 The Global Economy3 s.h.
GEOG:2930 Water Resources3 s.h.
GEOG:3001 Special Topics (when topic is international environmental policy or globalization in the developing world)3 s.h.
GEOG:3530 Mapping American Cities and Regions3 s.h.
GEOG:3750 Environmental Quality: Science, Technology, and Policy3 s.h.
GEOG:3760 Hazards and Society3 s.h.
GEOG:3780/GHS:3780 U.S. Energy Policy in Global Context3 s.h.
GEOG:3910 Geographic Perspectives on Development3 s.h.
GEOG:4750/URP:4750 Environmental Impact Analysis4 s.h.
GEOG:4770 Environmental Justice3 s.h.
LAW:8622 International Environmental Law3 s.h.
OEH:4220/CEE:4220/GHS:4220 U.S. and Global Environmental Health Policy3 s.h.
POLI:1400 Introduction to Comparative Politics3 s.h.
POLI:1500 Introduction to International Relations3 s.h.
URP:6257 Environmental Management3 s.h.
Power of Culture and Society
AMST:1154 Food in America3 s.h.
AMST:3047 American Disasters3 s.h.
AMST:3050 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 American Ruins3 s.h.
AMST:3090 Seminar in American Cultural Studies (when topic is ecocriticism: the culture of nature in the U.S.)3 s.h.
ANTH:2100 Anthropology and Contemporary World Problems3 s.h.
ANTH:2261 Human Impacts on the Environment3 s.h.
ANTH:3103 Environment and Culture3 s.h.
ANTH:3112 Environmentalisms3 s.h.
ANTH:3260 Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas3 s.h.
ANTH:3282 Animals, Culture, and Food3 s.h.
ANTH:4130/RELS:4730 Religion and Environmental Ethics3 s.h.
ARTH:1090 Earthly Paradises: A Global History of Gardens3 s.h.
ARTH:3090 Contemporary Architecture3 s.h.
BIOL:1260 Plants and Human Affairs2-3 s.h.
CBE:2030 Energy and Society3 s.h.
CHEM:1050 Technology and Society3 s.h.
CW:3210/INTD:3210 Creative Writing and the Natural World3 s.h.
ENGL:2193/GWSS:2193 Literature, Culture, and Women (when topic is women's nature)3 s.h.
ENGL:3105 Topics in Popular Culture (when topic is food studies and popular culture)3 s.h.
ENGL:3120 Prose by Women Writers (when topic is Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, and their legacy)3 s.h.
ENGL:3130 Topics in Film and Literature (when topic is U.S. environmental literature)3 s.h.
ENGL:3152 Literature and Society (when topic is capturing animals)3 s.h.
ENGL:3510 Topics in Transnational Literature (when topic is story of water)3 s.h.
FREN:1007 Nature/Ecology French Philosophy and Fiction3 s.h.
GEOG:1010 Introduction to Human Geography3 s.h.
GEOG:1090 Globalization and Geographic Diversity3 s.h.
GEOG:2110 Population Geography: Societies in Flux3 s.h.
GEOG:2410 Environment and Development3 s.h.
LLS:1068 Wilderness Appreciation1 s.h.
RELS:3976/AINS:3276 American Indian Environmentalism3 s.h.
RHET:3700 Advocacy and Sustainability: Crafting Stories of People, Place, and Resilience3 s.h.
SRM:1040 The Good Society3 s.h.
TDSN:3200 Product Design4 s.h.
TDSN:3210/THTR:3206 Furniture Design I4 s.h.

Students complete 3 s.h. from these.

AMST:3050 Topics in American Cultural Studies (when topic is environmental history; food studies; nature in collections and museums)3 s.h.
CBE:5405 Green Chemical and Energy Technologies3 s.h.
CEE:3141 Design With the Developing World3 s.h.
CEE:4107/CBE:4410 Sustainable Systems3 s.h.
CL:3222 City as Text/Text as City3 s.h.
CNW:3660 Multimedia Writing (when topic is the green economy: environmental writing and filmmaking)3 s.h.
CNW:4642 Team Writing for Business (when topic is sustainability)3 s.h.
EES:3150 Sustainability Projectarr.
ENGL:4000 English Honors Seminar (when topic is the story of water)3 s.h.
GEOG:3001 Special Topics (when topic is international development)3 s.h.
GEOG:3340 Ecosystem Services: Human Dependence on Natural Systems3 s.h.
GHS:4100 Topics in Global Health3 s.h.
INTM:3750 Art and Ecology4 s.h.
MKTG:4250 Marketing and Sustainability3 s.h.
TDSN:6295 Design for Production and Business (when topic is special issues and topics in design)4 s.h.