SUST 401 Made a World of Difference to Me

Sustainability Dual Major has Major Impact

Cassidy Yates, '20

You or someone you know has probably considered changing majors, or even done so since starting college. While I still enjoyed my major of environmental engineering, I felt like there was something missing. In the fall semester of my sophomore year I took a chance and enrolled in a class called SUST 401: Surveying Sustainability. Luckily for me I discovered the solution to address what I had been missing!

While the technical knowledge of environmental issues I was learning through courses in my primary major was interesting and important, I wanted to learn more and be more inspired by potential solutions to improving the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we live on. SUST 401 opened my mind to a new perspective on environmental well-being by also considering social and economic well-being. These are known as the three pillars of sustainability (aka the triple bottom line or the 3 P’s: people, planet, profit). While the three pillars might seem at first like separate disciplines, they are in fact interconnected in many ways.

This class introduces sustainability and the ways in which each component are connected through a variety of examples including complex, multi-faceted grand challenges. The class also explores how sustainability can be applied on a local and community scale, right here at UNH. Have you ever wondered what that smokestack on campus is or where the lettuce in the dining halls comes from? These are just two of the many other sustainability solutions and research occurring at UNH. Sustainable solutions are more effective and longer lasting when the entire system including environmental, social, and economic impacts are considered.   

Because of the interdisciplinary nature of sustainability, all majors at UNH relate to one (or more!) of these pillars almost directly, and to the other pillars indirectly through some sort of system. By taking SUST 401, I learned how I could enhance my major and the way I approach problems in my everyday life by thinking with more depth and breadth. I was so inspired academically and personally that I wanted to incorporate sustainability throughout my college career. Surveying Sustainability is the stepping stone to a series of classes that, along with electives, make up the Sustainability Dual Major.

This is open to all students to pair with any major and allows you to explore sustainability in multiple areas and dive deeper into the science and methods behind sustainability in SUST 501. In the final capstone class, SUST 750, students work collaboratively on projects at UNH or within the New England region to experience sustainability work firsthand. If you think something is missing in your coursework, I would encourage you to take the dive and enroll in SUST 401. That choice made a world of difference to me, and I suspect it could make a world of difference to you too. 

Cassidy Yates, '20, is part of UNH’s Changemaker Collaborative programming through her participation in the summer Sustainability Fellowship and the B Impact Clinic.