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Environmental & Sustainability Studies

Definition of Sustainability at UNC:

Sustainability involves making decisions that support the environmental or social-cultural systems on which we depend.  It requires a coordinated approach involving personal lifestyles, workplace practices, and planning and policy-making that fosters diverse and flourishing ecosystems and healthy, diverse human communities marked by social and cultural integration with stable equitable economies.

ENSS Mission


 A major or minor in this program enables students to understand and address the significant challenges facing a growing human community dependent on finite resources.  We address human problems which require sophisticated understanding of interacting systems: natural, economic, historical, aesthetic, socio-cultural, spatial, and political. In order to prepare students for lives and careers that will address these challenges, we provide a dynamic approach that requires the study of multiple disciplines and perspectives.


We offer a challenging, integrative, and provocative education to help students understand concepts, principles and practices that ensure ecological sustainability while meeting human needs. We promote interactions with the public and policy makers in implementing practical solutions to local, state, national, and global environmental problems. We advocate experiential opportunities for students throughout the program through internships, field studies, case studies, and community engagement.

Graduation Expectancies:

Stewardship of the earth is the hallmark of this program. Graduates will think systematically and critically about environmental sustainability issues and how solutions can be implemented. Graduates will examine, challenge, and reflect on contemporary assumptions about environmental sustainability and be able to analyze and evaluate how complex systems are integrated.

Program Learning Outcomes: Students will

  • Understand how past and present attitudes and ways of valuing the environment have created modern resource conditions and policies.
  • Apply knowledge of energy, resource, and waste flows to forge and apply ecological and economic models of sustainability that complement the interdependent aspects of the natural world.
  • Demonstrate how the environment fits into a sense of individual and multicultural community identity.
  • Recognize the interdependence of the natural world and the socio-cultural world created by humans.
  • Evaluate environmental issues and policies from a sustainability perspective.
  • Generate solutions to a set of given problems from a sustainability perspective.

Careers for ENSS degree graduates

Almost every modern career involves sustainability as a requirement to make it fit the growing need to create a better, more just 21st-century world. With this degree, you could pursue jobs as a sustainability officer (for academic systems, government positions and businesses), sustainability planner and analyst, outreach and communications specialist, sustainability manager, energy analyst, facilities analyst, community development and permaculture specialist, health specialist and environmental scientist. These are just some of the careers that can be found. 

After the first two years of the program, our first graduates are employed in a variety of areas:

  • Medical Assistant/Patient Facilitator at High Plains Community
  • Health Center, & Environmental Blog Author
  • Researcher on Wind Turbines & Bird Populations - CA
  • Sustainability Officer, Pikes Peak College, CO
  • Production Assistant at High Noon Entertainment