Welcome to the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program!

Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENS) at Grand Valley State University draws upon a variety of disci­plines to develop a holistic, place-based, and solutions-oriented understanding of environmental and sustainability challenges. The program emphasizes a practical ap­proach to environmental issues through collaborative problem-solving, involvement in fac­ulty-led research projects, internships, practicums, and community engagement projects. Students gain an understanding of the way interconnected physical, institutional, and cultural systems shape our attitudes and behavior toward the environment. The ENS program resides within GVSU's Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. First introduced in 2008 as a minor, Environmental and Sustainability Studies has grown considerably since its inception. As of summer 2019, ENS is available for students to pursue as a major. Visit the online catalog for a complete program description.

Program Overview

Students who major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies may choose a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. A major requires completion of 35 to 37 credits, plus the B.A. or B.S. program requirements. Students select coursework from three categories: social and cultural perspectives, physical and life science perspectives, and political and economic perspectives. In addition to three required core courses and a technical skills elective, students organize their studies around one or more of four focus areas:

  • Sustainable Food Systems
  • Energy
  • Water Resources
  • Culture and the Built Environment

A minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies is also available with the completion of 21 credits.

The undergraduate Certificate in Sustainable Food Systems (SFS) is designed for GVSU degree-seeking students of any major who wish to develop specialized knowledge about all aspects of sustainable, local food systems. This certificate has been approved by the Higher Learning Commission.

Why study Environmental and Sustainability Studies at Grand Valley?

  • Students gain the broad educational background needed to create positive change as leaders, thinkers, decision-makers, and citizens.
  • Students can combine the ENS major or minor conveniently with other majors to expand interdisciplinary knowledge and career options.
  • Students acquire first-hand experience addressing large and complex environmental problems through community based-learning, internships, independent and collaborative research.
  • Students have access to a multitude of opportunities for campus engagement including GVSU’s Sustainable Agriculture Project, Office of Sustainability Practices, and student-led organizations such as the Student Environmental Coalition and Farm Club.

Businesses, government, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions are increasingly interested in implementing environmental and sustainability initiatives. Graduates of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program at Grand Valley are prepared to pursue careers in the emerging field of sustainability implementation and in a wide variety of other occupations that involve environmental and sustainability communication, advocacy, outreach, education, and research. Students may also pursue post-graduate studies in areas such as law, public policy, administration, business, or environmental humanities.