Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability


The Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability at the University of Utah is a collaborative, interdisciplinary program grounding students in science, society and policy in order to effectively address global change and sustainability challenges.


“I came to the U because you can do interdisciplinary research…”
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The Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability program will train students to think and act across disciplinary boundaries. This transdisciplinary literacy will enhance graduate education without compromising disciplinary expertise. Students will be provided opportunities to develop their capacities as transformational change agents within their communities and institutions. This program is a collaboration between the Graduate School, Sustainability Office, and the Global Change and Sustainability Center. Read what participants have to say.

For more information, see the FAQ below or contact Karren Nichols at karren.nichols@utah.edu or 801-587-9036.

  • Applications for Spring semester are due no later than October 30.
  • Applications for Fall semester are due no later than April 1.

Who can enroll in the Certificate program?

  • Any student enrolled in a graduate degree program at the University of Utah
  • Non-degree-seeking students with a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university

Application and Admission Process

  • University of Utah students should apply for the Certificate program as soon as they decide to pursue it, and must apply to the program prior to the semester of graduation via the online application. (Matriculated, Non-matriculated)
  • Applications will be reviewed twice each year.
  • Applications for Spring semester are due no later than October 30.
  • Applications for Fall semester are due no later than April 1.
  • Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed in the following application cycle.
  • Required for non-matriculated students: (1) confirmation of admission status as non-degree seeking student at the University of Utah, (2) transcripts confirming bachelors degree and GPA.
    • For non-matriculated students, U of U admission dates are different from general admission dates. Please see the Admissions website for current information.

Curriculum Requirements

(16 credit hours total)

2 core courses (4 credits)
  • Global Change & Sustainability Seminar  (1 credit, Fall and Spring, SUST 6800)
  • Global Changes and Society  (3 credits, offered each Spring, SUST 6000)
4 elective courses (12 credits)

One course from each elective component from the approved list of courses

  • Elective 1: Earth and Ecological Systems selection
  • Elective 2: Social Justice selection
  • Elective 3: Economics/Policy selection
  • Elective 4: One additional course from any of the above 3 categories

Of the 4 electives, no more than two may be within the student’s home Department, one may be within the student’s home College but outside of the student’s home Department, and one must be from outside of the student’s home College. (Courses taken at the University of Utah prior to official admission to the program may count towards certificate.)

Policies

  • Maximum of 4 years for completion
  • Courses must be completed with a grade of B or better
  • Courses used towards completion of the Certificate may also count towards matriculated graduate student Departmental degree requirements, if applicable
  • 9 credits from the Certificate may be applied towards a future graduate degree (applies to non-matriculated students only)
  • Non-matriculated students will need a permission code to enroll in graduate courses

Electives

The Certificate requires four electives, including one course from each of the following elective components. Of the four electives, no more than two courses may be within the student’s home Department, one may be within the student’s home College but outside of the student’s home Department, and one must be from outside of the student’s home College.

  • Earth and Ecological Systems = explicit focus on the dynamics within the physical or ecological sciences
  • Social Justice = explicit focus on society and social issues (especially equity, justice, and human well-being)
  • Economic / Policy = explicit focus on economic and/or policy issues

(Please see class schedule to see when elective courses are scheduled.)

Other Electives

Flexibility will exist to allow students to gain approval to substitute courses that meet the learning objectives of the certificate program, but which have not yet been identified as electives. For example, while the elective list represents courses appropriate to fulfill certificate requirements, some students may have taken or may wish to take courses not listed that might also qualify. Given the diversity of graduate student backgrounds and interests, students will have the opportunity to customize their selected electives through an approval process with the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability Advisory Committee.

To request approval of a new elective course, please contact Karren Nichols to determine if the course has been approved previously. If it has not, please complete this form and send it to Karren Nichols.

Title Course #

College

Instructor 

Prereq.

Typically
offered

– The Climate System ATMOS 5400

CMES

Strong, C. 

MATH 1050

Each Fall

– Climate Dynamics ATMOS 6030

CMES

Strong, C. 

MATH 1050

Each Fall

– Environmental Communication COMM 6360

HUM

Corbett, J. B. 

No

Every 3rd semester

– Global Climate Change GEOG 5210

SBS

 Coats, L.
Brunelle, A.

No

Each Fall

– Ecology and Management of Wildland Recreation Settings PRT 6420

HEALTH

Brownlee, M. T.

No

Each Spring

– Urban Ecology BIO 5440/CMP 6610

COS/A+P

Adler, F.

No

Spring

– Complexity & Systems Thinking CMP 6371

A+P

Hinners, S.

No

Every other fall (even years)

– Desert Ecology Field Course BIOL 5455

COS

Clayton, D.

Instructor consent

Every other Spring (even years)

– Plant Systematics BIOL 5435

COS

Bohs, L.

BIOL 2020 + 3410

Every other fall (even years)

– Ecosystem Ecology BIOL 5490

COS

CHEM 1220 or 1221

Every other fall (odd years)

– Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry and Ecology BIOL 6473/6475

COS

Ehleringer, J. and various

No

Fall & June, applications due in Feb.

– Biography of an Urban Stream BIOL 5430

COS

Shea, P.

No

Fall / Summer

– Biology, Society, and Public Engagement BIOL 5710

COS

Nadkarni, N.

No

Spring

– Mathematics and Climate MATH 5750/6880

COS

Golden, K.

No

Special topics

Title Course#

 College

Instructor 

Prereq. 

Typically
Offered

– Environmental Justice SUST 6870

GRAD SCHOOL

Cachelin, A.

No

Each Spring

– Human Ecology ANTH 6186

SBS

Macfarlan, S. J.

No

Each Spring

– Land Use and Transportation Planning CMP 6720

A&P

Ewing, R.

No

Each Spring

– Communication and Social Justice COMM 6490

HUM

Kuttner, P. J. 

No

Every other Spring

– Sustainable Development

ECON 6960

SBS

Banuri, T.

No

Each Spring

– Eating for Justice, Health, and
Sustainability

PRT 6650/ NUTR 6650

COH

Cachelin, A.

No

Each Fall

– Environmental and Sustainability Policy

POLS 6322/ PADMIN 6322

SBS

Benney, T. M.

No

Each Fall


Title Course#

 College

Instructor 

 Prereq.

Typically
Offered

– Environmental Conflict Resolution LAW 7250

LAW

Straube, M.

No

Every other Spring in even years
– Environmental Justice SUST 6870

GRAD SCHOOL

Cachelin, A.

No

Each Spring
– Land Use and Transportation Planning CMP 6720

A&P

Ewing, R.

No

Each Spring
– Hydrotopia: Water
Management in the West
CVEEN 6480/ PHIL 5540

ENG

Burian, S. Barbanell, E.

No

Every other Fall
– Sustainable Development ECON 6960

SBS

Banuri, T.

No

Each Spring
– Water Law LAW 7230

LAW

Craig, R. 

No

Each Spring
– Law of Climate Change LAW 7769
(7800)

LAW

Reitze Jr, A. W.

No

Each Spring
– Politics of Western Water Policy POLS 5510

SBS

McCool, D. C.

No

Every 3rd semester
– Environmental and Sustainability Policy POLS 6322/
PADMIN 6322

SBS

Benney, T. M.

No

Each Fall
– Gender and Economic Development in Third World ECON 6560 / GNDER 5560

SBS

Arora, D.

No

Each Spring
– Principles of Economic Development ECON 6530

SBS

Berik, G.

No

Fall
– Planning for Disasters & Environmental Change CMP 6960

A+P

Chandrasekhar, D.

No

Spring
– Green Infrastructure CMP 6960

A+P

Hinners, S.

No

Fall
– Communicating Climate Change COMM 5365/6365

HUM

Corbett, J.

No

Spring
– Community Engagement in Costa Rica PADMN 6960

SBS

McGovern, D.

No

Spring
– Biography of an Urban Stream BIOL 3480

COS

Shea, P.

No

Fall
– Biology, Society, and Public Engagement BIOL 5710

COS

Nadkarni, N.

No

Spring

Learning Objectives

Students completing the requirements of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate in Sustainability will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate both depth in a particular thematic area of expertise and breadth in sustainability literacy and key concepts
  2. Utilize systems thinking, life cycle analysis, and other concepts and tools to analyze the complex interconnections among social, economic, and environmental systems
  3. Communicate and collaborate across disciplinary boundaries
  4. Reflect deeply about the ethical practice of sustainability (e.g., recognize inherent conflicts of interest, trade-offs, and moral dilemmas, and discuss them in a way that shows an ability to weigh the pros and cons of complex sustainability strategies, recognize different stakeholder perspectives, and understand that costs and benefits are not equally distributed).
  5. Imagine, evaluate, and implement visions of sustainable practices and values through the translation of knowledge of sustainability into actions for sustainability.

Application for degree-seeking graduate students

Application for non-matriculated students

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I am a non-matriculated applicant. How do I obtain a uNID (University ID Number)
A. Once you have applied for admission as a non-matriculated student, you will receive a uNID.

Q. When is the application period?
A. Applications will be accepted throughout the year and reviewed as follows:

  • Applications for Spring semester are due no later than October 30.
  • Applications for Fall semester are due no later than April 1.
  • Applications received after the deadline will be reviewed in the following application cycle.

Q. What semester does the program begin?
A. Students may start the program in fall or spring.

Q. I have already taken a course/courses that serve as Certificate electives. Does that credit apply to the Certificate?
A. Students who have previously taken and passed the GCSC seminar course (BIOL 6964/SUST 6800) or Global Changes and Society (BIOL 7961-002/SUST 6000) course may apply those towards completing the Certificate. Other courses may be approved.

Q. I have more questions. Who should I contact?
A. Please contact Karren Nichols at karren.nichols@utah.edu or 801-587-9036