Add a Certificate in Sustainability

The Department of Geographical and Sustainability Science offers an undergraduate certificate in Sustainability. Certificates enhance and enrich undergraduate academic programs and broaden students' opportunities for post-graduation employment or graduate studies. Certificates are interdisciplinary and draw on courses offered by multiple departments to craft a broad foundation on each subject.  

Sustainability embraces many disciplines, methodologies, and institutional practices. Certificate students must have knowledge of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, which is represented by the program's breadth electives: dynamics of natural systems; dynamics of human systems; and communication, ethics, and interpretation. They also must have experience with analyzing real-life problems in and outside of the classroom and in working collaboratively to solve such problems.


  • Requires 24 semester hours of credit 
  • Students must maintain a grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.00 in work for the certificate
  • Certificate courses may not be taken pass/nonpass
  • A maximum of 6 semester hours of approved transfer credit may be counted toward the certificate
  • Students who major in sustainability science cannot earn the certificate
  • Certificate students may count a maximum of three courses in a single department/program toward the certificate
  • Students may be able to count some certificate courses toward requirements for other majors, minors, or other certificates
  • A course may be used to satisfy only one certificate requirement

Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
Both of these:
ENGL:1510Introduction to Environmental Literature3
GEOG:2013/BUS:2013/URP:2013Introduction to Sustainability3
One of these:
EES:1080/ENVS:1080Introduction to Environmental Science3-4
EES:1085/ENVS:1085Fundamentals of Environmental Science4
GEOG:1070Contemporary Environmental Issues3

Students complete at least 3 semester hours in each of the following three breadth areas.

Dynamics of Natural Systems
Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
One of these:
BIOL:1260Plants and Human Affairs3
CBE:2040Environment, Energy, and Climate Change3
CBE:2050/CEE:2050Severe and Unusual Weather3
CBE:5405Green Chemical and Energy Technologies3
CEE:4103Water Quality3
CHEM:4873Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry3
EES:1040Evolution and the History of Life3-4
EES:1290Energy and the Environment3
EES:1400Natural Disasters3
EES:2310/GEOG:2310Introduction to Climatology3
EES:3070Marine Ecosystems and Conservation3
EES:3080 & ENVS:3000Introduction to Oceanography - Environmental Science Seminar3
GEOG:1020The Global Environment3
GEOG:2950Environmental Conservation3
GEOG:3310Landscape Ecology3
GEOG:3340Ecosystem Services: Human Dependence on Natural Systems3
Dynamics of Human Systems
Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
One of these:
AMST:1154Food in America3
AMST:3047American Disasters3
AMST:3063American Ruins3
ANTH:1046/GEOG:1046/GWSS:1046Big Ideas: People and the Environment - Technology, Culture, and Social Justice3
ANTH:2100Anthropology and Contemporary World Problems3
ANTH:2261Human Impacts on the Environment3
ANTH:3103Environment and Culture3
ANTH:3240Cultural Resources Management Archeology: Practice and Practicalities3
ANTH:3260Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas3
ANTH:4130/RELS:4730Religion and Environmental Ethics3
ARTH:1090Earthly Paradises: A Global History of Gardens3
ARTH:3090Contemporary Architecture3
CBE:2030Energy and Society3
CBE:4459/CEE:4159/IGPI:4159Air Pollution Control Technology3
CEE:3790Resilient Infrastructure and Emergency Response3
CEE:4158/OEH:4920Solid and Hazardous Wastes3
CEE:4788/GHS:4126/PHAR:8788/THTR:4265International Perspectives: Xicotepec2
CHEM:1050Technology and Society3
CPH:2200Climageddon: Understanding Climate Change and Associated Impacts on Health2
CPH:3500/GHS:3500Global Public Health3
ECE:5630Sustainable Energy Conversion3
ECON:3625/URP:3135Environmental and Natural Resource Economics3
ECON:3770/URP:3360Urban Transportation3
EES:1115/ENVS:1115/GEOG:1115/HIST:1115The History and Science of Oil3
EES:4790Engineering Geology3
GEOG:1090Globalization and Geographic Diversity3
GEOG:2110/GHS:2110Eight Billion and Counting: Introduction to Population Dynamics3
GEOG:2410Environment and Development3
GEOG:2910The Global Economy3
GEOG:3070/GHS:3070Hungry Planet: Global Geographies of Food3
GEOG:3210/CPH:3400Health, Work, and the Environment3
GEOG:3420Sustainable Development and Green Building Concepts3
GEOG:3750Environmental Quality: Science, Technology, and Policy3
GEOG:3780/GHS:3780/HIST:3240U.S. Energy Policy in Global Context3
GEOG:3800Environmental Economics and Policy3
GEOG:3920/URP:3001Planning Livable Cities3
GEOG:4150/GHS:4150/IGPI:4150Health and Environment: GIS Applications 3
GEOG:4750/URP:4750Environmental Impact Analysis4
GHS:3560Global Garbage and Global Health3
GHS:4162/HIST:4162History of Global Health3
GHS:4605/HIST:4605Disease, Politics, and Health in South Asia2-4
IE:4550Wind Power Management3
IS:3200Sustainable Development3
ME:4048Energy Systems Design4
MSCI:3030Business Process Analysis3
NAIS:1290/AMST:1290/GHS:1290/HIST:1290Native American Foods and Foodways 3
NAIS:3276/RELS:3976American Indian Environmentalism3
OEH:4240Global Environmental Health3
POLI:1400Introduction to Comparative Politics3
POLI:1500Introduction to International Relations3
POLI:2417Comparative Environmental Policy3
POLI:3424Global Development3
TDSN:3200Product Design4
TDSN:3210Furniture Design I 4
URP:6253Designing Sustainable and Healthy Cities3
URP:6257Environmental Management3
Communication, Ethics, and Interpretation
Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
One of these:
ANTH:4130/RELS:4730Religion and Environmental Ethics3
CNW:2740The Art and Craft of Writing about the Environment3
CW:3210/INTD:3210Creative Writing and the Natural World3
ENGL:2329Topics in Modern British Literature Before 1900 (when topic is British literature and environmental history)3
ENGL:3105Topics in Popular Culture (when topic is food studies)3
ENGL:3510Topics in Transnational Literature (when topic is rivers and rivals)3
ENGL:3570/CL:3570/GWSS:3570Transnational and Postcolonial Writing by Women (when topic is women gone wild)3
ENGL:4003Honors Seminar: Literary Theory and Interdisciplinary Studies, 20th/21st Century (when topic is becoming human: literature, culture, environment)3
ENGL:4195Interdisciplinary Studies (when topic is animal stories)3
ENTR:3500Social Entrepreneurship3
FREN:1007Nature/Ecology French Philosophy and Fiction3
GEOG:4770/GHS:4770Environmental Justice3
HIST:3230American Environmental History3
JMC:3185Topics in Mass Communication (when topic is risk communication)3
LAW:8622International Environmental Law3
RHET:3700Advocacy and Sustainability: Crafting Stories of People, Place, and Resilience3
SCLP:3895Topics in Sculpture (when topic is art at the edge of the landfill)4
URP:6273Community Development in the Upper Midwest3

Students select an additional 3 semester hours from one of the three breadth areas above: dynamics of natural systems; dynamics of human systems; or communication, ethics, and interpretation.

View Breadth Electives

One of these (3 semester hours total)
Course numberCourse nameSemester hours
ARBD:3445India Winterim (when topic is approved)arr.
ANTH:2261Human Impacts on the Environment3
CBE:4410/CEE:4107Sustainable Systems3
CNW:3660Multimedia Writing (when topic is environmental writing and filmmaking)3
EES:3150Sustainability Projectarr.
ENGL:4000English Honors Seminar (when topic is becoming human: literature, culture, environment)3
ENGL:4195Interdisciplinary Studies (when topic is animal stories)3
ENTR:3700Sustainable Product Innovation and Management3
GEOG:2930Water Resources3
GEOG:3001Special Topics (when topic is sustainability)3
GEOG:3400Iowa Environmental Policy in Practice3
GEOG:3760/GHS:3760Hazards and Society3
GHS:4100Topics in Global Health (when topic is sustainability)1-3
GHS:4180Climate Change and Health3
INTM:3750Art and Ecology4
MKTG:4250Marketing and Sustainability3
TDSN:6295Design for Production and Business (when topic is special issues and topics in design)4
URP:4752Eighth Generational Planning: Envisioning Cities for Year 22283
URP:6256Environmental Policy3
URP:6273Community Development in Upper Midwest3

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Hannah Whitcomb

Hannah Whitcomb

Senior Academic Advisor