Signature Interdisciplinary Courses

The Sustainability Collaborative offers a suite of signature courses under the Office of the Provost. These courses are team-taught by faculty from several schools and deliver a comprehensive understanding of sustainability concepts. Students from any school and major may take these courses. 

SUST 1001: Introduction to Sustainability

introduction to sustainability


The concept of sustainability is both broad and specific as it is applied to areas ranging from social systems to law, engineering, public health, and natural systems. The course considers goals, principles, and practical applications, with a multidisciplinary perspective on major environmental and social issues growing out of these concerns. SUST 1001 is a requirement for the minor.

Team taught by: 

Tara Scully, Biology (Lead Professor)

Lisa Benton-Short, Geography

Peter LaPuma, Public Health

Lee Paddock, Law

Michael Svoboda, University Writing

Adele Ashkar, Sustainable Landscapes

SUST 2002: The Sustainable City

Sustainable City


This course explores the connection between cities and sustainability.  We consider sustainability from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives and examine some of the most pressing and critical issues that must be addressed in order to create a sustainable city. Central to this course is a focus on Washington, D.C.  Ultimately, this course is concerned with how the future of cities and the quality of life for those who live there can be improved through sustainable urban development projects and policy.

Team taught by: 

Melissa Keeley, Geography (Lead Professor)

Lisa Benton-Short, Geography

Royce Francis, Engineering 

Chris Leinberger, School of Business

Greg Squires, Sociology 

SUST 3002: Climate Change and Policy

Climate Change and Policy


This course explores climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective. Topics include mitigation, adaptation, and intervention from the perspectives of public policy, economics, psychology, and public health. Students will learn about climate modeling, green infrastructure, carbon capture and storage, climate justice, and international and multilateral environmental agreements.

Team taught by:

Kathleen Merrigan, Public Policy (Lead Professor)

Bob Perciasepe, President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, C2ES

Janet Peace, Senior Vice President of Policy and Business Strategy, C2ES

SUST 3003: The Sustainable Plate

Sustainable Plate


The course focuses on how our dietary choices affect not only our health but the environment and those involved in the production of food. This class explores the sustainable plate— how does dinner affect the future of the environment, economy, and society— from an interdisciplinary perspective. Food is a topic which can be explored from a variety of fields, from policy to public health and business to international affairs. Note: This course was previously offered as SUST 2003

Team taught by: 

Kathleen Merrigan, Public Policy (Lead Professor) 

José Andrés, Chef/Owner of ThinkFoodGroup

Joseph Glauber, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

David Rain, Geography

Kim Robien, Public Health 

SUST 3096: Directed Research in Sustainability

Directed Research


Students can participate in a directed research project with a GW sustainability faculty member that might include laboratory research, archival work, or literature reviews. Students complete a series of reflection essays and other assignment throughout the semester. Contact the Sustainability Collaborative for more information about current research opportunities.