Welcome to the undergraduate Sustainability Specialization

at Michigan State University

Launched Fall 2010










About Sustainability


Program Description


Advising Resources

Course Offerings

Status Reports

Sustainability Competencies

·      Competencies with web links

Student Accomplishments

On Campus Sustainability Resources Search Tool




In the News


Conference Presentations













Geoffrey Habron, Ph.D., Director. habrong@msu.edu, 517-432-0073

Nansie Strobel, Administrative Assistant


Office: 524 South Shaw Lane, East Lansing. 48824. Farrall Agricultural Engineering room 230 (at the east end of the hall between the elevator and the large window overlooking the Chemistry Building). 517-432-0073.


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About Sustainability


The idea of sustainability has evolved from the pursuit of ‘sustainable development’. The most visible roots of sustainable development emerge from the 1987 Brundtland Report, “Our Common Future,” which summarized the outcome of the World Commission on Environment and Development formed in 1983. The commission sought to address growing concern "about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development." Sustainability addresses wholeness and balance among a) social equity, b) economic vitality, and c) ecological integrity in order to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987).

In the two decades since the report the idea of sustainability has evolved, deepened, and engaged civil society, the business sector, and government from local to global levels. The emergence of employment web sites dedicated to jobs in sustainability mark the rapid growth of career opportunities.  Programs of study around sustainability continue to emerge with European universities initiating efforts to transcend disciplinary focus and develop programs and degrees that address this more holistic approach of study. Throughout the U.S. a number of colleges and universities offer programs and degrees in sustainability (University of Michigan, Colorado State, Aquinas College, Duke, Portland State University, University of Massachusetts, University of Minnesota, University of New Mexico, University of Texas etc.). In fact, Arizona State opened the first ‘school’ of sustainability in the fall of 2007 providing undergraduate, masters, and doctorate degrees in sustainability.

MSU holds a membership in the  Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), a membership-based association of colleges and universities working to advance sustainability in higher education in the US and Canada. The growth in sustainability across campuses led to the development of the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC). Interest in sustainability also led to development of a peer-reviewed publication, the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education.




Program Description

·      Academic Programs Catalog https://www.reg.msu.edu/AcademicPrograms/ProgramDetail.asp?Program=5333

·      Brochure http://sustainabilityspecialization.msu.edu/sustainability%20brochure%20final%20Print.pdf

·      Visual Graphic

·      Advising Resources

o   Advising Packet

o   Program Completion Steps

o   Required Program Plan Document (Word document)

o   Program Plan example

o   Guide to selecting Competencies

o   Protocol for Submitting Portfolio Evidence

o   Competency Tracking Sheet (Excel)

o   Competency Tracking Summary Table (Word)

·      Status Reports

o   December 2011

o   May 2011




Course Offerings


ACR 187 Introduction to Sustainability

·      Fall 2012,

o   Section 001 Tues and Thurs 10:20-11:40 Brody 175 (30 student limit)

o   Section 002 Tues and Thurs 1-2:20 Berkey 112B (25 student limit)

·      Spring 2013, Mondays and Wednesday 4:10-5:30. Brody 175 (25 student limit)


ACR 387 Sustainabilty Practicum 

·      Fall and spring, arranged hours


ACR 487 Sustainability Portfolio Capstone

·      Fall and spring, arranged hours



Student Accomplishments


April 2012


Congratulations to spring 2012 sustainability specialization graduate Rose Halle (Hospitality Business major) on her new position as assistant event coordinator and sustainability director for Spring Lake Country Club in Spring Lake, Michigan. 


Congratulations to sustainability specialization student Shane Trojanowski (Marketing major) on his recent internship with Michigan Energy Options in East Lansing, Michigan. He will work with homeowners as part of the Outreach Team of the Better Buildings for Michigan program.

January 2012

Congratulations are in order for sustainability specialization student Joe Hagerty (Environmental Economics and Policy) who used his fall 2011 ACR 387 Sustainability Practicum to lead a team effort that successfully procured a grant from MSU's Office of Campus Sustainability on, Harnessing Student Creativity: Reducing Energy Consumption in Campus Buildings.

Congratulations to sustainability specialization student Kelly O'Masta (Psychology) on her new position for her spring 2012 ACR 387 Sustainability Practicum working with Dr. Stan Kaplowitz (Sociology) on a project funded by MSU Office of Campus Sustainability: Increasing Carpooling at MSU

Congratulations to sustainability specialization student Holly Campbell (Packaging) on her new position for her spring 2012 ACR 387 Sustainability Practicum working with (Greater Lansing Food Bank) through an internship with the MSU Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen).

The Garden Project http://www.greaterlansingfoodbank.org/the-garden-project.html

MSU Center for Gender in Global Context - Internships http://gencen.isp.msu.edu/academics/internships.htm



On Campus Sustainability Specialization Resources Search Tool (keywords: sustainability, ecological, social, economic, civic, aesthetic, personal, systems)





In the News

·      September 23, 2010. Professor combines interests to create new specialization. MSU The State News. http://statenews.com/index.php/article/2010/09/professor_combines_interests_to_create_new_specialization

·      July 30, 2010. Greening of the Great Lakes WJR 760 Radio interview

o   http://www.mlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2010/07/msu_unleashes_new_sustainabili.html

o   Hear the interview

·      May 25, 2010. Impact Radio Interview http://sustainabilityspecialization.msu.edu/msu%20impact%20radio%20interview%20may%2025%202010.mp3

·      May 23, 2010. MSU launches sustainability specialization. The State News. Published 05/23  By Meagan Choi. http://statenews.com/index.php/article/2010/05/msu_launches_sustainability_specialization

·      May 19, 2010. MSU News press release on the sustainability specialization. http://news.msu.edu/story/7879/






Habron, G. Competency-based Assessment of Learning About Sustainability. Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State State University. Departmental Seminar. December 2, 2011. (Invited)


Habron, G. Sustainability specialization competency workshop. Curricular Committees: Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture, Agronomy. Iowa State University. December 3, 2011. (Invited)


Geoffrey Habron and Lissy Goralnik. 2011. Assessment of Competency-based Sustainability Learning to Foster Systems Thinking and Critical Thinking. Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) 2011. Pittsburgh Oct. 9-12. 


Geoffrey Habron, Lissy Goralnik, and Laurie Thorp. Blending Boundaries: Competency Based Evidence of Sustainability Learning 10th Annual Lilly–Traverse City Conference on College & University Teaching. Conference Theme: Evidence-Based Learning and Teaching Sub-theme: Promoting Social Responsibility. Traverse City, MI September 23-26, 2010.


Geoffrey Habron, Lissy Goralnik, and Laurie Thorp. Adopting and Adapting Suitable Program Level Sustainability Competencies. AASHE 2010 Conference "Campus Initiatives to Catalyze a Just and Sustainable World" October 10 - 12, 2010 Colorado Convention Center, Denver, Colorado


Habron, G. 2010. Developing Sustainability Competencies: Building Capacity to Get Beyond the Tyranny of ‘Or.’ 16th International Symposium on Society and Resource Management Tyranny of ‘Or’: Conservation or Development? Preservation or Utilization? June 6 - 10, 2010 Corpus Christi, Texas USA http://www.issrm2010.iasnr.org/


Habron, G., Lissy Goralnik, Laurie Thorp, and Terry Link. Developing and assessing sustainability competencies across the curriculum. The 8th Greening of the Campus Conference. Ball State University and American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education. Indianapolis, IN, 20-23 September 2009.






Habron, G., L.Goralnik, and L. Thorp. Embracing the learning paradigm to foster systems thinking. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. Accepted May 2011.






Nejadhashemi, A, L.Wang, J.Andresen, G. Habron, and S. Marquart-Pyatt. 2011. Integrating Key Ecological Health and Social Dimensions in Sustainable Water Resources Management. National Science Foundation, Water Sustainability and Climate. Submitted October 19. $1,498,156


Liu, J., A.Vina, W.J. McConnell, M.D. Kaplowitz, G.B. Habron, L. Thorp, S. Nichols, M. Rey, G. Daily, S. Polasky, Z. Liang. Complex effects of multiple policies on sustainability of ecosystem services and human well-being. National Science Foundation, Partnerships for International Research and Education. Preproposal submitted November. $4M.


Srivastava, Ajit, D. Reinhold, L. Reese, D. Kirk, and G. Habron. Sustainable pathways to cleaner production of food and bioproducts in Latin America. Higher Education for Development (HED), Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), U.S. Department of State, Pathways to Cleaner Production Initiative. Submitted December 14, 2011. $758,965