- Graduate Programs
Ph.D. in Sustainability Science
Sustainability Science is a new concentration within the Integrated & Applied Sciences Ph.D. program. It is a research-intensive program with an emphasis in specific concentrations of the student's primary advisor.
Students must select and be selected by an advisor and must have a funding plan approved before they are admitted to the program. Faculty participants come from the social and biophysical sciences across campus.
Never before has society known with such precision the severity of unsustainability. Sustainability science represents a shift in science education in which science is expected to contribute to addressing society's most pressing problems. It is an intellectual practice that seeks to address problems of environmental, social, and intergenerational justice.
The National Academy of Sciences defines sustainability science as "an emerging field of research dealing with the interactions between natural and social systems, and with how those interactions affect the challenge of sustainability: meeting the needs of present and future generations while substantially reducing poverty and conserving the planet's life support systems."1
Sustainability science is a future-oriented field of study that critically engages the sciences toward purposeful inquiry. The heart of applied science is for its practice and products to be meaningful—salient, credible, and legitimate2—to decision makers, stakeholders, and the public. Usable knowledge requires a rich integration of the biophysical sciences with the social, political, and behavioral sciences to ensure that the supply of science meets the demands of diverse audiences. Its inquiry is transdisciplinary, recognizing that useable knowledge for solving problems exists both within and outside of university walls. Under this concentration, student research engages complex systems thinking to effect transformational change.3