Sustainability is one of the nine core values of The George Washington University. GW holds a gold ranking from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), in part, due to the hundreds of sustainability-related courses offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Unlike other universities where sustainability may be housed in a single school, the GW vision seeks to be genuinely trans-disciplinary, encompassing related courses from all of GW’s colleges and schools and most departments and programs. This organization of the curriculum encourages students to experiment with interdisciplinary methods and approaches.

Lead sustainability faculty: L. Benton-Short, K. Merrigan, R.Orttung, L. Paddock, D. Rain, M. Svoboda

In addition there are over 300 faculty involved in teaching sustainability related courses. Courses with sustainability content can be found by using the course attribute SUST in course search. 

The GW Sustainability Collaborative offers interdisciplinary team-taught courses on subjects related to sustainability. In addition there are over 350 courses at GW with sustainability related content. The “SUST” attribute has been applied to related courses from all of GW’s colleges and schools and most departments and programs. These courses can be found by searching for the course attribute “SUST.” 

Explanation of Course Numbers

  • Courses in the 1000s are primarily introductory undergraduate courses
  • Those in the 2000–4000s are upper-division undergraduate courses that can also be taken for graduate credit with permission and additional work
  • Those in the 6000s and 8000s are for master’s, doctoral, and professional-level students
  • The 6000s are open to advanced undergraduate students with approval of the instructor and the dean or advising office

SUST 1001. Introduction to Sustainability. 3 Credits.

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 2002. The Sustainable City. 3 Credits.

This course will explore 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.

SUST 2003. The Sustainable Plate. 3 Credits.

The course will focus on how our dietary choices affect not only our health but the environment and those involved in the production of food. In this class we will explore the sustainable plate— how does dinner affect the future of the environment, economy, and society— from an interdisciplinary perspective.

SUST 3002. Climate Change and Policy. 3 Credits.

Climate change from an interdisciplinary perspective. Mitigation, adaptation, and intervention from the perspectives of public policy, economics, psychology, and public health. Climate modeling, green infrastructure, carbon capture and storage, climate justice, and international and multilateral environmental agreements. Recommended background: SUST 1001.

SUST 3095. Sustainability Fieldwork. 0-3 Credits.

Research in the field that might include such efforts as wildlife management, pollution evaluation, or surveys. Students complete a series of reflection essays throughout the semester.

SUST 3096. Research in Sustainability. 1-3 Credits.

Directed research with a GW faculty member or in a study abroad experience that might include laboratory research, archival work, or literature reviews. The faculty member directing the research will assign additional work, such as papers and assigned reading, as appropriate.

SUST 3097. Culminating Experience in Sustainability. 1-3 Credits.

A paid or unpaid internship, directed research, or community service with an organization engaged in one or more of the three major goals of sustainability: economic development, social equality, or environmental protection. Students complete a series of reflection essays and other assignments throughout the semester.​ Prerequisite: SUST 1001.

SUST 3098. Community Service in SUST. 0-3 Credits.

Volunteer service with a nonprofit organization or federal agency working to implement sustainability or sustainability policy. Students complete a series of reflection essays and other assignments throughout the semester. Prerequisites: SUST 1001 and by permission of instructor.