Why should anyone care about sustainability?

Why should anyone want to take courses in sustainability studies?

Good questions! If you care about increasing the well-being of people and their communities, and creating healthy economies and environments, then you care about the issues of Sustainability Studies. If you want to understand what major challenges face humans in the future and how we can all confront and overcome them, then the sustainability studies courses are for you!

In short, the RWU Sustainability Studies program is for any student interested in helping make the world a better place: from local to global scales, including its environments and human commnities, using science, art, technology and many other approaches. If you care about helping people, engaging in your community, and conserving biodiversity and wild places, then you already care about sustainability studies. Declaring a minor or core concentration and taking the SUST courses will deepen your understanding of complex socio-economic-environmental systems and help you develop the skills needed to help improve them, no matter what your future career plans are. All majors have a connection to SUST, and working toward sustainability requires expertise from people from all backgrounds. In addition, learning more about issues of sustainability, and how to live a more sustainable life, will help all of us as indivduals and citizens save resources and money while we improve our personal happiness and well-being.

Here's how some of our students and faculty answer the question "Why SUST?"

"Studying sustainability is important so that we can understand how all animate and non-animate beings in the biosphere are interconnected, and learn about ways to interact with our natural environment that would be beneficial not only for us, but for all other life forms as well."

-Nermin Kura, Professor of Art and Architectural History


tim_pranaitis"The Sustainability Studies program at RWU has allowed me to better understand how the environment is impacted by the decisions that we make on a daily basis from a qualitative and quantitative point of view. I feel that the Sustainability courses I have taken enhanced my architecture degree and have made me a more well-rounded student. My future career aspirations involve sustainable residential architecture, and the knowledge that I have gained from this program has only inspired me more to reach my goal!"

-Tim Pranaitis, Architecture, Class of 2014



“SUST provides a way of understanding that humans are part of larger systems on the planet — systems that were here before we arrived and that will be here long after we are gone.  Students exploring the complex interactions between these systems from multiple perspectives (the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities) are enriching their own education in order to ensure a better future for all."

-Meg Case, Associate Professor of English



"In a world that is constantly changing, practicing sustainability helps provide us with an environment that produces basic human necessities like water, energy, food, and materials. Understanding sustainability gives you an advantage in any field because it allows you to make decisions that will benefit future generations and keep the environment from deteriorating more than it already has."

-Katie Nolan, Environmental Science, Class of 2013



"Sustainability is the way of securing our future; without increasing sustainable practices we will suffer from an environment that is detrimental to our health. It is up to us to take action and make our way of living more sustainable, no matter the sacrifice. For example, we must engineer our buildings to be more sustainable now to reduce problems for future generations."

-Connor Szczepanek, Construction Management, Class of 2015



"When it comes to sustainability, good intensions are not enough. To truly make a difference, an organization needs to bake sustainability into its corporate DNA. Doing that requires both the people and the will to integrate sustainability into the strategic thinking process to help drive opportunity, innovation and success."

-Kathy Micken, Professor of Marketing



"Some people may think “sustainability” is just the latest buzzword, but it is so much more than that. Sustainability is our insurance for the future. It is a multi-dimensional strategy that, if enacted properly, can bring communities, cities, and entire governments into the 21st century with strong economic, environmental, social, and equality morals. We’re facing incredible opportunities right now to transition to a sustainability-based planet, and we should seize them with every chance we get."

-Alexandra Isham, Architecture, Class of 2013



"Sustainability and historic preservation share the very same goals—a space defined by the nexus of social, economic, and environmental concerns. For historic preservation and so many other fields, the lens of sustainably furthers our common cause by being grounded in a strong, transdisciplinary foundation guided by research and principles of equity and responsibility. For sustainability, historic preservation’s adage, 'The greenest building [and community] is the one that’s already built,' is coupled with tools and techniques to help guide professional and stakeholder efforts to improve our communities."
-Philip Marshall, Professor of Historic Preservation


caitlin"Sustainability studies exists to open our eyes to the Earth's dwindling limited resources that are available to us. Things we use every day could disappear if we do not pay attention to how much we are using and work to conserve them. This is a time-limited project; either we take steps now or suffer the consequences later. Learning about sustainability also opens our eyes to ways to fix the environmental damage we have caused and prevent more resource-related problems." 

-Caitlin Shanahan, Marine Biology, Class of 2017