BS in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability

Colorado State University

Date Posted: Aug. 12, 2016
Submitted by: Julian Dautremont-Smith
Sustainability Topic: Curriculum
Content Type: Academic Programs
Program Type: Baccalaureate degree
Completion: 4 years


The major in Ecosystem Science and Sustainability provides a strong scientific foundation in ecosystem ecology integrated with a broad knowledge of the cultural, social, economic, and political issues that are shaping the issue of sustainability. Students in the major learn to integrate science into real-world decision making, with the goal of developing sustainable strategies to maintain ecosystem services around the globe. The program provides students with a broad base of experiential and collaborative learning opportunities, opportunities for research through the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, and the latest scientific knowledge about how organisms interact with their environments to form complex ecosystems.

Students begin their program with core courses that build a strong foundation in the physical and natural sciences. Courses in ecosystem science put that core understanding into the context of natural resources, with coursework in the classroom, laboratory, and field. Capstone courses task groups of students with proposing cutting-edge solutions for sustainability.

Learning Outcomes

Students in the ESS major are learning:

  • How to help people use natural resources in a sustainable way.
  • About environmental change at local and global scales.
  • How they can identify ways people can adapt to change and improve their lives.
  • The amazing connections between different earth system components.
  • How to conduct field work addressing questions important to sustainability.

Upon graduation, students may:

  • Sustainably manage natural resources at city, state, or even global scales.
  • Communicate effectively with decision makers about policy issues.
  • Conduct analyses addressing real-world management questions.
  • Identify ways vegetation, animals, and people may co-exist and adapt to a changing environment.
  • Help identify ways to increase the amount of food grown in a sustainable way.
  • Research new ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Teach elementary and secondary students about sustainability issues.
  • Enter a graduate program well-placed to excel, with a solid undergraduate education.