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Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

    Sustainability minor under development at SSU, classes slated to be available Fall 2022


    Watch out Sonoma State students- a sustainability minor is coming to campus. Two weeks ago, Sonoma State released the Spring 2021 Sustainability Update, which included updates on all projects currently in progress, or on hold, which aim to improve sustainability at SSU.

    One of these projects is a new sustainability minor for students.

    The President’s Sustainability Advisory Council (PSAC) has multiple working groups, each working on a different category of projects. These categories include: Zero-Impact Campus, Regional Resilience, Academic and Student Life, and Strategy, Communication, and Advancement.

    The Academic and Student Life working group is currently working on developing the sustainability minor, and getting it approved by university administration. The group consists of SSU faculty and staff, as well as a student representative, Madison Hayes.

    Mark Perri, the Chair of the Academic and Student Life working group, says that the minor is on track to be completed and approved by May 2022, which would make it available to students starting in Fall 2022.

    Perri says that the purpose of the minor is to give students a chance to focus on sustainability.

    While the minor is still being developed, and plans are subject to change, it is currently set to be 18 units.

    The minor will start with an introductory course that will teach about sustainability. The bulk of the minor will consist of four courses that will go more in-depth about the different types of sustainability, including: the natural environment, economic and social sustainability, as well as equitable and ethical sustainability.

    The minor will conclude with an upper division capstone course, internship, or service learning course. Perri says that students should finish their minor, by doing something to help their community, and apply their learning in the real world.

    There is a strong possibility that the minor will incorporate some courses which are already being offered at SSU.

    Perri is enthusiastic about the minor and said that he, “hopes it is something that draws students to Sonoma State.”

     Justine Law is a faculty member in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies who sits on the President’s Sustainability Advisory Council. Law is a member of the working group that is currently developing the minor.

    Law said that the group is full of members from different departments, with different perspectives on the minor and other projects. She believes that, “what they’re shaping will be stronger because of that.”

    Law stated that the President’s Sustainability Advisory Council, “is committed to recognizing that sustainability is multi-faceted, and exists in different disciplines.”

    Because of this multifaceted nature, it is not yet known which department will house the newly-formed minor, although many departments seem to be well-fitted to do so.

    Both Perri and Law stated that the opportunity will be presented to multiple departments, with Law saying that “all programs should have an equal opportunity to take it on.”

    The idea of sustainability existing as an interdisciplinary concept with applications in more than one area of study will be something that is clearly emphasized in the new minor.

    Law says that she hopes students who complete the minor will, “come away with the critical thinking skills to understand that sustainability isn’t one monolithic thing, there are different forms of sustainability and it’s important to understand the differences,” and added that it is “easy to oversimplify” a concept like sustainability.

    The Academic and Student Life working group has created a survey to gauge interest in the sustainability minor- if you’re interested in the minor, please complete their survey. It can be found at

    In addition to the sustainability minor, the faculty involved in PSAC are working on other exciting projects.

    One of Law’s classes, LIBS 320B: Climate Change and Society, will be following up on a project started by students who took the class last semester- a podcast.

    The podcast called “Climate Change Clapback” was created on Anchor by students, and now streams on Spotify. New episodes will be posted in the coming weeks.

    There will also be a variety of Earth Week events planned by the group.

    Perri says that there will be online activities, talks, and events, that students can engage with in an online format.

    The addition of a sustainability minor to SSU’s catalog of programs will incorporate aspects of various disciplines that will prepare students to use their knowledge in the real world, and put SSU on the map as another California State University that possesses such a program.

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