Sustainability

Put sustainability ideas into action in a dynamic, hands-on bachelor’s degree program that teaches you how to be an agent of change in your community and around the world.

Learn about the challenges and needs facing cultures worldwide and how you can create meaningful change, from personal behavior to scientific understanding to economic policy. The major in sustainability is a highly interdisciplinary program that draws on psychology, economics, anthropology, environmental science, and more. You'll get involved with a variety of hands-on projects related to agriculture, composting, recycling, water use, administrative policy, renewable energy, and sustainable business. Our Center for Sustainability and the Environment also provides guidance and opportunities for diverse connections with the community. At Wells, you'll find an ideal location to pursue your bachelor's degree in sustainability, in the agriculturally-rich Finger Lakes region of New York State. We also practice what we teach. In fact, Wells College recently received recognition from the Princeton Review and the Sierra Club for sustainability practices and education.

plant and notebook
students on autumn path
student studying with laptop

A Look Inside the Sustainability Bachelor’s Degree Program at Wells

Working in small, discussion-based classes and out in the community, you’ll learn to practice your own research and investigate real-world issues. Our introductory sustainability classes teach you to build an informed, personal viewpoint. How do sustainability issues impact you? What is your carbon footprint? What are the things you can change or commit to? Along the way you'll learn more about things like food, energy, water use, consumer habits, environmental toxins, and some of the choices we make that expose us to hazards. You'll learn to write and speak about how to be more mindful and identify alternatives to improve the situation—and to apply these ideas and gain the tools to make more sustainable decisions.

The next step is to take a practical view of social impacts. How can you become a change agent, encouraging sustainability in others as well? Through discussions with classmates and professors, you'll figure out what drives certain behaviors and how you can encourage people to change those behaviors for the better. We've seen the impact of student projects related to food waste composting, recycling, water use and energy conservation on campus, and more. Students in our sustainability bachelor’s degree program find ways to get engaged, make a difference in their community, and work with faculty and administrators to find sustainability solutions that make sense.

At Wells, the undergraduate sustainability curriculum focuses on skill-building and emphasizes the ways that lessons affect daily life. Individuals who can make sustainable change are valuable in any setting, and the knowledge you gain will be a real asset in your career. 

What You’ll Learn as a Sustainability Major

  • How to apply sustainability practices locally, nationally, and globally.
  • How to make balanced, reasoned, ethical decisions based on an understanding of our interdependence upon one another and our natural world.
  • How to work with others in a variety of situations in order to encourage more informed, sustainable decisions. 

Beyond the Classroom: Experiential Learning in the Sustainability Bachelor’s Degree Program

As a sustainability major at Wells, you’ll have many opportunities to gain practical, hands-on experience and put your research into practice as you work toward your bachelor’s degree. We offer a wide variety of internship and study abroad programs that give you the chance to work in the field, make valuable career connections, and create real change. Other experiences offer the chance to get involved with gardening on campus, growing vegetables and herbs for campus meals or plants to be used in the College's paper-making studio. Learn about sustainability in Indigenous cultures during the Peachtown Native American Festival and Education Week, or about the role of food in partnerships with the Sustainable Food Systems minor. Participate in campus clean-ups, volunteer at the nearby SHARE Farm, or learn about new sustainable technologies through field trips. We also welcome new ideas and active participation: if you have an idea for a campus event or a practical program in sustainability, you can make it happen.

Internship and Study Abroad Opportunities

Internships in sustainability provide even more opportunities to work first-hand with those who are helping to make change while also exploring potential career paths and working toward your bachelor’s degree in sustainability. Wells students have recently held internships with:

  • The Aurora Farmer's Market, Aurora, New York
  • The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York
  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Northville, New York
  • African Conservation Experience, Berkeley, California
  • Alpine Environmental Services, Alpine, New York
  • Wolf Mountain Nature Center, Smyrna, New York
  • Revolution Solar, Milford, New York
  • New York State Parks and Recreation, Jamesville, New York

You can also take on sustainability challenges around the world while experiencing new cultures by taking part in one of our many study abroad programs. Learn more about study abroad opportunities at Wells.

Sustainability Clubs and Other Aurora Campus Programs

Student organizations play a large role in campus life at Wells, and sustainability is well represented by the Campus Greens environmental club, FORCES (Friends of Recreation, Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship), and the Greenhouse Club. These groups offer additional opportunities to work alongside others within an organization and get involved with service projects, volunteer opportunities, and other sustainability outreach efforts as you pursue your bachelor’s degree.

The Center for Sustainability and the Environment at Wells provides additional learning opportunities through frequent guest speakers and workshops. Marian Brown, director of the center, organizes the Sustainability Perspectives Series, a series of regular informal presentations and discussions of current research or careers on the forefront of the sustainability field; coordinates the Sustainable Business Series alongside the Sullivan Center for Business and Entrepreneurship; and presents the annual Sustainability Speakers Series featuring a notable expert in environmental issues. In addition to showing the broad range of opportunities open to those with a passion for sustainable change, these events intentionally tie into coursework and topics discussed in the classroom. 

Related Minor Degree Programs

Because the study of sustainability connects to virtually any academic area, it’s an easy program to customize based on your specific interests and career objectives. At Wells, you’ll find a wide variety of minor program options you can choose from to complement your major in sustainability. We also offer a minor in sustainability as well as a minor in sustainable food systems

Career Options for Sustainability Majors

Sustainability strategies are increasingly vital to businesses around the globe: not only to help protect the environment, but to increase profits and manage risks. As a sustainability major at Wells, you’ll learn to help organizations to achieve their goals by ensuring that their business practices are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.

Graduates of our bachelor’s degree program bring specialized knowledge and skills in sustainability to the workplace and will be in demand globally. Sustainability professionals can be business managers, scientists, or engineers, and work in virtually any field.

Current Research in the Sustainability Bachelor of Arts Program

Just as the Sustainability program draws on a broad spectrum academic areas, many of our professors, working in diverse fields, are involved with sustainability-related research. These are just a few examples: 

  • Professor Kent Klitgaard’s primary research interest is ecological economics: conceptualizing the economy as a subsystem of a larger biophysical system.
  • Biology professor Jaclyn Schnurr investigates responses of plants to differing environmental conditions—from the fates of seeds, to the growth and reproduction of adults, as well as the uses of the plants by people.
  • Professor Milene Morfei’s recent research work in the field of psychology focuses on applying psychological concepts to change environmentally destructive behavior and to promote sustainability at Wells College.

Apply Now to Pursue Your Bachelor’s Degree in Sustainability

Take the first step toward earning your bachelor’s degree in Sustainability at Wells College. Apply now.

Request More Information

Ready to learn more about Wells College and our Sustainability Bachelor of Arts program? Request more information. 

"I think Wells does a good job of pulling together people from different backgrounds and communities, and with Wells' small size and cultural diversity, students here easily find and embrace their own niche."

Chris Birch '18
Undeclared Major
Dominic Frongillo
10-21-2015
The Wells College Center for Sustainability and the Environment presents the Fall 2015 Sustainability Speaker Series with Dominic Frongillo. Frongillo's talk, "Turning the Tide: How Young Leaders are Winning...
News: Sustainability
10-27-2016

Wells is pleased to be included in the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges, listed among 361 of the most environmentally responsible...

10-12-2016

Wells College welcomes Laticia McNaughton, a graduate student in the SUNY Buffalo American Studies Department, for a week-long...

Program Faculty
Milene Morfei
Professor of Psychology, Coordinator of the Sustainability Minor
Kent Klitgaard
Professor of Economics
Niamh O'Leary
Professor of Environmental Science
Marian Brown
Director, Center for Sustainability and the Environment
Building Relationships

Even outside the program, you'll find that the Wells community holds a commitment to making a difference in our world. Wells' President Jonathan Gibralter was a charter signatory and member of the 2011-2012 steering committee of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and he recently signed onto the expanded commitment along with 45 other institutional presidents.

Wells College has signed on to the REV Campus Challenge at the  Achiever level. Members at this level formally committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, have dedicated staff focusing on clean energy investments, and engage with the external community to promote clean energy.

Students and staff traveled to last year's Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education conference and presented a poster about campus efforts.

Students operating the campus café and coffee shop The Grind support efforts by encouraging reusable mugs, practicing vermiculture composting with coffee grounds, and more.

These are just a few examples of the projects in place at Wells—with more in development!

Academics

Wells College promises a relevant liberal arts and sciences education. Intellectually challenging. Reinterpreted for today. Classroom teaching combined with hands-on learning. Wells graduates enter the world prepared for successful futures.

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