Learn how to speak up and create meaningful change, from personal behavior to scientific understanding to economic policy.

Sustainability students at Wells become familiar with the challenges and needs facing cultures worldwide, and they take an active role in making necessary changes within their own community—while building the skills to become valuable and successful advocates no matter what their chosen career.

plant and notebook
students on autumn path
student studying with laptop

This program is currently available as a major or a minor.

Applied Expertise

Sustainability is a highly interdisciplinary field—meaning that it brings together knowledge, methods, information and strategies from different academic areas. The result is a student who gains a clear understanding of how to work with others in a variety of situations in order to encourage more informed, sustainable decisions. The primary areas of focus are environmental science, economics, and a mixture of the social sciences that brings together factors such as social justice, human behavior, and sociological and multicultural differences.

Practical Courses

In introductory sustainability classes, you'll build an informed, personal viewpoint. How do the issues impact you? What is your carbon footprint now? 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. 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 makes people tick and how you can encourage them to "tick differently." We've seen the impact of student projects related to food waste composting, recycling, water use and energy conservation on campus, and more. Students find ways to get engaged, make a difference in their community, and work with faculty and administrators to find solutions that make sense.

At Wells, the 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.

Learning from Others

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 develop your skills working alongside others within an organization and getting involved with service projects, volunteer opportunities, and other outreach efforts.

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 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.

Internships and Hands-on Work

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. Wells students have recently held internships with:

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

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.

The Wells community welcomes 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.

"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
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

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


Last spring, Wells received a silver rating on our first Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) evaluation, created by the...


Wells College is pleased to once again host events for the Peachtown Native American Festival and Education Series, taking place September 19 to...

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!


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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