Minor in Environment and Sustainability

Open to all MIT undergraduates in any major, the Environment and Sustainability Minor (E&S Minor) offers students the opportunity to apply their STEM and major-course knowledge to some of the most critical and challenging problems facing humanity. The minor equips students with interdisciplinary knowledge and real-world experience needed to understand, diagnose, and develop solutions to complex problems faced by society as it strives for social and environmental sustainability. Students tailor their MIT education to their professional goals, preparing to apply the principles of sustainability in diverse workplace contexts, including business/industry, government, civil society, and academia.

The E&S Minor combines a wide range of fields of inquiry to directly engage environmental and climate challenges facing ecosystems and populations around the globe. Fundamentally, these challenges affect both human systems and the earth systems on which we depend. Planetary challenges include climate change, risks to oceans and forests, degradation to both biodiversity and material resources, and fundamental transformations of biogeochemical cycles. Challenges facing society include widespread and intransigent environmental injustice, expanding urban and agricultural pollution, technological and economic lock-in of infrastructure and all manner of production and consumption systems, and a global dependence on carbon intensive energy.

The minor prioritizes integrative, interdisciplinary learning that is critical for effectively understanding and addressing the complexities of environmental issues today and in the future, and is structured on four pillars: Earth Systems and Climate Science, Environmental Governance, Environmental Histories and Cultures, and Engineering for Sustainability. Upon completion of the minor, students will have achieved learning outcomes in seven categories: Systems Thinking; Sustainable Design Skills; Applied Sustainable Solutions; Know Your Planet; Social Context; Ethical Decision-making; and Impactful Communication. 

The E&S Minor is comprised of five to six subjects, for a minimum of 57 units:

  • One foundational subject (12.387[J] People and the Planet: Environmental Governance and Science)
  • Subjects in two core required areas of study: 1) Context and Perspective and 2) Sustainable Solutions
  • 24 units of elective subjects, reflecting the student's particular interests.
Environment and Sustainability Foundation
12.387[J]People and the Planet: Environmental Governance and Science9
Context and Perspective
Select one of the following: 1,2,312
Global Climate Policy and Sustainability
Planetary Change and Human Health
Environmental Struggles
Environment and History
Nature and Environment in China
US Environmental Governance: from National Parks to the Green New Deal
Sustainable Solutions
Select one of the following: 1,2,312
Tools for Sustainable Design
D-Lab: Design
D-Lab: Development
D-Lab: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
D-Lab: Water, Climate Change, and Health
Select a minimum of 24 units from the categories below: 1,2,324
Engineering for a Sustainable World
Climate Change
Traveling Research Environmental eXperience (TREX): Fieldwork
Design for Complex Environmental Issues 4
New England Coastal Ecology
Materials for Energy and Sustainability
Solving Complex Problems 4
Nature's Sandbox: The History of Ancient Environments, Climate, and Life
Engagement and Discovery Through the Terrascope Field Experience 4
Terrascope Radio 4
Majors and Careers Through a Terrascope Lens 4
Applied Problem Solving
Startup Sustainable Tech
Senior Civil and Environmental Engineering Design
Engineering Sustainability: Analysis and Design
Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Design II
Environmental Chemistry Laboratory
Designing for the Future: Earth, Sea, and Space
Introduction to Energy in Global Development
Disaster Resilient Design
D-Lab Schools: Building Technology Laboratory
Design of Sustainable Polymer Systems
Urban and Environmental Technology Implementation Lab
Infrastructure Design for Climate Change
Weather and Climate Laboratory
Experimental Atmospheric Chemistry
D-Lab: Supply Chains
Nuclear Systems Design Project
Economic and Global Systems
Environmental Policy and Economics
Economics of Energy, Innovation, and Sustainability
Energy Economics and Policy
System Dynamics: Tools for Solving Complex Problems
Technology and the Global Economy, 1000-2000
Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development
Energy x Sustainability
Materials Science and Engineering of Clean Energy
Continuous Flow Chemistry: Sustainable Conversion of Reclaimed Vegetable Oil into Biodiesel
Physics of Energy
A Philosophical History of Energy
Foundational Analyses of Problems in Energy and the Environment
Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion
Introduction to Sustainable Energy
Energy Systems for Climate Change Mitigation
Ethics and Just Futures
Ethics for Engineers
Environmental Justice: Law and Policy
Food, Culture, and Politics
Social Problems of Nuclear Energy
Good Food: The Ethics and Politics of Food
Being, Thinking, Doing (or Not): Ethics in Your Life
Energy, Environment, and Society
Science Activism: Gender, Race, and Power
Gender, Race, and Environmental Justice
Life and Ecology
Earth's Microbiomes
Fundamentals of Ecology
Geobiology: History of Life on Earth
The Anthropology of Biology
Materials and Material Culture
Mechanics of Materials
Industrial Ecology of Materials
Materials in Human Experience
Sustainable Chemical Metallurgy
The Ancient Andean World
Ancient Mesoamerican Civilization
Design: The History of Making Things
Media, Communications, and Literature
The Wilds of Literature
Writing and Rhetoric: Food for Thought
Science Writing and New Media: Writing and the Environment
Writing about Nature and Environmental Issues
Transmedia Art, Extraction, and Environmental Justice
Reading Climate Through Media
Science Communication: A Practical Guide
Negotiations, Politics, and Policy
Methods of Policy Analysis
The Art and Science of Negotiation
Science, Politics, and Environmental Policy
Sustainability: Political Economy, Science, and Policy
Making Public Policy
Science, Technology, and Public Policy
Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Control
Regulation of Chemicals, Radiation, and Biotechnology
Global Environmental Negotiations
Planet Earth and Climate Science
Transport Processes in the Environment
Transport Processes in the Environment I
Global Change Science
Environmental Chemistry
Air Pollution and Atmospheric Chemistry
Introduction to Geology
Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science
Introduction to Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics
Earth Science, Energy, and the Environment
Modeling Environmental Complexity
Geochemistry of Natural Waters
Climate Science
Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry
Mechanisms and Models of the Global Carbon Cycle
Elements of Modern Oceanography
The History of Earth's Climate
Fluid Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Ocean
Nonlinear Dynamics: The Natural Environment
The Built Environment
The Once and Future City
Environmental Technologies in Buildings
Modeling Urban Energy Flows for Sustainable Cities and Neighborhoods
The Economic Approach to Cities and Environmental Sustainability
Big Plans and Mega-Urban Landscapes
Decarbonizing Urban Mobility
Behavioral Science, AI, and Urban Mobility
Urban Energy Systems and Policy
Total Units57

See the Environment & Sustainability Minor website for potential elective and core subject substitutions or additions.


Not all subjects in the E&S Minor are offered every academic year, and some have prerequisites that are outside of the E&S Minor program. Please visit the MIT Subject Listing for a current and comprehensive list of offered classes.


If a subject is counted towards a core area of study, it cannot also count as an elective.


Up to two Terrascope subjects may count towards the E&S Minor.

A minimum of four subjects (or 48 units) taken for the Environment and Sustainability minor cannot also count toward a student's major or other minor. In other words, only one subject that counts toward a student’s major or other minor degree may also count toward the E&S Minor elective requirement.

There are no restrictions on the number of subjects that may count towards a student's HASS Concentration and the E&S Minor. A student may petition to have a subject that is not listed on the electives listing count towards the E&S Minor.

For more information, contact Sarah Meyers, Education Program Manager at the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) or visit the ESI education website.