Sustainability studies

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Sustainability studies focuses on the interdisciplinary perspective of the sustainability concept. Programs include instruction in sustainable development, geography, environmental policies, ethics, ecology, landscape architecture, city and regional planning, economics, natural resources, sociology, and anthropology. [1] Sustainability studies also focuses on the importance of climate change, poverty and development. [2] Studies in Sustainability are now available in many different universities across America. The main goal of sustainability studies is for students to find ways to develop creative solutions to the crisis in environmental sustainability. [3]


The shift towards sustainability

Towards the end of 1980s a new focus emerged in the global sphere in which a focus on the environment and ecological sustainability emerged. In 1987 the Brundtland Report was delivered by the World Commission on Environment and Development. [4] The commission was appointed to examine the consequences of global environmental change and was chaired by Norway’s Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland. [5] It introduced the concept of sustainable development, which it defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. [6] This report started a paradigm shift in which global actors soon began to engage in initiatives that vowed to focus on sustainable development.

Infographic of world energy consumption by fuel. World-energy-consumption-by-fuel-projections-1990---2035-USDOE-IEA-2011.png
Infographic of world energy consumption by fuel.

Five years after the report was launched the UN Earth’s Summitt in Rio adopted the Framework Convention on Climate Change. [5] Five years later this policy developed into the creation of the Kyoto Protocol, a plan in which rich nations pledged to reduce carbon emissions. [5] All countries that partook in the UNFCCC also signed onto the Kyoto Protocol. Unfortunately progress towards sustainability stalled when the Kyoto Protocol was never ratified by the United States, and other nations consequently ignored their pledges to the agreement. [5]

Recently, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that says “urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target” of keeping the global temperature at moderate levels. [7] They state that countries MUST follow the Paris Agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius, otherwise the earth faces the complete eradication of corals and the melting of the Arctic ice caps. [7] The Panel continues to explain that a rise in temperatures would also trigger catastrophic results in the form of intense natural disasters, unpredictable weather, and food shortages.  In order to prevent this outcome governments would need to require a “supercharged roll-back of emissions courses that have built up over the past 250 years.” [7] In order to do so developments in land use and technological changes are necessary. Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 and come down to 0 by 2050. [7] Although this would require carbon prices to be three to four times higher, the consequences of global warming at this rate would be far more severe. The world is currently on course to reaching 3 degrees Celsius of global warming, and scientists have 12 years to impose significant changes to prevent this from happening. [7] This shift towards environmental protection demands for a workforce that is more heavily dedicated to studying sustainable development. Individuals studying sustainable development will likely be focused on reducing the climate in which catastrophic global warming would take place.

Careers in sustainability studies

Sustainability studies is a degree which emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach. Since it covers a wide variety of topics from multiple perspectives, it can lead into multiple avenues for a future career such as:

The salary range for a professional involved in sustainability studies is based on the average salaries of those involved in engineering and environmental sciences. [8] This starting salary ranged from 75 000 on the low end, to 93 000. [8] Chief sustainability executives can earn an average of 167 000. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

Kyoto Protocol international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

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The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992 and opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. It then entered into force on 21 March 1994, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified it. The UNFCCC objective is to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". The framework sets non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries and contains no enforcement mechanisms. Instead, the framework outlines how specific international treaties may be negotiated to specify further action towards the objective of the UNFCCC.

This glossary of climate change is a list of definitions of terms and concepts relevant to climate change, global warming, and related topics.

Climate change mitigation Actions to limit the magnitude of climate change and its impact on human activities

Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit the magnitude or rate of global warming and its related effects. This generally involves reductions in human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

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Global warming Current rise in Earths average temperature and its effects

Global warming is the ongoing rise of the average temperature of the Earth's climate system and has been demonstrated by direct temperature measurements and by measurements of various effects of the warming. It is a major aspect of climate change which, in addition to rising global surface temperatures, also includes its effects, such as changes in precipitation. While there have been prehistoric periods of global warming, observed changes since the mid-20th century have been unprecedented in rate and scale.

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Climate change in New Zealand Effects of climate change in Aotearoa New Zealand

Climate change in New Zealand refers to historical changes in the climate of New Zealand and New Zealand's contribution and response to global warming. In 2014, New Zealand contributed 0.17 per cent to the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. However, on a per capita basis, New Zealand is a significant emitter - the 21st highest contributor in the world and fifth highest within the OECD.

2008 United Nations Climate Change Conference international climate change conference in Poznań, Poland in December 2008

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Although it is a worldwide treaty, the Kyoto Protocol has received criticism.

Paris Agreement 2016 international agreement concerning global warming

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2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference international climate change conference in Durban, India in November–December 2011

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Territorialisation of Carbon Governance (ToCG) is a concept used in political geography or environmental policy which is considered to be a new logic of environmental governance. This method creates carbon-relevant citizens who become enrolled in the process of governing the climate. The territorialisation of carbon governance transforms climate change from a global to local issue. It embodies political practices that serve to connect the causes and consequences of global climate change to local communities.

2013 United Nations Climate Change Conference international climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland in November 2013

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2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference international climate change conference in Lima, Peru in December 2014

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The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C (SR15) was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on 8 October 2018. The report, approved in Incheon, South Korea, includes over 6,000 scientific references, and was prepared by 91 authors from 40 countries. In December 2015, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference called for the report. The report was delivered at the United Nations' 48th session of the IPCC to "deliver the authoritative, scientific guide for governments" to deal with climate change.


  1. Detail for CIP Code 30.3301, Title: Sustainability Studies.. Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. Accessed 10 May 2011
  2. "Compare 85 Masters Programs in Sustainability Studies". MASTERSTUDIES.COM. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  3. Cohen, Steven. "The Growing Field of Sustainability Studies". HuffPost . Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  4. "History and Sustainability". Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "The paradigm shift towards sustainability must go ahead at full speed". D+C. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  6. Du Pisani, Jacobus A. (June 2006). "Sustainable development – historical roots of the concept". Environmental Sciences. 3 (2): 83–96. doi:10.1080/15693430600688831. ISSN   1569-3430.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Watts, Jonathan (2018-10-08). "We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  8. 1 2 3 "What is a Sustainability Studies Major and is it Right for Me? | Career Advice & Interview Tips | WayUp Guide". Career Advice & Interview Tips | WayUp Guide. 2017-07-31. Retrieved 2018-12-03.