Academic Sustainability
Programs Office

Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability:

Choose from over 73 courses from faculties across campus to gain a truly interdisciplinary perspective of sustainability. Learn more by reviewing the Course List (right) and Requirements (below) for more information.

The following courses have been newly added to the Minor Course List: ART 3DP3 (dean’s permission, 2019/2020), CHEM 2SC3 (dean’s permission, 2019/2020), SUSTAIN 2SS3.

Starting The following courses have been removed from the Minor Course List and can no longer be used towards an Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability. ANTHROP 2EO3, BIOLOGY 2F03, ENGINEER 4A03, PHILOS 2B03.

Students who have taken ANTHROP 2EO3, BIOLOGY 2F03, or PHILOS 2B03 in 2018/2019 or before, can still count those units towards their Minor in Sustainability. 

Students who have taken ENGINEER 4A03 in 2020/2021 or before can still count those units towards their Minor in Sustainability.



Addressing sustainability in our society poses interdisciplinary challenges that require interdisciplinary solutions. McMaster created the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability with the goal to develop student’s interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of sustainability. In selecting our course list we have adopted AASHE’s definitions below:

Sustainability-focused courses concentrate on the concept of sustainability, including its social, economic, and environmental dimensions, or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens. 

Sustainability-related courses incorporate sustainability as a distinct course component or module or concentrate on a single sustainability principle or issue.¹ 


To achieve this goal (see above), the Minor provides a path for students to study diverse aspects of sustainability by taking courses from different faculties and integrating them into a cohesive whole. The specific objectives of the Minor are as follows:

  • Promote engagement among students, faculty, and staff across the University, facilitating interdisciplinary learning.
  • Offer a wide selection of courses to enable students to choose the sustainability emphasis that is right for them and to pursue courses that will further their individual learning objectives.
  • Provide opportunities to meaningfully engage with communities both within and outside of McMaster.
  • Encourage opportunities for student experiential learning about sustainability.


Through the development and implementation of McMaster’s Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability, students are now able to choose from over 73 courses from faculties across campus to gain a truly interdisciplinary perspective of sustainability as well as tailor a minor that compliments their major. In five years of operation, 115 students have declared an Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability.


The Minor would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of the past and current members of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability Committee; the Arts & Science Program for providing an administrative home for the Minor; the faculty members who have opened up their courses for inclusion and helped communicate the Minor; the staff members, including academic advisors, who have provided advice and guidance throughout; and the dozens of students who have shown their support by taking the Minor and working with us through its development.


24 units total

No more than 6 units from Level 1 courses

3 units from SUSTAIN courses

Any 3 units from the following list of SUSTAIN courses may count towards this requirement:

SUSTAIN 1S03 – Introduction to Sustainability;

SUSTAIN 2S03 – Evaluating Problems & Sustainable Solutions;

SUSTAIN 3S03 – Implementing Sustainable Change;

SUSTAIN 4S06 – Leadership in Sustainability

21 units from Course List

Selected from two or more Faculties as outlined by the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability Course list in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Any cross-listed course between two or more Faculties and those of interdisciplinary programs will be counted as a course outside of the student’s home Faculty. ENVIRSC and EARTHSC courses are administered by the Faculty of Science. GEOG  courses will be considered as Faculty of Social Science courses.

Sustain courses do not count towards units outside a student’s home Faculty.


Student requests for course substitution can be completed using the request template and sent to Minor Committee Co-Chair Kate Whalen at The Request for Course Substitution template can be found at the appropriate tab above.

  1. Students should note that not all courses listed are available each year. As well, it is the student’s responsibility to check carefully for prerequisites, co-requisites and enrolment restrictions.
  2. Students are strongly encouraged to seek guidance from their academic advisor to ensure they are meeting all enrolment requirements, including Faculty-specific requirements for double counting courses required for a student’s major.
  3. All courses have enrolment capacities. The Faculty cannot guarantee enrolment in courses for minors, even when prerequisites have been met.
  4. ENVIRSC and EARTHSC courses are administered by the Faculty of Science.
  5. GEOG courses will be considered as Social Sciences courses


Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of the Committee are as follows:

  • Establish goals for the development and enhancement of the Minor and report annually on progress made
  • Promote the Minor, including Sustain 1S03 and other courses on the Minor Course List
  • Advise on the administrative processes involved, such as course exception process, course list, requirements, etc.
  • Consult with Faculty colleagues on the course list and other administrative aspects
  • Approve the course list, specifically for courses under each member’s home Faculty. Offer insight on courses outside home Faculty.
  • Provide pan-campus perspective as it relates to development and management of the Minor

Guiding Principles

McMaster’s Minor in Sustainability is guided by the following principles:

  • Provide students with foundational sustainability knowledge
  • Create a consciousness and respect for the diversity of sustainability perspectives held in different Faculties
  • Ensure an interdisciplinary educational experience
  • Encourage and support student-directed learning
  • Complement existing McMaster educational offerings while avoiding redundancy
  • Ensure inter-Faculty equity, including student accessibility

Meeting Frequency

Twice annually in July and November  

Membership – 2019/2020

Member Faculty Department Contact Information
Kate Whalen, Co-Chair   Academic Sustainability Programs Office
Brent McKnight, Co-Chair Business Strategic Management
Rebecca Bishop, Program Administrator Arts & Science Arts & Science
John Maclachlan Arts & Science Arts & Science
Dean Mountain  Business  Finance and Business Economics 
Cam Churchill Engineering Civil Engineering
Carlos Filipe Engineering Chemical Engineering
Stacey Ritz Health Sciences Health Sciences
Judy Major-Girardin Humanities School of the Arts
Susie O’Brien Humanities English and Cultural Studies
Luc Bernier Science Geography and Earth Sciences
Chad Harvey Science Integrated Science (iSci) Program
Maureen Padden Science Geography and Earth Sciences
Shanti Morell-Hart Social Science Anthropology

Sandra Preston

Social Science Social Work
Aubrey Cannon Social Science  Anthropology

Student Sub-Committee

Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of the Student Committee are as follows:

  • Promote the Minor and increase student awareness about the Minor
  • Provide opportunities to meaningfully engage with the McMaster community
  • Encourage opportunities for student experiential learning about sustainability
  • Increase enrollment in SUSTAIN classes 
  • Increase engagement on social media

Meeting Frequency

Weekly meetings from September to April. 


Membership – 2019/2020




Contact Information

Kate Whalen

Student Committee Liaison

Academic Sustainability Programs Office

Abbie Little

Student Committee Coordinator

Academic Sustainability Programs Office

Baraneza Pirabagaran  Student Member Humanities N/A
Grace Kuang Student Member Health Sciences N/A
Titi Huynh Student Member Social Sciences N/A
Maria Huicochea Munoz Student Member Health Sciences N/A

Andres Nagy-Osa

Student Member

Environmental Science


Shunmathi Shanmugam

Student Member

Arts & Science


Lindsay Lee

Student Member



Request for Course Substitution

Students wishing to have a sustainability-related course, which is not currently on the Sustainability Minor Course List, and have it count towards their minor are encouraged to email Kate Whalen, Senior Manager of Academic Sustainability Programs and Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability (, with the following information:

  • Your Name:
  • Your Home Faculty:
  • Your Program of Study and Level:
  • Faculty (of the course you are submitting the request for):
  • Program (of the course you are submitting the request for):
  • Course Code and Title:
  • Course Outline (link or attach a copy):
  • Name and Email of Course Instructor (who taught when you took the course):
  • Have you had any other courses approved for substitutions?
  • If yes, please list using Course Code and Title:
  • Name of the academic advisor you have been working with in your home Faculty, if appropriate. If you haven’t been working with a specific advisor, that’s fine too.
  • A key objective of the minor is to enable students to select from a diverse list of courses in order to tailor a minor to suit their unique passions and interest in sustainability. Please describe how this course, and/or what you have done in this course, contributes to your learning about sustainability and your sustainability minor. Your request will be reviewed by the minor committee and students can expect a response within approximately 1-2 weeks. The requirements for the Minor in Sustainability can be found here.

Additional Resources:

2020/21 Course Calendar

Minor in Sustainability can be found within the 2020/21 Course Calendar, under the heading of Interdisciplinary Minors
Resource Link

Requirements for IBH Students

Requirements for students in McMaster’s Integrated Business and Humanities program

Download PDF 

Info for CityLAB Students

Guidance for Semester in Residence Students

Download PDF  

Why Study Sustainability

Complement your major with an Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability
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