Academic Sustainability
Programs Office

Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability:

Choose from over 76 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 course(s) are part of the Minor Course List, but are not found within the Course Calendar: ART 3DP3 (dean’s permission, 2019/2020)


The following courses have been removed from the Minor Course List and can no longer be used towards an Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability: ANTHROP 2E03, 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 posts complex challenges that require interdisciplinary solutions. McMaster created the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability with the goal to develop students’ interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of sustainability. The scope and definition of sustainability used for the Minor are guided jointly by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). In selecting our course list we have adopted AASHE’s definitions below:

To count as sustainability-focused, the course title or description must indicate a primary and explicit focus on sustainability as defined by the UN SDGs. This includes:

  • Foundational courses with a primary and explicit focus on sustainability (e.g., Introduction to Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Sustainability Science).
  • Courses with a primary and explicit focus on the application of sustainability within a field (e.g., Architecture for Sustainability, Green Chemistry, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Business).
  • As sustainability is an interdisciplinary topic, such courses generally incorporate insights from multiple disciplines.
  • Courses with a primary and explicit focus on a major sustainability challenge (e.g., Climate Change Science, Environmental Justice, Global Poverty and Development, Renewable Energy Policy). The focus of such courses might be on providing knowledge and understanding of the problems and/or the tools for solving them. 

The course title or description does not have to use the term “sustainability” to count as sustainability-focused if the primary and explicit focus of the course is on the interdependence of ecological and social/economic systems or a major sustainability challenge. If the course title and description do not unequivocally indicate such a focus, but it is evident from the course description or syllabus that the course incorporates sustainability challenges, issues, and concepts in a prominent way, the course may qualify as ‘sustainability-inclusive’.


To achieve our goal of developing students’ interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of sustainability, 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 83 courses from Faculties across campus to gain a truly interdisciplinary perspective of sustainability as well as tailor a minor that complements their major. In seven years of operation, 197 students have graduated with 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.


Note: For the most up-to-date requirements, please visit the link to this year’s course calendar in the top right of this page.

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 2SD3 – Exploring the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals;

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. ENVSOCTY and GEOG courses are counted as Social Sciences 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. ENVSOCTY and GEOG courses are counted 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 – 2020/2021

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

Beth Marquis 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 Earth, Environment & Society
Chad Harvey Science Integrated Science (iSci) Program
Sandra Preston Social Sciences Social Work
Aubrey Cannon Social Sciences  Anthropology

Student Sub-Committee

Roles and Responsibilities

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

  • Promote the Minor and increase student awareness about sustainability education at McMaster
  • Provide opportunities to meaningfully engage with the McMaster community
  • Encourage opportunities for student experiential learning about sustainability

Meeting Frequency

Weekly meetings from September to April. 

Get Involved

To join the Student Sub-Committee, email Abbie at


Membership – 2020/2021




Contact Information

Kate Whalen

Student Committee Liaison

Academic Sustainability Programs Office

Abbie Little

Student Committee Coordinator

Academic Sustainability Programs Office

Cassandra Dumouchel  Student Member Life Science N/A
Fairuz Karim Student Member Science N/A
Fiona Sharpe Student Member Social Sciences N/A
Gabriel Lonuzzo Student Member Engineering N/A

Grace Kuang

Student Member

Health Sciences


Lindsay Lee

Student Member



Madison Hough

Student member



Shunmathi Shanmugam

Student Member

Arts & Science


Yambakam Nyangani

Student Member

Life Science


Lynda Dong

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 ( with the following information:

  • Your Name:
  • Your Home Faculty:
  • Your Program of Study
  • Level of Study:
  • 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.
  • Describe how this course, and/or what you have done in this course, contributes to your learning about sustainability and your sustainability minor. Connecting your learning to one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (see here or here) is encouraged. Additional information on each Sustainable Development Goal can be found by reading the associated Indicators and Targets.

Nominate a Cool Course

We are looking to hear from students about the cool course(s) you’ve taken that counts towards McMaster’s Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability. We want to share your favourites on our social media for others to see! 


Nominated courses must meet the following requirements:

  • Undergraduate course at McMaster
  • Counts towards the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability (see list here)
  • Nominated by a student who has completed the course

Nomination form:

If the course you want to nominate meets the criteria above, and you approve of us sharing the information you provide, please email Abbie Little at your response to the following:

1. Name of professor and course code you are nominating:

2. Write a 1-2 sentence testimonial about why this course is cool and/or how it enhanced your sustainability education:

3. Include your name, faculty, and level of study:

4. Provide us with your Facebook name and/or Instagram handle to be tagged (optional):

5. Provide us with a photo to be included in the post (optional):


After submitting your nomination, our team will connect with the professor and invite them to collaborate on a post by providing some more information about them and their course. Our team will create the social media graphic and content, have it approved by the student and professor, and post it on the @macsustain Instagram and Facebook accounts. 


Additional Resources:

2021/22 Course Calendar

Minor in Sustainability can be found within the 2021/22 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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