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Academic Programs:

Sustainable Future Program

The Sustainable Future Program (SFP) consists of a suite of undergraduate courses focused on providing students with the opportunity for interdisciplinary, student-led, community-based, and experiential education focused on sustainability. Courses in the program are open to students from all Faculties.

McMaster developed the Sustainable Future Program for students interested in learning about sustainability while having the opportunity to engage in experiential learning through developing and implementing real-world sustainability initiatives. The Sustainable Future Program (SFP) aims to build reciprocal relationships between students, community members and McMaster University to engage all parties in the journey towards a sustainable future.



The specific objectives of the Sustainable Future Program are as follows:

  • Teach students about sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • Provide the opportunity for self-directed, interdisciplinary and experiential learning.
  • Support student learning within the University and local community.
  • Engage undergraduate students in taking part in meaningful, experiential research.
  • Foster opportunities for students to place local knowledge and local action within a global context.


To promote interdisciplinarity, instructors and teaching assistants come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, course content is pulled and presented to students from multiple perspectives, and strides are taken to ensure a truly interdisciplinary learning environment. One way we provide an interdisciplinary learning environment is through maintaining enrollment caps at the Faculty level to ensure student representation from all Faculties. All courses in the program include an experiential learning project to provide students with the opportunity for self-directed, community-based, and experiential learning. Within the level-three and level-four courses, students work in interdisciplinary groups, with support from a community project champion, to develop and implement a sustainability project. All projects include undergraduate-level research to varying degrees and provide students with opportunities to develop skills and experiences for future academic research, if they choose.

Since launching the first course in the Winter of 2013, which had an enrollment of 97 students, the three Sustain courses supported nearly 300 students in the 2015/16 academic year. By doubling the offering of Sustain 1S03 and adding the fourth course, Sustain 4S06, in 2016/17, Program-wide enrollment is anticipated to reach 500 students per year by 2018/19.


We would like to thank the faculty members, course Teaching Assistants, and community members for supporting student enrolled in the Sustain courses as well as for supporting continuous course and Program development. Our sincerest appreciation extends to the hundreds of students who have contributed by taking courses and providing feedback for continuous improvement. We would also like to extend a special thanks to the Faculty of Engineering and Engineering & Society Program for providing guidance and administrative support for the Sustainable Future Program.


Sustain 1S03

Introduce to Sustainability

An introduction to sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective which examines the historical and societal lenses through which sustainability is viewed. Students will learn terminology, theories and concepts to effectively communicate across disciplines and on various topics of sustainability.

  • Offered first and second term
  • One three-hour lecture
  • One one-hour tutorial
  • Prerequisite(s): Registration in Level I or above.

Sustain 2S03

Evaluating Problems and Sustainable Solutions

Students will learn how to identify problems and evaluate sustainable solutions to societal problems from an interdisciplinary perspective. The course will involve active experiential learning which emphasizes actions on local projects.

  • Offered second term
  • One three-hour lecture
  • One one-hour tutorial
  • Prerequisite(s): Sustain 1S03 or permission of the instructor

Sustain 3S03

Implementing Sustainable Change*

Exploring agency, leadership, and strategy effectiveness within the context of sustainability. The course will include interdisciplinary perspectives, experiential learning and community engagement projects.

  • Offered first term
  • One three-hour lecture
  • One one-hour tutorial
  • Prerequisite(s): Sustain 2S03 or permission of the instructor

*Previously Sustain 3A03 - Societal Tools for Systemic Sustainable Change

Sustain 4S06

A/B – Leadership in Sustainability

Final-year course where students gain leadership skills and apply them by working in interdisciplinary teams to develop and implement a sustainability-focused project within the community.

  • Full year course (Sept – May)
  • One three-hour lecture
  • Prerequisite(s): Sustain 3S03 or permission of the instructor

Request for Course Exception

SUSTAIN 2S03: Evaluating Problems and Sustainable Solutions, SUSTAIN 3S03: Implementing Sustainable Change and SUSTAIN 4S06 A/B: Leadership in Sustainability are offered as part of the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability. These courses assume a foundation in interdisciplinary teamwork, project management, community engagement, and personal reflection. Students who have not taken the prerequisite courses should anticipate additional work to account for this. Please refer to the course syllabus posted on to review the course-specific overview and learning outcomes.

Students wishing to enrol in Sustain 2S03, Sustain 3S03 or Sustain 4S06 A/B, but who do not meet the prerequisites, are encouraged to apply for course exception. We recommend that applications for course exception be submitted by August 1st. You will be contacted via email once your application has been reviewed.

Additional Resources:

McMaster 2013 Sustainability Annual Report

More information about the development of the ASP can be found on pages 6 and 7

View Report