Signature Courses

GW offers a suite of signature courses under the Office of the Provost. These courses are team-taught by faculty from several schools and deliver a comprehensive understanding of sustainability concepts. Students from any school and major may take these courses.

SUST 1001: Introduction to Sustainability

The concept of sustainability is both broad and specific as it is applied to areas ranging from social systems to law, engineering, public health, and natural systems. The course considers goals, principles, and practical applications, with a multidisciplinary perspective on major environmental and social issues growing out of these concerns. The course is structured around the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SUST 1001 is a requirement for the minor.

Team taught by:

  • Tara Scully, Biology (Lead Professor)
  • Lisa Benton-Short, Geography
  • Peter LaPuma, Public Health
  • Lee Paddock, Law
  • Michael Svoboda, University Writing
  • Adele Ashkar, Sustainable Landscapes
  • Sean Cleary, Public Health
  • Christopher Klemek, History


Read Professors Melissa Keeley and Lisa Benton-Short's reflections on team teaching an interdisciplinary course.

SUST 2002: The Sustainable City

This course explores the connection between cities and sustainability.  We consider sustainability from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives and examine some of the most pressing and critical issues that must be addressed in order to create a sustainable city. Central to this course is a focus on Washington, D.C.  Ultimately, this course is concerned with how the future of cities and the quality of life for those who live there can be improved through sustainable urban development projects and policy.

Team taught by:

  • Melissa Keeley, Geography (Lead Professor)
  • Lisa Benton-Short, Geography
  • Royce Francis, Engineering Management & Systems Engineering
  • Chris Leinberger, School of Business
  • Greg Squires, Sociology

SUST 3096: Research in Sustainability

This course is structured with content and research experience on a faculty-chosen topic. Students will learn to integrate sustainability principles in directed research, using appropriate methodologies and theories. The course is designed to promote reasoning and reflective practice, to transmit the values and beliefs that enable the application of ethics related to sustainability, and to develop and expand research and writing skills in regards to the practice of sustainability. SUST 3096 fulfills the experiential learning requirement for the minor. 

Team taught by:

  • Royce Francis, Engineering Management & Systems Engineering (Lead Professor)
  • Amanda Northcross, Environmental and Occupational Health

SUST 3097: The Culminating Experience in Sustainability

A key piece of GW’s Sustainability Minor is the Culminating Experience, which is based in experiential learning. The Culminating Experience provides students with an opportunity to apply what they learned through their sustainability-related coursework. Students commit to at least 60 hours of work in addition to attending the Sustainability Practitioner Forums held throughout the semester. The goals of the forums are professional development and building a cohort of sustainability-driven students. Themes of the forums include: career coaching, how to start a start-up, taking the steps to build internships into a job, documentary film-making, sustainable storytelling, nonprofits role in community building, diversity and inclusion, government and private entities moving sustainability forward, and many more. For their final projects, students in this course will share their stories with Planet Forward. SUST 3097 fulfills the experiential learning requirement for the minor. 

Team taught by:

  • Tara Scully, Biology (Lead Professor)
  • Naamal De Silva