Research in Engineering and Aviation

An Interdisciplinary Master of Sustainability

June 2012

Author(s)Gharabagi, R., H.S. Mallikarjuna, D. Webb

“An Interdisciplinary Master of Sustainability” ASEE Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX, June 2012.


A two year interdisciplinary Master of Sustainability program integrates knowledge on sustainable business practices, effective public policy and innovative design and engineering approaches. The rigorous coursework and field training offered will enable our graduates to confront sustainability related issues with a systems approach to solution development. In its initial phase the program was structured as a cohort, requiring a common first year of foundational core courses that covered general sustainability topics across the degree’s integrated disciplines: Business, Engineering and Technology, Public Policy and Social Work, and Environmental Sciences. Students progressed through each of these first-year courses together as a team. The second year was originally structured around tracks, where students had the opportunity to focus in more detail in one of the disciplines introduced in the first year. Two comprehensive, multi-faceted program assessments one at the end of the first semester of the program and one at the end of the first year resulted in significant changes to the curriculum. Now in its second phase, the program has eliminated the cohort model as well as the second year focus tracks to allow greater flexibility for students and faculty mentors. The first year remains focused on delivering a broad, foundational understanding of sustainability across multiple disciplines. Also unchanged is the Capstone requirement, a culminating field experience designed to immerse the student into a practitioner role inside and organization or group that connects to their respective discipline, area of interest, or career goals. A minimum of 30 credit hours is required for the Saint Louis University’s Master of Sustainability. Continuous assessment is an integral part of the program to ensure its quality and continued updates.