COF Minor in Sustainability

Sustainable practice “is that which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”   –United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in its 1987 landmark report entitled “Our Common Future”.

The COF Minor in Sustainability at Massachusetts College of Art and Design is embedded in the international recognition that human activities are threatening the natural systems necessary for human existence. Across the globe, the most vulnerable members of society are often the most affected by changes in the environment. Registering for the COF Minor in Sustainability at Massachusetts College of Art and Design leads you to become an innovative artist/designer who understands, engages, and solves sustainability issues at the intersection of ecology, health, and social justice. Classes in the Minor include courses in liberal arts, studio electives, and history of art, and a required interdisciplinary course taught through the Colleges of the Fenway; internship credit is also possible. Though your course work in the Minor you will be guided to develop fundamental interdisciplinary and collaborative skills necessary to address complex sustainability issues. The coursework in your major will be informed and enhanced by your study of Sustainability.

What is sustainability?
The core definition of sustainability relates current human actions to the environment and to future generations: meeting the natural resources needs of today so that the needs of the future will be met. A widely accepted conceptual model for sustainability encompasses the quest for economic prosperity, social interactions, and social interactions with the environment. Our model for the interrelation of courses is shown in the three categories that organize the distribution of electives in the COF Minor in Sustainability: Environmental Science; Social Equity, and Policy/Economics.

Sustainability Minor Program Objectives: 

  • Learn about issues of sustainability across academic and studio disciplines.
  • Understand the implications of sustainability for your practice as an artist or designer.
  • Meet other students exploring sustainability practices.
  • Focus connections between your liberal arts requirements and your studio practice.
  • Interact with sustainability practitioners in a variety of fields inside and outside MassArt.
  • Explore interdisciplinary collaboration and problem solving to develop innovative solutions to current sustainability issues.
  • Draw upon the resources of the Colleges of the Fenway community through coursework with  sustainability practitioners in different disciplines.
  • Experience civic engagement through community service in an organization dedicated to sustainability practice

The minor is anchored in the
Environmental Forum (ENVI 201), which students take once during their program. This course provides a common experience for all students electing the COF Minor in Sustainability. The Environmental Forum is a required, two credit course that focuses on topics related to sustainability and the environment, encourages dialog between students and invited expert speakers, and provides an integrative thread to the minor. This course has a service-learning component that connects sustainability to the community. For example, students have worked with a variety of organizations ranging from NGOs, community groups, businesses, and federally mandated oversight groups. The Environmental Forum course has a different focus each time it is taught. Two credits

Sustainable Projects follows on the approach of the Environmental Forum, but orients the curriculum towards the particular concerns of art and design students.  Invited guest speakers, field trips, readings, and community service are the core of the course. Three credits

Four elective courses distributed across two of the three categories of Policy/Economics; Social Equity; Environmental Science. Students will select these courses in consultation with their advisor to form a cohesive and thematic area of study. Twelve credits for MassArt students.

Total credits required for a MassArt student to do a CoF Minor in Sustainability: 17-18 credits.

Click here for more specific information about requirements, registering, and other information.

Colleges of the Fenway:
This Minor was developed in collaboration with faculty from all the Colleges of the Fenway.  Students are encouraged to take courses at our neighboring schools.  Find more information here.

Minor Directors:
Jane D. Marsching
Joanne Lukitsh