The Ph.D. Program in Sustainability Education views education broadly – as social learning that occurs in settings that are both formal (educational institutions, for example) and non-formal (such as families, community events, museums, environmental education centers, zoos,  media, and businesses). Furthermore, the term “education” is considered to mean both the act or practice of educating or being educated and the study of education as a process. Education for sustainability, therefore, is the act or practice of learning how to achieve global and local sustainable communities. It is a life-long, individual, and social learning progression that challenges the dominant ecological, psychological, economic, and social paradigms. The desired outcome is an informed, involved citizenry with the social and scientific literacy, commitment, and creative problem-solving skills to engage in responsible individual and cooperative actions toward a sustainable society.

Education as sustainability, on the other hand, is the study of the educational process with the goal of reforming education itself. Specifically, it is a response to the dominant transmissive educational methodology of imposed instruction and transfer of information. In contrast, transformative educational methodology engages the learner through experience, participation, and reflection in the construction of meaning and knowledge.

Although these two aspects of sustainability education can be defined differently, are often studied independently, and practiced separately – they are interdependent. Achieving sustainability in all dimensions of human existence depends on adopting an education paradigm that manifests and supports change toward a sustainable, secure society. The Ph.D. Program strives to contribute to synergistic learning and change in consciousness, education, culture, and, ultimately, society.

Graduation Requirements Summary:

  • 72-semester credits completed with satisfactory evaluation by the faculty of all learning/study documents, written materials, and oral presentations within 10 years time
  • Attendance at all required residencies or documentation of prior written approval from the Core Faculty Advisor to miss a specific colloquium and some way to make up for it
  • Foundational courses (24 credits):
    • Sustainability Theory and Practice for Education (4 credits)
    • Critical Pedagogy for Culturally Responsive Education (4 credits)
    • Sustainability Education and Transformational Change (4 credits)
    • Climate Change:  Social, Cultural, Economic and Political Dimensions (4 credits)
    • Modes of Scholarly Inquiry, Systems Thinking, and Action Research I and II (8 credits)
  • 4 to 8 mentored study courses: conceptual, integrative, and theoretical in focus area within Sustainability Education (15-23 credits)
  • Advanced Research Methodologies and Methods course (4 credits)
  • Mentored practicum (Optional: maximum of 6 credits)
  • Publishable Qualifying Paper that is reviewed and approved by the Doctoral Committee (1 credit)
  • Approved Dissertation/Project Proposal & Presentation (4 credits)
  • Dissertation/Project & Presentation (minimum 16 credits)

Sample Courses

Course Code Course Credits
PHD71002 Sustainability Education and Transformational Change I 4
PHD71003 Modes of Inquiry: Interdisciplinary Graduate Research Design 4
PHD71111 Sustainability Theory and Practice in Education II and III 4
PHD77501 Permaculture 2
PHD77502 Ecopsychology 2
PHD77503 People and Nature: An Exploration of our Relationships with the Natural World 2
PHD77505 Climate Justice and Climate Consequences 2
PHD77508 Engaging in Place: An Active Introduction to Civic Ecology 2
PHD77511 Worldviews and Sustainability 2
PHD77514 Ecogender for the 21st Century: Towards Ecological Masculinities for the Sake of All Life on Earth 2

Application Requirements

  • Academic focus essay
  • Autobiographical essay
  • Completed Application
  • Current resume
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation
  • Official transcripts

Career Outcomes

  • K-12 Faculty and Administration
  • College Faculty
  • Ecological Designer
  • Environmental Educator
  • Non-Profit Manager
  • Sustainability Project Manager

Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to see research and practice as socially situated
  • Substantive knowledge of theory and modes of practice in the field
  • Theoretical maturity and critical thinking skills
  • Ability to frame fruitful and relevant research questions and problems
  • Skills to design research by approaching researchable problems with appropriate methods of inquiry
  • Skill in program design and delivery
  • Ability to collect, analyze, and interpret data
  • Skill in oral and written communication for various audiences

The faculty do this amazing balance of being supportive, being there, offering feedback, but also being very intentional in standing back and letting us craft and explore and assess our own ideas."

Have Questions?

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Kenneth Welch

Kenneth Welch