Interdisciplinary Systems

At the UofA, sustainability academic programs are interdisciplinary both by nature and by design. Understanding sustainability requires a systems approach that recognizes implications for every aspect of human knowledge and experience. Because of this, our academic programs include elective courses from every undergraduate degree-granting college on the Fayetteville campus. This integrative approach fosters a nuanced perspective alongside leadership development. Our programs address four major thematic areas:


Natural Systems

Sustainability of Natural Systems emphasizes an understanding of systems science, material transfers, and mass balance as a way to conceptualize complex Earth processes. Additionally, Natural Systems introduces the importance of quantitative measures to document environmental change. The interconnectedness of Earth’s processes and systems are the focal points in Sustainability of Natural Systems.


Managed Systems

Sustainability of Managed Systems examines agriculture and business foundations for sustainability, including ethics, consumer preferences, law, and supply chain. Ultimately, the driving question behind Sustainability of Managed Systems is whether managed systems can be sustainable, how we should measure sustainability, and how individual choices impact the managed system.


Built Systems

Sustainability of Built Systems focuses on the effects that design and construction of buildings and infrastructure have on preservation of natural resources and environmental quality. Sustainability of Built Systems addresses the multiple factors which contribute to resilience in built systems, from energy and water consumption to indoor air quality.


Social Systems

Sustainability of Social Systems focuses on understanding the relationship between humans and their environment. This includes the connections between environmental and social issues and the relationship between social inequality and non-sustainability, particularly in regards to disadvantaged communities. Sustainability of Social Systems also examines pathways toward social change.