City University Of New York, The Graduate Center

The Graduate Center

Sustainability Science and Education


365 Fifth Avenue

New York City, NY 10016

United States





Program Information

Degrees Offered:

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program (MALS).

Format: Campus

Program Description:

Sustainability and sustainable development are arguably the key paradigms of the early 21st century: the concept of sustainability has been adopted by politicians, economists, ecologists, planners, social historians and archaeologists, and is now encountered in all spheres of life. First espoused in its modern form at the World Council of Churches in 1974, and subsequently given global prominence by the 1987 report of the World Commission of the Environment and Development (the ‘Brundtland’ report), sustainability has at its core the recognition that: •many of the resources essential for life are exhaustible •modern development and exploitation of such resources must take into account likely impact on future availability The challenge sustainability poses for 21st century society has been given added impetus by the growing realization that we are now facing unprecedented climatic shifts and consequent environmental impacts. The long-term history of our species clearly includes both successful and failed responses to past challenges of complex human ecodynamics on the millennial scale, underlining the need to integrate the longue durée. There is a growing international consensus that future sustainability depends upon two things - a better documented and scientifically valid understanding of this long-term record and better mobilization of these findings for education for sustainability (EFS) and future adaptive management. We need to draw upon CUNY's own strengths and its strong national and international connections to realize this potential and equip our students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Under this MALS track in Sustainability Science and Education, the new CUNY Human Ecodynamics Research Center (HERC) will: •Coordinate the CUNY sustainability offerings in different disciplines and provide a nucleus of key core courses and a menu of optional additions for both common base training (theory and practice) and selection from disciplinary offerings already offered that could lead to tracks in environmental science, policy/development, historical ecology (archaeology, environmental history, paleoecology), and teaching for sustainability /ESD. •Draw on CUNY strengths (GIS, Education Training, HERC), and the NABO & GHEA international network connections, the HERC field station in Barbuda and research-funded fieldwork. •Fully exploit the five years (2012-16) of upcoming NSF support for the SEES (Science Engineering and Education for Sustainability) NSF Research Coordination Network grant HERC now administers with the GHEA cooperative. •Maintain and expand connections with the Resilience Alliance community through both existing NABO-LTVTP RCN collaborations ( ) and new connections via ICSS ( and AAAS and related joint venues. Maintain connection between RA theory and resources and the CUNY Sustainability Science and Education program. •Connect with other national and international Sustainability Science and Education centers, programs, and initiatives to maximize opportunities for students, cross-fertilization, and keeping at the cutting edge internationally in terms of quality. The selection of courses is aimed at providing students with a solid grounding in the current range of sustainability scholarship, direct connection with cutting edge researchers in resilience and vulnerability research, common experiences in actually doing substantive international interdisciplinary sustainability research and education in a sustained fieldwork experience, acquiring skill sets of wide applicability and real interest to a wide range of academic and non-academic employers. This track will provide students with both common core interdisciplinary experiences and an opportunity to take disciplinary sustainability courses from all of CUNY. The CUNY MALS in Sustainability Science and Education will thus draw on currently dispersed capabilities and strengths, create new structure to effectively coordinate a coherent international, interdisciplinary sustainability program, and produce students: •with both disciplinary competence and interdisciplinary perspective •with enhanced capabilities and skill sets •equipped for either additional disciplinary focused doctoral education or direct engagement with the sustainability science and education community


All of CUNY’s campuses are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. All of CUNY’s degree programs are registered with the New York State Department of Education.

Facts & Figures

Financial Aid: No

International Financial Aid: No

Classification: Doctoral/Research University—Extensive

Locale: Large City

Size & Settings: 6,000-9,999

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