Sustainable Development and the Environment (minor only)

Allen Gunter Lairson Lines

The interdisciplinary minor in sustainable development and the environment examines whether transnational corporations can be both competitive and responsible by pursuing a strategy of sustainable development. The minor includes a set of courses that examine carefully the concept of sustainable development in an increasingly global economy. These courses are based on the premise that sustainable development means reconciling the need for economic growth, particularly in developing nations, with the need to protect both natural resources and the quality of life.

This minor will appeal primarily to students majoring in environmental studies or international business, but it will be available to other students as well. It includes a prescribed sequence of academic courses in conjunction with opportunities for practical applications of course theory through field study practical.

Students who complete this minor will gain an understanding of:

  • the basic principles of environmental protection and sustainability;
  • the emergence and consequences of globalization;
  • the increasing role of international cooperation in managing environmental problems;
  • the political economy of transnational corporations;
  • the range of both positive and negative behaviors of transnational corporations in developing countries, and the ability to evaluate the environmental consequences of those behaviors; and
  • recent attempts to measure and evaluate sustainable development, including indicators of corporate practice.

Twenty-eight (28) semester hours are required: four (4) core courses, worth four (4) semester hours each and two (2) seminar/practicum courses worth six (6) semester hours each.


  • INB 200 Introduction to International Business
  • ENV 292 Political Economy of Environmental Issues
  • ENV 348 Sustainable Development
  • INB 225 Sustainable Business Practices

Seminar/practicum courses serve as case studies in sustainable development. Each is comprised of a semester-length seminar followed by a study-abroad practicum. All are focused on Latin America and the Caribbean, areas that serve as representative case studies to illustrate a wide range of issues in sustainable development. Two (2) courses with field study component are required.

  • ENV 365 Environment and Development in Central America
  • ENV 365F Central America Field Study
  • ENV 375 Island Economies and Sustainability in the Caribbean
  • ENV 375F Caribbean Field Study -- Dominica
  • ENV 385 Sustainable Development in the Amazon Basin
  • ENV 385F Amazon Basin Field Study
  • INB 375 Global Production Systems and Sustainable Development
  • INB 375F Northern Mexico Field Study

Course of Study

ENV 365 Environment and Development in Central America: Studies the need for broad-based sustainable development using Central America as a case study. Considers how widespread deforestation and rapid population growth have combined with other factors to depress living standards throughout the region. Examines why Costa Rica has attained a high level of human development. Explores appropriate models of sustainable development for the region. Co-requisite: ENV 365F.

ENV 365F Central America Field Study: The Central Highlands of Costa Rica provide an excellent case study in sustainable development. Students observe and analyze models of sustainability in the areas of agriculture, tourism, and ecosystem services, while examining a wide range of projects including a large-scale coffee plantation, an organic coffee cooperative, and the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve. Co-requisite: ENV 365.

ENV 375 Island Economies and Sustainability in the Caribbean: Examines the natural resources and conservation of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats of the Caribbean. Conservation of these resources for future generations while meeting the legitimate material needs of people in the region also discussed. Explores the prospects for sustainable economic development. Co-requisite: ENV 375F.

ENV 375F Caribbean Field Study: Dominica is currently experiencing a major transition from an economy based primarily on agricultural exports to a tourism-based economy. Examines the tension between various competing interests and identifies opportunities for achieving broad-based sustainable development.Co-requisite: ENV 375.

ENV 385 Sustainable Development in the Amazon Basin: Examines the Amazon Basin, the largest remaining tropical ecosystem on earth, considering the crucial ecological services it provides as well as the exceptional biological and cultural diversity it supports. Reviews historic attempts to exploit the rich biological and mineral resources of the region, which failed through a misunderstanding of tropical ecology and an inability to recognize environmental limitations. Discusses new approaches to development that generate income while protecting crucial ecological systems supporting economic development. Examines such efforts in the areas of tourism, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Optional field study component also available. Co-requisite: ENV 385F.

ENV 385F Amazon Basin Field Study: The Peruvian Amazon provides an excellent case study of how governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private companies can form partnerships to promote sustainable development. Students work with local naturalist guides and project managers to gain a comprehensive understanding of the ecotourism industry. Co-requisite:ENV 385.

INB 375 Global Production Systems and Sustainable Development: Examines the emerging system of global production and its consequences for sustainable development. Considers the global production systems in apparel, autos, and semiconductors. Examines the impact of these production facilities on the social, economic, political and environmental systems of Mexico and Central America. Co-requisite: INB 375F.

INB 375F Mexico Field Study: Examines the impact of transnational firms on water quality, public facilities, and housing. Factors linked to corporate responsibility in these areas are studied, including international public pressure, corporate values in the home office, national origin of home office, and local political pressure. Co-requisite: INB 375.