Sustainability Certificate


Addressing the challenge of using earth's resources sustainably requires a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach, in which basic research about the causes and consequences of environmental problems is combined with an understanding of the incentives and processes for a large-scale reworking of economic activity and the technology with which to reconfigure the human effect on the natural world. Wellesley, Olin, and Babson Colleges are uniquely suited to address this challenge by providing a joint program capable of educating students in ways that each cannot accomplish alone. By truly integrating business, engineering, and the liberal arts in the service of environmental sustainability, this program will provide students with the cross- disciplinary academic preparation and the cross-campus cultural collaboration experiences needed to approach environmental issues holistically.



The Sustainability Certificate Program seeks to educate students to make use of the skills, tools, and concepts from the liberal arts, business, and engineering to address environmental challenges and work to move individuals and society to more sustainable practices.


There are three components to the five-course certificate program:

  1. Introductory Course
  2. Synthesis Course
  3. Three Electives from the Approved Certificate Program Electives List
  • This list includes all courses that have already been accepted as Certificate electives.
  • The “last offered” date gives some indication of whether it’s a regular or occasional course offering.
  • Because the three institutions have different timelines for finalizing course schedules and opening registration, posting a definitive three-college list each semester can only happen later than many students need the information. Therefore, we offer this new list and students can directly consult the upcoming course schedules from the three schools.


The three electives, with the possibility of petitioning to accept a course not on this list, must include one course in each of the two non-home areas - business, engineering, and the liberal arts - and one course at each of the two non-home institutions. These courses provide an interdisciplinary breadth of knowledge, skills and experiences relating to environmental sustainability. Note that several elective courses require that a student choose a major course project focused on sustainability issues.

The use of the five required certificate courses to meet home-institution graduation requirements is limited in the following ways.

  • The Introductory and Synthesis courses cannot count towards any other institutional requirement
  • Any certificate elective can also count for any distribution requirement
  • Specific home-institution course requirements cannot count as a certificate elective. At this time, this just means that Olin students cannot use either Design Nature or Modeling and Simulation as a certificate elective
  • Concentration/major courses can count for certificate home-institution electives
  • Any multi-campus course approved as a certificate elective cannot count as an institution specific course

Introduction to Sustainability:

Babson: CVA 2013/ Olin: SUST 2201/ Wellesley: SUST 201

This case-based course introduces students to the basic concepts and tools that business, engineering, and the liberal arts (science, social science, and the humanities) bring to a consideration of sustainability. It is team-taught by three faculty members, one from each institution, with coursework fully integrated across the three approaches. The course will draw empirical material from, and apply concepts and tools, to a semester long case (such as the sustainability of a city block, the transition to clean energy worldwide, or the life-cycle of a common consumer product). Course meetings will take place at Wellesley, Olin, and Babson colleges.

Sustainability Synthesis:

Babson: SUST 3600/ Olin: SUST 3301/ Wellesley: SUST 301

This project-based course provides students with a chance to apply and integrate the concepts and the tools of business, engineering, and the liberal arts (science, social science, and the humanities) to address sustainability.  Students will work in multi-campus groups on a project with a client throughout the semester, along with common readings and discussions about processes and project stages taking place in class time. Course meetings will take place at Olin College.
Prerequisites: Declared participation in the certificate program, and completion of the Introductory Course and two out of three elective courses for the program.


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Students ordinarily will declare their intention to pursue the certificate program after completing the Introductory Course; they must do so before enrolling in the Synthesis Course. Declaring in the program allows the program director to support your progress toward completion, including making decisions such as whether the Sustainability Synthesis course will be offered in any given year. Interested and declared students should work with the Sustainability Certificate Campus Advisor for their home institution to pursue the certificate program; students may also contact the overall program director. Advising is a central part of ensuring a coherent structure to the certificate program, so students are encouraged to declare their intention to complete the program as soon as they can.


To declare your intention to complete the program, please complete this short survey.  After completing the survey, please contact your Campus Advisor to discuss your plans for including the program requirements in your program of study. 

Cross registration

For information on cross-registering for elective courses see the BOW Cross Registration Page.

Record of completion

A record of completion of the program will appear on the transcript of a student's home institution once they have met all of the certificate requirements.


The Program Director is Alison Wood, Olin College of Engineering,

The Campus Advisors are 

Jay Turner, Wellesley College,

Lucy McAllister, Babson College,

Alison Wood, Olin College of Engineering,