Skip to main content

Introduction to Sustainability in Our Curriculum

Students gather at a local conservation to conduct research

Sustainability is a vital part of the culture at Salem State. Whether you decide to major in sustainability, take a class, or choose to participate in one of the many Earth Days events offered on campus, it’s easy to make sustainability part of your education at Salem State. Multiple departments across campus offer courses for students who want to learn about some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet and how to resolve them.


Courses in Sustainability

Ten departments offer more than two-dozen sustainability-related courses in addition to foundational courses, fieldwork, directed studies, internships and study abroad opportunities. There are several opportunities to major or minor in sustainability

Specific Courses

Interest in studying climate change has increased four-fold in the past years and there are now multiple sections of the Global Climate Change courses in the geography and sustainability department and the First Year Seminar on the Climate Change Movement. Additional courses in geography and sustainability range from Saving the World – Social Justice in the Era of Climate Change to Food, Drink and the Environment.

The biology, economics, geological science, philosophy, and political science departments and the business school all offer opportunities to study sustainability through courses such as Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Problems: An Ecological Approach, Environmental Politics, and Water Sustainability. And there are many more!


Student Sustainability Council Internship

Students seeking hands-on experience with campus sustainability issues and projects are encouraged to apply to be a Campus Sustainability Council intern. Interns receive academic credit through geography and sustainability and work closely on campus sustainability projects with the Salem State sustainability coordinator. As part of their Campus Sustainability Council work, students are expected to bring student sustainability concerns forward and to provide suggestions and feedback on campus initiatives. To apply, contact the chairperson of geography and sustainability.


Faculty Research on Sustainability

Salem State faculty are contributing in important ways to our understanding of pressing sustainability issues and bringing their research findings into the classroom to engage students in important scholarship opportunities. A few examples from the many professors engaged in sustainability research:


Lisa Delissio and her research students examined the Peabody Essex Museum’s collection of preserved plant specimens from the Victorian Era. These dated specimens revealed differences in the timing of events like leaf out, flowering and leaf-drop indicating shifting seasons indicative of a changing climate in Essex County. More recent work focused on the hundreds of varieties of tree species found within a local arboretum, resulting in a Level 1 Accreditation.

Mark Fregeau and Ted Maney received NOAA funding to demonstrate that offshore commercial shellfish aquaculture is both viable and compatible with protected species conservation.

Childhood Education and Care

Dennis Rosemartin researches the climate change literacy of pre-service teachers and how to include climate change education into the teacher preparation program at SSU.  He also examines the impact that his first-year-seminar course has on students attitudes and behaviors towards reducing their garbage footprint.

Geography and Sustainability

Noel Healy’s core work revolves around climate change politics, global climate governance, energy transformations, supply-side climate policy, energy justice, and the link between academic knowledge, political activism, and policymaking. Healy is a contributing author for the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC Is the main United Nations body for assessing the science of climate change.

Marcos Luna‘s focus is on environmental justice and applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to the analysis of social and environmental inequities. He works with community groups throughout the greater Boston region on issues ranging from transportation equity to voter outreach and climate change adaptation. He is currently working with the Massachusetts Conservation Law Foundation to identify community investment opportunities that promote environmental justice as part of the regional Transportation and Climate Initiative. Review the list of his students’ projects

Stephen Young’s research centers on climate and environmental change in NE North America and nature conservation in China. In addition to his environmental research, he bridges the arts and sciences through art gallery exhibitions which expose the public to science and geography. 

Geological Science

Doug Allen and his students research carbon sequestration as a vehicle for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and global warming in collaboration with the Department of Energy as part of the Global Climate Change Initiative.

Brad Hubeny engages students in his work using sediment records that have accumulated at the bottom of lakes and estuaries to reconstruct past environmental conditions. This encompasses studying earth’s climate system to enable prediction of future changes as well using sediment records to study metal pollution in natural water bodies.


Avi Chomsky researches the environmental history of Latin America focusing on the impact of fossil fuel extraction on Indigenous and Afro-descended communities in Colombia, and how movements like Degrowth and buen vivir challenge the global economic order.

Marketing and Decision Sciences

Xu Hartling’s research interests related to sustainability include climate change and environmental policies, sustainable enterprises, corporate social responsibility, community supported agriculture, and carbon footprint calculation. 

Political Science

Jennifer Jackman currently leads a research project on the attitudes of voters, commercial fishers and tourists toward seals and sharks and their management on Cape Cod in collaboration with Center for Coastal Studies, UMass Boston, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance and Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy.



Vibrant Earth Week programming includes lectures, movies, art installations, and a poster competition highlighting independent student research.

Moving Forward, Giving Back: Salem State University’s First Year Day of Service provides opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to participate in community projects, many of which support open spaces and community gardens.

Back to top