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BA in Sustainability

The low-residency BA in Sustainability (BAS) program provides students the knowledge, skills, vision, and values to help build a sustainable and just planet for present and future generations.

Introduction and Philosophy

Working closely with faculty advisors, students design a course of study that is individualized and interdisciplinary, practical as well as visionary. Our students understand that the earth and its people face unprecedented environmental and social challenges--as well as unparalleled opportunities to build a sustainable future. We welcome students who are determined to create just lives and livelihoods as partners with the earth and its peoples.

At Goddard, we believe the ecological, environmental and social needs of the world are linked. We see this program as a site for inclusive and collaborative examination of the globe’s most pressing problems. Our understanding is that lasting sustainable solutions involve questions of equity, gender, class and race. In other words, an environmentally sustainable world is comprised of socially just lives and communities.

Given this breadth of focus, we invite students to envision and construct multiple paths—from local to global--towards that future.  As students learn about the diverse, changing needs of their communities, urban and rural, they specialize in a variety of focused areas from climate justice to food sovereignty to local currencies to permaculture and more in ways that are innovative, mindful and lasting. Learning opportunities are limited only by student’s creativity and insights.

Sustainability at Goddard provides every student an extraordinary opportunity to undertake vital study and work that serves the needs of the earth and community.
Given our inclusive perspective, we encourage applicants from all communities, professional and academic backgrounds, including the sciences and arts, social science and humanities.


Goddard created the nation’s first low residency program in the 1960s. Each semester begins with an eight-day residency in Vermont that provides students and faculty a variety of opportunities for creative growth, exchange, and community building. With your faculty advisor, you will create an individualized semester-based study plan that incorporates your interests and fulfills program degree criteria. You will also participate in a wide range of residency activities including presentations and workshops on sustainability, research techniques, writing and more. Students can join visits to local organic farms, cooperatives, businesses, and community activists to see sustainability in action.  You can join the wider college community in student and faculty led workshops, a student art show, student and faculty readings, and a cabaret.

Individualized learning continues throughout the semester as students work independently from home through regular, in-depth, one-to-one exchanges with a faculty advisor. Anchored in each student’s interests, learning modalities can include direct action, reflection, rigorous research, creative projects and experiential learning. Every three weeks, students document their efforts, learning and experiences. Documentation also takes a variety of forms including engaged research papers on issues of interest; expressive/reflective work such as journals or visual art; media such as interviews, blogs, or movies; and much more. Each advisor reviews student work carefully and sends back collaborative in-depth letters that affirm the work’s strengths and identify areas for future growth.

Students typically begin the program with foundation studies in sustainability as they acquire the knowledge and vision to understand the origins of the stresses to our communities and planet, and the principles and ethics of sustainability. Students will be invited to consider strategies to make their personal, professional lives and communities more sustainable. As students progress, they can focus in areas including community, agriculture, energy and economics. At the culmination of their course of study, community-based work anchors in-depth senior projects in which students design and build strategies for sustainable solutions.

Students acquire the knowledge and vision to understand the origins of the stresses to our communities and planet. This learning and work propels our graduates to become skilled, capable and creative change agents in their communities and across the globe.

Areas of Study

You will work with your advisor to create your unique area of study. Current and past students have studied topics and areas including:

  • Urban food systems and community restoration
  • Indigenous traditions and sustainability
  • Restorative agriculture and permaculture
  • Justice and inclusion
  • Land/Natural resource ownership and use
  • Sustainable community building in the global south
  • Remediation mycology
  • Solidarity economics and mutual aid
  • Sacred economics
  • Ecovillages
  • Socially responsible businesses
  • Green building and design
  • Climate change: impacts and remediation
  • Social movement organizing


The BA in Sustainability (BAS) program is open to upper division undergraduate students and requires 120 credits to be awarded the degree. Students are eligible for admission after they have completed 60 credits in the liberal arts. No more than 75 transferable semester-hour transfer credits can be applied to the 120 required for the degree. A minimum of three semesters of enrollment in the BAS is required. Prior studies in sustainability may be applied to program requirements, and students may address general undergraduate degree requirements concurrently while enrolled in the BAS program. A student’s required period of enrollment is determined during the admissions process and is based upon a review of transcripts relative to program and degree criteria.


Locations Offered: 
Plainfield, VT