Education and Research

Students learn about sustainable food systems with the Thornton Aquaponics System at the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Catalina Island. Photo by Diane Kim.

 USC Initiatives

Research Centers:

  • Center for Geothermal Studies (CGS) – USC Center for Geothermal Studies (CGS) strives to promote excellence in research and development with practical focus and multi-disciplinary education for geothermal energy.
  • Center for Sustainable Cities – The USC Center for Sustainable Cities conducts research, education, and community outreach to address sustainability challenges facing metropolitan regions. With 25 affiliate faculty, the center hosts events, provides public education, conducts policy research, and has an excellent record in scholarly publication.
  • Climate Change in the Southern California Bight 2020 – A main scientific goal of the Climate Change in the Southern California Bight 2020 project is to increase communication and promote collaboration between the diverse groups of researchers that deal with all aspects of ocean climate change issues in our area.
  • Energy Institute – The USC Energy Institute (USCEI) in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering was launched in 2008 to create a university-based framework to support and expand opportunities in energy-related research, education, and public policy development. The institute website is helpful as it brings together many stands of research into renewable and alternative energy, and this page is an especially important resource.
  • iLAB – The Innovation in Integrated Informatics LAB (iLAB) research group focuses on the acquisition, modeling, and analysis of the data needed for user-centered built environments, and the design of novel algorithms and visualization techniques to improve built environment efficiency, while increasing user satisfaction.
  • Loker Hydrocarbon Institute – Loker’s mission it to pursue the long-range development of hydrocarbon chemistry and to develop new fuels and materials, as well as to provide environmentally sustainable solutions to energy generation problems.
  • METRANS – The METRANS Transportation Center was established in 1998 through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) as the first University Transportation Center in Southern California. METRANS is a joint partnership of the University of Southern California (USC) and California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Its mission is to foster independent, high quality research to solve the nation’s transportation problems; train the next generation transportation workforce; and disseminate information, best practices, and technology to the professional community. Sustainability and energy efficiency often figure as central to these goals.
  • Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) – PERE, under the direction of sociologist Manual Pastor, conducts research and facilitates discussions on issues of environmental justice, regional inclusion, and social movement building.  It conducts high-quality research in focus areas relevant to public policy concerns and reaches to those directly affected communities that most need to be engaged in the discussion. Its main projects revolve around issues of environmental justice, regional equity, and social movements.
  • Spatial Sciences Institute – Specializes in building GIScience models, spatial decision support systems, and tools, as well as spatial data capture, remote sensing, spatial analysis, the modeling of environmental and human health outcomes, urban ecology, conservation, and sustainability.
  • USC Sea Grant – USC participates in the National Sea Grant College Program. USC Sea Grant’s primary responsibility is to contribute to solving the problems of the Urban Ocean, while recognizing the opportunities for coastal commerce, recreation and improving the quality of life in coastal regions such as Southern California. Focus areas include climate change science and adaptation planning, coastal management policy and planning, etc.
  • USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies – The mission of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies is to encourage responsible and creative decisions in society by providing an objective source of marine and environmental science and fostering an understanding of the natural world among people of all ages. It includes the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, which is both center for research and a leader in sustainable operations within USC. With dozens of affiliated faculty from departments across USC, research areas include aquaculture, ocean acidification, Channel Island habitat research, and oceanographic data analysis.
  • SoCal Environmental Health Sciences Center – Housed USC Health Campus, SCEHSC is a NIEHS-funded center which works to reduce the burden of adverse effects from the environment by rapid identification and better characterization of environmental threats to public health through increased understanding of the basis for environmental diseases and personal susceptibility and by active engagement with communities and policymakers.

Degree and Certificate Programs

Dornsife College of Letters Arts and Sciences
Undergraduate
Minor in Natural Science
Minor in Environmental Chemistry and Sustainability
Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences
Bachelor of Arts in Earth Sciences
Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences
Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies

Graduate
Progressive Masters of Science in Marine and Environmental Biology
Progressive Masters of Arts in Environmental Sciences
Masters of Science in Earth Science
Doctorate of Philosophy in Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography
Doctorate of Philosophy in Earth Sciences

School of Architecture
Undergraduate
Certificate in Sustainable Design
Minor in Landscape Architecture

Graduate
Master of Building Science
Master of Landscape Architecture + Urbanism

Marshall School of Business
Graduate
Graduate Certificate in Sustainability and Business
Master of Science in Social Entrepreneurship

Price School of Public Policy

Undergraduate
Bachelor of Science in Urban Studies and Planning Program
Minor in Urban Sustainable Planning

Graduate
Certificate in Sustainable Policy and Planning
Certificate in Transportation Systems
Master of Planning, Sustainable Land Use Planning
Master of Planning, Transportation and Infrastructure Planning
Master of Public Policy in Environmental Policy
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Management, Sustainability and the Environment
Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning and Development, Sustainable Land Use Planning
Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Planning and Development, Transportation and Infrastructure

Viterbi School of Engineering
Undergraduate
Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering (Building Science)
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering

Graduate
Certificate in Transportation Systems
Master of Science in Civil Engineering (Transportation Systems)
Master of Science in Civil Engineering (Water and Waste Management)
Master of Science in Environmental Engineering
Master of Science in Green Technologies
Doctorate of Philosophy in Environmental Engineering

Sustainability Focused and Related Courses

AME 578: Modern Alternative Energy Conversion Devices (3.0 units)
ANTH 300: Evolution, Ecology, and Culture (4.0 units)
ANTH 302: Humans and Ancient Environments (4.0 units)
ARCH 519: Sustainability in the Environment: Infrastructures, Urban Landscapes, and Buildings (3.0 units)
ARCH 557: Sustainable Conservation of the Historic Built Environment (2.0 units)
ARCH 550: Heritage Conservation Policy and Planning (3.0 units)
ARCH 551: Conservation Methods and Materials (3.0 units)
ARCH 579: Sustainable Building and Environment using LEED Metrics (3.0 units)
ARCH 550: Heritage Conservation Policy and Planning (3.0 units)
ARCH 551: Conservation Methods and Materials (3.0 units)
ARCH 579: Sustainable Building and Environment using LEED Metrics (3.0 units)
ARCH 515L: Seminar: Advanced Environmental Systems (4.0 units)
ARCH 537L: Urban Plant Ecology: Environmental Perspectives (4.0 units)
ARCH 547: Urban Nature (3.0 units)
ARCH 555: Global Perspectives in Heritage Conservation (2.0 units, max 4)
ARCH 608: Urban Theory: Los Angeles Case Study (2.0 units)
ARCH 361L: Ecological Factors in Design (3.0 units)
ARLT 100g: Arts and Letters (4.0 units)
BAEP 491: Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship(4.0 units)
BAEP 591: Social Entrepreneurship (3.0 units)
BISC 102Lxg: Humans and Their Environment (4.0 units)
BISC 103: General Biology for the Environment and Life (4.0 units)
BISC 120: General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution (4.0 units)
BISC 121: Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution (4.0 units)
BISC 315: Introduction to Ecology (4.0 units)
BISC 473: Biological Oceanography (4.0 units)
BISC 483: Geobiology and Astrobiology (4.0 units)
BISC 581: Current Problems in Marine Sciences (4.0 units)
BISC 582: Advanced Biological Oceanography (4.0 units)
CE 110: Introduction to Environmental Engineering (3.0 Units)
CE 210: Introduction to Environmental Engineering Microbiology (3.0 Units)
CE 451: Water Resources Engineering (3.0 Units)
CE 453: Water Quality Control (3.0 Units)
CE 469: Sustainable Design and Construction (3.0 Units)
CE 484: Water Treatment Design (3.0 Units)
CE 510: Groundwater Management (3.0 Units)
CHEM 103Lgx: General Chemistry for the Environment and Life (4.0 units)
CHEM 581: Current Topics in Sustainable Energy Generation and Storage (2.0 units)
CHE 510: Energy and Process Efficiency (3.0 Units)
COMM 475: Environmental Communication (4.0 units)
DSO 505: Sustainable Supply Chains (1.5 units)
ENE 200: Environmental Engineering Principles (3.0 units)
ENE 400: Environmental Engineering Principles (3.0 units)
ENE 486: Design of Solid and Hazardous Waste Engineering Systems (3.0 units)
ENE 502: Environmental and Regulatory Compliance (3.0 units)
ENE 505: Energy and the Environment (3.0 units)
ENE 523: Physiochemical Processes in Environmental Engineering (3.0 units)
ENE 526: Particulate Air Pollutants: Properties/Behavior/Measurement (3.0 units)
ENE 535: Air Pollution Management: Exposure, Health Effects and Risk (3.0 units)
ENE 553: Biological Processes in Environmental Engineering (3.0 units)
ENE 510: Water Quality Management and Practice (3.0 units)
ENST 150xg: Environmental Issues in Society (4.0 units)
ENST 255: American Environmentalism (4.0 units)
ENST 270: Introduction to Environmental Law and Politics (4.0 units)
ENST 436: Environmental Politics (4.0 units)
ENST 487: Resource and Environmental Economics (4.0 units)
ENST 100: Introduction to Environmental Studies (4.0 units)
ENST 270: Introduction to Environmental Law and Politics (4.0 units)
ENST 310: Sustainable Fisheries Management (4.0 units)
ENST 320a: Water and Soil Sustainability: Energy and Air Sustainability (4.0 units)
ENST 320b: Water and Soil Sustainability: Energy and Air Sustainability (4.0 units)
ENST 345: Conservation of Natural Resources (4.0 units)
ENST 347: Environmental Law (4.0 units)
ENST 370: Marine and Coastal Environmental Policy (4.0 units)
ENST 387: Economics for Natural Resources and the Environment (4.0 units)
ENST 400: Environmental Engineering Principles (3.0 units)
ENST 422: Ecological Security and Global Politics (4.0 units)
ENST 427: The Global Environment (4.0 units)
ENST 442: Global Climate Change: Policy and Society (4.0 units)
ENST 445: Earth Climate: Past, Present, and Future (4.0 units)
ENST 470L: Environmental Hydrogeology (4.0 units)
ENST 480: Integrated Ecosystem Management in Micronesia (4.0 units)
ENST 485: Role of the Environment in the Collapse of Human Societies (4.0 units)
ENST 495: Senior Seminar in Environmental Studies (4.0 units)
ENST 500: Introduction to Environmental Studies (4.0 units)
ENST 510: Statistics for Environmental Analysis (4.0 units)
ENST 520: Environmental Law and Policy (4.0 units)
ENST 530: Environmental Risk Analysis (4.0 units)
ENST 540: California Coastal Zone Science and Policy (4.0 units)
FSEM 100: Technology and Environment (2.0 units)
GEOL 107: Oceanography (4.0 units)
GEOL 108Lg: Crises of a Planet (4.0 units)
GEOL 150Lg: Climate Change (4.0 units)
GEOL 160L: Introduction to Geosystems (4.0 units)
GEOL 241Lg: Energy Systems (4.0 units)
GEOL 505: Introductory Graduate Seminar in Earth Sciences (2.0 units)
GEOL 512: Introduction to Chemical and Physical Oceanography (3.0 units)
HBIO 300: Evolution, Ecology and Culture (4.0 units)
HP 448: Global Environmental Changes and Health (4.0 units)
IR 305: Managing New Global Challenges (4.0 units)
IR 323: Politics of Global Environment (4.0 units)
IR 422: Ecological Security and Global Politics (4.0 units)