Some of the Best Universities for Sustainability Studies

Teresa Madaleno:

The climate crisis is a complex subject. Fully understanding environmental degradation, its impacts, and potential solutions requires education. Expanding our knowledge about climate change and sustainability can help us make informed decisions about day-to-day living. It also teaches us about our own responsibility.

In a previous blog we outlined how sustainability professionals are in demand. In this blog, we provide a rundown of some of the best universities for climate and sustainability studies.

Today, many educational institutions have environmental programs; however, some are more focused on climate change and sustainability than others.

  • Harvard University – known as a research university, Harvard has a strong reputation for its comprehensive doctoral programs, including in sciences, engineering, and medicine. Harvard also happens to have a strong Environmental Studies program and offers Environmental and Science Engineering, as well as other climate focused programs. The university itself has an ambitious Climate Action Plan that calls for the shifting of campus operations away from fossil fuels. The goals…fossil fuel-free by 2050 and fossil fuel-neutral by 2026. Harvard has a sustainability Data Hub where people can track what the university is doing to reduce emissions and energy usage.
  • University of California – Berkeley has an advanced program in sustainable management. It covers everything from Carbon Management and Environmental Business Strategy to Environmental Law and Climate Change Risk Mitigation Strategies. There are many other environment and sustainability courses offered at Berkeley. UC Berkeley has had a long-standing history in sustainability research and today course offerings make up close to 50 percent of all campus courses.
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich – this Swiss school offers a wide array of environment-related studies, including programs on Atmosphere and Climate, Ecology, Environmental Systems and Policy, Forest and Landscape Management, as well as Human Health, Nutrition and the Environment.
  • University of Oxford – the Uk based university offers several environment and sustainability courses, including a Master of Science (MSc) in Sustainability, Enterprise, and the Environment. The Oxford programs address everything from the transition to a zero-carbon environment to sustainable development for both rich and poor. Courses also examine the challenges from a finance and economics point of view. The university offers full and part-time programs. For instance, there is the Oxford Climate Emergency Programme, a 6-week online course. They also have part-time courses in ecological survey techniques, as well as International Wildlife Conservation Strategies.
  • Wageningen University, Netherlands – Netherlands is known for its new innovations and policies related to environmental sustainability, so it’s not surprising that the country has a university with a host of environment-focused courses. Economics of Sustainability, Environmental Sciences, Food Studies, Forest and Nature Conservation, Soil Policy, Air Quality, Environmental Economics, Circular Fashion, and Environmental Technology, are just some of the course topics. Wageningen is considered the world’s top agricultural research institution. The U.S News & World Report ranks Wageningen number one in environment, ecology, and agricultural sciences.
  • University of Queensland Australia – Australia is home to the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. The school boasts an impressive lineup of environmental courses, including coastal and ocean science, environmental management, occupational health and safety, town planning, and geographic science.

According to the online science, research, and technology news aggregator,, China is the world’s biggest polluter when you look at the numbers. For example, 60 percent of power in the country is provided by coal and in 2019 China’s greenhouse gas emissions were twice as much as the United States. Still, China is home to Tsinghua University, which made the QS top 10 best Environmental Science University Rankings this year (2022). Tsinghua, located in Beijing, is number 9 on the Qs top 10. Number one is Harvard.

About the Writer: Teresa Madaleno is a former broadcast news reporter, journalism professor, and author. She is Harvard University certified in the Health Impacts of Climate Change, as well as certified by the Netherlands Wageningen University in Circular Fashion. Teresa operates a small communications consultancy.