main photo
Tacoma Community College » Areas of Study » College Transfer » College Transfer Degree Options » Sustainability Distinction Pathway

Sustainability Distinction Pathway

solar panels on building 15Explore social, economic, and environmental issues related to world use of natural resources. 

The Sustainability distinction pathway at TCC is a multidisciplinary program that brings together faculty and students from different academic disciplines to focus on sustainability.

Contact Shaun Henderson Faculty Advisor in Sustainability.

Program Description

Sustainability is the ability to meet the current human need for natural resources without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability issues fall into three main categories: environmental, social, and economic. Below is a list of some of the issues covered in each category.

  1. Environmental topics: air, water, and land resource use, climate change, food/agriculture, energy, waste, overconsumption, pollution, conservation, species loss
  2. Social topics: population, social equity, livability, health equity, community development, education, social justice, food security
  3. Economic topics: externalities, incentive-based regulations, cost/effect analysis, natural capital, tradable permits

Sustainability courses come from a variety of departments, including anthropology, English, sociology, economics, environmental science, and biology. The participating faculty members are committed to giving students lessons in sustainability within their current course structure. The courses are geared toward all interested Tacoma Community College students, whether they intend to specialize in sustainability upon transfer or wish to deepen their understanding of this important topic while studying other subjects.

  • College-level knowledge about sustainability: Offers TCC students the opportunity to complete college-level course work related to sustainability without having to pursue a separate degree.
  • Promotion of responsible citizenship and the pursuit of environmental sustainability: The program challenges individuals to think critically about topics such as climate change, sustainable agriculture, pollution, and energy use.  Courses incorporate analysis of how personal choices affect the long-term viability of our current systems.
  • Interdisciplinary knowledge: Provides a solid, interdisciplinary foundation for understanding sustainability
  • Contribution to better environmental literacy: Students are challenged to understand, evaluate, and communicate the complexity of environmental problems.
  • Compatibility with technical/professional and transfer degree programs: The Sustainability Distinction Pathway can be completed while doing full-time studies in another field. It is particularly recommended for students pursuing degrees in environmental science, environmental studies, economics, education……
  • An entry into an associate degree: Credits earned during the completion of the distinction pathway may be applied toward an Associate degree. 
  • Enrichment for non-matriculated students: Individuals can earn the Sustainability Distinction even if they are not seeking a degree at TCC.


Students who enroll in the sustainability distinction pathway and who complete (with a grade of C or above) 20 credits of course work in sustainability will receive the distinction. The sustainability distinction pathway offers courses selected from a variety of disciplines, on topics related to sustainable resource use. The sustainability curriculum is mostly intended for college transfer students who want to understand sustainability issues, and is also available to community members and professional-technical students who are interested in sustainability topics.


Students who successfully complete 20 credits of coursework in sustainability may apply to receive the distinction, which is noted on their transcripts. Courses used to satisfy the requirements of the sustainability distinction pathway simultaneously apply to other distinction pathways or degree requirements satisfied by these courses, allowing students to select courses that support their educational and personal goals. See the class schedule for course availability. For more information or to apply to the program, contact the Sustainability Program coordinator for more information.

How to Enroll

To enroll in the distinction pathway, students must file a form with the Sustainability Program Coordinator.

Course Listings

Students must complete 20 credits of course work from the courses below to receive the distinction.  At least five credits must be from the tier 1 course list.  The remaining fifteen credits can be from the tier 2 list.

For more information and the most current course list, contact the Sustainability Program Coordinator, Shaun Henderson, at 253.460.4348 or email sdhenderson@tacomacc.edu.

Tier 1: ENVS&101, SCI 105 – Climate Change, POLS 240

Tier 2: BIOL&100, ANTH245*, ENGL&102*, ENGL&101*, PE 175, GEOL 179, OCEA&101, OCEA 179, GEOG 210, SCI 105*, BOT 101, SOC 201*, NUTR 101, ECON 201*, BUS 150*, POLS 231*, BIO 140

* Not every section of the above courses will count toward the concentration.  Please contact the sustainability coordinator for the list of specific sections/instructors.

Please consider rating the content on this page:
Poor Outstanding
Your comments about the content on this page:

If you would like us to get back with you, please share your email address (optional):