A science degree can lead you in a whole host of directions, but what do you choose to study when you’re equally invested in studying a science subject and fueling a sustainable future? To help you narrow down the options, we’re working with Students Organising for Sustainability so you can combine science and sustainability for a better future.
What is sustainability in the world of science?
It’s probably no surprise that sustainability and science go hand in hand. After all, the research, projects, and processes that have led us to understand sustainability are rooted in science. Plus, it's fairly easy to make scientific progress that has a positive impact in both the short and long term, and isn’t at the expense of the natural environment.
For example, The American Chemistry Society are developing new technologies for sustainable ammonia production, and also for phosphate recovery and re-purposing. Equally, nuclear physicists like A.J Koning have begun to detail the ways in which nuclear energy can be more sustainable. And if that wasn't enough, not-for-profit organisation The Company of Biologists launched the sustainable conference initiative, which is designed to enable biologists to collaborate remotely from across the world to minimise their impact on the environment - for example, through reducing their air miles. Sustainability isn’t just about the science itself, but also the manner in which the research is undertaken by scientists.
As sustainability becomes a growing part of the science world, it has also become a greater part of the school curriculum. Topics in physics like thermodynamics and magnetism are more and more often studied with sustainability in mind.
For more information about subjects related to sciences, check out the Subjects Library.
Thinking about studying a sustainable sciences degree? Check out the courses below:
Chemistry, Green Principles and Sustainable Processes (BSc) - University of York, UK
Focusing on the theory and practice of clean and sustainable chemistry production, this degree allows you to follow your passion for science in a way that will have a decidedly positive impact on the world around you. You’ll focus on the major areas of chemistry whilst learning about green principles and sustainable processes; the perfect balance of science and sustainability.
Environmental Science and Physics (BSc)- Keele University, UK
Combining modules from both Environmental Science and Physics, you’ll develop the scientific understanding and practical skills needed to tackle the world’s major environmental and scientific problems, from pollution to climate change. Studying these two disciplines will give you a unique view of sustainability in the science field.
Environmental Chemistry and Technology (BSc) - Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland
This degree programme at Centria University in Finland will allow you to gain an impressive knowledge of chemistry and chemical engineering from a sustainable perspective. Learn about environmental processes like recycling materials, handling wastewater, and cleaning air, giving you a unique understanding of how the chemistry industry can become more sustainable.
Sustainable use of Natural Resources (BSc)- Czech University of Life Sciences, Czech Republic
There is no doubt that natural resources are under extreme pressure, and so the management of resources is essential for a sustainable future. This programme, therefore, aims to teach how to manage natural resources and prevent exploitation, combining scientific theory with practical solutions for sustainability.
Geography and Sport Science (BSc) - Loughborough University, UK
Combine your love of sport science with sustainability and geographic sciences in this unique degree at Loughborough. You'll study everything from environmental hazards, to the fundamentals of exercise science, to teaching PE. And if that's not enough, you can also choose to take a placement year or study abroad!
How can you start building your experience for your application?
It’s never too early to start thinking about the experiences you can use to apply for courses in this area. Check out our tips below to help you on your way!
Use your EPQ
Your EPQ is the perfect place to explore a topic you’re interested in more widely. You could research environmentally-friendly alternatives to nuclear waste, or explore greener processes in Chemistry.
Stuck for ideas? Check out The Network of Early-career Sustainable Scientists and Engineers (NESSE) or the Evolving Science page where you’ll find dozens of ideas to get you going.
Explore sustainability at school
Think about the things you’re studying in your science classes at school, and how you can view them from a more environmental point of view. For example, how does your school dispose of practical science experiments, and is there a more sustainable way of doing this?
Learn about what other people are doing
Find out about the scientists, analysts, technicians, and developers using their work to effect change in the world. Start off by using the Read, Watch, Listen tool or by taking a MOOC, and explore from there! Don’t forget to make a note of everything you find on the Activities tool so you can come back to it later.
Good stuff from elsewhere
SOS is a UK-based student-led charity empowering young people to take action against climate change. They believe education can bring about change, so they offer training programmes for staff and students, organisations and universities.
The Company of Biologists
Check out The Company of Biologists' sustainability approach here, including its sustainable approach to hosting conferences.
Explore the latest research in science, engineering, and technology/