Environmental Studies: Sustainable Design

The sustainable design major at Pacific University is an interdisciplinary program emphasizing designing solutions to environmental problems. Students combine the fundamentals of ecology and permaculture with the social sciences and humanities as they seek global solutions to complex challenges. The program emphasizes hands-on learning, with students studying and practicing ecological design at permaculture sites near campus, as well as at Pacific's own B Street Farm, a learning lab for food production and permaculture, where they can explore topics such a organic food systems, green building design, and environmental outreach and education.


  • Take an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to exploring real-world problems in the environment and society
  • Combine an understanding of ecology and permaculture with study of the social sciences and the humanities
  • Test your ideas with hands-on work in the B Street Living Museum and other service work in the community
  • Build skills in service and leadership, creativity, collaboration, communication, problem-solving and self-expression
  • Prepare for further study or careers in permaculture design, sustainable food systems, environmental education, urban planning, product design, and landscape architecture


Students seeking a bachelor of arts in sustainable design study a broad base of ecological and environmental studies, including permaculture, environmental science, natural history, and ecosystems. These are paired with student-selected courses in art, sociology, literature and ethics. All students complete both an internship and a capstone project.

Students in the Department of Environmental Studies conduct research in local communities, including the coniferous forest of the John Blodgett Arboretum, the riparian corridors of the Gales Creek and Tualatin River watersheds, and the 300-acre Fernhill Wetlands. Pacific’s B Street Living Museum, less than one mile from the Forest Grove campus, also provides a hands-on research and learning lab for students. Regionally, there are many exemplary resources available within a one- to two-hour drive from campus, such as the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Tillamook and Willapa bays and the forests of the Coast and Cascade ranges.  


Students who complete the sustainable design major at Pacific University gain a broad understanding of the world’s complex problems. They have an understanding not only of ecology, but also of sociology, anthropology, history, politics and economics. They have developed skills that many employers value, including problem-solving, leadership, creativity, collaboration, and communication. They are prepared to go on to graduate study or careers in urban planning, product design, building design, agriculture, landscape architecture.

Department of Environmental Studies

The Department of Environmental Studies also offers majors in environmental biology and environmental chemistry and toxicology, as well as minors in environmental science, environmental policy and sustainability. Students interested in social sciences may choose a major in environmental studies: policy, culture and society.