Academic Course

Experiential Sustainability

Abstract Illustration

Through weekly, hour-long discussion groups of around five students, you’ll have the opportunity to explore sustainability issues around your own experiences—whether these are projects you’re working on, internships, future goals, or your experiences as an MIT student. Each discussion group will be led by a Graduate Facilitator (GF), and you will have short weekly assignments to guide you through your sustainability exploration, as well as a final project. Fundamentally, the class is driven by you: we want you (as a discussion group and as an individual) to explore these issues as you want to explore them—with our help and guidance along the way. All of us on the Teaching Team are excited to work with you this summer.

By the end of this class, students will:

  • Have a broad introduction to sustainability challenges, governance, science, and frameworks
  • Be able to identify, address, and communicate the sustainability implications of their own work
  • Evaluate  sustainability-focused interventions through several lenses explored in the class

This class will meet primarily during the summer but include a final project due in September. Students will be able to earn three units of credit for the class. Because the final project is due in the fall, credit is awarded in the fall.

If you have any questions, please consult the FAQ below or email the course instructor at

Please note: Experiential Sustainability will not be offered in 2024. Please check back in the future for a potential 2025 offering.

2023 Course Team

Faculty Lead

Desiree Plata, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lead Instructors

Elijah Martin, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Basuhi Ravi, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

2022 Course Team

Faculty Lead

Desiree Plata, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lead Instructors

Elijah Martin, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
John Ryter, Department of Materials Science and Engineering


Graduate Teaching Fellows

Suryateja Jammalamadaka, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Basuhi Ravi, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Danyal Rehman, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Sarine Vosgueritchian, Department of Architecture


No; because the class includes a final project due in September, it is listed as a Fall semester class. Therefore, it only impacts your tuition costs if you are not registered as a full-time student in the Fall. Similarly, the class will apply toward Fall credit limits, rather than Summer.

We welcome applications from students all over the world and with all different schedules. Accommodating everyone’s schedules so that no one is excluded is a top priority for the class. We will consider a wide variety of discussion group times and do our very best to make sure that every student is assigned to a discussion group that fits their schedule.

The 2022 course will most likely be hybrid, with summer discussion sections taking place primarily on Zoom and fall final presentations taking place in person on campus. Pending public health circumstances and MIT guidelines, some in-person sections or events may be possible during the summer for participants in the Cambridge/Boston area. Enrolled students will receive information about how to connect to the class sessions prior to the start of the class. Though it will primarily be facilitated online, the course is built around a small group structure with dedicated group facilitators and is therefore highly interactive.

The class is set up for standard A-F grading. The grade will be computed based on attendance and participation (50%), short weekly assignments (25%), and a final project (25%).

The class (1.005) is listed in the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering and can count toward general elective credit. We’re working to evaluate whether the class can count for other purposes, but we, unfortunately, can’t confirm other credit uses at this time. However, the class is a great opportunity to get a taste of sustainability material to help you consider future courses in this area.

The final project for this class is highly flexible, both in terms of format and in terms of topic. We will provide you with a variety of format options (e.g., a 2000-word essay, a website, an interview and commentary, a series of vlogs, etc.) You are also welcome to propose your own format. We encourage you to connect your final project to something you are working on or experiencing during the summer—an internship, UROP, or independent project, for example. However, the topic is ultimately up to you, pending approval by your teaching fellow. 

Due to the nature of the course, it is limited to MIT undergraduate students. In limited cases, exceptions may be made for undergraduate students at other institutions (e.g. a Wellesley student completing a UROP at MIT). Graduate students with an interest in sustainability are encourage to apply to become a Teaching Fellow for the course.

Because credit is awarded in the fall term, students must apply to join the course via the application form and formally register for 1.005 in the fall to earn credit.

Student Projects

Students enrolled in the Experiential Sustainability course design and execute a final project. The final project is highly flexible, both in terms of format and in terms of topic. All students have given express permission for their projects to be shared on the website.


Just a few of the many ways the MIT community is tackling sustainability challenges and how you can learn and do more!


Dive deeper with an Environment & Sustainability Minor, an interdisciplinary set of courses which pairs well with any major and helps you investigate the real-world challenges facing people and the planet. Not sure if you can fit a whole minor? Check out the page anyhow for a long list of sustainability-focused classes.

Or pursue an Energy Studies Minor, which grounds students in the triple challenge of energy: producing more energy for more people while removing carbon emissions from the energy system.

Experience sustainability work firsthand through Experiential Learning Opportunities (ELOs). You can find sustainability-related ELOs in nearly every program, so try out search terms like “sustainability,” “environment,” and “climate” on ELx or ask program staff about opportunities that suit your interests. The Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) also offers UROPs and promotes other ELOs and jobs via their weekly newsletter. Other programs to check out include the Climate and Sustainability Consortium and the Energy Initiative.

Explore career paths in Energy, Environment, & Sustainability on the CAPD website.


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Find dozens of recent articles about sustainability research and innovation at MIT News.

Check out the latest climate change reporting from the MIT Technology Review.

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