BA in Sustainable Living
Explore Sustainability and Spirituality
Are you ready to help save the planet? Our BA in Sustainable Living degree program will teach you the skills you need to become a leader in the sustainability movement while helping you to grow spiritually and personally as a member our supportive community.
In Our BA, You Will:
- Apply sustainable living principles in theory and in practice through hands-on community projects, internships, job training, and more
- Practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique, an evidence-based technique that enhances creativity, clear thinking, and your connection to the world around you
- Enhance your creativity, problem-solving skills, and ability to work collaboratively with others — all of which will help you in your career after graduation.
What You’ll Study:
- How to rethink our world from a “Deep Sustainability” point of view
- How to construct buildings and develop communities that are in tune with the natural world
- How to practice agriculture in a renewable way that replenishes the health of the earth, the individual, and society as a whole
- Read more about classes
One Hands-On Course at a Time
Our students are fully immersed in one full-time course each month. This block system is popular with our students because they learn more and don’t feel the stress of taking on multiple subjects at once.
MUM’s small student-faculty ratio means that there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on work, class discussions, and interaction with professors.
The block system means that our students also have time for hands-on projects: They have designed and built wind generators from scratch, created a regional food system, and played a key part in designing a strategic plan for sustainability in our local community of Fairfield, Iowa.
Transcendental Meditation and a Healthy Lifestyle
All students and faculty at MUM practice the Transcendental Meditation technique, an evidence-based practice that reduces stress, enhances brain functioning, and increases creativity. After meditating regularly, students often report feeling happier, healthier, and more connected to the world around them.
In addition, our students lead a holistically healthy, low-stress lifestyle — teachers assign no more than an hour of homework per night, everyone gets their own dorm room, and our dining hall serves organic, vegetarian food that is locally sourced whenever possible.
Internships and Certifications
In our program, you may earn up to 16 credits from internships. Our students have pursued local, regional, national and international internship opportunities in areas as diverse as sustainable agriculture, the building trades, environmental organizations, and green business.
Our students gain academic credit for successful completion of professional certifications in sustainability and we sometimes offer certifications as part of our program. Past certification offerings have included Building Biology, Permaculture Design, Resnet Energy Rater Training, and AutoCAD.
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At MUM, you’ll meet a dynamic community of changemakers, industry pioneers, and talented peers who are working together to change the world from the bottom up.
Troy Van Beek
Troy Van Beek graduated with a degree in Sustainable Living in 2009 and founded Ideal Energy, a Fairfield-based solar company, with his wife, Amy Van Beek. Thanks to their work, Fairfield now has the highest number of solar energy installations per capita in Iowa. Troy and Amy have received national and international recognition and were invited to speak at the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.
Josef Biechler graduated in 2013 and now runs 18 research farms in Costa Rica where he is using his skills in permaculture design, soil ecology, microbiology, and composting to reverse climate change. His work is sponsored by the Rodale Institute and The Carbon Underground, organizations dedicated to reducing atmospheric carbon levels through sustainable agriculture.
Alumna Nelina Loiselle is co-founder, Executive Vice President and Marketing Director of Above Green, Inc., a consulting firm that works with contractors, architects, and building owners/developers to complete LEED certification paperwork, paving the way for busy companies to decrease their carbon footprint and build in harmony with nature.
Areas of Study:
As a student in our BA program you’ll have the option to focus on a concentrated area of study. You may choose from the following tracks:
You can also can take our groundbreaking Regenerative Organic Agriculture Program (ROAP) as part of your BA in Sustainable Living—and you’ll graduate with a certificate underwritten by International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Biodynamic Association, Demeter, Agribio, Italy, and MUM. Click here to learn more.
Fundamentals of Sustainability
The Fundamentals of Sustainability track is centered on the fact that that “sustainability” is a concept that is used differently by different people, institutions, and governments. This track will help you to understand the many different conceptions of “sustainability” used in the world today.
Applied Soil Ecology
The Applied Soil Ecology track teaches students how to prepare compost and compost tea and restore nutrition to soils, first through hands-on class work and then fieldwork on a practicing farm. Conventional agriculture produces high yields, but at the cost of an unsustainable impact on the world. This track explores how to lessen this impact through restoring balance to the soil.
The Renewable Energy track is for students who want to learn more about energy and sustainability. Strong math skills are needed for deep understanding and success in these courses.
The Agriculture track teaches students how to create food systems that nourish and sustain communities. Students will go beyond organic farming and study regenerative agriculture—a set of agricultural techniques that renew the land while producing food.
Sustainability and the Built Environment
The Sustainability and the Built Environment track’s primary focus is on buildings. The courses in this track are designed to give students practical experience in the newest methods, materials and design philosophies of “green” construction—how to build energy efficient, healthy, affordable homes and other structures to support the vision of sustainable community living.
The Social Changemaker track is focused on developing the skills students need to become future leaders in the sustainability movement. Courses in this track detail the steps of creating sustainable global change.
For information on the cost of our Bachelor’s degree programs, visit our Financial Aid Calculator here.
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Faculty Profile: Lonnie Gamble
Lonnie Gamble is a founding faculty member of MUM’s Sustainable Living department. His expertise includes renewable energy, food and agriculture, sustainable economics and local alternatives to the global economy, permaculture design, and green building. Lonnie has founded many for-profit and non-profit sustainability ventures, including Abundance Ecovillage, the Sustainable Living coalition, Big Green Summer, Abundant Planet Radio collective, and five companies in the area of renewal energy and telecommunications. He has been teaching, developing sustainability curriculum, and mentoring students since 1996. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.