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
You’ll be 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.
We give students the skills to rethink every aspect of human endeavor in terms of sustainability through our focused learning communities.
Each learning community is structured to yield a holistic level of depth in the subject area. Students move through the sequence of courses together, providing the advantage of both intellectual and social connections.
Design & Build EcoVillages
How do we achieve sustainability for human civilization? By aligning our actions, habits, and even urban planning methods with nature’s “house-rules.”
This learning community teaches a system for designing and constructing ecologically and economically sustainable communities called EcoVillages, which are designed to exist in harmony with the environment.
From Rocks and Water to Life and Soils
How can we learn to live life in harmony with the laws of nature, use natural resources sustainably, and live in unity with our surrounding environment?
In this learning community, you’ll gain knowledge of the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, and hydrosphere and learn the fundamentals of how ecosystems evolve as integrated biological and physical communities. By the end of this 4-month experience, you will be prepared to live a fully sustainable lifestyle.
Regenerative Organic Agriculture
MUM is the first accredited university to offer a degree program in Regenerative Organic Agriculture. You’ll learn a variety of skills—including how to grow food sustainably, sell produce, and more—in hands-on classes with expert faculty.
You’ll graduate with the knowledge, experience, and connections you need to pursue any career in sustainable agriculture. Learn more>
MUM Hawaii Program
Based at the Kohala Institute on Big Island, Hawaii, this learning community is made up of people with a passion for exploring the relationships between self, culture, social systems, and nature. Learn more>
For information on the cost of our Bachelor’s degree programs, visit our Cost & 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 curriculums, and mentoring students since 1996. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.