EME 504
Foundations in Sustainability Systems

EME 504 Foundations in Sustainability Systems


Transcript for introductory video

Quick Facts about EME 504

Instructor and Author: Dr. Neyda M. Abreu: Associate Professor, Earth Science Program, DuBois Campus and Lecturer, Master of Professional Studies in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems (iMPS-RESS), John A. Dutton e-Education Institute.

Course Structure

This course is divided into twelve modules to be completed sequentially. There are three general themes in which these modules can be sub-divided.

  • The first five modules are focused on the defining principles of Sustainability. In this class, we cover how these principles can be incorporated in the way we think about science and engineering. The guiding principle in these modules is the idea of systemic thinking as a tool to explore complex systems of problems or messes.
  • The second theme deals with the application of sustainability to the design process. We move across different scales of the design process. We start by thinking about the production of individual products and how these products may fit within large scale processes - i.e., how solving problems by optimization may positively or negatively impact the end-state of a complex system. Then, we think about how to structure a sustainable network fraught with mutually interconnected problems. Finally, we explore how to manage a sustainable network, in which information about the individual problems may be limited and/or over-simplified.
  • The third theme spans the range of social foundations of sustainability. We explore how complex ethical, economic, cultural, and political factors influence our pathway to becoming a more sustainable global society.


Students of this course will develop an encompassing understanding of the challenges of sustainability and sustainability issues. The course will enable students to not only know and react to current market situations and existing rules, but also to recognize future trends and market opportunities on the national and international level. Many sustainability fields such as sustainable energy are highly dynamic and global. The course provides students with the intellectual means to identify and judge the main drivers and complex systemic interrelations of specific sustainability fields.