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Sustainability, climate change, water scarcity and other crucial issues relating to the survival of people, animals and ecosystems on Earth: this is the focus of Science for Sustainability, one of VU Amsterdam’s core themes.

The theme is closely linked to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). VU Amsterdam researchers are working hard on solutions that will bring us closer to achieving these goals, and the knowledge arising from their research is being passed on to students in the various degree programmes. Students who would like to make sustainability a part of their studies at VU Amsterdam can choose from 10 Bachelor’s programmes, 9 minors and 19 Master’s programmes. Look for the sustainability education options that best suit your study wishes.

In our new recruitment campaign, ‘Change your world, study at VU Amsterdam’, launched in 2018, we call upon prospective students to think about sustainability issues [in Dutch].


  • Bachelor's programmes
    • Earth, Economics and Sustainability [in Dutch]
      Developments such as climate change, economic crises and population growth are having an ever-increasing impact. If we are to overcome the associated challenges, we will need to combine our knowledge about natural changes in the Earth system, economic processes and social developments.
    • Earth Sciences [in Dutch]
      Challenges in the area of sustainability cannot be addressed without thorough knowledge of the Earth system. These top-rated programmes focus on mountains and rocks, fossils and minerals, ice caps, rivers and oceans, and climate change in the past, present and future.
    • Biology [in Dutch]
      Our broad top-rated Biology programme teaches students all about the nature system, equipping them to make a valuable contribution to issues such as sustainability, the global food problem, landscape use and urbanisation.

    List of Bachelor's programmes >

  • A Broader Mind

    In the academic year 2018-2019 we launched a pilot for A Broader Mind for Students, aimed at 500 first-year students. This programme focuses on the students’ broad academic, personal and social development. Those taking part will learn to approach complex social themes from a range of disciplinary perspectives and engage in Community Service Learning to use their knowledge to solve current social issues. The themes are based on the SDGs, covering topics such as sustainability, poverty and the digital condition.

  • Master's programmes
    • Earth Sciences
      The Earth Sciences Master’s programme is divided in three main specializations: Geology and Geochemistry, Earth and Climate, and Global Environmental Change and Policy.
    • Specialization Earth Sciences: Global Environmental Change and Policy
      Create solutions for the sustainability challenges of the Anthropocene.
    • Ecology
      Understand System Nature and develop the tools to predict and combat problems caused by pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change. Research-oriented programme.
    • Environment and Resource Management
      The Master Environment and Resource Management (ERM) is designed to train the next generation of environmental decision-makers to work on the sustainability challenges of our time.
    • Hydrology
      Water is crucial for sustainability in many ways. Drinking water for all. Agriculture. Climate change. Biodiversity. In the Top-rated master’s programme in Hydrology you get the tools to help solve the world’s water problems.
    • Specialization Computer Science: Software Engineering and Green IT
      Software for a sustainable digital society. This is a track in the Master Computer Science.

    List of Master's programmes >

    VU-alumnus Stijn connects nature conservation with economic development in his work on Bonaire. Stijn has a Master's in Environment and Resource Management. Watch the video.

  • Module Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning

    Issues such as sustainability, digitalization, globalization, and inequality are so multi-facetted and concern so many different parties that they can’t be addressed effectively from a single perspective. The Interdisciplinary Community Service Learning (i-CSL) module can be followed by master students from any program and gives you the opportunity to work on these 21st century challenges together with other students and partners outside the university. As such, you get the chance to experience real-life research.

  • Honours course
    • In the Designing Innovations for Sustainability honours course, students from different Bachelor’s programmes spend two months working in groups to develop plans for a more sustainable university. This course focuses on the topics of water, energy, food and waste, and delivers results that are already being used by various parties on the VU campus.
    • The Climate Change honours programme presents the aspects of climate change, ranging from the scientific facts to the social and economic implications.
  • Minors

    The Sustainability: Global Challenges, Interdisciplinary Solutions minor appeals to a broad spectrum of students. The idea is that students step outside their monodisciplinary comfort zone and learn to bring the different disciplines in their academic background together in order to develop solutions for a sustainable future. Students learn about topics such as people, profit and prosperity, before then going on to explore their own area of interest. The minor takes half a year to complete. 

    List of minors >

  • Summer Course

    Since 2016 the VU Summer School has offered the sustainability course titled Governing Climate Change: Theory and Practice. Students from all over the world spend two weeks learning about climate change and the history of climate management and agreements in lectures, discussions, simulations and excursions.

  • Winter School

    Overview of courses given at the VU Graduate Winterschool (including courses on Software and Sustainability, and on Product Development 2.0).