Sustainability Studies in Germany
From Toxicology to Tourism Development

A growing number of study programmes focus on environmental protection and sustainability.
A growing number of study programmes focus on environmental protection and sustainability. | Photo (detail): © Adobe

Would it not be great if we could study how to make the world a better place? Sadly, it is not quite as easy as that. But there are now a number of study programmes in Germany covering sustainability subjects that come fairly close. Here is a selection.

1. Ecotoxicology, University of Koblenz-Landau

A tanker capsizes, a factory explodes. What happens when toxins are released into the environment? This English-language master’s course investigates the impacts of chemicals on nature. It combines environmental chemistry with toxicology, ecology, social sciences and environmental economics. Graduating students find career opportunities in scientific institutions and research institutes, government agencies and ministries, industry and consulting firms.

2. Renewable Energies, Environmental Campus Birkenfeld / FH Trier

Wind power, solar, biomass – renewable energy is a booming sector. The aim of this course is to train future industrial engineers with the technical, economic, legal and ecological knowledge needed for this field of work. Plus: the Environmental Campus is the only zero-emission campus in the world, getting its electricity and heat entirely from renewable energy sources.

3. Hazard Control, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences

Society needs skilled professionals to prevent and natural disasters, chemical accidents and other hazardous situations or to ensure an appropriate response in an emergency. As well as studying engineering sciences, students here acquire practical skills that qualify them for jobs in disaster control, risk management and fire protection.

4. Environmental Natural Sciences, University of Freiburg

Water, soil, air, forest, landscape and the man-made environment are the key topics of this study programme. The education received here in environmental biology is combined with environmental chemistry, environmental physics and environmental law. Students go on to work in energy system transformation, official and private nature conservation and environmental protection as well as in planning offices and industrial companies.

5. Sustainable Agricultural and Nutritional Science, Nürtingen Geislingen University

The world population is growing and needs to be fed. Global food security, climate change, environmental protection and animal welfare are the focus of this study programme. Students look for sustainable solutions for the production, processing and distribution of food, bio-based raw materials and energy. Career opportunities are in the food industry, banks and consulting firms as well as in organisations and advocacy groups at regional, national and international level.

6. Sustainable Design, Ecosign/Alanus University

From plastic-free coffee-to-go cups to fringe theatre from developing countries – this is a study programme for product and communication designers of tomorrow. In cooperation with the Cologne-based Ecosign Design Academy, students learn the creative, technical and aesthetic skills that a designer needs, while at the same time learning about the ecological, economic, social and cultural dimensions of design. The course is fee-based.

7. Sustainable Tourism Development, Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences

People have never been more mobile than today but travel has major impacts on the environment and society. At Heilbronn University, tourism students attend courses on public economics, management, geography and law as well as courses on sustainability. After graduating, they find job opportunities in tourism associations, international aid organisations or national parks managements.

8. Intercultural Communication, Chemnitz University of Technology

We skype with Indian work colleagues, go out for sushi in the lunch break or chat about American music on a business trip to Istanbul. So where is our culture? The focus in Chemnitz is on identity-forming structures. Students learn about the mechanisms of culture, language, digital communication, mobility and racism. Examining different cultural perspectives gives them the skills to work in the management or public relations departments of international companies.

9. Urban Ecosystem Science, Berlin University of Technology

What makes an attractive city of the future? Green cities are not only more liveable; they are also more sustainable. Students here become experts in environmentally sound urban development and sustainable urban concepts. The master’s programme combines environmental research with planning sciences and environmental engineering.

10. Economics and Ethics / Social Business, University of Vechta

Poverty, global inequality and climate change are major problems for the world population but they often tend to be aggravated rather than improved by world markets. In Vechta, students are taught not only the basics of business administration and economics but also business ethics and corporate social responsibility. They learn to achieve a balance between pursuit of profit and responsibility by combining economic thinking with social commitment.