MEM Specialization in Sustainable
Urban and Industrial Systems


The shift from rural to urban living has been a defining global trend of the last 100 years, with industrialization and urbanization transforming nearly every ecosystem on Earth. The pace is rapid and the scale is enormous: urban areas emit more than 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, consume more than two-thirds of the world’s energy, but also generate more than 90% of the global economy. The specialization in Sustainable Urban and Industrial Systems seeks to improve understanding of how urban and industrial systems operate, their underlying drivers, and their impacts on society and the biosphere. It will also point students toward the many opportunities for technological, policy, and market interventions in urban and industrial settings that will be critical to achieving global sustainability through focus on systems approaches.

The topics of this Specialization overlap and are intended to be integrative but are broken down into three areas that together make up the core material:

  1. Urban systems advance understanding of urbanization as a coupled human-natural process of change and transformation from local to global scales.
  2. Industrial systems draw on the School’s leadership in industrial ecology and industrial environmental management including green chemistry and green engineering, technology development, and resource management.
  3. Business systems provide a financial and market-based view crucial to understanding current and future states of urban and industrial development (see also the Specialization in Business and the Environment).


Industrial Systems

Urban Systems Business Systems


Students intending to specialize in Sustainable Urban and Industrial Systems are recommended take three or more courses in their topical area of greatest interest, at least two courses in their area of secondary interest, and one course from the remaining area. These courses are in addition to the Foundations courses, an Integrative Frameworks course, and at least one Capstone course. Students seeking further counsel on selecting courses within this area should speak with their academic advisor or the Faculty Coordinator of the Sustainable Urban and Industrial Specialization.

Faculty Coordinator: Marian Chertow

Specialization Faculty: Gaboury Benoit, Matt Eckelman, Alex Felson, Brad Gentry, Arnulf Grubler, Reid Lifset, Karen Seto, Julie Zimmerman

1 Course has prerequisites, an enrollment cap, or requires permission from instructor prior to registration.
2 A capstone course.
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