Get Hands on Learning Research in Sustainability Studies

Students picking service berries for a class project.

Students picking service berries for a class project.

As a Sustainability Studies student, you’ll have a chance to apply what you’re learning in the classroom to the sustainability challenges we face in communities and globally. Our program stresses development of critical thinking and excellent reading, research, and writing skills among out students. We want each of our students to have the opportunity to be admitted to excellent graduate school programs so that those who choose to do so might advance their education and their career opportunities through earning a Master’s Degree or a Doctorate in a field relevant to sustainability.

We also value hands-on learning for our students as a means for them to gain experience and make professional connections useful for moving directly into sustainability work upon graduation. Hands-on learning opportunities open to you include research and writing based work for businesses and organizations as well as getting your hands dirty with projects in local food, recycling, youth education, campus operations, event planning and coordination, community organizing, and more.

Seek out opportunities for hands-on learning through your Sustainability Studies courses and through participating in student clubs. Talk with your professors about your ideas and interests so that they can help guide you to relevant opportunities at your campus and in your community.

Service Learning

Harvest Day event at Legacy Ranch supporting Yampatika's garden to table dinner.

Harvest Day event at Legacy Ranch supporting Yampatika’s garden to table dinner.

Students who major in Sustainability Studies will engage in service learning in one or more class. The Leadership, Ethics, and Social Responsibility course (SUS 321) requires a service learning experience, and your professors for other courses may offer you the opportunity to do additional community based project or research work. Since Sustainability Studies students and faculty share a concern about the health of societies and ecological systems, doing something about the sustainability challenges we face is a natural fit for our program. Service learning is valuable career experience for graduates. 


Although an internship experience is not required for graduation, an internship can be an especially valuable way to develop your professional skills and resume. A number of our graduates have obtained paid employment with organizations for which they served as interns. Others have landed sustainability jobs with other organizations based on the skills they developed as interns. See our Careers in Sustainability page and our Internship Program page for further information.

New – Rocky Mountain Land Management Internship

Interns work part-time with the U.S. Forest Service while studying Sustainability Studies or Land Management. Upon completion, interns have the distinct advantage of applying for Forest Service or other federal land management jobs as an existing federal employee.

Learn more about this first-of-its kind, two-year paid internship program developed by Colorado Mountain College and the U.S. Forest Service.

Rocky Mountain Land Management Internship

Senior Capstone Research

All majors are required to take SUS 489, Capstone in Sustainability. This course requires you to learn about and apply ethical standards to conducting original research in an area of your choosing. The capstone course is an excellent opportunity for you to prepare yourself for graduate-level studies and/or to learn highly practical research methods that can support you in the nonprofit or business realm or help you obtain grants or other funding for sustainability projects.

Local Food Initiatives

Several CMC campuses are undertaking local food initiatives in which students and the local community are partners in projects that entail local food production and healthy food system education. The Summit campus in Breckenridge and Dillon is collaborating with the High Country Conservation Center and other community partners to build and operate a greenhouse for growing local food. The Steamboat Springs campus is planning to construct a greenhouse and gardens on campus. Construction is planned to begin in summer of 2015. If you’re interested in local food, inquire at your campus about how to get involved with these activities or with community efforts to grow and distribute healthy local foods.

Real Food Challenge

The Steamboat Springs Campus has signed on to the Real Food Challenge, a pledge to obtain at least 20 percent of campus dining food and beverages from “real food” sources by 2020. Take a look at the Real Food Challenge website to learn more about what is meant by “real food,” and consider getting involved at the ground level in meeting the Real Food Challenge. This work will leverage the purchasing power of the CMC Steamboat Springs campus to improve the sustainability of the food system and promote local food production. It will also help educate all CMC students about health and sustainability issues in the food system so that they can make informed choices about the food they consume.

Sustainability Conference

Poster sessions

Poster sessions presented by students.

CMC held its first ever sustainability conference in April 2014 at the Steamboat Springs campus. The event featured student work from the Sustainability Capstone course (SUS 489), and students participated heavily in organizing the conference and the meals. They also undertook a project to pilot the Real Food Challenge and educate attendees about the importance of real food for personal health and socio-ecological sustainability. As a Sustainability Studies student, you’ll be invited to attend and participate in future sustainability studies conferences. Sustainability Studies student Ben Saheb created an excellent video about the event. Check it out.

Student Clubs

Participating in student clubs is a particularly effective way to develop your personal and professional network and to gain project and leadership experience. Learn more about opportunities to participate in student clubs.

Questions? 800-621-8559