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Blue Planet Minor

Water connects society and the environment through energy, food, climate, ecological, health, and economic systems and is therefore vital for sustaining human life. Issues such as drought, flooding, sanitation, and contamination exist on every continent and touch every citizen on the planet. Sustainably managing water resources is a complex challenge that requires knowledge from a wide range of academic disciplines. The Blue Planet minor is an interdisciplinary program that includes courses from ten departments across Virginia Tech, ensuring that students gain the necessary perspective required to solve the myriad of water problems being confronted by diverse societies.

Why do it?

The interdisciplinary approach used by the minor helps students gain exposure to the technical, societal, and political systems concerning water and sustainability. Students enrolled in the Blue Planet minor will be able to take courses in forest resources and environmental conservation, geography, agricultural and applied economics, landscape architecture, history, environmental science, geosciences, mathematics, English, and urban affairs and planning. Select courses from these departments show students the interconnectedness of water policy, planning, science, and sustainability and orients them to a diversity of perspectives for solving water issues.


The 20-credit hour minor in Blue Planet includes a 3-hour introductory course, 9 hours of one specialization in either water and society or the science of water, 6 hours of elective courses selected from a list, and a 2-hour capstone course on watershed assessment, management, and policy.

GEOG/WATR 2004: Water, Environment, and Society
ALS/WATR 4614: Watershed Assessment, Management, and Policy

Students select 6 credit hours of elective courses, with topics such as environmental law, climate science, seeking sustainability, oceanography, and forest soil and watershed management. For a complete list of elective courses, consult the Registrar checksheet (follow this link, click on 'checksheets', scroll down to Minors, and find the minor checksheet you're interested in).

Who is it for?

The Blue Planet minor will appeal to students from a wide range of disciplines. The water in society specialization will appeal primarily to STEM students and majors, while the science of water specialization will appeal to non-STEM students and majors.

See what our students are saying

“My path has always been in soil and agriculture. A lot of what I do is science-heavy, but this minor has been useful in getting a grasp on the applications side of the field, particularly in regard to policy. There’s a wide range of backgrounds, especially with climate and weather science, and that’s definitely broadened my point of view.”
- Aaron Price, Crop and Soil Sciences

Photo Gallery

This minor is hosted by the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in collaboration with numerous departments across Virginia Tech.

Pathways Concepts

Core Concepts*
1a - Advanced/Applied Discourse
2 - Critical Thinking in the Humanities
3 - Reasoning in the Social Sciences
4 - Reasoning in the Natural Sciences
5f - Foundational Quantitative and Computational Thinking
5a - Advanced/Applied Quantitative and Computational Thinking
7 Critical Analysis of Identity and Equity in the United States
*Students are guaranteed to meet at least three of the core concepts listed

Integrative Concepts
Ethical Reasoning
Intercultural and Global Awareness