Sustainable Brewing

Sustainable Brewing 

As a sustainable brewing major at WMU, you will gain first-hand experience going through the process of brewing from grain to glass. The joint sustainable brewing program was developed by Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College working in close coordination with a panel of Michigan's top craft brewers and suppliers. In this program, you will gain an understanding of the history and social forces that have shaped the practice of brewing, develop a strong ethic of sustainability, and learn the necessary skills to contribute effectively to this dynamic industry. 

 More specifically your time with us will entail:

  • Meaning, purpose, and passion with a practical twist: Combine interdisciplinary coursework with specialized training.
  • Professional pathways: Consult with advisors and faculty on course electives and hands-on opportunities to further your career applications.
  • Twenty-first-century alignment: Become intimately familiar with the technical features of brewing, develop an appreciation for the rich landscape of an industry that has been part of civilization for thousands of years, and address the environmental challenges faced by the industry.
  • Learning and doing: Take courses designed for first-hand experience and real-world applications. The program offers students the opportunity to earn a certificate or associate degree at KVCC, then transfer to a Bachelor's degree that marries industry art and science with WMU's national reputation in sustainability. 
  • A rigorously interdisciplinary focus that includes: Chemistry, biosciences, physics, and environmental science and combines Kalamazoo Valley Community College's food science and culinary arts expertise with Western Michigan University's research resources and national reputation in water research and sustainability. 
  • A culture of care and support: IES believes that your well-being is essential to your academic success and sense of fulfillment at WMU.

Program Details

The sustainable brewing program is an interdisciplinary four-year curriculum that will help position students to enter the brewing field in a variety of roles. The program is available on the WMU Main Campus. Students enrolled in the sustainable brewing certificate programs at Kalamazoo Valley Community College can transfer to WMU to complete their B.S. in sustainable brewing.

Because of the rigorous interdisciplinary nature of the sustainable brewing program, and the large number of credit hours required for the degree, the program does not require a minor. Additionally, this program offers a number of courses in hybrid or online formats.

There are two possible “tracks” that students can choose in this major.

Brewing Track

  • Understand the historical and social forces that were cause and effect of brewing in human civilization.
  • Gain first-hand experience going through the process of brewing, “grain to glass”.
  • Develop a sensitivity for the ethic of sustainability that will inform decisions about energy demand, efficiency, water use, waste minimization, and local sourcing of materials.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the biochemistry and microbiology involved in fermentation and aging.

Operations Track

  • Understand the historical context of brewing in human civilization.
  • Learn problem-solving skills that pertain to the operation of brewing-related businesses.
  • Examine the place that food production and distribution occupy in human culture and the environmental impact of associated energy demand, water use, waste management, and local sourcing.
  • Learn fundamental business skills to manage and grow the beverage and food industry and respond to changing markets.
  • Develop critical thinking skills to evaluate how and why the brewing industry can become more sustainable.

     catalog Details                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

beyond the classroom 

  • The sustainable brewing program incorporates hands-on service learning in several ways to allow learning outside of the classroom, which can help shape career plans, build resumes, expand professional networks and increase chances of securing a job after graduation.
  • An internship in the KVCC certificate program is followed by a capstone course at Western Michigan University where students work on an independent project to help solve a real-world issue facing breweries today.
  • Student organizations such as Students for a Sustainable Earth, the BioClub, and working with WMU's Office for Sustainability also offer ample opportunities to get involved and gain real-world experience.

after you graduate

  • Brewery/Restaurant Owner

  • Head Brewer/Brewmaster
  • Tasting Room Manager
  • Event Manager
  • Beer Educator
  • Brewing Marketing Director or Manager
  • Cellar Manager
  • Quality Lab Technician
  • Sales Representative 
  • Distributor
  • Quality Lab Technician
  • Microbiologist/Chemist
  • Sustainability Coordinator


Speak with a Sustainable Brewing Advisor about general program details and career information, or schedule an advising appointment for specifics about programs requirements, course transfers, and scheduling.

Learn more about Sustainable Brewing at WMU           Advising