SQ: Sustainability Resources
USP Signature Question: How do people understand and create a more sustainable world?
UWO Sustainability Learning Outcome: Knowledge of sustainability and its applications is the ability to understand local and global earth systems; the qualities of ecological integrity and the means to restore and preserve it; and the interconnection of ecological integrity, social justice, and economic well-being.
Sustainability is about working towards a future in which all human beings can enjoy decent quality of life– good health, economic security, membership in strong and inclusive communities, the list goes on– while ensuring that we do not endanger the natural resources and environments upon which we depend. At its core, sustainability is about helping us live up to our fullest potential, as individuals and as a society. Making our way towards sustainability will involve addressing some very big and complicated problems– problems that will not have just single answers, or answers generated by single perspectives. Educating our students about sustainability means presenting them with multiple perspectives and teaching them how to critically evaluate the pros and cons, costs and consequences of the many options that lie before us. Sustainability is not about prescription, or about liberal or conservative points of view; it is about thoughtfully questioning, analyzing, and coming up with creative solutions. And isn’t this exactly what we want our students to be able to do?
Common Requirements for Courses
During the workshop on May 22-24 the Sustainability Quest I working group confirmed that the following elements would be part of every course offered under this Signature Question:
- Course should introduce student to the sustainability learning outcome we use at UWO.
- Course should introduce students to a definition of sustainability (we will provide a few definitions instructors can use, although they are encouraged to discuss the contested nature of sustainability and offer alternate definitions).
- Course should introduce students to the three "pillars" of sustainability and the connections between them, but courses only need to focus primarily on one pillar (although they can obviously focus on more than one if they choose, and are encouraged to do so).
- Note that disciplinary courses bear more responsibility for introducing students to definitions and pillars of sustainability than WBIS or Comm 111 courses, although all instructors must include sustainability in their course.
- Instructors are encouraged to integrate sustainability fully into their course, but the minimum requirement is that 25% of the learning goals and assessments for the course pertain to sustainability.
- The sustainability signature question should be included in the syllabus, and course description on syllabus should mention sustainability.
- Specific learning goals/outcomes for the course (including those related to sustainability) should be listed on the syllabus.
- At least one sustainability assessment/artifact from the course will be uploaded to the student’s ePortfolio.
UW Oshkosh Essential Learning Outcome Addressed
- Responsibility, as Individuals and Communities: Knowledge of Sustainability and Its Applications
Video from Quest I Sustainability Workshop
Articles and Slides: Quest I and Quest II
- Sustainability 101 by Stephanie Spehar, UW Oshkosh Sustainability Fellow
- Why teach sustainability? by Stephanie Spehar, UW Oshkosh Sustainability Fellow
- Introduction to Sustainability slides by Stephanie Spehar, UW Oshkosh Sustainability Fellow
- Sustainability in Quest II slides by Stephanie Spehar, UW Oshkosh Sustainability Fellow
- Glossary of Sustainability by Stephanie Spehar, UW Oshkosh Sustainability Fellow
- Definitions of Sustainability by Stephanie Spehar, UW Oshkosh Sustainability Fellow
- Sustainability: What's the Big Idea? A Strategy for Transforming the Higher Education Curriculum by Daniel J. Sherman from the June 2008 Sustainability: The Journal of Record
- Four Challenges of Sustainability by David W. Orr, School of Natural Resources at the University of Vermont (From the Spring Seminar Series 2003 - Ecological Economics)
- Critical Thinking, Transforming Learning, Sustainable Education, and Problem-Based Learning in Universities by Ian Thomas from the July 2009 Journal of Transformative Education
- Measuring Up to Sustainability by Alan Fricker from the May 1998 issue of Futures.
- Sustainable education - towards a deep learning response to unsustainability by Stephen Sterling from the Spring 2008 issue of Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review