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Teaching Modules

Sustainability has become a critical concept in modern environmentalism, and also serves as one of the signature questions in the UW Oshkosh University Studies Program. This page is designed to give UW Oshkosh instructors a starting point and resources in the teaching of sustainability as a lens of inquiry.

Sustainability as a Lens of Inquiry

Sustainability isn’t about telling people what to do–prescriptive practices like recycling, driving a fuel-efficient car, or avoiding plastic straws. It’s also not just about the environment. Sustainability is about working towards a world in which all human beings can enjoy decent quality of life—good health, economic security, membership in strong and inclusive communities—while living within the environmental limits of our planet. As such, it integrates social justice, economic, and environmental issues, requiring students to make broad connections and making it relevant to all sorts of disciplines. It requires critical thinking and analysis, encouraging students to ask hard questions about what we value; our responsibilities to others, including future generations; and which of the many possible economic, governance, and cultural paths we should choose to create a more sustainable world. 

The modules included here are designed to give instructors an introduction to some of the key concepts in sustainability. They are intended to cut across disciplines—that is, they can be accessed from many different academic perspectives. The modules can be used in introductory or advanced courses. Some modules include sample assignments or readings, others include recommendations on videos or field-based assignments. All include suggestions for further reading.

These modules were authored by Dr. Stephanie Spehar of Anthropology and Director of SIRT, and by Dr. Jim Feldman of Environmental Studies. Contact for more information or further resources.

Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations


UW Oshkosh
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Contact Info:

(920) 424-0440
SIRT Office: 4483 Sage Hall