Strengthening Sustainability Learning in your Program

Thursday, Friday 8:30am-11:30am UMC 247


Dave Gosselin, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Walt Robinson, North Carolina State University

At this workshop you will explore and develop ideas for integrating learning about the Earth with the societal problems of sustainability and the environment. You will learn from successful examples and will identify, discuss, and share strategic opportunities for strengthening your own courses and programs, whether you are taking the first steps to incorporate sustainability on your campus, capitalizing on a campus wide area of focus, or seeking to strengthen a program with a strong existing sustainability component.


With eight billion people inhabiting a finite planet, living sustainability is a human imperative in the 21st century. Students understand this, and many come to their study of the Earth seeking authentic engagement with sustainability.

Embedding sustainability in your courses and programs can:

  • Help prepare students to live and work in and ultimately be responsible for a future dominated by sustainability challenges.
  • Draw students with sustainability interests and concerns to Earth courses and majors, especially students, often from diverse backgrounds, who seek an education that addresses human problems.
  • Engage students through activities that transcend the traditional classroom and lab.
  • Provide a rich human context for course- and program-level learning outcomes
  • Increase the efficacy of campus and community sustainability activities,through the application of geoscience knowledge and methods.
  • Raise the department and program profiles and make them more valued by our institutions and communities.

What does sustainability mean in the context of your institution, your curriculum, and your community? Where are the opportunities to incorporate sustainability meaningfully in your course, program, or department?

Before the workshop you will:

  • Start to identify the institutional context for a sustainability program at your college or university:
    • What are the existing opportunities?
    • Who are potential partners on your campus and in your community?
  • Have identified what part or parts of your program you want to focus on.

At the workshop you will:

  • Explore, identify, and articulate opportunities to incorporate sustainability into your courses, program, and department drawing upon case studies of existing programs that have successfully embedded sustainability into their programs using a variety of strategies.
  • Design activities in which students can demonstrate competencies related to sustainability (e.g. analyze and solve sustainability problems and explore how to achieve more desirable future conditions; anticipate and prepare for current and future sustainability challenges; and create and enact opportunities for sustainability) within the context of their study of the Earth.
  • Identify appropriate potential partners on campus and in the community and develop strategies to engage with them in common pursuit of sustainability education and research.
  • Design a plan to integrate sustainability into your program that includes the preparation of diverse students for sustainability-related careers.

Workshop outcome:

At the end of the workshop will have produced and shared with other participants an action plan for including sustainability in your course, program, or department.

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