Sustainability Science

Lisa MB Harrington, Geography, Kansas State University


A mid-level lecture-based undergraduate course that focuses on sustainability concepts, approaches, and decision-making. Includes use of videos, and relation of sustainability to environmental, economic, and social considerations at global, regional, and local scales.

Course Size:

Course Format:

Institution Type:
University with graduate programs, including doctoral programs

Course Context:

This is an introductory course regarding sustainability concepts, serving students from a wide variety of programs (from Architecture to Geology, e.g.). It is not currently required for any programs, though it contributes to the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences secondary major. Enrollment has been growing, and is likely to grow more: it has been named as a requirement (beginning ca. 2014) for an Apparel and Design program.

Course Content:

The course is conceptually-focused, including ideas of the meaning of sustainability, integration of environmental and human/cultural (including economic) concerns, and using a variety of examples of concerns and approaches to sustainability. It is expected that students will better develop critical thinking skills and recognition of the many issues being faced for sustainability of systems from the local to the global scale.

Course Goals:

Students will be able to:


At the last offering, students were individually assessed based on 3 exams (mixed objective and 'essay' [though not necessarily narrative-style] questions, with emphasis on the 'essay' questions), 3 article reviews from specified source material, and participation (including contributions to discussions).


Sustainability Science undergraduate course (Acrobat (PDF) 168kB Jun7 12)

References and Notes:

Dernach, J.C., ed. 2009. Agenda for a Sustainable America. [for 2011; frequent changes to required text(s) are made]
▸ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Sustainability Science section
▸ Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development
▸ Yale Environment 360 ('Reports' and 'Analysis' sections)