Initial Publication Date: April 8, 2019

Core Competencies for Sustainability Education Programs

Friday, April 26, 2019

11:00 am PT |12:00 pm MT | 1:00 pm CT | 2:00 pm ET

Presenters: Rod Parnell (Northern Arizona University & National Council for Science and the Environment) and Peter Walker (Chatham University - Eden Hall Campus & National Council for Science and the Environment)

Discussant: Katja Brundiers (Arizona State University & National Council for Science and the Environment)

This webinar is sponsored by the Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences (AESS) and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT). This webinar is part of a series supporting teaching with InTeGrate principles, using InTeGrate-developed and curated materials as tools.

The registration deadline has passed.


Every year, new sustainability degree programs are launched at colleges and universities across the USA, joining a global trend of sustainability degree programs. This effort raises important questions for the field of sustainability in higher education related to quality and standards, processes of program development and administration, and communicating the skills, attitudes, and abilities sustainability graduates would have to potential employers. In early 2018, the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) launched a process on "core competencies in sustainability degree programs" through NCSE's Community of Practice on key competencies. The goal of this initiative, through an expert-based Delphi-Study and additional professional meetings, is to reach a nation-wide a "Consensus Statement" on sustainability competencies.

In this webinar, we first describe the significance of core competencies to academic programs, especially those in rapidly developing fields. We define what we mean by core competencies, learning outcomes and frameworks. We report on the current state of research on key competencies in sustainability and highlight the most utilized core competency systems. We present NCSE preliminary data gathered through a Delphi-Study and workshops at professional meetings that focused on program-level learning outcomes related to key competencies in sustainability. The session concludes with discussing the consensus building process and next steps in the evolution of core competencies in sustainability.


By the end of this webinar, participants will:

  • Share a basic vocabulary and understanding of concepts related to competency, core competencies, program level learning outcomes
  • Understand how core competencies can be of use and implementing and improving academic sustainability programs, and in communicating program goals to audiences
  • Learn how to participate in a nationwide effort to create a consensus statement on core competencies and sustainability


Time - 11:00 am PT |12:00 pm MT | 1:00 pm CT | 2:00 pm ET
- 1 hour
- Online web presentation via Zoom meeting software with questions and discussion. Go to the webinar technology page for information on using Zoom. Detailed instructions for joining the webinar will be emailed to registered participants one day prior to the webinar.
Preparation - There is no advance preparation required for this webinar. We encourage participants to view the websites of the organizations mentioned in the workshop summary.

The registration deadline has passed.

Please email Mitchell Awalt ( if you have any questions about this event.


Rod Parnell, PhD, Coordinator of Academic Sustainability and Professor, School of Earth & Sustainability, Northern Arizona University and Senior Fellow, National Council for Science and the Environment

Peter Walker, PhD, Dean, Falk School of Sustainability and Environment, Chatham University, Eden Hall Campus and Board Member, National Council for Science and the Environment


Katja Brundiers, PhD, Assistant Research Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University and Co-chair, NCSE Sustainability Education Consensus Statement and Core Competencies Community of Practice


Core Competencies for Sustainability Education Programs Presentatin Slides (Acrobat (PDF) 20.1MB Apr25 19)

  1. Welcome and introductory remarks – Mitchell Awalt, SERC
  2. Introduction of speakers - David Blockstein, AESS
  3. How could developing core competencies aid the young profession of Sustainability?
  4. What are core competencies?
  5. Core competencies in Sustainability/Education for sustainable development (ESD)
  6. How can we use a community of practice to build consensus around core competencies?
  7. What we have done to-date and ongoing work: the NCSE processes and results
  8. On-going challenges
  9. Possible plans for implementing core competencies once we have them
  10. Discussion and questions – moderated by David Blockstein, AESS
  11. Opportunities for further interaction - Mitchell Awalt, SERC
  12. Webinar Evaluation

Resources and References

Click to view or download the webinar screencast (MP4 Video 387.7MB Apr26 19)