Initial Publication Date: November 9, 2012

Key Components of Sustainability Assignments

These key components may be applied across the disciplines

  1. Promote understanding without doom and gloom.
  2. Focus on solutions.
  3. Empower students to make positive changes, moving from analysis to systemic action.

For examples of these core pedagogies, see Tools to Incorporate Sustainability into the Classroom.

This Power Point slideshow gives examples of applications in fields from chemistry to economics for each pedagogy of sustainability. Core Pedagogies PowerPoint (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 182kB Oct28 12)

The InTeGrate Project identified pedagogical themes that generalize to teaching the interdisciplinary subject of sustainability within any academic discipline. These involve using the grand challenges that society faces -- energy, food, water -- to help students improve their critical thinking skills, incorporate systems thinking, and make use of authentic and credible data in addressing problems.

Students' Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will be able to define sustainability.
  2. Students will be able to explain how sustainability relates to their lives and their values, and how their actions impact issues of sustainability.
  3. Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality
  4. Students will be able to explain how systems -- ecosystems, individual humans in society -- are interrelated.
  5. Students will learn change agent skills.
  6. Students will learn how to apply concepts of sustainability to their campus and community by engaging in the challenges and solutions of sustainability on their campus.
  7. Students will learn how to apply concepts of sustainability globally by engaging in the challenges and the solutions of sustainability in a world context.

Source: Magdalena Svanström, Francisco J. Lozano-García, Debra Rowe, (2008). "Learning outcomes for sustainable development in higher education," International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 9 Iss: 3 pp. 339 - 351.

This more detailed table ( presents specific dimensions of these learning outcomes and suggestions for students' developmental experiences. (Source: The College Student Educators International, in collaboration with the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development.)

Service Learning

Service Learning helps students apply their knowledge and skills about Sustainability in practice through active engagement in their communities. Service learning can be an important means of moving from analysis to action. (The link is housed on a Geosciences page but applies to all disciplines.)