Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 83.20
Liaison Mina Amundsen
Submission Date Nov. 5, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Colby College
AC-2: Learning Outcomes

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.26 / 8.00 Philip Nyhus
Environmental Studies Program Director
Environmental Studies
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Total number of graduates from degree programs (i.e. majors, minors, concentrations, certificates, and other academic designations):

Number of students that graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome:

Percentage of students who graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome:

Do the figures reported above cover one, two, or three academic years?:

Does the institution specify sustainability learning outcomes at the institution level (e.g. covering all students)?:

Does the institution specify sustainability learning outcomes at the division level (e.g. covering particular schools or colleges within the institution)?:

A list or brief description of the institution level or division level sustainability learning outcomes:

The Colby Plan represents the objectives of a Colby education. These ten precepts paired with the learning outcomes associated with several of course distribution requirements specifically relate to sustainability and combine to address the concept as a whole:
1. The distribution requirement for the natural sciences ensures all students learn about the environment. The learning outcome associated with this requirement is to understand natural phenomena through observation, systematic study, and/or theoretical analysis.
2. The diversity distribution requirement aims for students to understand the structures, workings, and consequences of prejudice, privilege, oppression, inequality, and injustice.

1. to develop one’s capability for critical thinking, to learn to articulate ideas both orally and in writing, to develop a capacity for independent work, and to exercise the imagination through direct, disciplined involvement in the creative process
2. to become knowledgeable about American culture and the current and historical interrelationships among peoples and nations
3. to become acquainted with other cultures by learning a foreign language and by living and studying in another country or by closely examining a culture other than one’s own
4. to learn how people different from oneself have contributed to the richness and diversity of society, how prejudice limits such personal and cultural enrichment, and how each individual can confront intolerance
5. to understand and reflect searchingly upon one’s own values and the values of others
6. to become familiar with the art and literature of a wide range of cultures and historical periods
7. to explore in some detail one or more scientific disciplines, including experimental methods, and to examine the interconnections
between developments in science and technology and the quality of human life
8. to study the ways in which natural and social phenomena can be portrayed in quantitative terms and to understand the effects and limits of the use of quantitative data in forming policies and making decisions
9. to study one discipline in depth, to gain an understanding of that discipline’s methodologies and modes of thought, areas of application, and relationship to other areas of knowledge
10. to explore the relationships between academic work and one’s responsibility to contribute to the world beyond the campus.

The Colby Plan is a series of 10 educational precepts that reflect the principal elements of a liberal education and serve as a guide for making reflective course choices, for measuring educational growth, and for planning for education beyond college. Students are urged to pursue these objectives not only in their course work but also through educational and cultural events, campus organizations and activities, and service to others. Colby is committed to the belief that the best preparation for life, and especially for the professions that require specialized study, is a broad acquaintance with human knowledge. The Colby experience is designed to enable each student to find and fulfill his or her own unique potential. It is hoped that students will become critical and imaginative thinkers who are: welcoming of diversity and compassionate toward others; capable of distinguishing fact from opinion; intellectually curious and aesthetically aware; adept at synthesis as well as analysis; broadly educated with depth in some areas; proficient in writing and speaking; familiar with one or more scientific disciplines; knowledgeable about American and other cultures; able to create and enjoy opportunities for lifelong learning; willing to assume leadership roles as students and citizens; prepared to respond flexibly to the changing demands of the world of work; useful to society and happy with themselves.

Colby stands for diversity, for respect for various lifestyles and beliefs, and for the protection of every individual against discrimination. In the classroom and outside, there is freedom to study, to think, to speak, to work, to learn, and to thrive in an environment that insists upon both civility and the free and open exchange of ideas and views. The behavior of individuals may often affect the rights and well being of others, therefore all members of the campus community are responsible for fostering an environment in which teaching, learning, and research flourish.

All Colby students are required to take distribution requirements across nine topics, including Natural Sciences (2), Social Sciences (1), Historical Studies (1), and Literature (1). The college offers sustainability-related and focused course that fulfill all these requirements. All Colby students are also required to pass two diversity-focused courses one of these courses must deal with these issues as they concern the United States, and one must deal with these issues in a context other than the United States.

The college supports these outcome by offering courses and supporting faculty that teach sustainability-related and focused courses in all four divisions of the college. The college further supports numerous extra-and co-curricular opportunities available for every student, including opportunities to apply for sustainability related research experiences, internships, civic engagement opportunities, and off-campus study opportunities. These opportunities are supported by multiple college-wide programs and initiatives, including the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, Davis Connects, Green Colby, the Off Campus Study Office, the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement, the Center for the Arts and the Humanities (including the Environmental Humanities initiative), and numerous academic departments and programs on campus.

Environmental sustainability is a strategic priority of the college. In the 2018-19 college catalog, this statement of core values and learning outcomes is summarized as follows: "Colby is committed to nurturing environmental awareness through its academic program as well as through its activities on campus and beyond. As a local and global environmental citizen, the College adheres to the core values of respect for the environment and sustainable living. Colby seeks to lead by example and fosters morally responsible environmental stewardship. Environmentally safe practices inform and guide campus strategic planning, decision making, and daily operations. We urge community members to recognize personal and institutional responsibilities for reducing impact on the local and global environment. Finally, we recognize that achieving environmental sustainability will be an ongoing challenge that evolves as we become more aware and educated as a community."

Does the institution specify sustainability learning outcomes at the program level (i.e. majors, minors, concentrations, degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other academic designations)?:

A list or brief description of the program level sustainability learning outcomes (or a list of sustainability-focused programs):

The Environmental Studies (ES) Program offers three majors (Environmental Science, Environmental Policy, Environmental Computation) and an Environmental Studies minor. As of February 2019 across three years (Sophomore, Junior, Senior) the college had 181 Environmental Studies majors and 63 minors (244 students total). This makes ES the third largest department or program on campus (approximately 16% of all declared majors and minors at Colby are ES majors/minors). Requirements for the majors and minor can be found here: http://www.colby.edu/catalogue/requirements/es/#requirementsSection

ES Learning Outcomes
-understand methods and technologies that enhance ability to learn about and study interdisciplinary environmental problems and solutions;
-understand and respond to local, regional, and global environmental challenges from social science, natural science, and humanities perspectives
-understanding of the complexity and inter-relatedness of humans and nature.

-requires sustainability focused course ST112
Science, Technology, and Society (STS) is an exciting interdisciplinary field of study grounded in the history, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology of science and technology. It examines deep cultural roots of our technoscientific society and addresses pressing public policy issues. Science and technology have become increasingly important components of our world, changing the ways we live, work, and think. The well-being of individuals, nations, and ultimately our Earth depends in part on technoscientific developments that are part of the process shaping both the social fabric and the natural environment, both in America and globally.

Colby is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of science, technology, and society, and it is one of only a handful of liberal arts colleges offering this program. Students are deeply engaged in this evolving interdisciplinary field of study, exploring both the technical and social dimensions. Collaborating with professors, they investigate the discipline through historical, philosophical, sociological, and cultural lenses while assessing pressing public policy issues. Students can select from a variety of STS courses that focus on both U.S. and international issues and incorporate an array of topics, allowing students to develop particular lines of interest within the major.

Through rigorous courses, a variety of electives, and a final thesis, students gain an understanding of the technical and social dimensions of science and technology, become better-informed citizens as they hone critical interdisciplinary-research, writing, and communication skills.

-understand how processes of change impacts the distribution of wealth and opportunity both within and between nations as well as the environmental sustainability of growth over time.
-develop an understanding and appreciation for economic interactions based on policies developed by sovereign states and multilateral organization as opposed to interactions among consumers and among firms within a country; analyze the policies that nations and global institutions implement to address questions of fairness and stable growth.

requires sustainability-focused course BI271

requires sustainability-focused course GE141

-develop expertise in research, theory construction, and practice in the field of education, informed by perspectives from a variety of disciplines, enhanced by multiple opportunities to engage in service learning and civic engagement, and animated by a commitment to social justice.
-understand the impact of cultural assumptions, societal norms, and institutional policies and practices on both individuals and groups
-understand power as it relates to the construction of knowledge and the preservation of privilege
-analyze critically the intended and unintended oppressions resulting from specific educational and institutional practices
-create and implement policies and practices that promote greater social justice and equity in schools and society

-understand the complexity of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
-learn a systematic approach to studying social phenomena including competition, government behavior, globalization, poverty, discrimination, the environment, and other issues of public and private life.

Do course level sustainability learning outcomes contribute to the figure reported above (i.e. in the absence of program, division, or institution level learning outcomes)?:

A list or brief description of the course level sustainability learning outcomes and the programs for which the courses are required:

All of these departments contain learning goals, require classes that are either sustainability focused or sustainability related, or offer courses that are either sustainability focused or sustainability related. Thus, students majoring or minoring in any of these departments engage in sustainability through the curriculum .

CH217 Environmental Chemistry
Develops an understanding of how physical, chemical, and biological processes create and define the natural world. Focus is on the fundamental equilibrium and kinetic processes that control global systems, including the composition of the atmosphere, ocean, and biosphere. Building on the concept of residence time and chemical reactivity, students learn how to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic modifications to the environment over a range of spatial and temporal scales. Current topics such as acid deposition, global warming, atmospheric ozone loss, and the fate and toxicity of heavy metals are discussed in the context of natural environmental processes.

ES118 Environment and Society
An interdisciplinary study of human relationships with and impacts on the environment. Examination of important local, national, and global environmental issues by exploring causes and methods for investigating these pressing problems, as well as possible solutions, from scientific and public-policy perspectives.

ES298 Managing Environmental Risk
The incidence of environmental disasters has increased in recent decades. This trend is explained by multiple intersecting factors related to climate change, demography, geography and economics. This course examines how policy institutions and communities conceptualize and address environmental risk with a particular focus on climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, and resilience building. Students will gain a topical understandings and introduction to key theoretical frameworks. Students will gain insight into the ways in which research and empirical evidence informs policy and practice.

ST297 Global Food, Health, and Society
A seminar introducing important international historical episodes and contemporary issues regarding ways in which food became crucial to human health in society. Students will learn how food practices, originally bounded within certain places and cultures, became transformed in modern societies with the rise of modern agricultural, transportation technologies, and nutrition science, and the public and global health consequences of these transformations.

Colby has a list of Sustainability Focused Courses and Courses that Include Sustainability listed in AC1.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Includes first majors and minors.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.