Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 65.89
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date Aug. 29, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Columbia University
AC-2: Learning Outcomes

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.49 / 8.00 Alison Miller
Deputy Executive Director
Earth Institute
"---" 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:

At the division level, the Earth Institute specifies sustainability learning outcomes that apply to those sustainability programs that it co-sponsors with partner schools/departments.

Students in Earth Institute co-sponsored programs will:
• Demonstrate proficiency in environmental science
• Demonstrate comprehension of basic concepts in the natural and physical sciences
• Be able to summarize basic concepts of management, economics and policy
• Be able to apply an interdisciplinary, systems-thinking approach in problem-solving
• Be able to analyze complex, systemic sustainability issues

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):

Below is a sample of learning outcomes from each academic program:
• B.S. Earth and Environmental Engineering
o Assess environmental impacts of past, present, and future industrial activities, and analyze and apply processes for remediation, recycling, and disposal of used materials.
o Demonstrate knowledge of the underlying principles used in the engineering of processes and systems under the field of Earth and Environmental Engineering.
• B.A. Earth Sciences
o Analyze and practice critical thinking about how specific earth system processes function
o Identify solutions to multidisciplinary environmental problems.
o Summarize the natural functioning systems of our planet and the consequences of human interactions with it.
• B.A. Environmental Sciences
o Analyze and practice critical thinking about how general earth systems processes function
o Identify solutions to multidisciplinary environmental problems.
o Identify and summarize the natural functioning systems of our planet as a whole, and curate a breadth of knowledge on planetary systems and interactions.
• B.A. Environmental Biology
o Illustrate a wide range of expertise in the realms of ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, environmental policy and related areas, to demonstrate an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of Environmental Biology.
o Illustrate the major issues around conservation of earth’s resources
• Concentration in Environmental Biology
o Illustrate a broad range of knowledge in the realms of ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, environmental policy and related areas, to demonstrate an understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of Environmental Biology.
• B.A. Sustainable Development
o Illustrate a well-rounded, interdisciplinary understanding that is geared to the real and complex challenges of sustainable development and our emerging understanding of how to address them.
o Analyze applied problems and solutions to address the challenges of sustainable development faced by the global community.
• Special Concentration in Sustainable Development
o Apply interdisciplinary understandings of the complex challenges of sustainable development to another course of study
o Demonstrate an understanding of the interaction between sustainable development and another disciplinary specialization or methodological training.
• B.A. Environment and Sustainability
o Identify and apply broad natural science concepts to decision-making frameworks in the realms of environment and sustainability.
o Assess and analyze applied problems and solutions within the realm of environment and sustainability.
• Post baccalaureate Certificate in Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
o Identify and practice the core sciences related to environmental biology—chemistry, biology, earth sciences, statistics, and environmental biology.
• M.A. Climate and Society;
o Assess and analyze impacts of climate variability and climate change as they relate to society and the environment.
o Integrate social science with climate science to develop an interdisciplinary understanding.
• M.A. Conservation Biology
o Integrate biological science, economics, and environmental policy into a capstone project that demonstrates expertise in a specific topic.
• M.I.A/M.P.A Concentration in Energy and Environment;
o Apply knowledge to real-world situations.
o Recall issues that shape local, national, and international politics.
• M.P.A. Development Practice
o Apply ideas for equality, development, and sustainability into practice, and bring effective practices to scale.
• M.P.A. Environmental Science and Policy
o Summarize connections among policy intent, program design, organizational capacity, and political feasibility
o Demonstrate knowledge of professional communication, including memo and report writing and oral briefings.
• Executive M.P.A. Concentration in Environment Policy and Sustainability Management;
o Analyze and re-think linear and fragmented approaches to holistic planning for environmental sustainability.
• M.P.H. Environmental Health Sciences
o Summarize topics such as biological mechanisms, environmental health, data analysis, epidemiology and molecular epidemiology, risk assessment, occupational hazards, and policy and policy analysis.
o Apply acquired skills from classroom settings into a practicum that allows for increased understanding of how to advance the cause of public health.
• M.S. Earth Resources Engineering
o Use technologies for assessment and remediation of past damage to the environment
o Apply technical skills toward the environmentally sound mining and processing of primary materials and the recycling or proper disposal of used materials.
• M.S. Sustainability Management
o Demonstrate proficiency in concepts of sustainability management, quantitative analysis, physical dimensions of sustainability, public policy, and financial management
o Illustrate both practical skills and core knowledge that practitioners need to face the challenges of our planet
• M.S. Sustainability Science
o Assess, analyze and project environmental change by using cutting-edge tools, climate models and data collection methods.
• Ph.D. Earth and Environmental Engineering
o Apply knowledge of reconfiguration of industrial activities so as to reduce adverse impacts on the environment.
• Eng.Sc.D. Earth and Environmental Engineering
o Demonstrate knowledge of the impacts of industrial and other human activities on the environment.
• Ph.D. Earth and Environmental Sciences;
o Produce research at one of three affiliated institutions in order produce applied solutions.
• Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences
o Apply skills to laboratory-based and real-world investigations to better understand the molecular and pathological mechanisms by which environmental chemicals and physical agents affect human health.
• Dr.P.H. Environmental Health Sciences
o Evaluate current knowledge and key assumptions in environmental health sciences and other areas to advance the development of the field.
o Apply the principles of exposure assessment to evaluate human exposures to environmental and occupational hazards.
• Ph.D. Sustainable Development
o Conduct applied research on climate change and its social consequences.
o Produce in-depth research on critical policy areas related to sustainability.
• Ph.D.Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
o Demonstrate proficiency around ecological consequences and impacts and other areas to advance the development of the field.
• Professional Certification in Sustainability Analytics
o Demonstrate proficiency in reporting, accounting, metrics and indices, and monitoring procedures for sustainability-related information across any enterprise.
• Professional Certification in Sustainable Water Management
o Identify best practices in water systems management, usage, quantity, and optimization.
o Develop tools for reliable water supplies given diverse resources and variability in climate and water quality.
• Professional Certification in Sustainable Finance
o Evaluate corporate sustainability risks and opportunities from a financial perspective, and understand how to manage/mitigate those risks.
o Articulate why standard financial reporting does not adequately account for how corporate sustainability performance can enhance both shareholder and stakeholder value.
• Certificate in Conservation and Environmental Sustainability
o Analyze the complexity of environmental issues and examine the ecological, economic, and political systems within which environmentally sustainable solutions can be implemented.
• Certificate in Environment, Peace and Security
o Apply best-practice tools for managing the risks that arise from the linkage between environment and security dynamics.

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:

Sustainability-focused courses have sustainability learning outcomes in addition to program-level learning outcomes.

For example, in the course "Sustainability Metrics" in the Sustainability Management MS program, its learning objectives are stated as:

By the end of this course students should be able to:
• Understand the use and development of sustainability indicators, including city,
national, university, and corporate indicators
• Understand the complexity and challenges of making cross-jurisdictional
• Evaluate the transparency and effectiveness of sustainability programs
• Use metrics to identify environmental needs and develop public policy
• Analyze and evaluate demographic, environmental, operational, and
performance data to develop sustainability indicators
Understand that addressing complex environmental challenges involves making
trade-offs and those choices are made based on the perspective and interests of
the decision-makers
• Understand why the quantitative analysis of data is critical for understanding
environmental issues and designing the most effective solutions
• Describe the process of life cycle analysis and explain how to apply life cycle
analysis to complex environmental issues
• Understand the strengths and weaknesses of cost-benefit analysis

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

The Sustainability Principles for the University can be found here:


The programs can be found here, with links and details about each program. More details for each program, including their learning objectives can be found in each program's site:

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.