Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.05
Liaison Lisa Kilgore
Submission Date March 5, 2020
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Cornell University
AC-1: Academic Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 12.44 / 14.00 Mark Lawrence
Communications Mgr
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures required to calculate the percentage of courses offered by the institution that are sustainability course offerings:
Undergraduate Graduate
Total number of courses offered by the institution 2,509 2,300
Number of sustainability courses offered 183 90
Number of courses offered that include sustainability 345 156

Percentage of courses that are sustainability course offerings:

Total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that offer courses (at any level):

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that offer at least one sustainability course and/or course that includes sustainability (at any level):

Percentage of academic departments with sustainability course offerings:

A copy of the institution’s inventory of its sustainability course offerings and descriptions:
Do the figures reported above cover one, two, or three academic years?:

A brief description of the methodology used to determine the total number of courses offered and to identify sustainability course offerings, including the definitions used and the process for reviewing and/or validating the course inventory :

The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) develops and delivers (publicly, via the web) the most comprehensive list of sustainability-related courses at Cornell (please see link below). We annually review the overall Cornell course listings to identify new sustainability courses and courses that include sustainability.

In June 2013, the entire course catalog and course descriptions were analyzed to ensure that the courses on ACSF’s Sustainability Curricula list were relevant to environment, energy, and/or economic development. All courses were identified as either sustainability-focused or sustainability-related based on STARS definitions of the two. This analysis yielded a more up-to-date list with additional sustainability focused and related courses.

In 2019 all courses on the ACSF’s Sustainability Curricula list were checked to verify that all courses were still being taught at Cornell. Those that were no longer offered were deleted from the list, and those that were still offered were updated. Starting in 2014, professors were also given the opportunity to tag their own class as a sustainability course upon course registration. This self-selecting methodology has proven useful, as new courses have been added to the ACSF Sustainability Curricula list as a result.

Courses that were previously tagged as sustainability focused or related were re-evaluated to meet STARS (2.1) new definitions of “sustainability course” (which is still called ‘focused’ on ACSF’s list) and “course that includes sustainability” (‘related’). Professors of questionable courses were contacted; they were asked to confirm whether or not their courses fit one of the definitions provided by AASHE.

Semester at Sea programs and other study abroad programs that are not directly affiliated with Cornell were not added to the list because they do not satisfy what STARS considers part of the course roster. Programs like Shoals and other courses that include an abroad trip, however, were added to the sustainable course directory because they are directly affiliated with Cornell. Courses that were not added to the list (and in few cases, deleted from the list) include honors thesis credits, research credits, independent study options, and internship credits. Crosslisted classes were only added once.

How were courses with multiple offerings or sections counted for the figures reported above?:
Each course was counted as a single course regardless of the number of offerings or sections

A brief description of how courses with multiple offerings or sections were counted (if different from the options outlined above):

Crosslisted courses were only counted once. However, there are courses offered to both undergraduate and graduate students. These courses were counted twice in the total graduate courses, total graduate sustainability courses, total undergraduate courses, and total undergraduate sustainability courses.

Are the following course types included in the inventory? :
Yes (included) or No (not included)
Internships No
Practicums No
Independent study No
Special topics No
Thesis / dissertation No
Clinical No
Physical education No
Performance arts No

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

Although special topics, internships, etc. are not included in the spreadsheet inventory, these courses (if they include sustainability content) are included in the list provided in the link above, which is primarily meant for student use.

The document supporting the total number of departments and sustainability departments is attached in IC-3

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.