Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 69.73
Liaison Lindsey Lyons
Submission Date April 30, 2012
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.2

Dickinson College
ER-5: Sustainability Course Identification

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Neil Leary
Center for Sustainability Education
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Has the institution developed a definition of sustainability in the curriculum?:

A copy of the institution's definition of sustainability in the curriculum?:

Definitions of sustainability focused and related courses were adopted by Dickinson’s all-college Academic Programs and Standards Committee (APSC) in February 2011 and an inventory of fall 2011 courses that fit the definitions was created. A list of the fall courses is posted online at http://www.dickinson.edu/academics/distinctive-opportunities/sustainability-education/content/SCON---SINV/. In addition, Dickinson students can do automated searches in our online course selection system to find sustainability focused and related courses.

The definitions were initially drafted by the Steering Committee of Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education (CSE), which is composed of 4 faculty members from the sciences, 2 from social sciences and 2 from humanities, 2 students, 3 staff members and 4 administrators. Current membership of the steering committee can be found online at http://www.dickinson.edu/governance.aspx. The draft definitions were forwarded to APSC for their approval, along with a proposal to inventory sustainability courses and incorporate sustainability course identifiers into the online course selection system. APSC is charged with oversight of the college’s curriculum and is composed of elected faculty members representing all three academic divisions of the college, administrators, students and staff. Current APSC membership can be found online at http://www.dickinson.edu/academics/resources/apsc/content/Committee-Members-and-Meeting-Schedule/.

Has the institution identified its sustainability-focused and sustainability-related course offerings?:

A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the inventory:

The APSC gave its approval of the following definitions of sustainability focused courses, called Sustainability Investigations courses, and sustainability related courses, called Sustainability Connections courses.

Sustainability Investigations: Sustainability Investigations courses engage students in deep and focused study of problems of sustainability as a major emphasis of the course. They may focus on a selected dimension of sustainability, but should do so in context with and reference to all three dimensions: social, economic and environmental. Many of these courses use sustainability or sustainable development as an explicit lens through which to examine questions about society, economic and human development, science and technology, or human interactions with the environment. But courses that use other paradigms may also be considered to be Sustainability Investigations courses if they examine economic, social and environmental dimensions of questions about meeting human needs in a world of finite resources and complex, interconnected systems.

Sustainability Connections: Sustainability Connections courses engage students in making connections between the main topic of the course and sustainability by using a small but significant number of assignments, selected readings, problems, examples, case studies, or units to explore questions within the broader context of the course about human interactions with the environment and their consequences for social, economic or environmental objectives. Often the explorations draw on knowledge and perspectives from more than one discipline, but can be rooted in a single discipline. Sustainability Connections courses may focus on all or just one of the dimensions of sustainability – economic, social or environmental – but with reference to at least one of the other dimensions. Sustainability is a significant but generally not a major emphasis of Sustainability Connections courses.

CSE staff invited faculty to nominate courses for designation as Sustainability Investigations and Sustainability Connections courses and also identified candidate courses by reviewing course descriptions in the Academic Bulletin and course syllabi. Candidate courses were presented to the CSE Steering Committee for approval to receive designation as sustainability courses based on course descriptions, syllabi and learning goals. Relevant instructors were asked to confirm the committee’s designations. The sustainability course designations were then transmitted to the Registrar and the designations were integrated into the online course selection system for fall 2011.

Does the institution make its sustainability course inventory publicly available online?:

The website URL where the sustainability course inventory is posted:

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.