Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.85
Liaison Amy Butler
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2019
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Michigan State University
AC-2: Learning Outcomes

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 6.30 / 8.00 Amy Butler
Campus Sustainability Director
MSU Sustainability
"---" 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:

University Undergraduate Learning Outcomes/Goals (UGAD – Goals/Outcomes)
The University has published learning goals/outcomes ( (UGAD-Outcomes) for all undergraduate students, including transfer students (UGAD) https://undergrad.msu.edu/programs/learninggoals . The establishment of the UGAD – Outcomes was a priority of the Provost in meeting the Higher Learning Commission accreditation process to encourage progress around learning outcomes and engage in curriculum reform that changes the nature and shape of the educational experience. The UGAD Goals/Outcomes were created through a collaborative process that included facult, librarians, advisors, residential education staff, and undergraduate and graduate students.

The UGAD Goals/Outcomes were developed from four global themes: 1) Responsible global citizenship - Ethics & governance 2) Sustainability: - Food, -water, -environment; 3)Social justice -Conflict,- peace, -poverty, -health, -inequality; and 4) Technology and Creativity ; -Social networking, -cognitive/brain science, -nanotechnology, -“big data”. Thus, sustainability is embedded throughout context of the five undergraduate learning outcomes, as well as within the rubrics and artifacts http://learninggoals.undergrad.msu.edu/ The five goals/outcomes are: Analytical Thinking; Cultural Understanding; Effective Citizenship; Effective Communication; and Integrated Reasoning.

The MSU Graduate will:
Use ways of knowing from mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts to access information and critically analyze complex material in order to evaluate evidence, construct reasoned arguments, and communicate inferences and conclusions.
Acquires, analyzes, and evaluates information from multiple sources
Synthesizes and applies information within and across disciplines
Identifies and applies, as appropriate, quantitative methods for defining and responding to problems
Identifies the credibility, use and misuse of scientific, humanistic and artistic methods
Comprehend global and cultural diversity within historical, artistic, and societal contexts.
Reflects on experiences with diversity to demonstrate knowledge and sensitivity
Demonstrates awareness of how diversity emerges within and across cultures
Participate as a member of local, national, and global communities and has the capacity to lead in an increasingly interdependent world.
Understand the structures of local, national, and global governance systems and acts effectively within those structures in both individual and collaborative ways.
Applies knowledge and abilities to solve societal problems in ethical ways.
Use a variety of media to communicate effectively with diverse audiences.
Identifies how contexts affect communication strategies and practices
Engages in effective communication practices in a variety of situations and with a variety of media.
Integrates discipline-based knowledge to make informed decisions that reflect humane, social, ethical, and aesthetic values.
Critically applies liberal arts knowledge in disciplinary contexts and disciplinary knowledge in liberal arts contexts
Uses a variety of inquiry strategies incorporating multiple views to make value judgments, solve problems, answer questions, and generate new understanding.

The learning goals/outcomes are then specifically taught through the Integrated Studies Required Courses. The Integrated Studies requirements are:
 Comprised of 24 total credits, broken down as follows:
• 8 credits in Arts and Humanities - 1st and 2nd IAH
• 8 credits in Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences - ISS200, ISS300
• 3 credits in Biological Sciences - ISB
• 3 credits in Physical Sciences - ISP
• 2 credits of Lab in either Biological or Physical Sciences - ISB/ISP Lab
• Note: 2 courses must be in either Diversity, National Diversity, or International Diversity.
They are offered through the Center for Integrated Studies in Arts & Humanities; Social Sciences; and General Sciences.
Integrative Studies courses integrate multiple ways of knowing and modes of inquiry and introduce students to important ways of thinking in the three core knowledge areas: the Arts and Humanities, the Biological and Physical Sciences, and the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. They assist students early during their study to develop as more critical thinkers. They also encourage appreciation of our humanity and creativity, human cultural diversity, the power of knowledge, and our responsibilities for ourselves and for our world.

College Level Learning Outcomes/Goals
College of Engineering: requires that "graduates have the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context. " consistent with requirements of their ABET Accreditation. This learning outcome is integrated into the design of their curriculum at the college level and carried throughout the course designs for each program. The required ABET student learning outcomes includes: [h] the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context, and [j] a knowledge of contemporary issue. These are included in every degree program within the College.
Departments within Engineering Learning Outcomes:
Department of Chemical Engineering learning outcomes include: graduates must have an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors; an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations; an ability to make informed judgments, which consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts; an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
Department of Biosystems Engineering outcomes include: graduates will have an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints, such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability; and the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
Department of Civil Engineering: Civil Engineering is ABET Accredited at MSU and incorporates the required learning outcome: students will be able include principles of sustainability in design; explain basic concepts in project management, business, public policy, and leadership.
Department of Environmental Engineering: adds specific learning outcomes at the graduate level: Environmental Engineering is ABET Accredited at MSU and incorporates students will be able to design environmental engineering systems that include considerations of risk, uncertainty, sustainability, life-cycle principles, and environmental impacts; and apply advanced principles and practice relevant to the program objectives .
College of Agriculture, and Natural Resources: Students will learn to manage resources, people, and technology to improve the use, conservation and renewal of natural and created environments; develop sustainable systems; manage green spaces; enhance community and economic development; and advance food safety and nutrition; They will have the tools they need to undertake endeavors that ensure the sustainability of food, prosperity and leisure activities in a world environment that has finite resources.
Department of Horticulture has a Learning Outcomes and Assessment Committee who developed learning outcomes for their Bachelors of Science in Horticulture and IAT Certificate Programs. They are developed based upon American Society for Horticulture Science and evaluated for alignment with MSU's undergraduate learning goals and reflect the Higher Learning Commission priorities. The specific learning outcomes for the HRT, include: Understand how global issues including climate change, energy use, water availability, and/or food safety impact sustainability of horticultural systems locally, nationally, and globally; and Quantify economic importance of plants in managed ecosystems and the impact of horticultural crops in food systems.
Department of Community Sustainability – Graduates will
• Critical Thinking: interpret, analyze and evaluate information generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, and communication as a guide to formulate and defend responses to complex sustainability problems.
• Systems Thinking: demonstrate their knowledge of the interconnectedness of human and natural systems with the ability to anticipate and explain changes in complex systems over time.
• Economic literacy: demonstrate knowledge of and ability to use economic theories and methods to recognize and evaluate tradeoffs inherent in decision-making for sustainability.
• Ecological literacy: demonstrate knowledge, skills and ability to apply the tools and concepts of ecological science to explain the interdependence between humans and ecosystems and the consequences of actions at various spatial and temporal scales. Students will be able to:
• Boundary-crossing: identify their own assumptions and biases, recognize new perspectives, and demonstrate the ability to collaborate with individuals and groups whose norms, assumptions and biases are different from their own.
• Community: demonstrate knowledge of the various interpretations of community as it relates to the study and practice of sustainability
• Equity: demonstrate knowledge of the dynamics of social equality and inequality (equity) and how they affect sustainability.
• Civic engagement: develop the knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to participate in civic life.
• Leadership: develop, demonstrate and evaluate leadership practices that contribute to sustainability.
• Initiative and practical skills: demonstrate initiative, including the ability to self-direct and solve problems individually and as participants in larger group efforts.
• Ethics: evaluate and analyze diverse ethical positions on practical sustainability challenges.

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):

Program Level Learning Outcomes/Goals
College of Natural Science- the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE) After participating in the RISE Living-Learning Community, students will be able to:
• Form an Opinion: Articulate multiple perspectives about complex issues and formulate their own positions regarding these issues
• Demonstrate Leadership: Describe and demonstrate leadership practices through communication, group processes, projects, and skill-building activities
• Enact Social Change: Develop the knowledge, skills, and values to effectively participate in community action for social change
• Value Collaboration: Seek and value collaboration with others from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines
• Describe Strengths: Describe personal strengths, skills, and interests and make meaningful academic, life, and career choices
• Engage in Sustainability Work: Learn about and apply concepts of sustainability to our campus and community by engaging in the discussions about the challenges.
College of Natural Sciences -Environmental Science and Policy Program: includes learning outcomes requiring students to
• Integrate concepts from multiple disciplines to address water-related issues and ideas
• Create appropriate inquiry protocols to investigate water-related issues and ideas
• Employ a systems perspective to understand the scale & scope of water-related issues and ideas
• Generate new insights & recommendations related to water issues and ideas
• Evaluate the disciplinary, cultural, and contextual uses and bias of data, methods, and solutions
• Analyze the purpose, role, & influence across a range of water-related organizations (e.g.,
• governmental, non-profit, profit)
• Approach water-related issues, ideas and decision making, including trade-offs, with an eye for power
• and equity
• Model conflict management and dialogue skills as means of engaging with diverse people &
• perspectives
• Design communications appropriate for academic, professional, lay, and student audiences & contexts
• Interpret common data related to water–related issues and ideas

Eli Broad College of Business graduate specialization in Business Concepts for Environment Sustainability and Conservation includes learning outcomes: graduates will:
• Have an awareness of the challenges of environmental sustainability in today's complex world,
• Have an understanding of the appropriate business management tools needed to address those issues.

College of Agriculture, and Natural Resource – Environmental Studies and Sustainability. Graduates of this program will be prepared to enter the professions of environmental, natural resource, agricultural and community development fields through careers in education, government, private industry, nonprofit organizations, and public relations and communications.

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:

Course Level Learning Outcomes/Goals
Note: A subset of courses with specific learning outcomes is provided here. The inventory prepared for AC1 is a comprehensive list of all courses that have been deemed “sustainability courses” [as noted in green] or “courses with elements of sustainability” [ as noted in orange] per the technical guidance definition and was the resource utilized to calculate number of courses and number of degrees issued where learning outcomes may not have been as clearly defined.

Course CSUS 200 is required for all majors within the Department of Community Sustainability, Environmental Studies and Sustainability; RISE; Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Tourism; Agriculture Food and Natural Resources Education (undergrad) Community Sustainability and Sustainable Tourism and Protected Areas Management (graduate and phD.
In this course students will be able to: Students will be able to:
1. Identify key themes and principles in sustainability development
2. Apply a variety of critical thinking, analysis and research skills to evaluate the credibility of sustainability policy positions and scientific arguments.
3. Identify the concept of an ecological footprint and recognize their ecological footprint.
4. Improve decision-making capabilities within the context of sustainability.
5. Assess whether a societal issue is a wicked or tame problem.
6. Develop team leadership skills within groups to advance change within communities.
7. Use information technologies in their formal and non-formal learning.
8. Consider the importance of the Commons in developing community sustainability strategies.
9. Identify individual worldviews as they relate to sustainability and their implications for individual actions.
10. Examine the interaction between agriculture, food, natural resources and Michigan communities using a systems approach.
11. Use Life Cycle Analysis to consider the true costs of products and services. Additional course examples that include learning outcomes in sustainability at both the course and lecture level:

EEP405- The learning objective is that the students should be able to identify and analyze how value is being created and captured on the environmental/sustainability dimension, under various domestic and international business conditions. Students will be able to apply appropriate decision analysis techniques to scrutinize, frame, strategize and evaluate unstructured business situations in various functional areas. Detailed learning outcomes for each class in the course are listed in the course plan.

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

Calculation of Number of Degrees conferred with sustainability the following were used:
Undergraduates – all degrees issued were included as a result of university-wide learning goals/outcomes (UGAD-Goals/Outcomes).
Graduates – All graduates from a division or program that may embedded sustainability into their learning goals; or graduates from programs that require at least one sustainability course as identified through the inventory for AC 1.
All programs where graduates were counted are identified on AC 2 Inventory of Degrees with Learning Outcomes/Courses.


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.