Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Lindsey Kalkbrenner
Submission Date May 3, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Santa Clara University
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Laura Nichols
Associate Professor, Sociology
Director, Core Curriculum
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Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
The Sustainability Pathway at Santa Clara University

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

The Pathway is a requirement of all Santa Clara University undergraduate students.

The Pathway is considered innovative because it allows for inter-disciplinary and integrative learning across the four years of a student's college experience, culminating with students writing a synthesizing essay about their Pathway theme, the ways different disciplines approach the Pathway theme, and the connection of the student's Pathway to his/her major and other experiences. The essay is written independent of a class and the paper is assessed by faculty readers and must be approved before a student is able to receive his/her degree from the University.

In response to the Pathway requirement, faculty and staff have created 24 different Pathways. Sustainability is one of the Pathways that students may choose from. The Sustainability Pathway has almost 100 courses approved to fulfill the Pathway, ranging across twenty-one different disciplines from Religious Studies to Civil Engineering, Economics to Ethnic Studies, etc. Students must take no more than two of their four Pathway courses from any one discipline, thus learning how different areas approach the same topic area.

The Sustainability Pathway is described as: Sustainability is most often defined as meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The recognition that sustainability is an imperative that must be met stems from the fact that humans are using the earth’s resources and degrading its ecosystems in ways that compromise the health and well-being of future generations and the planet. The sustainability
Pathway will allow students to learn about sustainability from multiple disciplinary perspectives and in interdisciplinary ways. This will help our students integrate the interconnected ideals of viable ecological integrity, viable economies, and equity and justice.

Some critical sustainability themes that are embedded in the curriculum of sustainability Pathway classes are:
Human Connections to the Physical and Natural World
How Natural Systems Function
Ethics and Values
Technological and Economic Relationships to Encourage Sustainability
Motivating Environmentally Sustainable Behavior
Critical Engagement with Sustainability Issues


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

Students in the Sustainability Pathway may choose from over 90 approved courses in 21 different disciplines ranging from Women's and Gender Studies, Civil Engineering, Religious Studies, Marketing, History, Finance, Chemistry, among many others. June 2013 we graduated our first class with the Pathway requirement. Fifty-one graduating seniors graduated with the Sustainability Pathway. Students in the Sustainability Pathway had a 89% pass rate the first time they submitted their Pathway essay (compared to 67% for all students across the Pathways). Currently, of the 2,049 students in our Pathway system, 93 currently have a Sustainability Pathway.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of 5):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research No
Campus Engagement No
Public Engagement No
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy No
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste No
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

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