|Submission Date||March 10, 2017|
AC-2: Learning Outcomes
|3.68 / 8.00||
Director of Sustainability
Dean of Faculty's Office
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:
While our institutional-level "Goals for Student Learning and Development" don’t explicitly use the word sustainability, when viewed collectively, they prepare our students to evaluate deeply the concepts of sustainability and encourage our students to apply their learning to find solutions to sustainability-related problems. For example, our goals aimed at helping students understand social and cultural diversity in national and global contexts; gather, analyze, integrate, and apply varied forms of information; interact effectively and collaboratively with individuals across social identities; and apply learning to find solutions for social, civic, and scientific problems all address sustainability. As a small liberal arts college, our students are steeped in an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares and positions them well for grappling with issues of sustainability. As additional evidence of our commitment to sustainability-related learning outcomes, one of our five major areas of emphasis during our recent Middle State Accreditation process was "Responsible Communities: Civic Engagement, Sustainability, and Values and Ethics." In addition, sustainability is articulated as a major goal in our 2015-2025 institutional strategic plan Creating Pathyways to Excellence, and we envision a Skidmore that truly embraces the principles of sustainability in all of its institutional decision making.
Our full list of "Goals for Student Learning and Development" can be found at https://www.skidmore.edu/assessment/goals-for-student-learning.php, our Middle States Accreditation materials can be found at https://www.skidmore.edu/assessment/accreditation15-16/index.php, and our strategic plan can be found at http://www.skidmore.edu/planning/.
Regarding sustainability-related learning outcomes at the division level, as a small liberal arts school we do not have functional divisions (that is, schools or colleges). Additional learning outcomes are developed at the department level, and these learning outcomes are addressed in detail below.
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):
Learning objectives for our Environmental Studies and Sciences Program include, for example:
- Understand ways that the social world and the natural world function as well as how they influence and are influenced by environmental issues.
- Understand the utility of an interdisciplinary perspective for studying interrelationships between humans and their environment and the issues that result from these interrelationships.
- Appreciate the complexity and importance of environmental issues across time and space. Specifically, students should be able to appreciate contemporary, historical and future environmental issues as well as the interrelationships of local, regional, national, international and global environmental issues.
- Understand various intended and unintended consequences of human responses to environmental issues.
- Appreciate environmental issues and personal responsibilities as a member of a community, which includes the Skidmore campus community and beyond.
One of the six contextual dimensions for our Management & Business Department is the Natural Environment and Sustainability. Natural environment and sustainability courses that fulfill this dimension provide an opportunity for students to learn about close connections between business organizations and the natural environment while highlighting issues of sustainability. Learning objectives that focus on this contextual dimension include, for example:
- To understand how organizational decisions impact various financial outcomes, social issues, and the natural environment (i.e., the Triple Bottom Line)
- To foster awareness, sensitivity and literacy regarding the major issues and challenges bearing upon the preservation of our natural environment, and human development, in the 21st century.
- To broadly appraise the impact of business enterprise upon the natural and socio-economic environments.
- To develop a basic analytical framework, and a common lexicon, for evaluating managerial actions in the context of our profound environmental and social challenges.
- To recognize and analyze effective organizational strategies that simultaneously promote firm competitive advantage and global sustainability.
- To develop clarity and an individual perspective on issues at the intersection of business and the natural environment that will inform both opinion and action as students engage in their personal and professional lives.
- To understand how stakeholder value may be created in an environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable manner.
- To appreciate how various forms of value (financial and non-financial) may be created through green entrepreneurship and sustainable innovation.
- To develop the ability to analyze and develop a green innovation project that creates value, or an extended case study of a sustainable business enterprise that is creating value.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the roles played by multinational corporations in the societies of which they are a part, and their social and environmental, as well as economic impacts.
Our Anthropology Department has committed to consciously address the immediate issues of climate change and social justice in courses across their curriculum. More than simply relevance, they want to push themselves and our students to connect and apply the methods and anthropological discourse to the global problems we face in our world today. Learning objectives that focus on this effort include, for example:
- What is the place of humans in the natural world?
- What are the intersections between the local and the global?
- What is the relationship between the individual and society?
- How can anthropology engage current world issues?
- Think critically about cross-cultural issues, particularly by identifying and challenging assumptions embedded in Western and industrial ways of living. This process may include questioning personal values, ideas, and practices.
- Understand variation in material culture and social practices.
- Examine the relationship between human and the environment through a consideration of the ethics and practices of consumption.
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:
Many of our first-year seminars have sustainability-related learning objectives, and each year we offer several seminars that are sustainability courses (for example, in 2015-16 we had four such courses). First year seminars are required and a subset of the students who take a sustainability-focused seminar do not go on to enroll in a department or program that has program-level sustainability learning objectives. We have, therefore, included this subset of students in our figure above. There are a long list of learning objectives for these courses, and they range, for example, from “applying information and knowledge from the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and the arts to analyze environmental problems” to “understanding the environment as a complex web of inter-related systems” to “understanding yourselves and the communities, including natural communities, in which you engage.”
Another notable first-year seminar is actually a cluster of seminars we call Human Dilemmas. During the course, students are confronting the recurring dilemmas that define and shape our lives: Who am I? What exactly am I? What is my relationship to others? What is my responsibility to them and to the world? Nearly a quarter of the course explores the human-natural world relationship and sustainability. Since we are listing this as a course that includes sustainability, as opposed to a sustainability course, we have not included students who take these seminars in our count above, although this cluster does make very important contributions to our sustainability awareness and efforts on campus.
The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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.
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.