Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.74
Liaison Moira Hafer
Submission Date June 28, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Stanford University
AC-1: Academic Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 12.77 / 14.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
"---" 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 3,713 4,090
Number of sustainability courses offered 201 187
Number of courses offered that include sustainability 723 606

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 :

All courses offered in the 2016-17 school year were perused and sorted by title and course description into the categories of “Sustainability Focused,” “Includes Sustainability,” and courses unrelated to sustainability. Each course was critically evaluated on its relationship to the multidimensional goal of promoting sustainability on both local and global levels. The definition of “sustainability” used when identifying courses was as follows: having a focus on and concern for the healthy maintenance and development of society environmentally, economically, and socially. The course descriptions were the most important factor of classification; if a course described a sustainability goal such as renewable energy research or ecological education as a primary or secondary objective, that course was listed as “Sustainability Focused” or “Includes Sustainability” respectively. Courses that have a strong social and/or economic sustainability component but not an environmental component were included as sustainability-related.

In many cases, faculty were contacted to find out more about the course to determine its proper designation. This step was taken in particular for courses that could have a sustainability component that was not listed in the course description. For instance, the course "Introduction to Aeronautics and Astronautics" does not include sustainability in the course description, but after discussions with the professor, it was included in the sustainability course inventory because there is a lecture that explores the environmental impacts of the field.

How were courses with multiple offerings or sections counted for the figures reported above?:
Other (please describe below)

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

Staff also worked closely with the university's Institutional Research and Decision Support (IR&DS) team to determine the best way to categorize the classes offered. In the totals above, one course is counted as one section of any course offered during a single term within a single department. If a course had multiple sections, each of those sections was counted as a single course. For instance, the course "Climate and Society" had two sections both offered during winter quarter 2016-2017, so it was counted as two separate courses. Similarly, if the course is cross-listed under multiple departments, each section of that course was counted as a separate course within each department under which it is cross-listed. As an example, the course "Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics: The Atmospheric Circulation" offered one section that was cross-listed under five separate departments, so it was counted as a total of five classes. These same principles were followed to count both courses that are related to sustainability and the total number of courses offered at Stanford in 2016-17.

In the attached sustainability course inventory, courses are only listed once even if they were cross-listed with multiple departments, had multiple sections in the same quarter or were offered in multiple quarters. Thus, not all occurrences of each course are listed in the inventory. However, classes that are cross-listed under multiple departments have a note in their course titles indicating the other departments and course numbers under which that same course is listed. Taking these nuances into account, there are a total of 911 classes listed on the attached inventory, while the total tallied in the numeric fields of this credit (according to the methodology described above) is 1,717 courses that are either sustainability-focused or include sustainability. In addition to being attached here, the updated sustainability course inventory for 2016-17 has also been uploaded to the Sustainable Stanford website and can be found at the link listed at the end of this credit.

Staff also worked with IR&DS to determine the number of internships, practicums, independent study, thesis/dissertation and special topics classes offered for credit; classes with enrollment of four or fewer; physical education classes; performance art classes; and clinical courses. Ultimately, staff decided that all internships, thesis/dissertation classes, and classes with four or fewer should be included in the inventory. On the other hand, practicums, special topics, performance arts, physical education, and clinical courses were all removed from both the sustainability class count and the total class count for academic year 2016-17. Finally, undergraduate courses are identified as any course with a course number of 0 to 199, while graduate courses are identified as any course with a 200-level course number or above. However, at Stanford, there is significant overlap between undergraduate and graduate enrollment in many courses.

This detailed analytic process was performed very carefully and with the input of many campus stakeholders, including Stanford faculty, in order to ensure utmost accuracy. Based on this thorough process, Stanford feels confident that it generated the most accurate and complete list possible of sustainability courses and courses that include sustainability at the university.

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

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.