Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 77.90
Liaison Katie Maynard
Submission Date March 4, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of California, Santa Barbara
AC-1: Academic Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 6.06 / 14.00 Katie Maynard
Sustainability Coordinator
Geography & 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 3,855 1,410
Number of sustainability-focused courses offered 115 42
Number of sustainability-inclusive courses offered 114 37

Percentage of courses that are sustainability course offerings:

Total number of academic departments that offer courses:

Number of academic departments with sustainability course offerings:

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 complete the course inventory :
The course inventory includes all courses offered at least once between the three-year period of fall, 2017 and summer, 2020. All courses count for at least 1 unit of academic credit and had at least 1 enrollee. Cancelled courses and courses with zero enrollment were removed from the course inventory.

Special topic courses (both one-time and repeating) and seminars were counted as separate courses if the course had a unique course code. Courses that were excluded from the course inventory include extension courses, travel study courses offered by other institutions, courses transferred for credit from other institutions, as well as independent study and independent research courses. Group studies courses were not included as those do not have standard syllabi and are a form of giving credit for active research rather than a typical course. Extension courses were listed under the Public Engagement credit.


For the purposes of STARS, UCSB reported on any courses that addressed the interconnection between humans and environmental issues or solutions. To help us flush out this definition and fully understand for ourselves what this entails we developed a set of goals and outcome measures below.

Broad Definition of Sustainability Courses:

Goal Measures (Courses must identify one or more of the following goals):
1. Identifies one or more serious environmental problems and explain its underlying causes and possible consequences.
2. Explores the conceptual foundations of our environmental attitudes, values and challenges from a variety of cultural perspectives.
3. Examines the scientific understanding of Earth’s natural systems and cycles, emphasizing humanity’s role as the planet’s ecologically dominant species and how that affects the continuing viability of habitats for life on Earth.
4. Demonstrates the interconnectedness of environmental, economic, and social systems.
5. Investigates how our relationship to the natural world has been shaped historically, politically, and/or economically.
6. Examines the controversies surrounding questions of values and ethics as they relate to creating a sustainable future.
In addition, it will be expected that at least one student learning outcome (SLO) is developed that reflects the focus of the course.

Outcome Measures (Students learning objectives):
1. Understand and be able to effectively communicate the concept of sustainability.
2. Analyze how the well-being of human society is dependent on ecosystems and the materials and services they provide to humanity.
3. Recognize the physical and biological attributes, basic functioning, and limits of planetary ecosystems.
4. Develop and use an ethical perspective in which they view themselves as embedded in the fabric of an interconnected world.
5. Become aware of and explore the connections between their chosen course of study and sustainability.
6. Synthesize understanding of social, economic, and environmental systems and reason holistically.
7. Be able to create models, products, designs or creative representations that highlight an understanding of the connections among people, processes and the environment.

How were courses with multiple offerings or sections counted for the figures reported above?:
Each course was counted as a single course regardless of the number of offerings or sections

A brief description of how courses with multiple offerings or sections were counted:
Some courses that include sustainability were cross-listed between departments. To account for this overlap, these courses were condensed into a single entry within the course inventory that included all possible course codes and departments. These cross-listed courses were only counted once, although the multiple departments under which they were listed were all counted as departments offering sustainability courses or courses that include sustainability. Courses that had both an undergraduate and graduate course code were counted as two courses since the requirements of the two course codes are quite different. No sections, including honors sections, were included.

If the course was offered multiple times over the three-year reporting period, it was counted only once. Courses with one course code, but varying subject matters, were only counted as one course. These courses were very difficult to track because they were taught differently each time they were offered, based on the Professor’s preference. They were counted as sustainability related only when we could demonstrate that the course addressed sustainability more than half of the times they were offered. An example of this occurring is with the courses offered through the Literature and the Environment Program within the English Department. Many of these courses didn’t count because the exact subject matter of the class fluctuates frequently, making precise data difficult to obtain.

Website URL where information about the sustainability course offerings is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:
Please note that for this credit, we listed any program/department that offers courses that could count for this credit. An example is "Interdisciplinary Studies" which offers their own courses, but which is not a "department." If the "department" does not offer any courses, we did not count it.

For PRE-5 we only included departments based on the University definition of academic departments.

For AC1, we include any department who offers courses.

For IC3, we included only departments as officially defined by UCSB.

For AC9, we used the list of departments for the denominator as we did here in AC-1 (total of 52 departments). We did not include research units, centers, and institutes in AC9.

The following departments offered at least one course related to sustainability and were counted in the numerator:

Black Studies
Chicano Studies
Earth Science
East Asian Culture Studies
Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology
Environmental Science and Management
Environmental Studies
Feminist Studies
Film and Media Studies
Global Studues
History of Art and Architecture
Interdisciplinary Studies
Mechanical Engineering
Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Poltical Science
Religious Studies

The following programs that offer courses were not counted under IC3 as departments:
1 Biomolecular Science and Engineering
2 Comparative Literature
3 English for Multilingual Students
4 Global Peace and Security
5 Interdisciplinary Studies
6 Latin American and Iberian Studies
7 Marine Science
8 Medieval Studies
9 Renaissance Studies
10 Technology Management
11 Technology Management
12 Women, Culture, and Development Studies
13 Writing

The total list of courses counted for this credit in the denominator include:
History of Art and Architecture
Asian American Studies
Biomolecular Science and Engineering
Black Studies
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
Chemical Engineering
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Chicano Studies
Computer Science
Earth Science (formerly Geological Sciences)
East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies
Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Environmental Studies Program
Feminist Studies
Film and Media Studies
French and Italian
Germanic, Slavic, and Semitic Studies
Gevirtz Graduate School of Education; Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology
Gevirtz Graduate School of Education; Department of Education
Global & International Studies
Islamic and Near Eastern Studies Program
Jewish Studies Program
Latin American and Iberian Studies Program
Mechanical and Environmental Engineering
Media Arts and Technology
Medieval Studies Program
Middle East Studies
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Political Science
Psychological & Brain Sciences
Religious Studies
Renaissance Studies Program
Spanish and Portuguese
Speech and Hearing Sciences Department
Statistics and Applied Probability
Theater and Dancei

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 or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.