Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.77
Liaison Marianne Martin
Submission Date Nov. 9, 2010
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

University of Colorado Boulder
ER-5: Sustainability Course Identification

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 3.00 Dave Newport
Environmental Center
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Has the institution developed a definition of sustainability in the curriculum?:

A copy of the institution's definition of sustainability in the curriculum?:

STARS 1.0- Education & Research- Credit 5:
Defining Sustainability in the Curriculum

The University of Colorado at Boulder has committed to expanding upon its path marking sustainability achievements at the administrative, operational, student action, and academic levels. Our approach to sustainability-enhanced curricula is based on the following fundamental premises:

 Universities are the cultivators and generators of knowledge, charged with educating the leaders and decision-makers of tomorrow. As such, they play a crucial role in the creation of sustainable societies.
 Education is an essential tool for achieving sustainability: public awareness and training are vital in moving students and, by extension, society toward sustainability.
 Where practicable, sustainability should be integrated into university curricula, as appropriate.
 Each university has its own unique context, resources, and needs that influence its response to sustainability’s prominence in its curriculum.

Working from established definitions of sustainability, we have assessed how the multifarious dimensions of sustainability should be expressed through the course offerings of the University. A widely accepted definition of one aspect of sustainability was given by the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987. The Commission defined sustainable development as "forms of progress that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) also incorporates the economic, social and environmental elements of sustainability into its definition; the so-called “three-legged stool”. The relationship between these three elements must be properly managed to ensure the long-term viability of our communities and, by extension, the planet.

Sustainability-focused courses explore a broad range of sustainability topics, or select one area to investigate in depth; they may also “approach an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens.” On the other hand, sustainability-related courses include one or more elements from this list as a discrete element in the course. Courses do not have to meet all the criteria in order to be classified as either sustainability-related or sustainability-focused.

Using the definitions provided above as a guide, we offer the following criteria for assaying sustainable curricula.

Courses designated as sustainability-related or sustainability-focused may contain one or more of the following elements:

 Integration of basic and applied knowledge from multiple disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, to analyze human-environment interactions;
 Analysis of the tradeoffs or co-benefits involved in managing resources for the social, economic, and environmental welfare of current and future generations;
 Development of alternative strategies for the use of natural, human, and fiscal resources that are compatible with the constraints on these resources;
 Implementation of practical solutions to socioeconomic and environmental challenges, including those that relate to energy, technology, ecosystems, social transformations, food systems, policy, and governance.

Students that successfully complete sustainability-related or sustainability-focused courses develop the ability to:

 Use and integrate knowledge and skills drawn from several disciplines;
 Understand how sustainability applies to their major, chosen career path, and everyday life;
 Apply scientific expertise to create sustainable solutions, technology, and applications;
 Communicate sustainability’s essential elements;
 Promote sustainable communities on and beyond the University's campus.

Due to the shifting nature of sustainability issues, those linked to sustainability should be prepared to adapt continually. Thus, a curriculum that integrates sustainability also demands periodic reassessment.

Has the institution identified its sustainability-focused and sustainability-related course offerings?:

A brief description of the methodology the institution followed to complete the inventory:
Does the institution make its sustainability course inventory publicly available online?:

The website URL where the sustainability course inventory is posted:

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.