Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 75.77
Liaison Ezra Small
Submission Date March 2, 2018
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Massachusetts Amherst
AC-1: Academic Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 11.86 / 14.00 Craig Nicolson
Director of Sustainability Programs
Environmental Conservation
"---" 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 2,049 1,419
Number of sustainability courses offered 92 61
Number of courses offered that include sustainability 238 193

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 :

We developed a definition of sustainability to decide which courses at the University counted as sustainability-focused or sustainability-related.

For the two semesters of academic year 2016/2017 we obtained from the registrar the complete listing of class offerings. The database obtained includes a separate record for every primary instructor, graduate teaching assistant, undergrad classroom assistant and for every section, discussion group, lab or colloquium of these courses. There are >12,000 records in total per semester, but the vast majority of them are for practica, independent study credits, dissertation credit, honors colloqia sections, labs, discussion sections etc.

The methodology we have developed and refined over the years sets all these records aside, as well as all the records associated with multiple sections, TAs and undergrad classroom assistants, and we retain only a single record per course listing a single primary instructor. If a course is offered in both semesters, we only count it once. From the >24,000 original records for the two semesters, we now have a set from which all multiple offerings and sections have been removed. For AY16/17 this left a total of 3,468 unique courses.

We maintain a database of known sustainability faculty, updated regularly, whose courses have in the past met the criteria of being either sustainability focused or sustainability related. To develop the course inventory for a given academic year (in the case of this current submission, Fall 2016 and Spring 2017), we go through a three step process:
1) We first identify the courses offered that year which are already on our "living inventory masterlist" of sustainability courses (courses offered at least once during the previous 3 academic years).
2) We then extract from the remaining courses all classes taught by sustainability faculty members (339 at present, from 49 relevant academic departments); not all of their courses automatically meet our criteria, so we assess course-by-course whether these offerings of theirs meet our criteria. If they do, we add the new courses to our "living masterlist".
3) Finally, for the 49 departments that have offered sustainability classes in the past, we review their remaining courses (which may be taught by new faculty, or by existing faculty members who had not previously taught a sustainability related course) and add any additional courses that meet our criteria.

We choose not to include internships or practica or independent studies, even though we have a good number of students enrolled in these kinds of sustainability immersive learning opportunities. They are harder to track, and rather than estimate them we have chosen not to count them.

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 (if different from the options outlined above):

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

In Credit AC-1 above, the number of academic departments is given as 65, whereas IC-3 lists it as 61. Please see Note 2 under IC-3 for the explanation of how our Faculty Senate Policy at UMass formally defines an "academic department".
The STARS standard for IC-3 (see Technical Manual v2.1 pg IC.07) makes allowance for particularities of individual universities where (1) "Departments may exist under other nomenclature and with coarser or finer divisions," and/or (2) "Fields of study, programs, subject areas or the equivalent may also be considered to be 'departments'". Therefore, in IC-3 where it was just about demographics, we reported 61 "true" academic departments, using our UMass Amherst Faculty Senate definition. Here in AC-1 though, the focus is on the *number of courses*, and because of the way we list courses at UMass Amherst our inventory numbers for AC-1 also include four 'department equivalents' in addition to the 61 "true" departments counted for IC-3: two of our Colleges have their own course listings (Isenberg School of Management and School, SCH-MNGMT, and College of Natural Sciences, NATSCI); we have an interdepartmental Environmental Science program that is jointly offered by several departments, but has its own unique course listings under ENVIRSCI (note none of these courses are cross-listed in any department); similarly, we list courses offered by our service learning unit as SRVCLRNG.
We therefore have a total for AC-1 of 61+4 = 65 "department equivalents".

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.