Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 65.84
Liaison Morgan Hartman
Submission Date Dec. 12, 2022

STARS v2.2

University of Nebraska - Lincoln
AC-2: Learning Outcomes

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 6.33 / 8.00 Morgan Hartman
Recycling Coordinator
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Has the institution adopted one or more sustainability learning outcomes that apply to the entire student body or, at minimum, to the institution's predominant student body?:

Which of the following best describes the sustainability learning outcomes?:

A list of the institution level sustainability learning outcomes:

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln created the Achievement-Centered Education (ACE) general education program to help students of every major develop skills, build knowledge, and exercise social responsibility. Every undergraduate student is required to take at least one course in each of the ten ACE learning outcomes. The ten ACE learning outcomes complement and complete each other to address the following three institutional objectives: 1) Develop intellectual and practical skills, including proficiency in written, oral, and visual communication; inquiry techniques; critical and creative thinking; quantitative applications; information assessment; teamwork; and problem-solving, 2) Build knowledge of diverse peoples and cultures and of the natural and physical world through the study of mathematics, sciences and technologies, histories, humanities, arts, social sciences, and human diversity, and 3) Exercise individual and social responsibilities through the study of ethical principles and reasoning, application of civic knowledge, interaction with diverse cultures, and engagement with global issues. A hallmark of ACE is that the program “enhances the undergraduate experience by providing broad exposure to multiple disciplines, complementing the major, and helping students develop important reasoning, inquiry, and civic capacities.” The ten ACE learning outcomes address the components of sustainability as a whole, including the environmental/ecological, economic, and social dimensions. The following ACE Three, Four, and Eight learning outcomes are described to provide examples for each dimension of sustainability. It should be noted that multiple ACE learning outcomes could be utilized as examples. The description for the ACE Three learning outcome is to “use mathematical, computational, statistical, logical, or other formal reasoning to solve problems, draw inferences, justify conclusions and determine reasonableness,” which relates to the economic dimension of sustainability. The description for the ACE Four learning outcome is to “use scientific methods and knowledge to pose questions, frame hypotheses, interpret data, and evaluate whether conclusions about the natural and physical world are reasonable.” In this description, the natural and physical world encompasses the ecological dimensions of sustainability. The description for the ACE Eight learning outcome is to “use knowledge, theories, and analysis to explain ethical principles and their importance in society.” In this description, ethical principles include respect and social justice, encompassing the social dimension of sustainability.

The separate ACE learning outcomes were described as sustainability supportive in UNL’s most recent STARS report. However, upon further assessment, the previous review did not accurately represent the intellectual and practical skills gained and demonstrated by students upon completing the ACE program. The ACE program, through its ten learning outcomes and accompanying three institutional objectives including developing skills, building knowledge, and exercising individual and social responsibilities, represents an institutional-level learning outcome addressing the three dimensions of sustainability as an integrated concept.

Total number of graduates from degree programs:

Number of graduates from degree programs that require an understanding of the concept of sustainability:

A brief description of how the figure above was determined:

Using the UNL Fact Book, published online by Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics, the total number of graduates was determined from the table for the academic year 2020 – 2021. The total number of graduates includes undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students. Listed below are the degree programs that require an understanding of the concept of sustainability. The number of graduates in 2020-2021 from each of the below programs (done in UNL Factbook) was added to get the total of graduates from degree programs that require an understanding of the concept of sustainability, which was 234.

A list of degree programs that require an understanding of the concept of sustainability:

Here is the list of program level sustainability learning outcomes, or sustainability-focused programs:

1) Environmental Studies Major: Environmental Studies is a systematic study of human interaction with their environment. It's a broad field of study that includes the natural environment, built environments, social environments, organizational environments, and the sets of relationships between them. The environmental studies program uses a holistic approach and a framework of sustainability. This framework recognizes the necessity of meeting current resource needs without compromising the environment or the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

2) Natural Resources and Environmental Economics Major: This major combines in-depth study of the natural sciences with economics, law, and other social sciences. The program trains students to analyze the benefits and costs of using natural resources and the environment for recreation, agriculture, wildlife habitat, industry, forestry, and mining. It also emphasizes the assessment of public policies regulating the use of natural resources and environmental benefits.

3) Environmental Science Major: This major prepares students for work in recovering ecosystems and solving complex environmental problems. Students in this major will receive a variety of classroom and field experiences to learn about soil, water, regulations, toxicology, environmental sampling, and restoration techniques. Each Environmental Science student will choose an emphasis in Soil Science or Lake & Stream Restoration to focus on. Emphasis areas help students specialize their course work based on individual career goals, as they work on interdisciplinary teams involving scientists and engineers to find solutions for restoration projects.

4) Fisheries and Wildlife Major: Students in the Fisheries and Wildlife major receive hands-on training with active demonstrations, problem-based exercises, community-based service learning opportunities, and experiential learning to understand the conservation, protection, regulation, and management of our nation's fish and wildlife resources.

5) Agricultural and Environmental Science Communication Major: Prepares you to develop and share messages about critical issues related to food, fuel, water, landscapes and people. You will learn to communicate clearly and effectively to diverse audiences about the wide range of topics related to producing food for the growing world population.

6) Applied Climate Science Major: In applied climate science, student learn about changing climate patterns, taking that information and applying it to today’s world problems. Students are prepared to work with their peers in the scientific community to look at how climate variations are impacting such things as wildlife, crops, and national security, and then finding solutions to possible questions or problems that may arise. Applied climate science students take a variety of courses across a spectrum of different sciences including biology, chemistry, math, and technology. Beyond their core coursework, students will choose an area to specialize in. This can be anything from wildlife to national security to community planning, based specifically off the career goals the student has planned.

7) Regional and Community Forestry: Students learn to lead the industry in tree management and planning that addresses natural resource challenges, including the emerald ash borer and climate change, to build livable, vibrant and resilient communities.

8) Water Science: Learn to address the complex issues while working towards sustaining water, improving quality, and studying ecosystem impacts. This major is for students wanting to combine many interests like sustainability, math, chemistry, research and ecology.

9) Plant and Landscape Systems: The Plant and Landscape Systems major aims to educate and develop professionals to design and manage complex plant, landscape, and soil systems. The Plant and Landscape Systems major includes a core to be completed by all students and four options to allow students to specialize in professional areas of interest. The four primary options are agronomy, horticulture, landscape design and management, and turfgrass science and management. Additionally, students will complement their program of study with two additional areas of professional specialization provided through emphases and/or minors.

10) Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences: The School of Natural Resources offers graduate programs leading to a Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy in Natural Resource Sciences. The broad diversity of climate, habitat, hydrology, soils, and near-surface and subsurface geology across Nebraska provides a multitude of opportunities for field study in each of these areas. Our excellent faculty conduct research throughout Nebraska, across the United States, and around the world.

11) Master of Science in Environmental Engineering: The Departments of Civil Engineering, Biological Systems Engineering, and Chemical Engineering jointly administer an interdisciplinary program leading to a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering. The program is closely coupled to other areas, particularly in the water environment and natural resources areas. Faculty members in the three departments offer a balance of expertise covering major areas of Environmental Engineering. The fields in which students may focus their studies include: water supply, wastewater treatment, hazardous waste management, non-point source pollution control, and agricultural waste management.

12) Master of Science in Agricultural & Biological Systems Engineering: Graduate study may be directed toward agricultural power and machinery systems, animal waste management, animal well-being, biomedical engineering, bioprocessing, computer applications, control systems, decision support systems, environmental engineering, food process engineering, geographic information systems, global positioning systems, ground and surface water management, irrigation system design, materials handling and processing systems, monitoring and controlling biological systems, plant environment, risk assessment, soil and water conservation, solid and hazardous waste management, water quality, and other areas of engineering science and design. Offering specializations in Environmental Studies and Water Resources Planning and Management.

Documentation supporting the figure reported above (upload):
Do the figures reported above cover one, two, or three academic years?:

Percentage of students who graduate from programs that require an understanding of the concept of sustainability:

Website URL where information about the sustainability learning outcomes is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

The UNL Fact Book where the data was retrieved on graduates from programs with an understanding of the concept of sustainability can be found here: https://iea.unl.edu/publication/fact-book

The UNL Fact Book where the data was retrieved on graduates from programs with an understanding of the concept of sustainability can be found here: https://iea.unl.edu/publication/fact-book

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.