Overall Rating Platinum
Overall Score 86.09
Liaison Jennifer Andrews
Submission Date Aug. 16, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of New Hampshire
AC-2: Learning Outcomes

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 8.00 / 8.00 Tom Kelly
Chief Sustainability Officer
Sustainability Institute
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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:

Sustainability learning outcomes are embedded in UNH’s general education program for all undergraduate programs:

The Discovery Program provides the intellectual framework for students in any major. It represents the faculty's collective belief in what constitutes and contributes to critical values, knowledge, skills, and world views.

Together, students and faculty attempt to understand fully and use ethically that knowledge, both in the present and as a reservoir from which to draw in the future. These intellectual skills, knowledge, and ethical grounding will help prepare students to contribute to the creation of a more, sustainable, healthy, just, and prosperous world.


In addition, UNH has overarching learning outcomes that are posted on the Provost's Academic Affairs website (see below).
The Provost's website reads: UNH has an enduring commitment to support efforts across research, education, and practice to develop the most sustainable learning community in higher education. To that end, our educational approach works to ensure the following learning objectives for all UNH students.
Every UNH student will gain knowledge of the complexities and interconnectedness of economic, environmental, and social challenges. Students will also be able to analyze and synthesize ideas and perspectives from more than one academic or intellectual discipline. This knowledge and experience will equip students to contribute to a just, prosperous, and sustainable world for present and future generations. https://www.unh.edu/provost/academic-affairs
In addition, UNH's Discovery Program exposes all undergraduate students to topics in the arts, humanities, philosophy, social sciences, physical and biological sciences, and technology. The Discovery Program provides students with a sound foundation for problem solving, scientific reasoning, research skills, communication, and the appreciation of the arts and humanities. Ten learning outcomes have been identified to represent what students will be able to do after completing the Discovery Program. Three of these outcomes, numbers Five, Six, and Nine, relate to sustainability. These three learning outcomes 1) embrace ideas from diverse traditions; 2) analyze perspectives from multiple intellectual disciplines; and 3) to exercise imagination in grappling with complex problems of both the natural and human created worlds, and understand the centrality of imagination to all human endeavors.
In addition, as part of the Discovery Program, all undergraduate students must take one course from each of the following categories:
Biological Science
Physical Science*
Fine and Performing Arts
Historical Perspectives
World Cultures
Social Science
Environment, Technology and Society
Relevant websites:
UNH regularly assesses the multi-dimensional nature of sustainability and related learning outcomes through a Sustainability Culture Assessment that includes all graduating seniors. The questions ask students to reflect on how their education has impacted their values, knowledge, skills, and world views as they relate to sustainability as an umbrella framework connecting the healthy, just, and sustainable world referenced in the Discovery Program’s purpose statement. Sustainability learning outcomes addressed through the assessment include how students’ education helped them or improved their ability to engage critically and creatively with sustainability in their civic and professional lives including the following:

· Sustainability as a set of values and commitments touching all aspects of individual and collective life
· Sustainability as defined by the United Nations 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals
· The central place of Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Sustainability
· Civic engagement and the place of social movements and governance in Sustainability
· Valuing diverse forms of knowledge within a transdisciplinary outlook that illuminates the interconnections and interdependence across the Sustainable Development Goals.

In the spring 2021 survey for example:
• The vast majority of responding UNH students s agree that sustainability includes cultural, social, environmental, economic factors; and the majority of responding students believe the UN's definition of sustainable development is a collective commitment to human dignity and wellbeing for all people and ecological integrity in all places.
• Nearly 90 percent of responding UNH students say they are currently engaged in taking urgent action to combat the climate crisis and its impacts through their education, professional, or civic life, and
• More than three quarters say they are currently engaged or are likely to be engaged in conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development, ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, and providing access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
• Three-quarters of responding students agree that the 17 SDGs should be elements of a single integrated approach that requires all goals to be met simultaneously

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:

UNH publishes data about degrees awarded annually. The data above are from degrees awarded in 2021, from our Durham-based academic programs. The learning outcomes for each degree programs were scrutinized (they are available on the academic programs' websites), and the ones with sustainability learning outcomes were tallied and logged on the attached spreadsheet.

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

See the attached list, with specific SLO's noted by program.
In addition, our general education programs requires courses in the following categories:

Discovery in the Disciplines
Biological Sciences

Biology is a branch of science that investigates the structure and function of living organisms. Scientists investigate ideas and observations that solidify our understanding of the diversity of life from single cells to complex organisms. Biology has deep relations with agriculture, chemistry, psychology, and many other fields of study, and it is the foundation of our knowledge regarding health and diseases. Individual courses under this category deal with the basic structure and function of medicine. Courses under this category deal with the basic structure and function of organisms, the interaction of organisms with their environment, human health, biotechnology, and the concepts and mechanisms of evolution as a fundamental biological paradigm. All courses will provide some understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry as it seeks knowledge about the living world.

Environment, Technology, and Society

The exponential growth of the sciences and engineering has bred an equally dramatic growth in technological advances. From the flint arrowhead to the latest communication, device or weapon, human beings have been inventing things and transforming their lives, their societies, and their environments as they do. But they seldom foresee all the transformations and consequences their inventions bring about. This category stresses the interplay between at least two of these three realms: environment, technology and society. Topics might include, but are not limited to, the history of a particular kind of technology (such as transport, fuel, writing, or weaponry), how technological change comes about in general, the scientific and/or social bases for a given technology, its impact for good or ill on human society and the natural environment, the effects of a changing environment on the arts and literature, and/or the ethical questions these topics raise.

Fine and Performing Arts

The arts communicate through the intellect, the emotions, and the body, sometimes all at once, in ways simple and subtle, direct and subliminal, gentle and soul-shaking. Understanding and appreciating them enriches our lives and preserves our cultural heritage for the future. Through its performances, publications, and exhibits, UNH offers many artistic experiences for students and the larger community, some of which are linked to courses under this category. Such courses, which may be about painting, sculpture, architecture, music, dance, theater, or film, will often include learning through practical experience.

Historical Perspectives

Even though we are faced daily with evidence of change in our social world and technology, we easily forget that how we live, where we live, and what we see around us are transient states of affairs. It is important to be able to look on one’s own world with an imaginative grasp of its history and the forces behind that history. Courses under this category will give students the opportunity to learn about major historical developments and how these developments have shaped contemporary life in all its complexity. Through the study of particular periods and places, students will gain both “historical perspective” and some skill at the methods of historical inquiry. Common to all courses in historical analysis is the presumption that the categories of social analysis are themselves historical and historically contingent, and that to understand the past requires entering imaginatively into languages, institutions, and worldviews quite different from those of the present day.


The humanities arose in Renaissance universities as an alternative to theology and consisted mainly of Greek and Latin literature, which dealt with any and every aspect of human life; they became central to the liberal arts. Since the nineteenth century, the humanities have also embraced modern literature, the creative arts, philosophy, and history. They focus on questions about meaning, ethics, aesthetics, and the foundations of knowledge; they are as concerned with form as with content. Courses under this category explore major works, ideas, and traditions that have shaped our understandings of the world and our sense of self at different times and places while examining the distinctive methods of humanistic inquiry.

Physical Sciences

The physical sciences seek to discover the components, structures, properties, and laws of the material world from subatomic particles to the entire universe. Through them, we appreciate both the wondrous complexity of the world and its order. The traditional domains of chemistry, physics, astronomy, cosmology, and earth sciences are the foundations of knowledge in numberless arenas of human activity, while the intersections between these domains and the biological sciences yield astonishing discoveries about living organisms. All courses will provide some understanding of the methods of scientific inquiry as it seeks knowledge about the physical universe, as well as evaluate claims about it in both technical literature and popular media.

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative reasoning refers to the ability to think critically and analytically using abstract formal methods with broad application. Mathematics is the foundation for the physical sciences and, increasingly, for the biological sciences. Its principles and processes illuminate significant aspects of the social sciences as well. In its most precise forms, it enables the design of bridges and the orbiting of satellites. Mathematics discloses invisible truths about the world, makes sense of patterns of which we may or may not be aware, and introduces some order to chaos. In its purest form, it creates its own world of beauty and logic. In its more applied forms, it attempts to make sense of individual and collective human behaviors and complex systems. Many courses listed under this category will help students appreciate the principles of mathematics and gain some skill in its applications to realistic situations, while other courses will introduce kindred subjects including symbolic logic, information theory, statistics, and computer science.

Social Sciences

The social sciences investigate human beings and their societies from the smallest bands of hunter gatherers to huge nations and global institutions. Everything from marriage and kinship to law and crime, from ceremonial gift giving to mortgage derivatives, from witchcraft to health insurance, from ancient ritual to modern communication, is a subject of a social science. As the world grows more interrelated and complex, the tools of the social sciences grow in importance. Courses under this category will explore different theories, methods, and data-gathering techniques as they apply to different social issues. They also will examine how individuals create, interact with, and are shaped by, social groups and institutions, including those associated with politics, economics, religion, family, the arts, health, and education.

World Cultures

Living in a world of many cultures has created both cooperation and conflict across borders, among and between nations. This category, which includes intermediate language courses and approved study abroad programs, encourages students to become cosmopolitan citizens by gaining knowledge and understanding of cultures other than those of the United States. Students will learn to recognize others' values and, ultimately, accept the many ways in which we all are human. They are thus encouraged to see their own culture with fresh eyes and know the sheer diversity of human outlooks.

UNH has a Sustainability Dual Major that any undergraduate can take as a second major. The new undergraduate Sustainability Dual Major provides an innovative pathway for emerging leaders to gain the skills and knowledge needed to be agents of change in a complex, ever-changing global environment. Students from any UNH college or major can pair the Sustainability Dual Major with the first major. From local to global, you’ll learn to analyze, evaluate, critique, and create new ideas and models around sustainability. As a cross-disciplinary field of study and practice, you’ll make connections across issues of science and ethics, policy and technology, and culture and history to better understand and take action on pressing issues of our time.

- Study grand challenges in a flexible format
- Apply your principles and passions to your academic work
- Add value to your primary major
- Work collaboratively across disciplines with students and faculty
- Develop skills needed to create sustainability solutions in any profession
- Prepare for a career in the expanding sustainability field
- Hone your leadership abilities to help create a better world

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 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.