Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 68.77
Liaison Lexi Brewer
Submission Date July 25, 2012
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.1

University of Puget Sound
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Dan Sherman
Associate Professor
Environmental Studies
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A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

Puget Sound has an environmental policy and decision-making minor. In addition, we intentionally pursued a strategy to embed sustainability throughout our curriculum and research. Among other endeavors, we conducted retreats and workshops for multi-discipline faculty members to consider ways in which sustainability could be integrated into numerous classes across the university. Our goal is to educate future leaders, scholars, workers, and professionals to lead others in developing a sustainable future.

To assess progress in achieving the above goal, we conducted a comprehensive sustainability assessment of our curriculum and research, utilizing a triple bottom line strategy. This project was managed by Dan Sherman, who is a leader in the Curriculum for the Bioregion Initiative that devises common goals and approaches for promoting environmental literacy and sustainability in higher education curriculum. Two students were employed during 2010 to help conduct this assessment.

The research team cataloged a comprehensive list of courses that have integrated sustainability into some aspect of teaching, including descriptions of how this was done. They accomplished this by conducting content analysis of the course descriptions and syllabi for each of the several hundred courses offered at our institution. This amounted to more than 300 hours of work conducted by two student research assistants and a faculty supervisor over a summer.

Within environmental studies, the “environment and society” course assembled demonstration curriculum descriptions for the integration of sustainability as a learning context to teach one or more “big ideas” in history, anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, and political science.

Following were course sustainability assessment criteria:
• Sustainability focused courses were defined as concentrating on the concept of sustainability, including its social, economic, and environmental dimensions. They also examined an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens. Examples can be found at http://www.pugetsound.edu/files/resources/8119_SustainabilityCurriculumByCourse.pdf. These include expected courses from Environmental Policy and Decision-making as well as broad curriculum courses like Comparative Sociology 103, 340, 480; Economics 102, 104, 314; English 126, 132; and History 281, 346.
• Sustainability related courses incorporated sustainability as a distinct course component or module, or concentrated on a single sustainability principle or issue. Using the rubric of seven sustainability principles adopted by the AASHE Sustainability Learning Objective Group, a sustainability focused course concentrated “on the concept of sustainability” or used “sustainability as a lens” if it engaged at least three of the seven sustainability principles of this rubric (using educational goals and learning outcomes in the rubric that match course content to determine “engaging the principles”). A sustainability related course engaged at least one, but not more than two, of the seven principles (using educational goals and learning outcomes in the rubric that match course content to determine “engaging the principles”).

The 2010 course survey revealed that Puget Sound offered 923 total courses, 98 of which were sustainability focused and 307 of which were sustainability related. Of 34 academic departments, 32 offered at least one sustainability related or focused course.

The survey confirmed that Puget Sound had worked sustainability into many courses across a wide variety of disciplines.

During 2010 the project group also comprehensively documented sustainability research that faculty have conducted during their Puget Sound careers. This involved conducting content analysis of faculty biographies, curriculum vitae, and publication abstracts. This encompassed more than 200 hours of work conducted by two student research assistants and faculty supervisor over the course of a summer.

This included research conducted with, and independently of, students and within and outside of courses. This information is being used to identify, consider, and foster additional climate research endeavors.

Sustainability research was defined as focusing on a key principle of sustainability (such as social equity or environmental stewardship); addressing a sustainability challenge (such as climate change); or furthering understanding of the interconnectedness of societal and environmental challenges. We used the rubric of seven sustainability principles adopted by the AASHE Sustainability Learning Objective Group to inform analysis of research focus.

The 2010 survey revealed that 353 faculty members were involved in research, 153 of whom engaged in sustainability research. Of 33 departments engaged in research, 32 had at least one faculty member involved in sustainability research.

The survey revealed that Puget Sound had integrated sustainability research projects into many classes, including marketing, environment and society, the senior seminar in environmental studies, business and the environment,. Some research involved community outreach, such as efforts to reduce waste on campus, in our residential neighborhood, and in area businesses. This research influenced understanding and behavior on and off campus to help address climate concerns.

Sustainability research leads toward solutions that support economic prosperity, social wellbeing, and ecological health. Therefore, it is a high Puget Sound priority.

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

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.