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Sustainability Courses and Courses that Include Sustainability at ESF

As part of ESF's participation in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS), ESF maintains a list of all academic courses offered at the college that meet the AASHE definitions of "Sustainability Courses" and "Courses that Include Sustainability" (see definitions below). In compliance with AASHE reporting criteria, this list contains the course title, department (or equivalent), and course level. For each course you will find a brief description that, along with the course title, indicates how sustainability is the focus of the course or integrated into the course. Totals are summarized in the table, and course listings are found in the .pdf or excel files below.

Table best viewed in landscape orientation on smartphone Sustainability Course or
Course Includes Sustainability
Sustainability Course Course Includes Sustainability
  Total UndergradUG GradG Total UndergradUG GradG Total UndergradUG GradG
Total 369 208 161 160 91 69 209 117 92
Applied Mathematics (APM) 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 1 1
Bioprocess Engineering (BPE) 8 6 2 0 0 0 8 6 2
Biotechnology (BTC) 4 4 0 0 0 0 4 4 0
Construction Management Engineering (CME) 15 8 7 11 6 5 4 2 2
Communications (CMN) 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0
Environmental and Forest Biology (EFB) 37 20 17 10 6 4 27 14 13
Environmental Science (ENS) 30 15 15 10 6 4 20 9 11
Environmental Resources Engineering (ERE) 37 14 23 15 7 8 22 7 15
College Wide (ESF) 3 3 0 1 1 0 2 2 0
Environmental Studies (EST) 59 32 27 46 25 21 13 7 6
Environmental Writing Program (EWP) 14 13 1 0 0 0 14 13 1
Chemistry (FCH) 8 1 7 0 0 0 8 1 7
Forestry Resources Management (FOR) 69 37 32 31 19 12 38 18 20
Forest Technology (FTC) 15 15 0 6 6 0 9 9 0
General Engineering (GNE) 2 1 1 0 0 0 2 1 1
Landscape Architecture (LSA) 46 27 19 26 15 11 20 12 8
Paper Science and Engineering (PSE) 19 10 9 4 0 4 15 10 5
Total Number of Courses Offered by ESF 811 467 344 811 467 344 811 467 344
% Sustainability Course or Includes Sustainability 45% 45% 47% 20% 19% 20% 26% 25% 27%

AASHE Definitions

"Sustainability courses are courses in which the primary and explicit focus is on sustainability and/or on understanding or solving one or more major sustainability challenge (e.g. the course contributes toward achieving principles outlined in the Earth Charter). This includes...

  1. Foundational courses in which the primary and explicit focus is on sustainability as an integrated concept having social, economic, and environmental dimensions. Obvious examples include Introduction to Sustainability, Sustainable Development, and Sustainability Science, however courses may also count if their course descriptions indicate a primary and explicit focus on sustainability.
  2. Courses in which the primary and explicit focus is on the application of sustainability within a field. As sustainability is an interdisciplinary topic, such courses generally incorporate insights from multiple disciplines. Obvious examples include Sustainable Agriculture, Architecture for Sustainability, and Sustainable Business, however courses may also count if their course descriptions indicate a primary and explicit focus on sustainability within a field.
  3. Courses in which the primary focus is on providing skills and/or knowledge directly connected to understanding or solving one or more major sustainability challenges. A course might provide knowledge and understanding of the problem or tools for solving it, for example Climate Change Science, Renewable Energy Policy, Environmental Justice, or Green Chemistry. Such courses do not necessarily cover "sustainability" as a concept, but should address more than one of the three dimensions of sustainability (i.e. social wellbeing, economic prosperity, and environmental health). While a foundational course such as chemistry or sociology might provide knowledge that is useful to practitioners of sustainability, it would not be considered a sustainability course. Likewise, although specific tools or practices such as GIS (Geographical Information Systems) or engineering can be applied towards sustainability, such courses would not count as sustainability courses unless their primary and explicit focus is on sustainable applications. If there is a sustainability unit, module or activity within one of these courses, but it is not the main focus, the course may be counted as a course that includes sustainability.

"A course that includes sustainability is primarily focused on a topic other than sustainability, but incorporates a unit or module on sustainability or a sustainability challenge, includes one or more sustainability-focused activities, or integrates sustainability issues throughout the course. While a foundational course such as chemistry or sociology might provide knowledge that is useful to practitioners of sustainability, it would not be considered to be inclusive of sustainability unless the concept of sustainability or a sustainability challenge is specifically integrated into the course. Likewise, although specific tools or practices such as GIS (Geographical Information Systems) or engineering can be applied towards sustainability, such courses would not count unless they incorporated a unit on sustainability or a sustainability challenge, included a sustainability-focused activity, or incorporated sustainability issues throughout the course."

Methodology for Classifying Sustainability Courses at ESF

As part of ESF's participation in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (AASHE STARS), ESF maintains a list of all academic courses offered at the college that meet the AASHE definitions of "Sustainability Courses" and "Courses that Include Sustainability". In compliance with AASHE reporting criteria, this list contains the course title, department (or equivalent), course level, and a brief description that (along with the course title) indicates how sustainability is the focus of the course or integrated into the course. Courses can be one of the two classifications, but not both. For a full description of the STARS credit (AC-1) associated with this list, please refer to the STARS Technical Manual starting on page 24.

Efforts to fulfill this reporting requirement and demonstrate ESF's commitment to sustainability and the depth to which sustainability is incorporated into courses across the curriculum have been ongoing for several years, using the framework of AASHE STARS versions 1.x. In 2011, a team of staff, students, faculty and administrators conducted a thorough assessment of courses and surveyed faculty, requesting they self-classify their courses, as part of the self-study for Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) reaccreditation: "Advancing Sustainability at ESF". Subsequent surveys of faculty and additional analyses to update the list were conducted from 2012-2014 by staff in the ESF Sustainability Office.

The most recent update to this course list has been prepared for ESF's 2016 submission to AASHE, under the revised criteria and reporting guidelines of STARS 2.0. Staff from the ESF Sustainability Office reviewed previous course assessments in the context of the current reporting guidelines with consideration of best practices for reporting exemplified by other schools, and updated ESF's course list accordingly. The primary update to the course list in 2016 was to add numerous courses that fit the current definitions of "Sustainability Courses" (formerly "Sustainability-Focused Courses") and "Courses That Include Sustainability" (formerly "Sustainability-Related Courses"). A small number of courses were switched from one classification to the other, or removed from the list because they are not currently being offered and do not appear in the online course catalog. For courses with multiple offerings or sections, each course is counted as a single course, regardless of the number of offerings or sections. Courses offered as dual undergraduate/graduate courses are counted as two separate courses. The current list was reviewed by the Associate Provost for Instruction and Interim Provost and Executive Vice President, then sent to ESF Department Chairs for further review, who worked with faculty members and the Sustainability Office on the classification of individual courses as appropriate.

In compliance with STARS 2.0 reporting criteria, this list is made publicly available on this website. Future assessments and updates of this list will be conducted by the Sustainability Office as part of regular AASHE STARS submissions, in consultation with ESF administrators, department chairs and faculty.