Building sustainability into the curriculum is crucial for our students in order to adequately prepare them for a changing economy. Knowledge about environmental, economic, and issues related to equity will help prepare our students for the challenges they will face as they embark on their career paths. The concept of sustainability is interdisciplinary by nature, and can therefore be implemented into any course dealing with any subject. New Mexico State University is taking steps to incorporate this knowledge into the coursework so that our alumni can truly be leaders for a sustainable future. In the fall of 2012, members of the Education and Research Committee of the Sustainability Council conducted a preliminary inventory of NMSU courses that have an emphasis on sustainability. This inventory was an update to the list created by faculty and staff in November of 2009. The new compiled list of classes can be found here: 2012 Sustainability Course Inventory
*Please keep in mind that this list is continuously being updated and revised as new courses are developed or as the curriculum changes.
You will notice that the right hand column of this course list contains the letters “R” or “F”, which stand for “Related” or “Focused”. NMSU has differentiated these two types of sustainability courses (please refer to the definitions listed below). Eventually, we hope to have a green leaf online to designate courses as either focused or related to sustainability. The Education and Research Committee also designated academic programs that focus on sustainability. That list can be found here: 2012 Sustainability Focused Programs
Sustainability Definitions for Curriculum:
Sustainability meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainability in the curriculum encourages students to make connections between the knowledge and skills addressed in traditional, discipline-based course offerings with their applications by practitioners, policymakers, and consumers to help create a sustainably configured economy, society, and environment. Sustainability curriculum provides students with the background and skills necessary to address problems related to energy, the environment, culture and society, and economic development as interdependent and interconnected processes that transcend individual disciplines.
Sustainably-focused and Sustainability-related classes typically include one or more of the following topics:
1. Technical: learning processes for sustainable actions (e.g., analytical tools, practical training, experimentation with energy systems and materials).
2. Cultural and Human Ecology: learning about cultures around the world and connecting globally to benefit societies around the world (e.g., ethics; family systems and community organizations and their relationship to food production, water issues, and sustainable use of renewable and nonrenewable cultural and natural resources).
3. Management: learning management skills related to sustainability (e.g., leadership skills, innovative technology and systems thinking)
4. Integration of multiple skills: using interdisciplinary skills learned from various departments across the college (e.g., integrating natural and social sciences, analytical methods, and critical reasoning skills to evaluate renewable and nonrenewable resource issues)
5. Economics and Sustainable Development: all layers of sustainability must include the economics of keeping environmental systems alive (e.g., theoretical environmental, ecological, and natural resource economics that teaches students cost-benefit and financial analysis including environmental impacts and issues in the analysis).
6. Biological and Environmental Systems (e.g., development of models that explain maintenance and loss of biodiversity and using that knowledge for sustainable management and conservation).
Sustainability-focused courses concentrate on the concept of sustainability, including its socio-cultural, economic, and environmental dimensions, or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens. To be considered sustainability-focused, the course should include two or more of the sustainability educational objectives listed below.
Sustainability-related courses incorporate sustainability as a distinct course component or module, or concentrate on a single sustainability principle or issue. To be considered sustainability-related, a course should include one or more of the sustainability educational objectives listed below.
Sustainability Educational Objectives
In order to determine whether or not a course has this goal in mind, it is useful to ask whether or not a given course will help students to achieve one or more of the following:
1. Understand and be able to effectively communicate the concept of sustainability.
2. Develop and use an ethical perspective in which they explain how sustainability relates to their lives and values, and how their actions impact issues of sustainability.
3. Become aware of and explain how economy, society, culture, energy, and the environment are interrelated, making connections between their chosen course of study and sustainability.
4. Develop technical skills or expertise necessary to implement sustainable solutions.
5. Explain the ways in which sustainable thinking and decision-making contributes to the process of creating solutions for current and emerging social, environmental, and economic crises.
6. Apply concepts of sustainability locally (e.g. to change daily habits and consumption patterns) and globally by engaging in the challenges and solutions of sustainability in a world context.
7. Synthesize understanding of the interconnections among social, cultural, economic, energy, and environmental systems and reason holistically.