Sustainability as a core outcome for a liberal education

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5 replies [Last post]
pventura's picture
Joined: Jan 21 2010

Hi everyone,

At Marylhurst University (Oregon), we're reviewing our long-standing liberal arts core curriculum (general education outcomes for some of you). There is a receptivity to add learning outcomes in service learning and sustainability for our graduates, alongside the traditional core of critical thinking, communication, and so on. I've been reviewing some of the literature on sustainability in higher education, education for sustainable development (ESD), ecopedagogy and other paradigms. I would love to have examples of how sustainability is defined as a core learning outcome at other colleges and universities. I'd be happy to share the examples I collect from this group and from the literature.

Thanks for any examples or assistance you can provide.

Paul Ventura
Member, Marylhurst University Sustainability Advisory Council (MUSAC)
Faculty, Accelerated Online Programs / MBA in Sustainable Business

Joined: Nov 24 2009

What a well-focused question! I have no examples to offer, but suggest to you three names to contact, because their thinking goes to the heart of the curricular question you are posing:

Bill Reed, AIA, LEED, who can be reached @, and who speaks about the need for regeneration before sustainability; he is co-author of the Integrative Design Guide;

Bill Grover, AIA, who is a facilitator for Awaken the Dreamer Symposia; he is a strong believer that our cultures need to change paradigms of mindsets and can be reached at, and

Jason McLennon, who heads the International Living Future Institute, which has issued the Living Building Challenge; he can be reached at

Now for a return favor: please consider signing the following two petitions, one as an individual, the other as a member of a group who has authorized you to sign for them/it. The petitions are aimed squarely at equipping the next cohort of building sector professionals with the tools, skills and methods to effectively address climate change mitigation. If you are so inclined, please relay these petitions to like-minded colleagues.'s picture
AASHE Member
Joined: Apr 29 2009

As part of Unity College's comprehensive Academic Master Planning process our faculty has recently revised our College Wide Learning Outcomes. Those Outcomes have been referenced in our Climate Action Plan and can be found as an appendix to our CAP here:

AASHE Member
Joined: Mar 9 2009

Hi, Paul! Since we are neighbors, you probably have already checked these out from Portland State University, but here is the link to Sustainability as a Campus-wide learning outcome just in case you haven't seen it yet.

Additionally, the learning outcomes for the Leadership in Sustainability Education masters program might be helpful:

Best regards,
:) Angela Hamilton

Leadership Programs Assistant, PSU Sustainability Leadership Center
Candidate - M.A. Leadership for Sustainability Education, Portland State University

AASHE Member
Joined: Dec 23 2008

Hi Paul,

CSU Chico is in the process of adding a GE Sustainability vertical "pathway" (one of five undergrads can choose from). The two faculty leads on this initiative at Chico are Jim Pushnik and Mark Stemen. Jim is in Biological Sciences and Mark is in the Geography department.

Also, SFSU is in the process of implementing a new GE sustainability course requirement for all undergrads. Sorry I don't have a contact there.

Best wishes,


AASHE Member
Joined: Dec 23 2008

Hi Paul: I would add to the list; James Farrell from St. Olaf College in Minnesota for his thoughts on Curricullum integration. His book "The Nature of College is also worth a read. At Algonquin College in Ottawa Ontario Canda we are presently in the process of tryin gto determine the most effective and efficient way of integrating sustainability into the curricullum of all our programs.
Thanks Ian Pineau