Sustainability Literacy Sequence

Western, the Sustainability Institute Initiative, and an interdisciplinary steering group explored a number of curricular to create the general education Sustainability Literacy Course sequence and a series of sustainability minors to be offered in partnership with individual colleges or disciplines. The experiential and integral structure of the course sequence includes the participation of over 30 faculty from every college and 15 different disciplines. The Sustainability Literacy sequence includes 3 sections, listed as Sustainability I, II, and III offered consecutively beginning with Literacy I in the fall and ending with Literacy III in the spring. The courses build on one another and are to be taken in series; however, they may also be taken individually by students familiar with sustainability concepts or interested in incorporating sustainability concepts into their chosen major area.

The curricular model builds the sequence around a "compelling narrative" that includes elected material from the natural sciences to explore how geophysical systems work, the life sciences to explore how living systems work interdependently with the physical world, the social and behavioral sciences to explore how people behave interdependently with the natural world, the humanities to explore the values, cultures, and ethics which guide individual and group behavior, and systems and technology to explore how intra- and inter-system problems can be approached and resolved.

The sequence can be adapted for the development of minors, majors, research projects, and capstone projects as the Institute develops. It should be possible for a student in any major to construct a minor in sustainability by taking the Gen Ed sequence and a series of courses from fields outside their major area. For example, a minor in sustainability for a natural science major might include courses in social and life sciences, humanities, technology, and psychology, in addition to a core sequence which might include the Gen Ed sequence and a capstone project of some kind.

Students participating in the sustainability course sequence (the number of total credits and composition of courses to be determined) could in the future obtain a minor in "Sustainability Studies" as an overlay minor to their chosen majors at Western. Courses taken in the sustainability curriculum could satisfy as "electives" in the student's major.