Sustainability in the Curriculum

The Sustainability Education Framework was used to evaluate the syllabi and faculty research at the University of Puget Sound according to the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS). The framework was developed by the Curriculum Working Group of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), and was used to assist in identifying the key components of sustainability.

Described in the framework are seven principles, which were used to determine whether the syllabi or research reviewed were sustainability-related or –focused.  If between 1- 2 principles applied to said syllabi or research, it was classified as related, and if 3 or more principles applied, then it was classified as focused.  Within the attached Excel Spreadsheet, principles that apply to said syllabi or research are denoted with an X in the cell, and each row is summed to identify the total number of principles that applied. If a number is specified next to an X in the cell, it indicates that the evaluator thought that the research or syllabus was related to the specific principle, but the reason as to why may not be obvious. The number exists to assist the reader in understanding, which “Representative Student Learning Outcome” the research or class fits under as stated in the Sustainability Education Framework.  In addition, a brief explanation of why the principles were applied may be documented under the “notes” column, dependent on the clarity of the principles’ relevance.

All spreadsheets have a column entitled “related without SJ”, “SJ” standing for Social Justice. This column was added to better understand the importance of Social Justice principles and its effect on the overall STARS rating. On Principle 6 of the Sustainability Education Framework, Representative Student Learning Outcome 1 states, “Identify normative assumptions and ethical frameworks for sustainability including equity, justice, human rights, and extending the moral community.” You will notice that this does not directly mention the environmental aspect of sustainability.  Many of the syllabi and much of the research qualified as sustainability-related only because it involved this learning outcome established by AASHE. It was decided to determine the amount of syllabi and research that was sustainability-related without this principle to distinguish the syllabi and research based primarily on the environmental aspects of sustainability rather than also incorporating the social justice aspects. This proves to show the important role that social justice plays within sustainability, and serves as a reminder that sustainability is not solely based on environmental issues. Both calculations are shown at the bottom of each document.

If you have questions, please contact Dan Sherman (

View Puget Sound sustainability curriculum by department
View Puget Sound sustainability curriculum by course