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Sustainability Curriculum

Across the Curriculum

Dickinson offers over 100 courses each academic year that help students gain knowledge about sustainability concepts, problems and solutions while building competencies and dispositions for creating a sustainable world. Dickinson offers numerous courses in arts and humanities, social sciences and laboratory sciences that explore the different dimensions of sustainability from a variety of perspectives. Over time, these courses have been integrated throughout the Dickinson curriculum in over 39 academic departments. From the graduating Class of 2019 onward, it is required to take a sustainability course as part of the general degree requirements. However, as of 2020, we have 88% of our graduates taking two or more courses and 54% taking four or more courses during their on campus study.

Dickinson students can identify sustainability courses using the course designations Sustainability Investigations (SINV) or Sustainability Connections (SCON) when conducting an online course search. You can also see the breadth of the courses offered in our Online Course Search for Sustainability Courses.

Faculty designate these courses each semester using our Sustainability Course Designation process. These two categories of course designation differ in the degree to which sustainability is a focus.

Course Assessment

Questionnaires were distributed to students and faculty members in Fall 2019 to gather information about the content and learning activities of courses that satisfy Dickinson’s sustainability graduation requirement. Fifty-one courses with these attributes were offered that semester, 34 Sustainability Connections (SCON) and 17 Sustainability Investigations (SINV). Multiple sections were offered for some of the courses. The courses were offered by 26 academic programs.These reports summarize and display responses to the faculty and student questionnaires. 

  • Faculty Questionaire Report
    • Survey sent to instructors of all courses offered in Fall 2019 with either the Sustainability Connections (SCON) or the Sustainability Investigations (SINV) attribute. Completed questionnaires were received for 44 course sections. Of these responses, 35 were from faculty members teaching SCON courses and 8 were from faculty members teaching SINV courses.
  • Student Questionaire Report
    • Survey sent to 909 students enrolled in courses with either the Sustainability Connections (SCON) or the Sustainability Investigations (SINV) attribute at the end of the fall 2019 semester. Completed questionnaires were received from 247 students, a response rate of 27 percent. Of these responses, 164 were from students enrolled in SCON courses and 83 were from students enrolled in SINV courses.

Course Designations

Sustainability Investigations

Sustainability Investigations (SINV) courses engage students in deep and focused study of problems of sustainability as a major emphasis of the course. They may focus on a selected dimension of sustainability, but do so in context with and reference to the three major dimensions of sustainability: social (including cultural), economic and environmental. Many of these courses use sustainability or sustainable development as an explicit lens through which to examine questions about society, economic and human development, science and technology, or human interactions with the environment. But courses that use other paradigms may also be considered to be Sustainability Investigations courses if they examine social, economic, and environmental dimensions of questions about meeting human needs in a world of finite resources and complex, interconnected systems.

Sustainability Connections

Sustainability Connections (SCON) courses engage students in making connections between the main topic of the course and sustainability by using assignments, selected readings, problems, examples, case studies, or a unit to explore questions within the broader context of the course about human interactions with the environment and their consequences for social, economic or environmental objectives. Often the explorations draw on knowledge and perspectives from more than one discipline, but can be rooted in a single discipline. Sustainability Connections courses may focus on all or just one of the dimensions of sustainability ­ social, economic or environmental ­ but with reference to at least one of the other dimensions. Sustainability is a significant but generally not a major emphasis of Sustainability Connections courses.