In partnership with Faculty Senate and Academic Programs, Assessment and Accreditation, the Sustainability Office uses the Curriculum Proposal System (CPS) to identify the number of courses with sustainability content at OSU.  This process helps the campus community by identifying how courses align with OSU's Strategic Plan, particularly Advancing the Science of Sustainable Earth Ecosystems and OSU's core values, which include social responsibility. 

Course Determination Frequently Asked Questions

Will checking the "sustainability" checkbox impact the outcome of my proposal or the time it takes for my proposal to progress through the Curriculum Proposal System?

No.  The purpose of the "sustainability" checkbox is simply to alert the OSU Sustainability Office of a course that might be eligible for inclusion in a list of courses that incorporate sustainability.

Why does OSU need to know whether this course incorporates sustainability?

As a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) the Sustainability Office tracks all aspects of sustainability across the OSU campus.  This includes maintaining a list of courses that incorporate sustainability.  To facilitate this process, the OSU Sustainability Office asks that faculty indicate when courses might incorporate some aspect of sustainability.  Additional outcomes of this work include greater student understanding and visibility of OSU's sustainability course capacity, support for the sustainability double degree and other programs that might benefit from a course list, and creating a network of sustainability practitioners.

How is sustainability defined for the purpose of this reporting?

Sustainability has been defined in many different ways.  Two definitions that encompass the broad nature of the term are as follows:

  1. Sustainability means using, developing and protecting resources in a manner that enables people to meet current needs and provides that future generations can also meet future needs, from the joint perspective of environmental, economic and community objectives. (2001 Oregon Sustainability Act)
  2. Sustainability is the point where human endeavors reflect social equity, political stability, and economic development that is balanced with the capacity of ecosystems to absorb impacts without declining ecosystem structure and function.

What should I do if I am not certain whether this course incorporates sustainability?

If you are uncertain whether your course meets OSU’s criteria, check the "sustainability" box.  The Sustainability Office can make this determination.

More information 

OSU conducts annual sustainability assessments using STARS, a system used by nearly 700 higher education institutions worldwide.  STARS provides general guidance for designating sustainability courses.  In part, STARS bases its definitions on the principles outlined in the Earth Charter.  For additional info, please see these pages from the STARS Technical Manual that discuss the Academic Courses credit.

Oregon State's most current Academic Courses credit data were submitted in April 2015, but based on older data.  This process will be refined for the STARS assessment that will cover FY15. 

For more information or to provide feedback on this process, please contact Brandon Trelstad.