Sustainability Course Evaluation

As an on-going effort to achieve the Sustainable education goal of ensuring that all students gain a solid understanding of sustainability concepts and graduate with the capacity and commitment to solve problems locally and globally, The Sustainability Education Advisory Group (SEAG) has been conducting analysis annually since 2018 to identify opportunities and gaps in the existing provision of sustainability-relevant courses, providing a basis for the development of sustainability education across Schools and programs.

Sustainability Course Criteria

Using the three previously agreed domains, the SEAG further developed a sub-list of criteria to help in evaluating core areas that are associated with sustainability education. The list of criteria is further broken down into key concepts, full details can be found here.

Values Knowledge and Understanding Skills and Competencies

1. Human responsibility within the environment

2. Human responsibility within society

3. Human behaviour

4. Natural limits

5. Business and economics

6. Science and technology

7. Planning and design 8. Governance

9. Systems thinking

10. Collaboration & communication

11. Futures thinking

12. Critical thinking & complex problem solving


Sustainability Course Inventory

Once the sustainability criteria were developed, we evaluated all our existing Undergraduate courses against the list to develop a sustainability course inventory. To further help us to evaluate the existing courses, the SEAG decided to break the courses into two categories: “sustainability focused,” and “sustainability related.”

  1. Sustainability focused courses – these courses may be broad and cover a wide breadth of sustainability concepts, content, issues, and contemporary thinking, or they may be narrowly focused and address one or more sustainability issues or concepts in depth. In both cases, the course is primarily focused on sustainability.
    1. A focused course must concentrate on sustainability in at least 75% of class time, and incorporate elements of sustainability criteria within the course material (readings, discussions, and assignments).
  2. Sustainability related courses – these courses are focused on a topic other than sustainability, but have sustainability ideas, principles, or content embedded within specific parts of the curriculum.
    1. A sustainability related course spends at least 25% of class time covering one or more of the sustainability criteria within the course material (readings, discussions, and assignments).

* This exercise is carried out annually to evaluate any newly added courses in that academic year. The most updated list of sustainability courses can be downloaded here.



The most recently updated data shows that:

  • Overall, Sustainability Focused or Related courses represent roughly 6% of the overall UG course catalogue.
  • In 2019-20, Sustainability Focused or Related courses represented roughly 5% of the approved new courses.
  • By distribution, all schools and most departments include at least one listed course. SENG has the largest overall number of listed courses among schools, and ENVR and CIVL have the greatest percentage of sustainability course offerings in 2019-2020.
  • In terms of exposure to sustainability concepts, we note that 65% of recent graduates are leaving with a “strong” exposure (completing two or more Sustainability Focused courses); only 5% of students graduated with no course exposure to sustainability.


The full report can also be downloaded here: ( ) If you have any question on this project, please feel free to email directly.