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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.81
Liaison Kelly Wellman
Submission Date Dec. 6, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Texas A&M University
AC-1: Academic Courses

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 12.10 / 14.00 Ben Kalscheur
Sustainability Assistant Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Figures required to calculate the percentage of courses offered by the institution that are sustainability course offerings:
Undergraduate Graduate
Total number of courses offered by the institution 8,771 1,918
Number of sustainability courses offered 763 125
Number of courses offered that include sustainability 829 134

Percentage of courses that are sustainability course offerings:
17.32

Total number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that offer courses (at any level):
89

Number of academic departments (or the equivalent) that offer at least one sustainability course and/or course that includes sustainability (at any level):
69

Percentage of academic departments with sustainability course offerings:
77.53

A copy of the institution’s inventory of its sustainability course offerings and descriptions:
Do the figures reported above cover one, two, or three academic years?:
One

A brief description of the methodology used to determine the total number of courses offered and to identify sustainability course offerings, including the definitions used and the process for reviewing and/or validating the course inventory :

Our sustainability course/includes inventory examines the courses offered at Texas A&M University – College Station for a one year period from Summer 2016 through Spring 2017. The data we were able to compile consists mainly of undergraduate classes offered during the timeframe. All undergraduate classes are required to submit an electronic copy of their syllabi for University records each semester; graduate classes are exempt from this protocol. However, some graduate classes submitted syllabi and we have analyzed the courses that were submitted. At this time, we do not have the ability to capture data for the Graduate classes that do not submit syllabi so they are not included in our assessment.

The Office of Sustainability outlined several parameters to review and code each syllabus in the database. Office of Sustainability staff analyzed all syllabi using the standards outlined by STARS to categorize the courses. The decision was made to code each class as: not related, includes sustainability, or a sustainability course. To make the coding process more accessible for analysis a numeric and color coding
system was created. To ensure that staff were coding the data in a similar manner, numerous meetings were held to clarify how we defined the classes as being course/includes. Spot-checks were conducted by senior sustainability staff members to ensure reliability of the coding process. After all preliminary coding was complete, sustainability staff collectively went through all courses staff member were unsure of and made a final decision as a group. During these sessions coding decisions were fine-tuned and courses were re-evaluated a final time.

STARS gives the option of either including or excluding duplicate sections from the total course count. We choose to include duplicate sections in our analysis. We removed duplicate courses from the online inventory for the sake of a cleaner final document, but the numbers are replicated in our totals.

After all course information was compiled and analyzed, a new database was created to determine the number of departments on campus that offered a course/includes class during our time period. Our original database classified each course by subject. All of the course/includes subjects were compiled and placed in a list and the same was done for non-related subjects. From these lists, each subject was placed in the proper
department. A total of 87 departments were identified and 71 offered at least one sustainability course/includes class. Some assumptions were made when computing the total number of departments:
1. A number of interdisciplinary programs are offered at TAMU that cannot be classified under one department. We choose to count each interdisciplinary program as a department.
2. Some colleges at TAMU (i.e. The Dwight Look College of Engineering) offer a number of classes that are categorized under the college, not the departments within the college. When this happened we counted the college as a department.
3. TAMU offers a wide range of first year seminars categorized as Undergraduate Studies that are not attached to a department. We choose to count Undergraduate Studies as a department in our analysis.
4. TAMU has different institutes (i.e. The English Language Institute) and centers (i.e. The Student Learning Center) that offer a number of classes. We counted these as departments.

Database Process Review:
Our coding process has advantages and disadvantages that must be understood. The biggest advantage of our methodology is the comprehensive nature of our analysis. Aside from a few broken links, we were able to thoroughly analyze every class offered at Texas A&M University – College Station from Summer 2016 to Fall 2017. This offers an advantage over course inventory methodology that gets data about courses directly from departments or professors that may contain inconsistencies or nonresponse. By directly analyzing the syllabi we were able to pinpoint course/includes sustainability classes that may have been missed by departments or professors who didn’t realize they are actually teaching sustainability concepts.

Database Process Limitations:
As is the case with any data analysis, our methodology is not perfect and it is important to keep in mind that our findings are subject to a margin of error. Our margin of error can be attributed to a two things:

1. Because sustainability staff were making decisions on courses, some subjectivity is inevitable in the decision making process. We fine-tuned our methodology and coordinated to be as objective as possible, but all subjectivity cannot be fully eliminated. As a result, classes may have been missed or counted that others may not agree with. While we acknowledge this potential shortcoming, we are confident our process was thorough and uniform.
2. We made assumptions during our coding process:
a) Syllabi accurately reflected what was taught in the course.
b) Classes that make cultural relevancy an important lens in their class are related to the social component of sustainability.


How were courses with multiple offerings or sections counted for the figures reported above?:
Each course was counted as a single course regardless of the number of offerings or sections

A brief description of how courses with multiple offerings or sections were counted (if different from the options outlined above):

Dually listed courses in different departments were only counted once.


Are the following course types included in the inventory? :
Yes (included) or No (not included)
Internships Yes
Practicums Yes
Independent study Yes
Special topics Yes
Thesis / dissertation Yes
Clinical No
Physical education Yes
Performance arts Yes

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The number of official departments at TAMU-College Station is 67. The total number of departments included in this credit is higher because the additional "departments" have been coded as equivalents. These "departments" include, Interdisciplinary/Interdepartmental Degree Programs, Colleges, and Institutes that offer courses not tied to one of the 67 official departments.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.