Learning Outcomes

For details about this credit, including the criteria, reporting timeframe, applicability, scoring, and more, please review the full credit language:

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of sustainability learning outcomes (SLOs)?

Sustainability-focused learning outcomes

  • Students will be able to define sustainability and identify major sustainability challenges.
  • Students will have an understanding of the carrying capacity of ecosystems as related to providing for human needs.
  • Students will be able to apply concepts of sustainable development to address sustainability challenges in a global context.
  • Students will identify, act on, and evaluate their professional and personal actions with the knowledge and appreciation of interconnections among economic, environmental, and social perspectives.

Sustainability-supportive learning outcomes (STARS 2.2 and higher)

  • Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the nature of systems.
  • Students will have an understanding of their social responsibility as future professionals and citizens.
  • Students will be able to accommodate individual differences in their decisions and actions and be able to negotiate across these differences.
  • Students will be able to analyze power, structures of inequality, and social systems that govern individual and communal life.
  • Students will be able to recognize the global implications of their actions.

Do sustainability learning outcomes need to include the word sustainability to count?

A learning outcome does not necessarily have to include the term “sustainability” to count as sustainability-focused as long as there is an explicit focus on the interdependence of ecological systems and social/economic systems.

Can overview/mission/vision/values statements for a course, program, or division be counted?

No. General program overview statements, mission/vision/values statements, or general methodology statements are not sufficient. According to the credit criteria, “learning outcomes are distinct from the aims of learning in that learning outcomes are concerned with the achievements of the learner rather than with the overall intentions of the teacher”.

What kind of documentation is required for this credit?

To support the number of students claimed to graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability learning outcome, a complete listing of programs and their respective sustainability learning outcomes is required.

Is a sample of programs or learning outcomes sufficient documentation?

STARS 2.1: You must include at least one valid learning outcome for each program or division that includes students graduating with such outcomes. Indicating that sustainability learning outcomes exist for a program, but not also listing that learning outcome is not sufficient.

STARS 2.2. You must provide a comprehensive list of the degree programs (and associated sustainability-focused learning outcomes, if applicable) used to claim points in Part 2. A sample of institutional SLOs is sufficient for Part 1.

Templates & Tools

Example Responses

  • California Polytechnic State University – Great example of an institutional learning outcome that focuses on sustainability and applies to all students.
  • Lehigh University – Uploaded file provided under “Additional documentation to support the submission” outlines the number of graduates per program.
  • Missouri State University – Unique approach of engaging an academic committee to identify sustainability-focused institutional and divisional learning outcomes.
  • Southern Oregon University – Great documentation on reporting graduates from programs that require completion of at least one sustainability (focused) course (as reported under AC 1).
  • South Seattle College – Good example of solid program-level learning outcomes from an associate degree granting institution.
  • Stanford University – Uploaded list of departmental learning outcomes is very comprehensive.
  • University of Central Florida – Great documentation on reporting graduates from programs that require completion of at least one sustainability (focused) course (as reported under AC 1).

Common Issues Identified During Review

  • Score Outlier – It is uncommon for institutions to earn full points or very close to it. If a high score is reported, please check closely for the issues below.
  • Response under “Total number of graduates from degree programs” must reflect all students. A common mistake is overlooking graduate students.
  • Responses should reference learning outcomes (e.g., “the student will demonstrate…”). General program overview statements, mission/vision/values statements, or general methodology statements are not sufficient. According to the credit language, “learning outcomes are distinct from the aims of learning in that learning outcomes are concerned with the achievements of the learner rather than with the overall intentions of the teacher”.
  • STARS 2.1 only: In order to meet credit criteria, learning outcomes do not necessarily have to use the term “sustainability”, but they must collectively address sustainability as an integrated concept having social/economic dimensions of sustainability as well as environmental/ecological dimensions.
  • STARS 2.1 only: If outcomes are not established for courses, institutions may count graduates from sustainability-focused programs that require the successful completion of one or more sustainability courses (i.e., courses in which the primary and explicit focus is on sustainability as reported for the Academic Courses credit). This means that graduates from programs that make such courses optional to complete the major or only require courses that include sustainability-related courses should be excluded.

Additional Resources

How can we improve our performance on this credit?

Did you find this article helpful?