Sustainability Literacy

Today’s complex problems require solutions based in the integration of social equity, ecological integrity, and economic systems. Students literate in sustainability will be equipped with the experiences, knowledge, and skills needed to create these solutions address local and global challenges.

Our Approach to Sustainability Literacy

In 2011, the University of Utah began incorporating sustainability more broadly into its curriculum. To achieve sustainability literacy for all students, we are committed to:

  • Enhancing sustainability education via the Wasatch Experience and the Sustainability Faculty Learning Community, as well as departmental-level sustainability workshops;
  • Implementing a course designation rooted in the big ideas of sustainability in order to facilitate students easily finding courses and faculty promoting these courses;
  • Collaborating with faculty to develop sustainability learning outcomes at the department, and individual course level;
  • Advocating for the integration of sustainability at the university and college level;
  • Promoting sustainability education opportunities across campus;
  • Recognize excellence in sustainability leadership in education, research, campus as a living lab, and community partnership.

See our complete sustainability education action plan here.

Institutional Commitment

“I view universities as the context where the most visionary, path-breaking approaches to urgent challenges should be explored. If not within the academy, where creative thinkers from a wide range of fields work in close proximity in an environment where risk is allowed if not encouraged, then where would we hope to address societal concerns such as the prevention of disease and disability, climate change, air quality, and the analysis, synthesis and application of large quantities of data? Transdisciplinary education for sustainability is one of the many paths the University will use to advance knowledge, facilitate understanding, and promote viable solutions to the pressing issues of the 21st century.” 

– Ruth V. Watkins, Senior VP for Academic Affairs

Assessing Sustainability Literacy

Targeted sustainability literacy assessments are ongoing.

  • In Civil Engineering, Steve Burian, professor of Civil Engineering, has developed a Civil Engineering Sustainability Literacy Assessment.
  • In the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program, student knowledge is assessed in the introductory level course and the capstone courses.
  • Departments who have integrated sustainability literacy into their learning outcomes will regularly assess how these outcomes have been achieved.