bicycles in front of library

Rationale for Sustainability Requirement

UVM's sustainability requirement is intended to provide undergraduate students with knowledge of social, ecological, and economic dimensions of complex problems; developing skills in rigorous and complex discussions about solutions; negotiating multiple values; and analyzing their own experiences and actions.  Beginning with the entering first-year class in fall 2015, all undergraduates must meet a General Education requirement in Sustainability.  To meet this requirement, students must complete a course, curriculum, or co-curricular module prior to graduation that has been approved by the Faculty Senate's Sustainability Curriculum Review Committee.

At University of Vermont, we recognize that the pursuit of ecological, social, and economic vitality must come with the understanding that the needs of the present be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

As stated in Our Common Ground, "The University of Vermont is an educationally purposeful community seeking to prepare students to live in a diverse and changing world.” In the context of the emerging challenges of the 21st Century, this preparation includes envisioning and planning for a sustainable society. In addition, Our Common Ground speaks to "the transforming power of education." Thus UVM's vision for sustainability embraces the goal of educating all of its students to understand and contribute to the sustainability of human society. That is, we recognize that the pursuit of ecological, social, and economic vitality must come with the understanding that the needs of the present be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Through its General Education Initiative, The University of Vermont will integrate its sustainability vision across curricular and co-curricular activities. Whatever their chosen discipline, each student will demonstrate their mastery of the defined learning outcomes in the knowledge, skills and values categories, as well as the personal domain.

Students who are prepared to address the challenges of creating a sustainable world have knowledge of current issues in sustainability and the social, ecological, and economic dimensions of these complex problems. With the knowledge gained through coursework from varied disciplines, students develop the skills to engage in rigorous and complex discussions around creating sustainable solutions. Coursework and experiences in sustainability are meant to widen social, historical, and cultural perspectives and strengthen students' ability to negotiate multiple values that routinely come into play when planning for sustainability at the local, regional or global scales. Students connect conceptual learning to challenges and opportunities in the world outside of the university classroom by critically analyzing their own experiences in order to make sustainability meaningful and guide their personal actions.

The Four Sustainability Learning Outcomes

  1. Students can have an informed conversation about the multiple dimensions and complexity of sustainability. (knowledge category)
  2. Students can evaluate sustainability using an evidence-based disciplinary approach and integrate economic, ecological, and social perspectives. (skills category)
  3. Students think critically about sustainability across a diversity of cultural values and across multiple scales of relevance from local to global. (values category)
  4. Students, as members of society, can recognize and assess how sustainability impacts their lives and how their actions impact sustainability. (personal domain)