Sustainability is based on the principle that everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability courses help us understand the interconnections between natural and social systems and to marshal that knowledge in pursuit of a more sustainable society.
There are many courses at Carleton College that provide insight into environmental and social issues; this list focuses on those that contribute to an explicitly integrative approach to these issues. It includes:
- Foundational courses in which the primary and explicit focus is on sustainability as an integrated concept having social, economic, and environmental dimensions. An obvious example is Environment and Society.
- Courses in which the primary focus is on providing skills and/or knowledge directly connected to understanding or solving one or more major sustainability challenges. Such courses do not necessarily cover sustainability as a concept, but should address more than one of the three dimensions of sustainability (i.e. social wellbeing, economic prosperity, and environmental health). Examples include Global Change Biology and Environmental Justice.
While a foundational course such as chemistry or sociology provides knowledge that is useful to practitioners of sustainability, it would not be considered a sustainability course. Likewise, although specific tools or practices such as GIS (Geographical Information Systems) can be applied towards sustainability, such courses would not count as sustainability courses unless their primary and explicit focus is on sustainable applications.