Sustainability Core

The Department of Community Sustainability infuses sustainability into all of its majors. All courses in the department support a set of core competencies:

Critical Thinking: Students will interpret, analyze and evaluate information generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, and communication as a guide to formulate and defend responses to complex sustainability problems.

Systems Thinking: Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the interconnectedness of human and natural systems with the ability to anticipate and explain changes in complex systems over time.

Economic literacy: Students will demonstrate knowledge of and ability to use economic theories and methods to recognize and evaluate tradeoffs inherent in decision-making for sustainability.

Ecological literacy: Students will demonstrate knowledge, skills and ability to apply the tools and concepts of ecological science to explain the interdependence between humans and ecosystems and the consequences of actions at various spatial and temporal scales. Students will be able to:

Boundary-crossing: Students will identify their own assumptions and biases, recognize new perspectives, and demonstrate the ability to collaborate with individuals and groups whose norms, assumptions and biases are different from their own.

Community: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the various interpretations of community as it relates to the study and practice of sustainability

Equity: Students will demonstrate knowledge of the dynamics of social equality and inequality (equity) and how they affect sustainability.

Civic engagement: Students will develop the knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to participate in civic life.

Leadership: Students will develop, demonstrate and evaluate leadership practices that contribute to sustainability.

Initiative and practical skills: Students will demonstrate initiative, including the ability to self-direct and solve problems individually and as participants in larger group efforts.

Ethics: Students can evaluate and analyze diverse ethical positions on practical sustainability challenges.

Three core courses focus on these competencies, and other courses in the majors address subsets of these competencies. Students in the core courses also participate in projects outside the classroom. Participation in these projects provides students with opportunities to link what they are learning in the classroom to real-world experiences related to community sustainability. The three core courses are:

CSUS 200: Introduction to Sustainability

CSUS 200 introduces sustainability principles with a progression from a focus on self to a focus on community. The course begins with a focus on applications in the context of individual action, with students exploring the implications of those actions for key sustainability challenges. The second half of CSUS 200 focuses on applications in the context of community action and building leadership skills for community engagement. Different ways of thinking about communities and the ways in which individuals in communities of different types interact will prepare students for the greater immersion in community engagement that will come at the 300 level.

CSUS 300: Theoretical Foundations of Sustainability

CSUS 300 builds a deeper understanding of sustainability theory with an emphasis on systems and synthesis and applications to a real-world project outside of the classroom. The body of theory covered draws from disciplinary as well as evolving transdisciplinary contributions. After completing this course students will be able to frame complex problems from a systems perspective, applying knowledge from a range of fields of study.

CSUS 301: Community Engagement for Sustainability

CSUS 301 advances students' understanding of the theory and practice of citizenship and civic engagement. In the course, students apply the principles of sustainability and civic engagement to personal and collective actions taken to address a societal need. Application is made through a formal community engagement project that emphasizes practical skills for applying the concepts of engagement to action and allows students to interpret engagement and citizenship concepts through their experiences.