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Wednesday, June 18 • 4:00pm - 5:30pm
POSTER.19 – Measuring Students' Acquisition of Sustainability Skills and Knowledge

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George Brown College is committed to ensuring its graduates understand how sustainability relates to their work and to society. In order to render visible all courses that deliver and measure student acquisition of sustainability skills and knowledge, the College undertook an audit to determine current levels of sustainability teaching and learning content within all active programs of instruction (cf. Rusinko, 2010; Bridges, 2008; Jahan & Mehta, 2007; Springett, 2005; Tesone, 2004; Bartlett & Chase, 2004).

The audit's scope included both program- and course-level learning outcomes. Program and course learning outcomes from all diploma, advanced diploma, graduate certificate and degree programs were individually assessed for sustainability content, based on the accepted tripartite definition of sustainability encompassing environmental, social and economic sustainability principles (United Nations General Assembly, n.d.). We now know which of our programs provide a framework for learning that emphasizes environmental, social and economic sustainability skills and knowledge, particularly as these relate to a student's own field of study. We also know precisely in which specific courses this learning takes place.

As a result of our sustainability curriculum audit we are better able to link our sustainable research mandate to broader industry productivity and graduate preparation (cf. United Nations Development Program, 2014; Sibbel, 2009; Tilbury, 2004). This is because our audit results have allowed us to identify which of our diploma, advanced diploma, graduate certificate and degree programs have integrated sustainability teaching and learning across the curriculum--and which are at very early stages or have not yet begun this work. Where integration of sustainability themes was found within program- or course-level learning outcomes, the results also indicate the extent of the integration: for example, whether sustainability themes appear just once within a single course in a program, or whether they appear and are reinforced multiple times across multiple locations (i.e. within both program- and course-level learning outcomes and/or within multiple courses across a program).

Using the results from this audit, we are now able to target specific programs and courses in which it makes sense to allocate effort toward the increase the integration of sustainability teaching and learning (cf. Jones et al, 2010; Desha & Hargroves, 2007; Sterling, 2004).  Beginning with programs that were found by the audit to contain no or very few sustainability-related learning outcomes, we are now in a position to stage and coordinate the continued integration of sustainability themes across the curriculum in a way that is focused, logical and reflective of each program's audit results.


Wednesday June 18, 2014 4:00pm - 5:30pm
McArthur Hall

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