The Sustainability Fellowship program has produced some important contributions to sustainability education at UBC. Learn more about three of these: UBC’s Sustainability Education Framework; the Sustainability Learning Pathways; and a white paper on how to incorporate sustainability into large, first year courses.


The Sustainability Fellows originally developed the Sustainability Education Framework in 2010, then revised it in 2013. The framework proposes that students graduating with a sustainability background from UBC should have a firm grounding in, and be able to demonstrate, the following four key attributes:

• Holistic Systems Thinking
• Sustainability Knowledge
• Acting for Positive Change
• Awareness and Integration

For each of the four attributes, we provide the attribute concept, example learning objectives, from UBC and beyond, as well as some potential assessment tools which could be used to help develop, and then assess students understanding of these key sustainability concepts.



UBC’s long-term vision is to embed sustainability across all teaching programs. Our view is that every student in any discipline should have access to equipping themselves with the competencies and capacities that enable them to contribute to the co-creation of a sustainable future. To help guide academic units in this work, UBC developed Sustainability Learning Pathways. 

A Sustainability Pathway is a collection of sustainability-oriented courses and experiences that provide students with a firm grounding in the four UBC student sustainability attributes: Holistic Systems Thinking, Sustainability Knowledge, Awareness and Integration, Acting for Positive Change.

From 2014-2018 UBC’s Sustainability Initiative awarded seven pathway grants to refine or develop curriculum within six major undergraduate Faculties. 

These included:

  • New five course Sustainability Pathway for undergraduate geography students in the Department of Geography in the Faculty of Arts
  • Proposed Sustainability Science concentration for undergraduate students in the Environmental Sciences program in the Faculty of Science
  • Refreshed Sustainability Concentration for undergraduate Commerce students and new courses such as ‘Innovation & Sustainability’ and ‘Strategies for Responsible Business’ in the Sauder School of Business
  • Renewed effort in engineering to engage a broad spectrum of faculty members around sustainability education with various curriculum outcomes – including a focus on first year programs and the Bachelor of Applied Science degrees 
  • Ongoing refresh of an existing interdisciplinary Arts minor in Environment and Society for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts
  • New interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainable Food Systems developed by the Faculty of Land and Food Systems available to undergraduate students in three Faculties (Arts, Land and Food Systems, Science)
  • New Education for Sustainability cohort in the teacher education program offered by the Faculty of Education



In 2014, the Sustainability Fellows released a white paper documenting the unique challenges of integrating sustainability content and pedagogies into large first year courses. The goal was to introduce students to sustainability early in their academic careers by encouraging faculty to incorporate sustainability content in introductory courses.

Four approaches were outlined. The first approach applies to multi-section courses with multiple instructors who do not rely on a common source of content. The remaining three approaches apply to multi-section courses with shared content among the sections that is achieved by either instructors teaching independent modules across all sections, or individual section instructors relying on a common syllabus and teaching plan. 

For each approach, the whitepaper presents 1) course structure and context, 2) insertion model, 3) case study example(s), and in some cases 4) a commentary on other useful information associated with the approach.