Sustainability in Practice

Sustainability is a practice operating across a variety of scales and skills. We will explore the ways that decision makers use systems analysis and design thinking to confront the career-defining challenges facing the next generation of leaders. Networks of practice from across North America and around the globe will provide case material and guest lectures.

About The Course

Sustainability is defining a generation of students and young professionals and their influence is transforming things like cities, companies, and laws around the world. Sustainability is often explained as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In practice, this means understanding connections, including connections across time. These connections create systems that are greater than the simple sums of their parts, with consequences that are often unexpected by people paying attention to only one part of a system. This course provides an introduction to the ideas and practices that people are using to understand and change these connections in pursuing more sustainable processes, communities, environments, and organizations. 

Systems theory appears in many guises and most disciplines claim some share of the systems approach to connections and consequences. In ways that we will explore in the course, design thinking is a method for putting systems theory into practice. Designers and their way of thinking provide a significant contribution to sustainability in practice, from improving energy performance in buildings to identifying the value ecosystems services provide to human settlements. This course has several strategic partners providing us with content and with platforms for discussion. These networks will provide the course with an extensive and diverse portfolio of problems, solutions, illustrations, and challenges with which to explore the ideas presented above. We will use these very different venues as platforms for discussion and will organize student conversations and assignments using the network partners.     

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructors.

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