Sustainability Courses

Biological Marine Science course trip to Roatan, Honduras in Winter 2020.

Would you like to learn about sustainability? John Abbott offers over 650 courses that are either focused on or inclusive of sustainability.*

A. Sustainability-focused courses (a.k.a. “sustainability courses”)

To count as sustainability-focused under the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), the course title or description must indicate a primary and explicit focus on sustainability. This includes:

  • Foundational courses with a primary and explicit focus on sustainability (e.g., Introduction to Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Sustainability Science).
  • Courses with a primary and explicit focus on the application of sustainability within a field (e.g., Architecture for Sustainability, Green Chemistry, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Business). As sustainability is an interdisciplinary topic, such courses generally incorporate insights from multiple disciplines.
  • Courses with a primary and explicit focus on a major sustainability challenge (e.g., Climate Change Science, Environmental Justice, Global Poverty and Development, Renewable Energy Policy). The focus of such courses might be on providing knowledge and understanding of the problems and/or the tools for solving them.


B. Sustainability-inclusive courses (a.k.a. “sustainability-related courses”)

Courses that are not explicitly focused on sustainability, but which incorporate a unit or module on sustainability or a sustainability challenge, include one or more sustainability-focused activities, or integrate sustainability challenges, issues, and concepts throughout the course.

Description taken from the STARS Technical Manual

Career Program Courses, General Education Courses, Pre-University Program Courses.

*Please note that these course lists are based on courses that were offered in the Winter 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters, and that some courses may have changed. These lists will be updated periodically to reflect the increasing amount of sustainable content in courses across the College.

Environmental Studies Certificate

Photo: Jessica Burpee

This is one of five themed certificates that are open to all students in any program, and is received at the same time as the CEGEP diploma. The course list that students must choose from is more focused than the list of sustainability courses above, as it only requires courses on the list to have a module on environmental issues, not social sustainability issues.

Environmental Studies is a multidisciplinary academic field with the aim of understanding how humans interact with the natural world and affect natural systems, and how we can safeguard these systems upon which we are wholly dependent! Topic areas include the causes and impacts of the climate and ecological emergency (CEE), endangered species and biodiversity, the role of business and political action in solutions, sources of motivation for people’s environmental stewardship, etc.

The advantages of the certificate are that you:

  • Meet and network with like-minded students and teachers
  • Participate in related extra-curricular events
  • Distinguish yourself from other graduates to future employers and schools (with the certificate on your CV)

Students can obtain the Environmental Studies Certificate by completing six courses listed on the Certificate curse list* and devoting one in-class project (min 25%) to an Environmental Studies issue, as well as 10 hours of volunteer work related to the environment. Students in all programs may enroll in the certificate. There is no extra work, as it comes from work already required for a student’s DEC program. You may register at any time – the sooner you sign up, the sooner you will be invited to events. Click here for more information.

* Please note that the Environmental Studies Certificate course list is not the same as the sustainability course list above, although some courses may appear on both.

Climate Literacy Project

John Abbot College has embarked on a college-wide initiative to ensure that students have a knowledge of the fundamentals of the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE).  This initiative is the fruit of work begun with the formation in 2018 of Imagine Change, JAC’s climate awareness and action group, and the subsequent engagement of the college community and administration.  The college is currently focusing on integrating into the curriculum four basic aspects of the CEE:

  1. Causes:  the factors that cause climate change and ecological degradation
  2. Impacts:  the range of impacts on the biophysical world and on human societies
  3. Dynamics:  the social forces that produce the emergency, impinge on change, and distribute the impacts unevenly
  4. Actions:  appropriate objectives and means for mitigating and adapting to the emergency; action contributing to the solutions.

Each of the college’s pre-university and career programs is reviewing their course offerings to see how these 4 aspects of the CEE relate to what they currently teach.  We are taking advantage of the unusually high number of programs undergoing revision to find new opportunities to fully integrate this content into new and redesigned courses.  To facilitate this work, the college is hiring climate experts in various disciplines to help the faculty who feel less confident with the material.  Helping students understand the climate implications of individual and societal choices is predicted to result in substantial overall emission reductions as well as a deeper commitment to keeping the planet the oasis for life that it has been.

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