Graduate Studies Reports Access

Graduate Course Proposal Form Submission Detail - IDS6233
Tracking Number - 3154

Edit function not enabled for this course.

Current Status: Approved by SCNS - 2013-08-05
Campus: Tampa
Submission Type: New
Course Change Information (for course changes only): NA
Comments: to GC 5/6/13 for Global Sust. Changes. Approved. Cleared concurrence. To SCNS 7/31/13. Sub as 6231. Apprd as 6233 eff 8/1/13

Detail Information

  1. Date & Time Submitted: 2013-03-30
  2. Department:
  3. College: CS
  4. Budget Account Number: 390500
  5. Contact Person: Ali Yalcin
  6. Phone: 9745397
  7. Email:
  8. Prefix: IDS
  9. Number: 6233
  10. Full Title: Concepts and Principles of Sustainability
  11. Credit Hours: 3
  12. Section Type: C - Class Lecture (Primarily)
  13. Is the course title variable?: N
  14. Is a permit required for registration?: N
  15. Are the credit hours variable?: N
  16. Is this course repeatable?: N
  17. If repeatable, how many times?: 0
  18. Abbreviated Title (30 characters maximum): Concepts of Sustainability
  19. Course Online?: B - Face-to-face and online (separate sections)
  20. Percentage Online: 0
  21. Grading Option: -
  22. Prerequisites:
  23. Corequisites:
  24. Course Description: This course discusses basic concepts and principles of sustainable development. It discusses systems thinking and different sustainability perspectives such as local/global and historical/future. Best practices will be analyzed through case studies.

  25. Please briefly explain why it is necessary and/or desirable to add this course: Needed to compete with national trends
  26. What is the need or demand for this course? (Indicate if this course is part of a required sequence in the major.) What other programs would this course service? This new course is part of a systematic redesign of the degree requirements for the MA in Global Sustainability now housed in the new College of Global Sustainability. The revisions to the degree emerge from our analysis of other competitive programs across the country, our assessment of the core competencies of the College and our analysis of skills desired by employers for positions related to sustainability and green economy. The proposed revisions are academically rigorous and position our degree and our students for success in the academic and workplace market. After synthesizing this research, we have designed four new core courses for the MA degree. The four core courses are; Concepts and Principles of Sustainability, Economics and Finance for Sustainability, Systems Thinking: The key to sustainability, and Communicating the Value of Sustainability. In addition, we have strengthened our Water Concentration with a new required course titled Sustainable Water Resource Management.

    The demand for this course will be the same as the demand for the degree since this course is required for all students enrolled in the degree program. We are currently receiving 60-80 applications per year without any systematic recruiting effort. Our current enrollment is around 35 students per academic year.

    With the increasing focus on sustainability in higher education, we believe that these courses may serve as electives to other programs, especially those housed in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Public Health and Business.

  27. Has this course been offered as Selected Topics/Experimental Topics course? If yes, how many times? No
  28. What qualifications for training and/or experience are necessary to teach this course? (List minimum qualifications for the instructor.)
  29. Objectives: 1.To develop understanding of basic concepts and principles of sustainability

    2.To introduce students to different perspectives of sustainability and existing controversies

    3.To introduce to systems thinking in analyzing sustainability challenges

    4.To provide local and global perspectives of sustainability

  30. Learning Outcomes: After completing this course, the students should be able to:

    1.Describe and apply the concept and principles of sustainability with respect to the competing goals of its three pillars (society, environment and economy)

    2.Describe and analyze common sustainability issues from multiple perspectives considering controversies that exist around sustainability issues,

    3.Analyze resource uses, flows and interactions from a systems perspective and apply systems thinking in addressing challenges to sustainability

    4.Apply global perspectives to sustainability and analyze competing sustainable solutions.

  31. Major Topics: Historical and future perspectives of sustainability

    1. History of humanity and environment: Rousseau, Malthus, public health movement, early environmentalism, dust bowl and new deal, oil crisis, Stockholm conference, Rio conference, Tokyo protocol, Agenda 21, Rio+20

    2. Current state of the earth system: historic development and current state of major environmental indicators planetary boundaries, shortcomings of planetary boundary concept, the current state in developing countries (MDGs, the right for human development, societal and environmental equity) the current state in developed countries (unsustainable consumption, overharvesting of resources, environmental protection etc.)

    3. Outlook on future global challenges: population growth, urbanization, climate change, resource depletion, different scenarios, dealing with complexity and uncertainty, outlook developing countries (basic human needs, sustainable development goals) developed countries (climate change, natural resources limiting development), prioritization of different future global challenges, different prioritization from developed and developing country perspective

    Definition and principles of sustainability and sustainable development

    4. Definition of sustainability and sustainable development: triple bottom line, combination of sustainability and development goals, value base of sustainability, sustainability as overarching, generic and combining concept, interdisciplinary perspective on sustainability, representation of sustainability, sustainability related concepts (livability, resiliency, stewardship, conservation), critique on sustainability (lack of clarity, accountability and measurement, slogan not meaningful concept, barrier to innovation, strong and weak sustainability);

    5. Guiding principles of sustainable management and design: guiding principles to operationalize sustainability: prevention, precautionary principles, the polluters pay, product stewardship, eco-efficiency, improved valuation pricing and incentive mechanism, waste hierarchy

    6. Environmental sustainability versus economic development: environmental kuznet curve, decoupling resource consumption from economic growth, combine sustainability and development, example water resource management

    7. Cultural perceptions of sustainability: different cultural values for sustainability and environment, indigenous knowledge and practices of sustainability, indigenous ethics and sustainability, multiple perspectives and knowledge frames

    Definition and concepts of systems thinking and sustainability

    8. The concept and syntax of system analysis: system components and boundaries (source, sink, buffer, stock and flow, feedback loop, delays, system boundaries, system and sub-systems, nested systems; define sustainability using system thinking ), status of systems, dynamics of systems

    9. Interdisciplinary perspective on systems thinking: characteristics of complex socio-technical systems and environmental systems, system thinking in different disciplines, bridging concept for interdisciplinary cooperation, generic principles of system thinking (interactions, feedback loops, etc.), scientific basis and shortcomings of system analysis, holistic versus reductionist approach, problem definition, provide analytical framework, gain awareness of scale and interconnectivity

    10. Inter-related systems: interconnectivity among primary sustainability challenges, appropriate definition of system boundaries, identify priorities for action within interconnected system, example water food energy nexus, local versus global sustainability challenges (think globally act locally, think locally act globally, altruism versus self interest, NIMBY), carbon trading, example air quality versus climate change

    11. Closing the loop: identify leverage points in systems, 4Rs (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle), life cycle assessment from cradle to grave, from cradle to cradle, example solid waste management, Jevons Paradox as system trap, human consumption and the rebound effect, example energy efficiency, private consumption and solid waste management

    12. Non-linear behavior of systems: turning points in systems, system traps and possible solutions, unintended impacts or consequences, unexpected changes, dealing with complex systems, drift to lower performance, doom loops, tragedy of the commons, example urban traffic, complex adaptive systems, robustness of systems (adaptive systems versus doom loops), dealing with uncertainties, multi-causality, knowledge gaps and imperfect understanding, example ecosystems and payment for ecosystem services

  32. Textbooks: 1.Theis and Tomkin, 2012; Sustainability a Comprehensive Foundation

    2.Meadows, 2008 Thinking in Systems: A Primer

  33. Course Readings, Online Resources, and Other Purchases: 1.Orr, 2002; The Nature of design: Ecology, Culture and Human Intention

    2.Newman, Beatly, and Boyer 2009 Resilient Cities

    3.Radkau 2008 Nature and Power a global history of the environment

    4.Tietenberg 2012 Environmental & natural resource economics

    5.Fenner, Ainger 2013 Principles into practice - Delivering sustainable infrastructure

  34. Student Expectations/Requirements and Grading Policy: Assignments/project 30%

    Exam 40%

    Quizzes 20%

    Paper 10%

    The following grading scale will be used

    90 to 100% = A

    80 to 89% = B

    70 to 79% = C

    60 to 69% = D

    Below 50% = F

    Grades will be posted on through the course management software. There is no other extra credit available.

  35. Assignments, Exams and Tests: Week- Topic- Assignments/Quizzes- Assignment due

    1- History of humanity and environment- Short paper on outlook on future challenges for different cities- Week 3

    2- Current state of earth system

    3- Outlook on future global challenges- Reading assignment with Quiz on different definitions of sustainability- Week 4

    4- Definition of sustainability

    5- Principles of sustainability- Reading assignment with Quiz on cultural perceptions of sustainability- Week 6

    6- Environ. Sustainability versus economic development

    7- Cultural perceptions of sustainability

    8- Concept and syntax of system analysis- Start project applying system perspective on sustainability problems- Week 13

    9- Interdisciplinary perspective on systems thinking

    10- Inter-related systems

    11- Closing the loop

    12- Non-linear behavior of systems

    13- Presentation final project report

    14- Examination

  36. Attendance Policy: Course Attendance at First Class Meeting Policy for Graduate Students: For structured courses, 6000 and above, the College/Campus Dean will set the first-day class attendance requirement. Check with the College for specific information. This policy is not applicable to courses in the following categories: Educational Outreach, Open University (TV), FEEDS Program, Community Experiential Learning (CEL), Cooperative Education Training, and courses that do not have regularly scheduled meeting days/times (such as, directed reading/research or study, individual research, thesis, dissertation, internship, practica, etc.). Students are responsible for dropping undesired courses in these categories by the 5th day of classes to avoid fee liability and academic penalty. (See USF Regulation Registration - 4.0101,

    Attendance Policy for the Observance of Religious Days by Students: In accordance with Sections 1006.53 and 1001.74(10)(g) Florida Statutes and Board of Governors Regulation 6C-6.0115, the University of South Florida (University/USF) has established the following policy regarding religious observances: (

    In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary for USF to suspend normal operations. During this time, USF may opt to continue delivery of instruction through methods that include but are not limited to: Blackboard, Elluminate, Skype, and email messaging and/or an alternate schedule. Its the responsibility of the student to monitor Blackboard site for each class for course specific communication, and the main USF, College, and department websites, emails, and MoBull messages for important general information.

  37. Policy on Make-up Work: All exams and assignments are to be completed within the time frame provided in the syllabus. If there are anticipated or unanticipated problems, the student needs to email the instructor ahead of time and explain the reason to be considered for make-up. Such situations will be handled by the instructor on a case by case basis.

    See also the University Policy on Academic Integrity at

  38. Program This Course Supports: MA in Global Sustainability
  39. Course Concurrence Information:

- if you have questions about any of these fields, please contact or