What is Learning for Sustainability?

Also known as sustainability in teaching and learning, or education for sustainable development.

The deliberate construction of learning experiences, across disciplines, so that graduates can demonstrate proficiency in competencies for a sustainable future. Learning for sustainability is reflected in core competencies which encompass the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to transform the systems required for a regenerative future. These are described through the six USask undergraduate competencies below.

Reliable learning for sustainability includes:

  • Course outcomes that focus on competencies
  • Instructional design that centres students’ agency to reflect, share, act
  • Progression in practice & feedback
  • Assessment of students’ competencies.

We must commit to deliberately designing courses and programs to systematically build sustainability competencies in our students. This resource focuses on the development of learning outcomes and activities aligned with the SDGs. Please connect with the author for further discussions about course or program alignment, practice & feedback, or assessment.

Competency What students know, do, believe for sustainability
Communicating Meaningfully ·     I can write or speak on sustainability in a way that is inclusive and persuasive.

·     I can tailor my speaking or writing to the audience to further sustainability.

·     I can listen and respond to alternate, divergent, or contradictory perspectives or ideas fully.

Engaging in our intercultural society  ·     I can navigate cultural differences in verbal and nonverbal communication to negotiate a shared understanding towards sustainability.

·     I can apply knowledge and skills to meet global or local sustainability needs.

·     I can use a diversity of perspectives and approaches to solutions for sustainability.

Nurturing Successful Relationships ·     I can deal with conflicts in a group while problem solving.

·     I can understand and respect the needs, perspectives, and actions of others regarding sustainability.

Leveraging Technology ·     I can design new technology to address a sustainability challenge.

·     I can select or leverage technology to address a sustainability challenge.

·     I can consider the ethical implications for adopting or adapting technology to address a sustainability challenge.

Adaptive Design and Problem Solving ·     I can adapt and apply skills, abilities, theories, or processes gained in one situation to new situations to address sustainability challenges in original ways.
Cultivating Resilience ·     I can continually evaluate my motivations and actions to deal with my feelings and emotions regarding sustainability.

·     I can confidently try untested and potentially risky strategies to solve problems (regardless of failure or success).

·     I can extend a novel or unique idea, question, format, or product to create new knowledge or knowledge that crosses boundaries.

Competency Language adapted from


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