Skip to main content

Education for sustainability

Creating student learning opportunities for sustainability learning by innovatively revising the curriculum.

What is sustainability?

Sustainability means ‘the long-term viability of a community’ (Meadowcroft, 2023). It is about fair and preserved flourishing, respectful of all living and non-living beings. This prosperity is found by seeking a triple bottom line of a sound environment, social health and social justice, and a flourishing economy leading to a sustainable society. This equilibrium of all domains is inspired by the famous definition of the Brundtland Commission (1987), defining sustainable development as one that ‘meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. 

At Concordia, we define sustainability as a mindset and a process that leads to reducing our ecological footprint and enhancing social well-being while maintaining economic viability both on and off campus. We are dedicated to equipping our graduates with the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to help solving these challenges and to start or keep living a sustainable lifestyle.

Institutional context

Concordia, with a robust Sustainability Action Plan 2020-2025, focuses on five stream topics including a Sustainability in Curriculum Plan. The curricular goals are to:

  • partner with faculty to embed sustainability in the curriculum, 
  • offer immersive interdisciplinary experiences for students, and 
  • empower graduates to tackle wider societal challenges in their fields. 

The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as a blueprint for actions that will lead to a more equitable and sustainable future. Our institution has committed to the Decade of Action, evident from Concordia President Graham Carr signing the University Global Compact Declaration in 2020. Additionally, international rankings like Times Higher Education (THE) and Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) recognize Concordia’s continuing efforts toward sustainability, the latter rating Concordia Gold for sustainability. 

Meeting student demands and sustainability education is crucial. This is supported by the Sustainability Cultural and Literacy Assessment (2021) and a student union referendum where 89% of undergraduates favour sustainability in their curricula.

Learn more about sustainability initiatives within all streams by accessing the Sustainability Hub, led by the Office of Sustainability.


Sustainability co-design project

The project is based on a Student as Partners collaboration model, with undergraduate and graduate students working collaboratively with faculty to redesign a unit or develop an instructional module in their course. The curriculum developer for sustainability provides instructional design support throughout the project. Concordia faculty who are deeply engaged with sustainability act as sustainability mentors to guide the co-design teams with the sustainability objectives.

Faculty interest group on Education for Sustainability

Florence Gruter facilitates this faculty interest group. The group meets monthly to infuse sustainability in courses and identify opportunities to facilitate this process across all faculties.

The faculty interest group is a dynamic collective of 11 dedicated faculty members who have come together to champion education for sustainability at Concordia.

The group’s work focuses on:

  • Actively shaping a roadmap for the integration of sustainability principles across our institution’s curriculum.
  • Prioritizing interdisciplinary exchanges and facilitating learning mechanisms for sustainability.
  • Aiming to weave fundamental sustainability courses into every department to help shape a resilient and conscious society.
  • Igniting innovative discussions and cultivating shared knowledge and expertise.
  • Channeling focused efforts into tangible outcomes and bridging ideas to impact change.

At present, the faculty interest group welcomes a select number of invited members representing the four faculties, fostering an intimate and dynamic exchange. Stay tuned for potential broader invitations as the group evolves. 


Meadowcroft, J. (2023, May 12). sustainability. Encyclopedia Britannica.

UN Documents. (n.d.). Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Retrieved June 6, 2023.

Back to top

© Concordia University