Fall 2018


Sustainability: Untangling a Web of Interconnectivity

Sustainable development, as theory and practice, opens human eyes to a web of interconnectivity in life that we have only recently begun to untangle. Sustainability presents us with the exciting—and sometimes daunting—realization that the social, economic and environmental dimensions of human existence form a web of interconnections. And as with any web, its untangling must be done purposely, intelligently and cautiously.

This course will interest anyone wanting an introduction to sustainability as well as those building on some familiarity with the idea. We will use the systems thinking approach and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals to inform our group conversations, personal stories, individual reflections and shared life experiences about sustainability thinking and practice for current and future generations.

Note: A course pack of readings will be provided.

A $62 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Tom Esakin $177.00 41 Register

What will I learn?

Week 1: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The United Nations’ “Sustainable Development Goals” serve as our starting point in a brief history of sustainability, strengthening our personal understanding of it. Like time, sustainability is in constant movement. The SDGs reveal to us the movement in time of humanity’s changing relationship to sustainable development.

Week 2: Systems Thinking

We will explore, discuss, dissect and apply the “systems thinking” approach, inherent to sustainable development. We will consider systems thinking techniques as a way to make intuitive and counter-intuitive interconnections among sustainability’s three dimensions. We identify some specific social, economic and environmental news stories, to which we’ll apply systems thinking and the SDGs in following weeks.

Week 3: Sustainability Solutions: Social Dimension

Engaging with the social news stories selected in Week 2, we will discuss these before joining together to untangle and dissect their social/economic/environmental interconnections, as reported through independent and alternative media. We will next explore sustainability solutions—which are often counter-intuitive—to these social news stories by applying a systems thinking and SDG lens to them.

Week 4: Sustainability Solutions: Economic Dimension

We will discuss the economic news stories we collectively chose in Week 2, before working together to untangle their economic/environmental/social interconnections as reported through media. We will then explore sustainability solutions to these economic news stories by applying the systems thinking and SDG lens to them.

Week 5: Sustainability Solutions: Environmental Dimension

We will discuss the environmental news stories we identified in Week 2, before engaging together to dissect their environmental/social/economic interconnections as reported through alternative and independent media. We will then explore sustainability solutions to these environmental news stories by applying the systems thinking and SDG lens to them.

Week 6: Personal Action for Current and Future Generations

At its core, sustainable development is about how we, as individual and collective humans, live life to ensure earth has future generations of life. Using the “seventh generation” principle of ancient Iroquois peoples along with reflective exercises, we will come to understand ways we can individually think, plan and act for sustainability.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

There is recommended reading for this course.

  • A course pack of readings will be provided on the first day of class. This has a short series of readings for Weeks 1, 2 and 6.  Readings for Weeks 3, 4 and 5 are media news-stories as decided by the collective class in Week 2.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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