Sustainability in learning relates to developing the knowledge, skills and values that develops knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviours that enable sustainable practice.
The values of Southern Cross University capture who we are as a community and importantly, inform how we bring our vision and mission to life. Our Strategic Plan describes our values as scholarship, innovation, social justice, ethical behaviour, sustainable practice and engagement.
SCU defines our value of sustainable practice as the active pursuit of practices that develop the social, economic, cultural and environmental sustainability of our communities.
Our values are directly reflected in our student graduate attributes. Graduate Attributes describe the qualities, skills and understandings that students should develop during their time at Southern Cross University. All units and courses are required to map to the graduate attributes. In 2013, SCU revised its Graduate Attributes to include an attribute on 'ethical practice', that is defined as a "a commitment to sustainability and high ethical standards in social and professional practices".
What is the University doing?
As signatory to the Talloires Declaration, SCU is committed to incorporating sustainability and environmental literacy in teaching, research, operations and community engagement.
This commitment is realised through:
- Taking a leadership role in our communities to act as a catalyst for positive change;
- Positioning our campus environments as living laboratories and classrooms for use by all disciplines;
- Providing a conduit for academic schools and work units to engage in dialogue and provide advice on sustainability initiatives at an institutional level;
- Promoting study pathways for students wanting to focus on sustainability in their courses;
- Supporting student groups to take action on priority sustainability initiatives at SCU;
- Embedding sustainability performance into University strategic planning processes;
- Promoting sustainable practices through our SCU One Planet workplace engagement program.
Sustainability in Curriculum
A university-wide Sustainability Major is available in most undergraduate student programs and engages students in coursework covering social, environmental and economic sustainability content. Environment, Science and Engineering programs incorporate principles of environmental sustainability in the curriculum.
Academic staff have been researching how sustainability is embedded in curriculum at Southern Cross University. It is hoped that a community of practice will develop that will enable academic staff to share best practice in sustainable education.
A number of Schools include sustainability in their approach to teaching and learning, as well as inclusion into aspects of curriculum and research.
This is particularly the case with the programs and research focus on the School of Environment, Science and Engineering (ESE), which offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the areas of Environmental Science (Coastal Management, Environmental Resources Management and Fisheries and Aquaculture), Marine Science and Management (which includes specialist units on global climate change), and Applied Science (Forestry). SCU's forestry degree is the largest program of its kind in Australia, and the only course that focuses on sustainable subtropical forestry.
Examples in other Schools include:
School of Education
All SCU pre-service degree programs address 'Education for Sustainability' (EfS) and Commonwealth and State policies. The School integrates EfS into Human Society and Its Environment, and Science and Technology curriculum at the primary level and it is integral to many units in the Bachelor of Technology Education. It is a theme in the new Early Childhood degree units.
School of Law and Justice
Material on environmental sustainability has been incorporated in Environmental Law (a core unit), Constitutional Law (in the topic 'The Constitution and the Environment') and in Legal Process (e.g. doctrine of precedent is taught by looking at public interest environmental litigation).
Climate change based scenarios have been introduced into mediation units (given the potential for climate change to generate conflict, at a family level (e.g. through loss of livelihood), neighbourhood level (e.g. over water restrictions) or national level (e.g. climate refugees from the Pacific).
School of Business and Tourism
Sustainability has been embedded in the 8-core unit of the Bachelor of Business through the unit Ethics and Sustainability.
Post-graduate studies and tailored and specialised corporate programs in Leadership, Management and Corporate Governance including Sustainability Reporting are also offered.
SCU Green Stars
The SCU Green Stars program provides an opportunity for Southern Cross University staff and students to collaborate on meaningful and rewarding campus sustainability projects, with students achieving recognition of their work in their program of study.
Project opportunities are possible across all disciplines and in undergraduate or postgraduate programs. Undergraduate projects can be undertaken via internship, work integrated learning units or in the case of Environment, Science and Engineering students, third year Integrated Projects.
Past projects undertaken by SCU Green Stars:
- Rhianna Blackthorn, Integrated Project, School of ESE. Supervisor Ross Goldingay. A survey of microbat habitat use within the urban landscape of Lismore, NSW 2013;
- Rhianna Blackthorn, Internship, School of ESE. Supervisor Ross Goldingay. A Pilot Survey of Reptiles and Frogs at Southern Cross University's Lismore Campus, NSW, with Implications for Management 2012;
- Julia Buddee, Integrated Project, School of ESE. Supervisor Ross Goldingay. Assessment of the Size and Health of the Koala (Phascolarctos Cinereus) Population within SCU's Lismore Campus 2012;
- Sophy Millard, Integrated Project, School of ESE. Supervisor Ross Goldingay. Study of Koala Tree Use and Movement at Southern Cross University Campus Lismore 2012;
- Rhianna Blackthorn, Internship, School of ESE. Supervisor Ross Goldingay. Further Surveys of Koalas (Phascolarctos Cinereus) located on and near Southern Cross University's Lismore Campus 2011;
- Merinda Williams, Integrated Project, School of ESE. Supervisor Ross Goldingay. A Preliminary Survey of Koalas and Vegetation for Future Management Options within the Southern Cross University Campus 2011;
- Salome Gallagher, Internship, SCBS. Supervisors Keith Sloan and Steve Rowe. The environmental and financial impact of the use of Elluminate Live! to conduct course review meetings for the School of Commerce and Management at Southern Cross University 2010;
- Noah Mason, Integrated Project, School of ESE. Supervisor Bill Boyd. Methods to reduce electricity consumption in offices and student residencies at Southern Cross University 2010.