Oberlin’s Definition of Sustainability
Oberlin College is committed to environmental stewardship through design and implementation of institutional policies, through management of energy flows and material cycles, and through research and teaching. Our definition of sustainability is derived from the widely-cited definition from the 1983 Brundtland Commission of the U.N. – “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Oberlin recognizes that sustainable systems, e.g. institutions, communities, must be environmentally sound, socially just, and economically viable. A consideration of the intersection between these dimensions is fundamental to both assessment and promotion of sustainability.
Academic courses that concentrate on sustainability, including its social, economic, and environmental dimensions or examine an issue or topic using sustainability as a lens are termed sustainability-focused courses. Sustainability-related courses include a course component or module or concentrate on a key principle or issue of sustainability.
These course definitions come from STARS, a self-reporting system developed by the Association of the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Oberlin is a charter member of AASHE and uses STARS to track progress toward achieving its sustainability goals, relative to other colleges and universities.