Introduction to Sustainability

Course Description

This self-paced, 1.5-hour online course is designed to equip students with a basis of knowledge around sustainability.  The course incorporates hands-on activities, online modules, discussion forums, and dynamic instruction methods.


This course is a prerequisite to earn any of GEF Institute's Certificates in Sustainability

$ 50.00 per individual Add To Cart Smlr

$7.97 for 1 year student license *

*Classroom price only, minimum purchase of 25 students rquired. Email requests to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Explain how our everyday actions and decisions impact the world around us
  • Define sustainability
  • Define and discuss the Triple Bottom Line
  • Describe some of the myths and misconceptions about sustainability
  • Identify ways in which we can all participate in the sustainability movement

Instructional Resources

The 1.5 hours of directed instruction is accessed online through any internet connection. The course consists of ten sequential units which contain all of the instructional resources participants will need to complete the course. These include a variety of instructional formats, such as video, animations, presentations, guided activities, and readings. Course materials can be accessed on a smart device.

Course Outline

Essential Question

How do we create a society and economy that is aligned with the ecological systems of Planet Earth?

The Big Idea

Think about your day so far today. Let’s assume you woke up, took a shower, got dressed, made a cup of coffee, ate breakfast, checked your email on your smartphone, and got in the car to head to work or school. Have you ever thought about the “behind the scenes” of all these routine activities? Where did the water come from for your shower? What kind of fuel heated the water? Who grew your coffee and what are their working conditions like? How about the milk for your cereal—what are the laws that regulate its production? Your smartphone seems completely removed from nature, but where did all of those components inside the phone come from? What happens to the gasoline after it is burned to power your car to work? Investigating these types of questions is the entry way into understanding sustainability. As we will see, seemingly mundane activities are embedded in webs of relationships with the earth, materials, energy, plants and animals, and people all over the world. Sustainability is a way of thinking that allows us to get under the surface of things and see connections in enlightening and sometimes surprising ways.

In this section, we will explore:

  • What is Sustainability? 
  • Why is Sustainability Important? 
  • The Three Pillars of Sustainability
  • Business and Sustainability
  • Systems Thinking 
  • The Participatory Sustainability Movement