Office of Sustainability Academics


Sustainability, as a classroom and research topic, is naturally cross-disciplinary and provides opportunities for students and faculty with varying academic interests to learn and collaborate. Students can enroll in courses that include sustainability in every school at American University and many faculty members are engaged in research that contributes to the breadth and depth of knowledge in sustainability. More than 900 faculty members have been certified through the Green Teaching Program which focuses on recognizing teachers who use green practices in the classroom. 

Academic Programs

environmental science students in the water

Environmental Science

The environmental science program trains students to become effective advocates for the environment.

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GEP students

Global Environmental Policy

The GEP MA empowers students to apply their passions for ecological justice and humane governance into a lifetime of meaningful work. 

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gep certificate students

Global Environmental Policy Certificate

The certificate allows students to complete the SIS  class and other coursework.

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students working with bees

Sustainability Minor

The Sustainability Minor provides students with an understanding of sustainability as it relates to management.

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sustainability management students

Sustainability Management

This MS teaches sustainable business through cutting edge clases and experiential learning opportunities.

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EPCR students

Environment, Peace, and Conflict Resolution

The Certificate equips students with the knowledge and skills to address environmental conflicts.

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NRSD students

Natural Resources and Sustainable Development

The program highlights inequalities resource access and other drivers of environmental changes. 

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Sustainability workshops are regularly offered during the Ann Ferren Conference and August Faculty Workshops. Recordings of past sessions are available through the CTRL website.  

Ongoing Conversations are hosted by the Office of Sustainability for faculty to share best practices or request feedback. All faculty are welcome whether you have been teaching about sustainability for years or are just starting to consider how you might add it to a class you teach. 

Schedule: June 18, 2024, 11:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m. virtual. Please email to RSVP and request the Zoom link.

Lesson Plan

In collaboration with the Center for Teaching, Research & Learning, the Office of Sustainability created a campus sustainability lesson plan that instructors can use in the classroom. This lesson plan includes a narrated video, interactive map, multiple activities, discussion questions, and resources to help instructors incorporate aspects of campus sustainability into their courses. The activities in the lesson plan can be assigned to students during a class period when the instructor will or will not be present. 

Campus as a Living Laboratory

Instructors can request campus sustainability or Arboretum tours, use data from STARS, real time energy use, LEED case studies, or the annual greenhouse gas emissions inventory. Faculty are also welcome to partner with the office on special projects which may include work on current sustainability initiatives or research for future projects. Please contact the office in advance to determine a timeline to ensure office staff availability. 

Green Teacher Program 

Apply to be certified as a Green Teacher through the Center for Teaching, Research, and Learning

U.S. Green Building Council

All instructors, staff, and students have access to American University’s institutional subscription to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This subscription provides many resources, lesson plans, presentations, and case studies related to green buildings and sustainability. 

To access USGBC Reources: 

  • Create an account through the USGBC website using your email address. 

  • Within your account settings, you will see an option to connect your account with an institutional account. Connect to American University. 


Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education 

All faculty members, staff, and students have access to resources from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) through AU’s campus membership. 

To access AASHE materials: 

  • Create an account using your American email address. 

  • Explore curriculum ideas, case studies, mentorship programs, and more. 

AU Sustainability Fund

American University's Sustainability Fund advances the university's active pursuit of sustainability by providing financial and administrative support for campus sustainability projects developed and proposed by members of the university community and must help advance the achievement of the sustainability plan.  

This program is open to any member of the university community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and neighborhood residents to propose sustainability projects. Projects must have a research or implementation component on the American University campus or in the community.  

Sustainability in the Classroom

The Office of Sustainability asked faculty to self-identify sustainability courses or courses that included sustainability. In the 2022/2023 academic year, more than 400 courses were identified.   

American University has sustainability-supportive learning outcomes in the AU Learning Outcomes from the Provost. 

Sustainability Research

A list of sustainability-related research can be found here