Integrating Sustainability in the Curriculum

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Lehigh develops generations of future leaders and an important part of leadership development is educating students about sustainability, no matter what their major. Given the pressing global environment challenges we are facing, having exposure to sustainability concepts is becoming ever more important. Additionally, employers are increasingly emphasizing sustainability competencies even for jobs that aren't explicitly focused on sustainability.

As part of Lehigh's Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030 goals, the Office of Sustainability and the Lehigh Sustainability Council (LSC) established an ongoing program that offers incentives for faculty to develop new sustainability courses and/or incorporate sustainability into existing courses. Over the course of the workshop participants:

  • Reimagine how courses of all kinds can better incorporate environmental responsibility, social equity and financial inclusion content with the goal of providing future leaders the education and skills necessary to achieve sustainable communities and societies
  • Identify opportunities to utilize the campus as a living laboratory by bridging theory to practice
  • Learn about eight ways to integrate sustainability content into any course
  • Cover campus resources available to assist you in integrating content into your course(s)

The next curricular integration workshop entitled, "Educating Future Leaders: Integrating Sustainability in the Curriculum", is scheduled for Monday, May 6th, 2024. If you have any questions, please contact

Please see below for details on the process, examples of original and revised syllabi, and additional resources.

The Process

  1. Participate in a workshop and check out our resources (in the sections below)
  2. Revise your syllabus
  3. Submit previous and new syllabus with paragraph explaining changes made to 
  4. Submissions will be reviewed by Lehigh Sustainability Council Education Subcommittee
  5. $500 stipend awarded, upon successful completion of syllabus revision


For a comprehensive list of resources to guide and inspire you while revising your syllabi, please view the Teaching Sustainability Guide on the Lehigh University Library Guide website.

Additionally, check out our Climate Action Strategy CourseToolkit! The purpose of this toolkit is to assist faculty across Lehigh’s five colleges with integrating Lehigh’s commitment to sustainability and climate action (including key concepts like climate change, climate action, social justice, and resiliency) into your class(es). There are eight different paths this integration can take ranging from minimal to moderate effort. As sustainability becomes more central to the strategy of business and government, employers are increasingly emphasizing sustainability competencies, even for jobs that aren’t explicitly focused on sustainability. This means that students equipped with these competencies are in demand by employers. We encourage you to choose the integration path that works best for you and your course!

Lastly, we invite you to participate in the Lehigh Climate Lab. The Lehigh Climate Lab will provide opportunities to deepen hands-on student learning while advancing the University’s operational commitments to net carbon neutrality. Learn about the initiative and how you can get involved.

Original and Revised Syllabi Examples

ACCT 324: Cost Accounting

View the original ACCT 324 syllabus and the revised ACCT 324 syllabus

Key Difference:

  • "In prior semesters I had briefly touched on the topic while covering the Balanced Scorecard. As part of the coverage of the topic, students worked in groups to develop a scorecard for a public company. During our discussion I raised the question of how the consideration of Sustainability might impact the construct of the firm's Balanced Scorecard."
  • "Starting in the fall, I plan to modify the project by having the groups design a Balanced Scorecard for their firm that integrates Sustainability.  They will have to determine how best to do this (e.g. a separate measurement category, or incorporate sustainability metrics into the current balance scorecard construct which has 4 sectors...customer, internal processes, learring, financial)."
  • "The new edition of the textbook ( which we will be using in the fall) now includes a section on sustainability as part of their coverage of life cycle costing.  This will also enable further discussion of sustainability and its impact on a firm's accounting measurements and decision inputs."
ECE201: Computer Architecture

View the original ECE201 syllabus and the revised ECE201 syllabus. 

Key Differences:

  • "Traditionally, power consumption is a factor in the course, and in fact it is the fundamental reason for the parallel computing trend in the computer industry. This aspect will be emphasized. One of the topics in the revised syllabus is Multiprocessing and Parallel Processing, dictated by power consumption."
  • "I plan to make students aware of other environmental impacts of the computer industry, which were not discussed in the class. I added a new topic to the revised syllabus: Other environmental impacts of the computer industry."
GCP010: Introduction to Global Citizenship

View the original GCP010 syllabus and the revised GCP010 syllabus. 

Key Differences:

  • The sustainability-related additions have been highlighted in blue in the revised syllabus.
ISE 319: Facilities Planning and Materials Handling

View the original ISE319 syllabus and the revised ISE319 syllabus. 

Key Difference:

  • The list of course objectives has been changed to include a discussion of the building codes and how they affect sustainability.

ME 10: Graphics for Engineering Design

View the original ME10 syllabus and the revised ME10 syllabus

Key Difference:

  • add on some simple ideas and exercises on sustainability.
  • In the new syllabus, I have replaced two topics with topics on Design4X 
  • In Lecture27, I have Design for Sustainability 
  • In Lecture 28, Design for Manufacturability, and Design for Assembly
  • One can think of Design for Sustainability as requiring the engineer to think long term as to how his/her design would impact the environment and those associated with the designed product. Design for Manufacturability and Assembly have much shorter outlook; how that design is to be fabricated and how it can be assembled to form a more complex system. These two differences in outlook do not have to, but often can be at odds with one another. At the very minimum, I need to make students aware of such possible conflicting demands on their designs.
  • Apart from just implementing the 2 new lectures I have also changed Homework#10 (H10) for students to wrestle with these issues. To cap this off, I have made these Design4X issues to be discussed within their Design Project. This may be beyond their grade, but a little bit of brain stretching is good for them.
  • While there is no big change to my syllabus to incorporate sustainability issues, I have made a small attempt to have it added to my ME 10 course, while providing students with other conflicting demands that they will have to make value judgements on. At a minimum, I hope this would make them realize that engineering is a discipline that is not just concerned with science and mathematics and costing, but is also heavily involved with value judgements and moral issues in our designs.