Academics and Learning

Academics and Learning

academics icon roundOur core mission – of teaching, research, and public service – provides an opportunity to use the campus as a research and learning laboratory for sustainability.

UC Berkeley’s 2018 Strategic Plan lists Environmental Sustainability and Justice as being among society’s greatest current challenges. UC addresses the need to prepare students to rise to meet such demands of the day head on. The Strategic Plan commits, “We will harness our disciplinary breadth, our museums and field stations, and our partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to understand and counter the effects of climate change, foster sustainability, and promote environmental justice."

Campus Performance Overview

field learning at UC Berkeley

At UC Berkeley, a wide range of degree, course, and service learning options foster students’ understanding of sustainability issues in all their relational complexity. Grants, class projects, and student organizations tie classroom learning and lab experiences to “real world” outcomes.

UC Berkeley has historically led the way in sustainability research, including environmental, social, and economic sustainability.  Along with exploring such obvious routes as Environmental Science, Policy, and Management classes, students can also dive into sustainability studies via the global history of ecologically conscious art, architecture, cinema, design, and urban planning (HISTART 105). They can learn how environmental concerns have shaped the history of American landscape architecture since 1850 (AMERSTD C171). 

A recent inventory found more that UC Berkeley’s sustainability course offerings make up almost 50% of all campus courses

Mapping courses to UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 

In 2021, a course mapping and evaluation revealed that over 2079 courses from UC Berkeley’s 2021 Sustainability Course Inventory fit the SDG criteria. Learn more in the report

STARS Performance Overview

Academics and Learning Category

According to STARS, "This subcategory seeks to recognize institutions that have formal education programs and courses that address sustainability. One of the primary functions of colleges and universities is to educate students. By training and educating future leaders, scholars, workers and professionals, higher education institutions are uniquely positioned to prepare students to understand and address sustainability challenges. Institutions that offer courses covering sustainability issues help equip their students to lead society to a sustainable future."

Berkeley's STARS Performance

Total Points Available: 40.00

Academics and Learning Points Claimed: 36.31

  • The campus achieved 91% of available points in the STARS Academics and Learning category. The average among all research universities is 63.79%.

  • STARS assessment categories included: Academic Courses, Learning Outcomes, Undergraduate & Graduate Programs, Immersive Experiences, Sustainability Literacy Assessment, Incentives for Developing Courses, Incentives for Developing Courses, and Campus as a Living Laboratory. UC Berkeley received perfect or near perfect scores in all categories.  

  • UC Berkeley is consistently rated as the top university in the world in environmental sciences, and that record is reflected in its solid performance in the STARS Curriculum category.

  • Almost 50% percent of campus courses across 115 academic departments qualified as sustainability-focused/related, based on the STARS definitions. These included course offerings in the Anthropology, Social Welfare, and Ethnic Studies departments that address social and economic sustainability.

  • Nearly all UC Berkeley undergraduates are required to receive a passing grade in at least one American Cultures class designed to explore social and environmental justice issues.

  • Including graduate students, about 55% of UC Berkeley students who graduated from 2017-2020 received degrees with sustainability-related learning outcomes.


Berkeley Climate Change Network researchers in the field

The Berkeley Climate Change Network (BCCN) helps to advance climate research, education and impact at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. 

BCCN highlights the research profiles and contact information for over 300 academics and 50 organizations working on climate issues at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley Lab, the BCCN seeks to connect and inform faculty, staff and students interested in hastening climate action for the sake of building a more resilient and equitable planet.

Academics & Learning Highlights

UNEXhas an extensive range of sustainability programs and courses, which make up 10 percent of UC Berkeley Extension course offerings. Sustainability courses include sustainable design, energy for sustainability, and environmental monitoring.

GETH LogoThe Global Environment Theme House brings together students and faculty to explore issues around environmental change, natural resources, sustainable environments, and environmental leadership.