Sustainable Lifestyles

Universidad Veritas

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Sustainable Lifestyles

  • Host University

    Universidad Veritas

  • Location

    San José, Costa Rica

  • Area of Study

    Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Sustainability

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Contact Hours

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description:

    This course provides the student with an introduction to the concept of sustainable lifesyles (SLs) as part of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption Patterns. This course contributes to meeting Sustainable Development Goal #123: "Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns" with a specific focus on lifestyles considering this goal's Target #8: "By 2040, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature".This course also contributes to meeting SDG #44: "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all" and specifically Target: "Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles".

    "Lifestyles define us; they are the way we live our lives, what we do, with whom, where, how and what we use to do it. This includes everything from the food we eat and how we interact with others to the way we get around. Lifestyles also define our identity; we express our social position, political preferences and psychological aspirations to others through our lifestyles. Creating sustainable lifestyles means rethinking our ways of living, how we buy, what we consume and how we organize our daily lives. It is about transforming our societies and living in balance with our natural environment. All our choices and actions - whether at home or at work - on energy use, transport, food, waste and communication – contribute to sustainable lifestyles."5 The course builds on the report Visions for Change: Recommendations for Effective Policies on Sustainable Lifestyles6 that resulted from the Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles
    (GSSL). This course falls mainly within the social realm of sustainable and answers the driving question: 1 "A 'sustainable lifestyle' is a cluster of habits and patterns of behaviour embedded in a society and facilitated by institutions, norms and infrastructures that frame individual choice, in order to minimize the use of natural resources and generation of wastes, while supporting fairness and prosperity for all."

    Source: UNEP. (2016). A framework for shaping sustainable lifestyles. UNEP: Nairobi.

    UNEP. (2011). Visions for Change: Recommendations for Effective Policies on Sustainable Lifestyles.
    Paris: UNESCO. report.pdf

    How do we strengthen the capacity of young people to adopt lifestyles that go beyond the mere consumption of sustainable goods and/or services?

    The following generative topics will help answer this question:
    - Redesigning ways of living, feeling, communicating and thinking
    - Personal and collective attitudes
    - Establishing values throughout our lives
    - How we interact and do business within the economic system
    - Infrastructure necessary for lifestyles that support more sustainable societies
    - Skills for more sustainable lifestyles
    - Our lifestyles and our ecological and global overshoot
    - Unknown futures – the future we want
    - Social innovation and personal behavioral changes

    The acquirement of the following abilities will be promoted during the course:
    - Ability to think systemically
    - Ability for critical analysis and its application to issues of interest
    - Problem-solving ability
    - Ability to apply acquired knowledge to real-life situations demonstrating the application of a systemic focus
    - Ability to visualize and act in order to contribute to sustainable future scenarios

    The following values and attitudes will be promoted among students:
    - Team work and leadership
    - Systems thinking
    - Logical and communicative intelligence
    - Oral and written communication
    - An interest in learning to learn
    - Interacting well with others
    - Negotiating while inspiring trust and empathy
    - In-depth listening

    Competencies, criteria and evidence of performance for the Universidad Veritas: competencies are reflexive and comprehensive activities that correspond to the professional profile and contextual problems correctly and with an ethical commitment, integrating learning to be, learning to do, learning to know, and learning to live together, within framework of continued improvement. Both disciplinary and general competencies are presented, linked to their criteria and evidence of performance for the course on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

    Further goals: Identify lifestyles for young adults to develop perspectives on possible futures and become agents of change considering Identify lifestyles considering their different environment, social and economic impacts so as to visualize possible futures

    Analyze sustainable lifestyle options taking into consideration respect for different lifestyles, how we buy, and how we organize our daily lives
    - Case studies completed
    - Presentations
    - Workshops

    Critically analyze the causes and effects of different lifestyles considering the need for a sense of belonging and usefulness at the community level in order to be happy and achieve wellbeing
    - Mental (systems) mapping
    - Presentations
    - Reports on research

    General skills:
    Integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for continuous learning throughout life considering the effective unfolding in today's knowledge based society.

    - Mental maps
    - Case studies completed
    - Reports on research

    Develop the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to communicate orally and in writing in the native language in the different disciplinary areas covered in the curriculum

    Communicate disciplinary ideas orally, graphically and in written form
    - Oral presentations
    - Presentation of projects
    - Analysis of videos or other visual media

    Integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes required for team work and leadership considering mentorship and evaluation, leadership and teamwork

    - Problem solving
    - Oral presentations

    Integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes required for learning interpersonal communication techniques
    - Effective interaction with others (learn to live together)
    - Negotiate inspiring trust and empathy
    - Speak with responsibility and ownership
    - Case studies resolved
    - Research reports

    Develop knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to communicate orally and in written form in a foreign language in different disciplinary areas covered in the curriculum
    - Communicate orally and in writing in a foreign language in day-to-day exchanges and with simple texts
    - Translation of articles
    - Summaries of videos
    - Group discussions

    Integrate knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to the acquirement of lifestyles and business projects, establishing goals and acquiring the drive as prerequisites for success. Take the lead in developing a personal-professional project demonstrating commitment to
    collaborative learning.

    Action Plan:

    Provide clients with solutions through dialogue and collaboration, establishing and respecting commitments. Launch new businesses involving draft business plan and branding strategy.

    Disciplinary and general skills linked to their performance criteria and evidence for this course.

    Theme 1. What is a green economy?
    a) The need for a green economy
    b) Valuing natural services – essential for life
    c) Towards a green economy and poverty eradication
    d) Why is a green economy important to young people?

    Theme 2. Green economy: making it happen
    a) A green economy: this is possible!
    b) The transition to a green economy
    c) Encouraging greener trade and consumption
    d) Sustainability strategies, CSR and financial resources

    Theme 3. Green jobs
    a) What is a green job?
    b) Employment opportunities in a green economy
    c) Sectors you can think about
    d) Green activism in your community

    Theme 4. Green entrepreneurship and social innovation
    a) Green entrepreneurship
    b) Young people leading the way
    c) Social innovation: making a difference
    d) Challenges and limits – contributing to the SDGs

    Theme 5. Skills for a green economy
    a) Skills and competencies8 for a green economy
    b) Sustainable literacy
    c) Green skills for greener jobs
    d) Skills supporting resource efficiency, climate resilience, and to manage and protect
    natural assets

    Theme 6. Sustainable lifestyles
    a) Our shared economy – the sharing of human and physical assets
    b) Lifestyle choices and ideas you need to support and thrive in a green economy
    c) Small steps to pave the way to a green economy and sustainable societies
    d) Steps at home, at college and at work
    7 UNEP. (2011). Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty


    Competencies defined as essential for supporting development in specific contexts. Thus, in this specific
    case, those that are necessary for green economies.

    Money and earnings
    a) Sufficiency, not 'more'
    b) Managing your actions
    c) Save money: don't waste food
    d) Managing your money and funding your projects
    Theme 8. Get connected and act together
    a) Social capital – it's not all about money
    b) Connecting with others
    c) Building networks for a green economy
    d) Connecting with decision-makers and the data divide

    "Our responsibility to future generations rests on building strong and credible visions of a sustainable future"

    Tim Jackson in Visions for Change (UNEP, 2011)

    This course helps the student connect retoric on green economies, societies and employment with his or her own lifestyle. The methodology integrates elements of the series of UNEP/UNESCO YouthXchange guidebooks, and particularly Green Skills and Lifestyles Guidebook and other recent materials. This course also takes into consideration GSSL recommendations, one of the broadest surveys on sustainable lifestyles carried out between 2009-2010 among young people (18-35 year olds around the world. These recommendations focus on the following three dimensions of empowerment and creativity:
    - inspiring new visions of progress
    - empowering behavioural alternatives
    - building trust and participation

    The importance of promoting research and education to enable sustainable lifestyles signals the need to explore, test and choose alternative and learn from these processes, contributing to the following learning strategies. The course offers many opportunities for oral and written communication in Spanish as required (this same course is to be provided for Spanish-speaking students) and possible integration with Spanish-language courses for study-abroad students.

    Learning strategies
    - Activities in the form of workshops, involving role playing, promoting shared spaces in which students, working in teams, develop skills in oral and written communication, in summarizing, leadership, learning to listen and learning to work together in dealing with sustainability issues in time and space dimensions, specifically addressing sustainable lifestyles.
    - Activities in the form of individual and group presentations providing opportunites to communicate both orally, written and in graphic form, sharing the results of workshops and research work, and to demonstrate the appropiation of issues of interest.
    - Mental maps will also be developed as a means to contribute to the analysis of lifestyle processes and consumption patterns and their environmental (e.g. ecological footprints), social and economic impacts. They will also help contribute to the understanding of the interdependencies between the SDGs and the identification of the causes and effects of different impacts with a view to:
    a) better understanding the complexity of sustainability issues and the situation of different actors involved in decision-making processes;
    b) identifying possible leverage points so as to influence outcomes and promote change;
    c) discovering some of the underlying causes of complex problems; and
    d) providing opportunities for their presentation both graphically and orally.

    - The identification and analysis of lifestyles of interest involves broad research. This process promotes critical analysis on the part of the student of the different options available and of the interrelations between the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainability and/or different parts of a chosen system or lifecycle. Such analyses may be both qualitative and quantitative in nature. The results research and the identification, analysis and interpretation of pertinent resulting information from different sources (bibliographies, social media, web pages, communications media, interviews, etc.) will facilitate independent learning, the internalization of new concepts and those introduced in class.

    Educational resources
    In order to facilitate learning and course development a range of recent bibliographic materials, multi-media equipment for individual presentations (with wi-fi access in each classroom), furniture and acrylic boards are placed at the disposition of students for weekly sessions and lectures coordinated by the professor to complement proposed teaching activities. The latter include the different learning techniques outlined herewith that optimize the student's ability to assimilate knowledge. The majority of lessons take place in the classroom. The student has physical access to the institution's library during opening hours study areas or computer labs and any other convenient area on the university's campus for individual study. Likewise the university provides free Wi-Fi access to all students, professors and staff throughout the campus.

    The university also places the CANVAS Learning Management System at the disposition of students and staff ensuring pedagogical flexibility making it easier to integrate new technologies into the courses, and ensure seamless and effective communications between the student and professor at all times through an app center.

    Learning assessment
    Two (2) analytical workshops on lifestyles (10% each) 20%
    Four (4) presentations on issues of interest (5% each) 20%
    Three (3) mental (systems) maps to identify and explore interrelations
    between different elements/parts of life cycles and systems (10% each)
    Final project: proposal for the resolution of a problem relating to a selected lifestyle

    TOTAL POINTS: 100%

    Categories for the evaluation of workshops on issues relating to sustainable lifestyles:
    The method involving the resolution of issues relating to sustainable lifestyles in a workshopnsetting, that includes role playing, promotes shared spaces in which the student, working in a team, develops his or her skills in oral and written communication, in summarizing, leadership, listening and interacting constructively with others. Two workshops will be carried out, each contributing 10% to the final grade.

    Excellent (100-90%)
    Very good (89%-80%)
    Sufficient (79%-70%)
    Insufficient (69% o less)

    1. Preparation of assigned theme with at least three (3) reliable and respectable sources of information
    (scientific journals, prestigious institutions, etc.)
    2. Depth and novelty in the presentation of content
    3. Questions to stimulate and enrich discussion during the workshop
    4. The group/team moderator prepares the pertinent synthesis/conclusions
    5. An animated and constructive discussion is generating around the workshop findings
    6. Everybody was involved in discussions, each person's point of view was taken into account considered
    7. Consensus was arrived at as appropriate on desirable action to be taken if necessary Categories for the evaluation of presentations

    Activities in the form of individual and group presentations will provide opportunities for oral and graphic presentations to a) share the results of workshops and research, and b) demonstrate appropriation of issues of interest. Four (4) presentations will be made during the course, each contributing 5% to the final grade.

    Excellent (100-90%)
    Very good (89%-80%)
    Sufficient (79%-70%)
    Insufficient (69% o less)

    1. Information in the presented document is clear and wellorganized. Name of author, course, level, date, semester
    2. Issues and sub-issues are clearly articulated with a logical hierarchical structure
    3. Presentation's content is correctly, clearly and fluently communicated, with graphic elements effectively assisting understanding and stimulating the interest of the public
    4. Design quality, originality and clarity with correct spelling
    5. Concepts are correctly represented and accurately summarized
    6. Effective graphic integration of different elements (group presentation)
    7. Roles of each group member effectively carried out (group presentation)

    Categories for the evaluation of mental maps
    Simple mental maps are to be used as a key tool in the analyzing consumer patterns and lifestyles as well as evaluating environmental, social and economic impacts. It also contributes to increased understanding of the interdependencies between the different SDGs and the identification of the causes and effects of different impacts with a view to:
    a) acquiring a greater understanding of the complexity of sustainability issues and the actors involved in decision making;
    b) understanding the qualitative and quantitative nature of the interrelations between the different parts of a system and or life cycle
    c) identifying possible places in a system where leverage is desirable/possible in order to stimulate change and positive outcomes;
    d) discovering some of the underlying causes of complex problems;
    e) providing an opportunity to share findings in an innovative and fun way, in both graphic and oral form.

    Three (3) mental maps will be developed during the course, each contributing 10% to the final grade.

    Excellent (100-90%)
    Very good (89%-80%)
    Sufficient (79%-70%)
    Insufficient (69% o less)

    1. The central idea is presented with a clear and strong image that summarizes the issue or the overarching theme of the map
    2. The central idea/issue is clearly indicated, with sub-issues/ causes/results issuing from it in a sequential manner
    3. Branches and arrows link up the issue or central theme with related ideas and sub-issues/themes
    4. Themes and subthemes are articulated and ordered (hierarchized) as required
    5. The ideas, issues, etc. reflected on the sheet are effectively and creatively represented and laid out
    6. Key words are highlighted and color, arrows and graphic symbols (icons) and sketches are used creatively and in an orderly manner.
    7. Impacts (positive and negative) are clearly indicated and interrelations between the parts are characterized
    8. Map includes the name of authors, course, date and semester and is presented in an orderly manner, clean and free from spelling errors
    Categories for the evaluation of a proposal for the resolution of a specific problem (negative social, environmental and economic) that will contribute to enabling more sustainable lifestyles of a group of stakeholders.

    The final project involves the identification of a (1) product or service of that will contribute to resolving a specific problem and contribute to enabling a more sustainable lifestyle by an identified group of stakeholders will be presented in the form of a proposal. This will require broad research and present an integral solution to the identified problem in that it will consider the interrelations and interdependencies of the social, environmental and economic issues and questions of governance and decision-making processes. This process will promote the student's critical analysis of both qualitative and quantitative aspects of the identified problem and the proposed solution. Results of the research and the identification, reflection on and interpretation of recent and pertinent information from different types of resources (bibliographic, social media, web pages, the media, interviews, etc.), including exemplary pilot projects, will facilitate self-learning, the internalization of new concepts including those introduced in class. This final project contributes 30% of the final grade.

    Excellent (100-90%)
    Very good (89%-80%)
    Sufficient (79%-70%)
    Insufficient (69% o less)

    The project includes a cover sheet with basic data and complies withs pecifications in the framework document

    Proposal organization: body of the work is logically and hierarchically structured according to the outline. The project's scope and the problem it is addressing are clearly and precisely defined

    Theoretical research framework includes relevant and recent data from diverse sources (bibliographic, web sites, interviews, etc.) Demonstrates due diligence in researching and referencing similar (both positive and negative) and potentially replicable experiences Indicates relevant, realistic and practical solutions aligned with available resources Demonstrates the feasibility of the project and indicates the basic assumptions for a successful implementation Quality of the work from the conceptual, practical and creative perspectives The proposal is presented in an orderly and clean manner with good spelling and punctuation, a clear and fluid style, free from jargon and slang, that is appropriate for the target population

    Browning, W.D., Ryan, C.O., Clancy, J.O. (2014). 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design. New York:
    Terrapin Bright Green llc.
    Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2017). World Happiness Report, 2017. New York:
    Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
    ILO. (2011). Skills for Green Jobs: A global view – Synthesis Report. Geneva: ILO [This
    document includes country studies of Costa Rica and the United States]
    United Nations, Seventieth session. General Assembly, document A/RES/70/1 (21 October
    2015) (Official UN document: Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
    Development that includes the 17 Sustainable Development Goals).
    UNEP. (2016). Global Guidance for Life Cycle Impact Assessment Indicators: Volume 1. Paris:
    UNEP DTIE. Available at:
    UNEP. (2010). ABC of SCP: Clarifying Concepts on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
    Paris: UNESCO and UNEP. Available at:
    UNEP. (2011). Visions for Change: Recommendations for Effective Policies on Sustainable
    Lifestyles. Paris: UNESCO.
    UNEP. (2014). JóvenesXCambio: Manual de Cambio Climático y Estilos de Vida. Nairobi:
    UNESCO and UNEP. (2015). YouthXchange: Biodiversity and Lifestyles Guidebook. Paris:
    UNESCO and UNEP.
    UNESCO–UNEP–ILO. (2016). YouthXchange: Green Skills and Lifestyles Guidebook. Paris:
    UNESCO and UNEP.
    UNEP. (2011). Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty
    Eradication. Paris: UNEP
    UNEP. (2011). Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty
    Eradication: A Synthesis for Policy Makers. Paris: UNEP

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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