The Center for Sustainable Development



At the College, we’re committed to sustainable operations, and to sustainability as a framework for addressing 21st-century problems, with a focus in 2020-2021 on global warming and climate change. For event programming on Climate Fridays, see our "events" page and register here.  You can also take our Climate Pledge!  You can also watch a recording of our first Climate Friday event, "Climate Change 101," here. Our second CF event on Abolitionist and EcoFuturist perspectives to end environmental racism can be watched here.

The Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) is a collection of students, staff and faculty who are concerned about and invested in addressing the many problems that plague today’s society. Collectively, we focus on applied research, experiential learning, operational management and public engagement – on campus and in the greater Charleston community.

The Center is in the process of migrating information from it's old website, which also has important information on sustainability at The College, to this one, which to date has served as the website for the Sustainability Literacy Institute (SLI).  The SLI is housed within CSD and directs and manages the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan (Sustainability Literacy as a Bridge to Addressing 21st-Century Problems). The SLI was designed to educate and engage students around the concept of sustainability. The skills, knowledge and literacy they acquire will empower them to effectively address such issues as climate change, social injustice and economic inequality.

At the College, we acknowledge that our world faces steep challenges and that these are global in magnitude and complexity. Whether it's diminishing resources, human-induced climate change, structural racism, or some other pressing concern, our society has arrived at this point precisely because of the way we think and how we behave. If we wish to change both our thinking and our actions, we will first need to change the education we deliver. That is the central notion underpinning the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan 

Within this initiative, it is the responsibility of our campus community to provide our students the sustainability literacy they will need to be effective problem solvers for the 21st century.  


SLI envisions positive social, economic and environmental change from a sustainability literate College of Charleston community.


The SLI supports teaching, learning and research in sustainability literacy at the College of Charleston and the communities with which it interacts.


Education - The Institute supports established pedagogical practices that teach sustainability literacy, and facilitates teaching faculty such practices.

Engagement - The Institute actively fosters interdisciplinary collaboration about sustainability literacy amongst faculty, and between faculty and staff, faculty and students, and the larger community.

Expression - The Institute advocates for and supports the expression of sustainability literacy at individual, campus, local, regional, national, and international levels.

brain tree


CofC Sustains/Solves Themes

Each year the CofC community engages in a shared discussion around a “CofC Sustains/Solves” sustainability literacy theme. This theme helps unify our collective advocacy for resiliency and entry into interdisciplinary creative problem-solving at the interface of social, economic, and environmental systems. Over the course of their CofC career, students will be exposed to multiple sustainability “big ideas,” with our campus joining in national and international discussions around sustainability.   

Each annual sustainability literacy theme will be studied in sustainability-focused and related courses and learning communities, during faculty/student research, explored by student Changemakers, and addressed by other curricular and co-curricular events and programming. Focusing on an annual sustainability big idea helps build awareness about sustainability literacy; helps students identify policies and practices that have led to unsustainable behaviors related to this theme, and presents an opportunity for a shared discussion about how to design solutions to such behaviors. CofC students will then be able to bring these insights into future careers, helping advocate for solving interconnected 21st-century problems. Overall, the intent is that students recognize these themes as interconnected, and all impact and are impacted by social, economic, and environmental systems.

CofC Sustains/Solves theme for 2017-2018: Water Quality and Quantity

CofC Sustains/Solves theme for 2018-2019: Social Justice and Fair Distribution

CofC Sustains/Solves theme for 2019-2020: Food Security

CofC Sustains/Solves theme for 2020-2021: Global Warming and Climate Change


Quality Enhancement Plan

Every 10 years, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) requires that member institutions be reaffirmed as accredited institutions. In preparing for this reaffirmation process, colleges and universities are required to develop a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). In our case, the Reaffirmation Leadership Team put out a call for proposals, and from the resulting submissions, selected sustainability literacy as the focus of the College’s QEP. The QEP has five overarching goals, each one related to specific student learning outcomes. 

For additional information about the reaffirmation process, see the website for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Planning.


Blog Feed

Plant Some Trees with Ecosia
Posted on 12 June 2017 | 11:54 am
As of mid June 2017, the people behind a website called Ecosia have planted 9,263,045 trees, and that number is growing exponentially as you read this. How does this work, you might ask? is a search engine that is very similar to Google. What’s the difference? The folks who run Ecosia use the majority […]
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What Does Sustainability Actually Look Like?
Posted on 6 June 2017 | 2:04 pm
If you’ve ever wondered how sustainability might actually appear if it were put on exhibit, now you’ve got a chance to find out. The College’s Quality Enhancement Plan office has partnered with the staff of Addlestone Library and JoAnn Gilmore’s students from ANTH 319 (Sustainable Museum Exhibit and Design) to present a QEP art exhibit. […]
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