Sustainability Literacy - Our QEP!

Introduction to SLI

In spring 2022, the provost appointed a Sustainability Working Group to help coordinate our efforts and make recommendations about the future of sustainability at the College of Charleston.”

In July of 2017 the College created the Sustainability Literacy Institute (SLI). The SLI was envisioned as the physical, pedagogical, virtual and institutional hub for QEP-based sustainability literacy efforts at CofC (click here to see the 100-page QEP document).  In February of 2019 the SLI was enveloped within the larger Center for Sustainable Development (CSD).  The purpose of SLI within the CSD is to foster positive social, economic and environmental change by way of a sustainably literate campus community.  One way we are tracking the impact of the QEP on student learning is by participating in the sustainability module of the National Survey of Student Engagement and the report of the first module suggest that Cougars are performing equal to or statistically better on sustainability literacy compared to their peers at similar institutions!

The SLI works on several fronts to assist the campus community in achieving the goals of its Quality Enhancement Plan. The SLI connects existing initiatives and encourages more efficient and synergistic activities on campus related to sustainability literacy with a specific focus on curricular and co-curricular activities centered around the undergraduate experience. For example, the SLI trains faculty to develop courses that qualify as sustainability-focused or sustainability-related.  The SLI also coordinates with student clubs and organizations to foster greater engagement with the QEP and encourage students to become aware of further avenues of advocacy for sustainability literacy.

Two Faculty Fellows and one faculty coordinator assist the SLI. This includes a Faculty Development Fellow (Dr. Meta Van Sickle), an Assessment Fellow (Dr. Mattt Nowlin), and a Changemaker coordinator (Alexis Carrico).

SLI Vision, Mission & Core Values

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.


CofC Sustain/Solves Themes

Each year the CofC community will engage in a shared discussion around a “CofC Sustains/Solves” sustainability literacy theme.  This theme will help 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 to 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 during the SLI Innovation Challenge, and addressed by other curricular and co-curricular events and programming.  Focusing on an annual sustainability big idea will help build awareness about sustainability literacy; help students identify policies and practices that have led to unsustainable behaviors related to this theme; and present 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 it is hoped that students recognize that the themes are actually all 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

CofC Sustains/Solves theme for 2021-2022: Sustainable Cities and Communities

CofC Sustains/Solves theme for 2022-2023: Good Health and Well-being