SUSTAIN 200 : The Sustainable Community


2023 Semester One (1233) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

What is the sustainable community? We unpack the nature of complex social and ecological systems with a particular focus on large organisations and cities. Students undertake a group project to enhance their skills in collective decision making, and to develop skills in integrating information and presenting sustainability solutions. Two sustainability issues, such as climate change and fisheries, are discussed in depth.

Course Overview

How do we create sustainable communities? What are the challenges involved? How have communities overcome these challenges? 

To answer these questions we will look at the basic features of group life, with a particular focus on the conditions that produce human cooperation. We'll consider the different types of human communities and what fosters stability and change within complex social and ecological systems. Students will share narratives from their own cultural heritage that have helped people manage their lives together and respect ecological boundaries.

We will then look in depth at Auckland City and discuss potential innovations such as wildlife corridors, sustainable transport systems, and green buildings. We will showcase examples of overseas cities that have made major progress on sustainability issues and students will learn how to hold cross-sector discussions that allow all voices to be heard when making decisions about the future. 

Alongside the above, students will work in teams on a project to enhance sustainability at Waipapa Taumata Rau / The University of Auckland.  Depending on its scope and scale your project may take the form of a proposal (something that you would like to implement) or immediate action (something that you can initiate now and potentially even begins to measure its effect). You could focus on a particular building, a process, the use of a resource/new technology, an aspect of the grounds and gardens, or an educational opportunity. With some strategic thinking, imagination, and the expertise of your group members you may even come up with something that gets implemented - or at least challenges the university community in a good way! Near the end of the semester, we'll have a session where you share your proposals with each other and sustainability experts from the university. 

The second half of the course will tackle two big sustainability issues: climate change and fisheries. What is the latest science on climate change? And, most importantly, what is needed to get us on track for 'only' 1.5 degrees of warming? We'll look at fisheries from a community perspective - who catches the fish? How can we, as citizens, ensure regulations that sustain the life in our oceans?

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 60 points passed

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Critically reflect on how complex social systems and complex ecological systems work together. (Capability 1 and 6)
  2. Critically discuss and apply the values of sustainability. (Capability 2, 5 and 6)
  3. Work with peers to identify and investigate a sustainability issue within the university and design a project to address this issue. (Capability 3, 4 and 6)
  4. Show good awareness of effective group process. (Capability 4)
  5. Demonstrate awareness of, and an ability to critically discuss, two sustainability issues and potential solutions: climate change and fisheries. (Capability 1, 2 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignment on a cultural narrative that promotes sustainability 5% Individual Coursework
Test 15% Individual Test
Practical - group project 20% Group Coursework
Reflection - description of group project and reflection on group process 20% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Examination
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Assignment on a cultural narrative that promotes sustainability
Practical - group project
Reflection - description of group project and reflection on group process
Final Exam


Tuākana Science is a multi-faceted programme for Māori and Pacific students providing topic specific tutorials, one-on-one sessions, test and exam preparation and more. Explore your options at

As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of Environment Tuākana Programme aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection) and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved. This course is supported by our Programme Coordinator, Kaiāwhina/Māori student adviser, and Pacific student adviser. They are able to organize group study and facilitate direct assistance regarding material taught in this course. 

Special Requirements

This course involves group work, it is essential that you come prepared to work with others in a group of 4 - 5 peers. This includes negotiating a timeframe for shared tasks. There is a compulsory session near the end of the course (in the two-hour lecture) at which each group presents their project to the class as a whole.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15-point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15-point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 3 hours of lectures, a 1-hour tutorial, 2 hours of reading and thinking about the content, and 4 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation. Note that group work is involved. Some class time will be allocated to working with your group, but you will also need to use some of the 4 hours of assignment time for group work.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled classes including lectures and tutorials to complete components of the course. Lectures will be available as recordings but other learning activities including tutorials will not be available as recordings.

Attendance on campus is required for the final examination.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

There is no textbook for this course. All readings and other resources will be available via Canvas.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

As a result of feedback we will be reworking aspects of the group assignment. 

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 28/10/2022 11:28 a.m.