Welcome to the Introduction to Sustainability open educational resource (OER). This resource has been developed to be an introduction to sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective. The book begins with an introduction to sustainability, examining different models and definitions and looking at the field’s recent history.

Next, the book introduces systems thinking. Systems thinking is commonly identified as a key competency of sustainability and is fundamental to understanding the complexity of sustainability challenges and opportunities.

The book’s third section explores the domains of sustainability — economics, environment, social, and cultural — as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This section highlights how all domains are interconnected and are required in some form to achieve sustainability.

Finally, the learnings from the earlier sections in the book are applied to specific sustainability challenges and opportunities, such as climate change and food. This section creates an opportunity to learn more about sustainability within a particular topic.

Throughout the book, there are a number of additional resources to contribute and support learning, including embedded media created specifically for the OER, activity descriptions and reflection questions, and links to external sources. The links to external sources have been specifically chosen to introduce diverse perspectives and expertise, as diversity is key to achieving sustainability.


We would like to acknowledge the Sustainability 201: Introduction to Sustainability students at MacEwan University who have completed the course in the past. Your feedback and perspectives have been reflected in the development of the course over time and, ultimately, in the development of this resource. We would also like to specifically thank the students in the Fall 2022, Winter 2023, and Spring 2023 semesters who tested the OER out and provided invaluable feedback.

We would also like to thank the scholars who reviewed the book and provided feedback: Dr. Kaitlin Mattos, Jennifer McCord, Dr. Kimberly Post, and Dr. Matthew Shockey. Without question, your insights have made the book stronger.


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Introduction to Sustainability Copyright © 2023 by Tai Munro is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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