Principles of Sustainability

CVE80010 12.5 Credit Points Hawthorn Available to incoming Study Abroad and Exchange students


  • One Semester or equivalent

Contact hours

  • 36 hours face to face + Blended

On-campus unit delivery combines face-to-face and digital learning.

2024 teaching periods


Higher Ed. Semester 1

26 Feb 24 - 26 May 24

2 Jul 24

Last self enrolment:
10 Mar 24

31 Mar 24

Last withdraw without fail:
12 Apr 24


UG: 250 credit points 
PG: Nil

Aims and objectives

This subject introduces a very new and thoroughgoing approach to sustainability. It is based on the idea that recognising how we act in the world through frameworks of thinking and of organising society (i.e. institutions) leads to a circumspect and responsible approach to life. The institutional bases of our expectations of the world are investigated along with the tools used to respond and act. Examples from science and engineering are used to illustrate and extensive use is made of mini-excursions. Later in the subject, specific socio-economic tools such as the Precautionary Principle and Triple Bottom Line accounting are introduced and analysed. Their role as change agents in the process of moving to sustainable institutions is highlighted.

Unit Learning Outcomes (ULO)
Students who successfully complete this unit will be able to:
1. Nominate key sustainability challenges in terms of environmental, economic and social issues at a global, national and local level.
2. Critically analyse (proposed) activities for the knowledge/conceptual/epistemological structures they are embedded in – all the while recognising that the choice of knowledge structures is itself interpretation dependent.
3. Propose changes to the way activities are constituted such that they are more clearly sustainable e.g. recognising the perverse incentives (to environmental sustainability) that form the context within which current actions in environment proceed.
4. Recognise the “instrumentation of sustainability”, i.e. the measures and indicators by which sustainability is currently defined and acted upon, and how to critically assess it.
5. Prepare a situation assessment for sustainability within a given context.
6. Evaluate current practices and tools available to “sustainability practitioners” and propose improvements.