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SGSI 2024: Sustainability Systems and Solutions in a Rapidly Changing World*

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Tuesday, Sept. 10 – Friday, Sept. 13, 9 AM – 4 PM

Join us to explore sustainability from a range of perspectives, including systems and solutions orientations. Through guest speakers, large- and small-group discussions, and hands-on workshops with faculty and academic staff deeply engaged in Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability, you will hone your knowledge and skills in areas from systems thinking to waste management, climate change to community engagement, and more. By the end of the week, you will have expanded your network of colleagues in the fields of environment, energy, and sustainability, and you will leave with actionable next steps to apply a sustainability lens to your own scholarship.

*Please note: this course was formerly titled "Exploring Planetary Stewardship: Sustainability Solutions in a Rapidly Changing World."


  • Nicole Ardoin, associate professor, Environmental Behavioral Sciences, Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability

Audience & Capacity

Open to all graduate students*, with a preference for incoming, first-year PhD students. Open to postdoctoral scholars, if space allows. Space is limited to 35.

*MSx Class of 2025 and first-year MBA students are ineligible to participate due to mandatory program requirements.


After completing this course, students will:

  • Have knowledge of key aspects of sustainability through various disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Develop skills and knowledge in core sustainability mindset areas, including systems, transdisciplinary, and values thinking.
  • Be able to apply sustainability mindsets to their own areas of scholarly interest.
  • Have built their network of sustainability colleagues.


This course introduces graduate students and postdocs to key ideas in sustainability, emphasizing knowledge as well as actionable skills, including how students might apply sustainability mindsets, theoretical frames, and approaches in their own scholarship. The sustainability competencies core to this course—systems thinking, transdisciplinary thinking, and values thinking—are key not only for conducting effective research in sustainability but also for connecting one’s work to change-making spaces such as policy, industry, and conservation organizations.

Designed around a combination of guest speakers, large and small-group discussions, and skills-based workshops, organized and hosted by faculty and staff active in Stanford’s Doerr School of Sustainability, students will deepen their knowledge and learn new skills while also expanding their on- and off-campus networks in climate, energy, and sustainability. Each day consists of a morning and afternoon session where students will hear from guest speakers, engage in reflective/interactive activities, and participate in skills-based workshops. In the morning session, speakers and facilitators will introduce the day’s sustainability competency theme through a lecture and interactive activities. Students will then hear research scholars speak about how they have applied and instantiated the competencies in their own work through topics such as alternative energy, waste management, and community engagement. In the afternoon, students will participate in workshops, including those on science communication and research ethics, among others. The course will include a design-thinking workshop in which students envision and then plan their own sustainability path. The week includes field trips to Jasper Ridge, Stanford’s 1,900-acre biological field station, and Stanford's Central Energy Facility.

Additional Course Expectations

  • Full attendance is expected.

SUNet ID required to log in; all SGSI correspondence sent to your Stanford email account.

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