Augustana Extended Education (AEE)

Sustainability 101: Social Sustainability

Social Sustainability is led by University of Alberta Professor John Parkins, an expert on the linkages between social sustainability, rural and community development. It is oriented towards the development of key concepts in social sustainability, including ways of defining social sustainability, distinguishing social aspects of sustainability from economics, environmental, cultural and governance concerns, promoting social sustainability and measuring progress toward desired social goals at the community level.

What you will learn

After dealing with the seemingly more important issues of economic and environmental sustainability, social sustainability was often the neglected third leg of the traditional 'sustainability stool' model. After introducing the model of sustainability as a five-pillar system, social sustainability was given more equal footing, and more importance. Concepts like social networking, social capital, social asset mapping, and related terms are consistently identified as crucial components of sustainability in rural communities. This course examines these aspects of sustainability with attention to 4 major themes:

  1. Social sustainability and its relationship to community goals, values and assets;
  2. Ways of collecting information about social sustainability at the community level;
  3. Linking social indicators to sustainability planning; and
  4. Innovative and collaborative approaches to enhancing social sustainability


John ParkinsDr. John Parkins

A Professor in the Department Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta, John Parkins joined the university in 2007 after spending 10 years as a social scientist with Natural Resources Canada. He received his MSc in Rural Sociology and PhD in Sociology from the University of Alberta and his research interests focus on the interactions between rural communities and natural resource industries, rural development, social impact assessment, public engagement and environmental politics. Dr. Parkins has worked extensively with land management agencies, such as the Foothills Research Institute (Hinton, AB), the Sustainable Forest Management Network and Alberta Environment to establish principles and practices of socially sustainable resource management and indicators of social well-being. His research is published in a wide range of scholarly journals and government reports with a strong focus on applied research and best management practices. Dr. Parkins also teaches graduate and undergraduate students in the areas of social impact assessment and rural community development.

Sustainability 101 & the Certificate in Rural Sustainability

With rural economic development at the forefront of municipal dialogue, AEE’s Sustainability 101 series of five, one-day short courses is designed to strengthen rural municipal leadership by recognizing elected officials, municipal administrators, and community leaders for accomplishing training in five core areas: Governance for Sustainability, Economics & Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Social Sustainability, and Cultural Sustainability.

Complete all five Sustainability 101 courses (Governance for Sustainability, Economics & Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Cultural Sustainability, and Social Sustainability, in any order, to earn your ‘Certificate in Rural Sustainability’ from the University of Alberta - Augustana Campus.

Learn more about the Certificate in Rural Sustainability.