Augustana Extended Education (AEE)

Sustainability 101: Social Sustainability

This course will be led by the University of Alberta's 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

Sustainability 101 is a series of one-day short courses designed to support increased knowledge, capacity, and skills for sustainability in rural communities. Based upon a five-pillar model of sustainability (Governance, Economic, Social, Environmental, Cultural), these courses focus upon the nature, origins, relevance and application of the core, but complex, concepts that comprise sustainability and community development.

Our public policy-based approach to accessible programs speaks to broader issues, challenges, and dynamics affecting rural communities and is grounded in the need to do more than simply train administrators. In this series, we provide opportunities that not only increase community and organizational capacity, but address the broader challenges and dynamics of community sustainability, planning, rural/municipal governance and government, as well as the shifting emphasis upon partnerships, collaboration and competition as overarching principles for rural decision-making.

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.