> Environmental and social benefits
The multidisciplinary nature of the courses and the breadth of content help students learn from different viewpoints about all aspects of sustainability. The Diploma has had extensive positive social outcomes and environmental outcomes by inspiring change in how students/graduates behave both in their personal lives and in their work. The most common impacts shown in student feedback are:
- Changing perspectives and viewpoints across a wide range of aspects of sustainability
- Encouraging greater appreciation for the environment and creating skills/knowledge to help protect it
- Increasing awareness of the importance of cultural sustainability, including Indigenous practices
- Providing knowledge that can be applied in careers, e.g., urban planning, agriculture, publishers, etc.
- Providing skills to communicate with councils, community groups, farmers, and people from different cultures
- Providing skills and knowledge used in current and future businesses
- Encouraging students to establish businesses and enterprises, community groups and partnerships with councils
- Encouraging volunteering for local communities (e.g., local rural fire services)
- Encouraging students to pursue a career in sustainability
- Inspiring further education
- Providing knowledge and skills for students to build homes suited to their environment
- Increasing awareness of bushfires and encouraging many to undertake training in bushfire hazard assessment
These outcomes are demonstrated by a small sample of the large number of favourable student testimonials, including:
“… I have gained a wealth of knowledge I can apply to my work as an urban planner and personal life as my partner and I start the arduous process of buying a new home and selling our current one.” Feedback from Introduction to Sustainable Design for Houses.
“…I intend to have a few long chats with the people at [redacted] Regional Council and hope my research may help. I have a strong background in agriculture [and finance] and intend to chat to the farmers and see if I can offer some suggestions about hydroponics, as this would offer them a permanent supply of [some types] fresh veges.” Feedback from Communicating Sustainability.
“I am actually about to commence bushfire hazard assessment training at the behest of my company looking to qualify eventually to be able to draft compliant reports. Without this unit, I would not have thought it was something I was capable of doing. So thank you.” Feedback from Living with Fire.
“I am pursuing a degree now (rather than only a diploma) inspired in part by your kindness and by what I have learned in this” Feedback from Backyard Biodiversity
“As a result of this study my husband (also studying this unit) and I have joined our local Rural Fire Service, and we’re look forward to undertaking training to become fire-fighting members. We are going to see if we can encourage better burning practices in our semi-rural/agricultural community.” Feedback from Living with Fire.
The courses have had important societal impacts by increasing the access of low and medium socio-economic status members of society to education. Thus, DSL Students come from a wide range of socio economic status (see Figure 2), at least 12% being of low socio economic status. Many of these students were able to take the Diploma due to the availability of fee waivers.
Figure 2: Socio Economic Status Diploma of Sustainable Living students (by %)