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Sustainability Metrics (Project EDDIE)

Author(s): Tom Mueller

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In this module, students will use an analytical framework with publicly available data to formulate questions, analyze data, and report metrics of sustainability.

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 12 May 2022 doi:10.25334/RXJV-RB92 - cite this

Adapted from: Sustainability Metrics (Project EDDIE) v 1.0


Project EDDIE Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry & Exploration) is a community effort aimed at developing teaching resources and instructors that address quantitative reasoning and scientific concepts using open inquiry of publicly available data. Project EDDIE modules are designed with an A-B-C structure to make them flexible and adaptable to a range of student levels and course structures.

By the end of this module, students will be able to formulate questions about sustainability, navigate the Gapminder tool to find and incorporate multiple factors of quantitative data, read and interpret graphs, and report their findings, supported with quantitative data. Specifically, students will be able to:

  • identify data sources and units from the Gapminder online interactive data tool
  • read and interpret a bubble chart incorporating multiple factors of sustainability data
  • generate a time series bubble chart to track sustainability metrics over time
  • communicate their findings with the class and discuss the strengths and limitations of the IPAT framework


  1. Students were having issues understanding variables and the graph itself. I broke down Part A into a few parts. First, we discussed the Population and Income variables. I spent some time discussing the United States Census, Gross Domestic Product, and Human Development Index. This discussion gave the students some background on similar variables. Then I asked students to research at least one Population variable and one income variable. They needed to find – how it was computed, the source, how long it is updated, etc. After this part then, we discussed the graph step by step. After completing this part, the students seemed more confident in Part A module discussions. Then the students were broken into groups and completed Part B within their groups. They were also asked to examine a country and time period from Part B and put all of this information into a PowerPoint presentation


Students took a few things away from this module. 

  1. Students understood the need to research data variables and questions they needed to ask
  2. Students understood that variables could be defined in a different way (i.e., Technology)
  3. More importantly, they had a better understanding of sustainability.

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