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Sample Course Structure and Syllabus

Sustainable Transportation Curriculum for Universities

Since different universities and academic programs have different academic requirements, providing a standard syllabus or course outline was not feasible. This section instead provides information on a sample course structure for a typical semester-long course using the curriculum, which can be adapted into a course syllabus at a particular institution.


An example course description is provided as follows.

Planning, Design, and Construction of Sustainable Transportation—This course examines various sustainability elements in the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure with a particular focus on transportation systems; introduction to and use of the sustainability evaluation tool INVEST will be central to the course. The primary objective of this course is to understand how sustainability influences infrastructure, particularly transportation systems. The major topics discussed in the course include roles of planners, designers, and constructors; the economic, environmental, and social considerations of transportation; and available tools for assessing and evaluating the efficacy of sustainability practices.

Student Learning Outcomes

Specific student learning outcomes include:

  1. Identify primary indicators of sustainability as they relate to transportation systems.
  2. Define functional area roles (such as planning, design, and construction) regarding sustainability and their application to transportation.
  3. Explain sustainable practices used in transportation.
  4. Identify reference resources for continued learning in this topical area.

Reference Text


  1. NCHRP Report 750: Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 4: Sustainability as an Organizing Principle for Transportation Agencies (2014), Booz Allen Hamilton.
  2. NCHRP Report 708: A Guidebook for Sustainability Performance Measurement for Transportation Agencies (2011), J. Zietsman, T. Ramani, J. Potter, V. Reeder, and J. DeFlorio.
  3. NCHRP Research Report 916: Sustainable Highway Construction Guidebook (2019), S. Muench, G. Migliaccio, J. Kaminsky, M. Ashtiani, A. Mukherjee, C. Bhat, and J. Anderson.


  1. Sustainable Transportation: Indicators, Frameworks, and Performance Management (2016), H. Gudmundsson, R. Hall, G. Marsden, and J. Zietsman, Springer Texts in Business and Economics,
  2. TCRP Research Report 205: Social and Economic Sustainability Performance Measures for Public Transportation: Final Guidance Document (2019), H. Unger, A. Heller, L. Blackmon Lane, and D. Matherly.

Course Plan

Table 1 shows an example plan to fit the course materials into a 14-week semester. The table includes suggested lectures to cover each week, and allows for quizzes, assignments, and a final project using INVEST. Instructors who wish to use the curriculum for a semester-long course may modify the course plan as needed.


Table 1: Example Semester-Long Class Plan






Introduction to Transportation and Sustainability Issues

Lecture 1: Transportation—Current Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities

Lecture 2: Introduction to Sustainability



Delivering Transportation Infrastructure

Lecture 3: Transportation Infrastructure Delivery and Decision Making

Assignment #1
Quiz #1


Sustainable Transportation Concepts

Lecture 4: Sustainability and Transportation—Key Concepts



Measuring Sustainable Transportation

Lecture 5: Sustainability and Transportation—Frameworks, Indicators, and Performance Measures

Assignment #2


Sustainable Transportation Rating Systems

Lecture 6: Sustainable Transportation Rating Systems—Part 1

Quiz #2


Sustainable Transportation Rating Systems

Lecture 7: Sustainable Transportation Rating Systems—Part 2

Assign INVEST Project


Midterm Exam



Sustainable Practices in Planning and Project Development

Lecture 8: Sustainability in Transportation Planning and Project Development

Assignment #3


Sustainable Practices in Construction, Operations, and Maintenance

Lecture 9: Sustainability in Highway Construction Practices and Transportation Operations and Maintenance

Assignment #4


Implementing Sustainable Practices

Lecture 10: Achieving Sustainability through Business Practices

Quiz #3



Lecture 11: Overview of INVEST

Lecture 12: Using INVEST for Scoring and Evaluation

Work on INVEST Project


INVEST Practice Session and Work on INVEST Project



Present Final INVEST Projects



Present Final INVEST Projects