Sustainable Community Development (SCD) is an interdisciplinary program that integrates curricular and experiential components in architectural studies, economics, environmental studies and sustainability. The program aims to familiarize students with the concept of sustainable development as applied to real world communities. Requirements include technical writing, service learning, and methods courses. The goal of these courses is to provide students with skills such as survey design, statistics, ethnography, cost/benefit analysis, historical archive research, GIS, environmental impact assessment, and others that will be valuable in community-based research and service projects.

Students taking part in the SCD program or working toward the minor also have the opportunity to use the resources of the Finger Lakes Community Design Center (CDC), located on the third floor of the Finger Lakes Institute at HWS. Supported by the Triad Foundation and the Isabel Foundation, the CDC is a space for faculty, staff, and student teams to participate in community design projects in support of local economic development efforts.

The program offers an interdisciplinary minor.


If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in social justice studies or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

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Requirements for the minor in Sustainable Community Development

6 courses, interdisciplinary

ENV 101; one technical writing course; one methods course; one service learning (SLC) course; one elective; and, the capstone ENV 351/ARCH 351. No more than two courses for the minor may be at the 100-level. Under special circumstances, other equivalent courses can be substituted for these requirements with prior approval by the SCD Chair.

Methods courses for the SCD Minor should focus on developing disciplinary- or program-specific skills applicable to community-based research and service projects. In general, these methods courses should build skills in evidence-based decision making in the sciences, social sciences or humanities. Specific skills might include but are not limited to survey design, statistics, ethnography, public policy analysis, design and graphic presentation, cost/benefit analysis, historical archive research, GIS, linear regression, environmental impact assessment, etc.


Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses, each designed to provide students with an understanding of multiple perspectives.

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Sustainable Community Development a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

ENV 101 Sustainable Community Development


Explore how sustainable development is applied to real world communities, focusing on economic and social development, and environmental protection, as well as subjects such as culture, education, public policy, landscape design, architecture, ecology, urban planning, and historic preservation. Learn how local communities are working to become more sustainable, and become civically engaged and involved within these communities. Next, enroll in ANTH 280 Environment and Culture: Cultural Ecology to further develop your understanding of humans and the environment.

PHIL 154 Environmental Ethics


Study the ethical and philosophical issues that arise when we consider the relation between humans and the natural environment—issues made urgent by our current environmental crisis. Examine questions such as, do humans have obligations toward nonhuman animals? Why are animal species worth preserving? Is it individual animals or ecosystems that should be of moral concern? Then, take a closer look at the sociological perspective of environmental issues by taking SOC 271 Sociology of Environmental Issues.

ENV 351 Sustainable Community Development Methods


Delve into the practices and processes of sustainable community development planning, its application, methods and implementation. Evaluate the successes and failures of methods and outcomes of these efforts in achieving social equity, environmental and economic sustainability. Apply the skills and knowledge you've learned by developing a sustainable community development plan through a service-learning project. Next, learn more about development and planning by taking ECON 344 Economic Development.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.