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.

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 descriptions of some of our most popular courses, including the introductory and capstone experiences.

ENV 101 Sustainable Communities


This course introduces students to the concept of sustainable development as applied to real world communities. It will not only focus on the United Nation's three "interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars" of sustainable development - economic development, social development, and environmental protection - but also will touch on intertwined subjects such as individual and collective responsibilities, community planning, and environmental justice. Case studies will be used to discern how individuals, cities, and towns are working to become more sustainable.

ENV 210 Qualitative Methods and the Community


Qualitative data is an increasingly important part of research in the fields of business and public service as well as in the nonprofit sector and academia. Yet familiarity with the data collection and analysis methods of qualitative research remains low for many students in fields like environmental studies. This course will introduce students to the various tools of qualitative researchers through readings, discussions, and methodological critiques. In this course, we will learn to approach research as a process of knowledge construction and focus on developing the skills necessary to contribute new ( or more nuanced ) knowledge concerning the intricacies of human-environment interactions in our everyday lives. Over the course of our semester together, we will engage in a semester-long collaborative research project that will allow us to gain greater proficiency with qualitative research skills, including how to collect data through interviews and participant-observation and how to analyze interview transcripts and interpret field notes.

ENV 402 Sustainable Community Development Capstone


This course is the capstone experience for students in the Sustainable Community Development minor. The central questions of this class are “what is sustainable development?” and what are the methods for achieving “sustainability?” These are not easy or straightforward questions. Planning is an attempt to balance the multiple, often competing, agendas of numerous stakeholders. As a service learning course, we will be working with some of these stakeholders and will attempt to balance divergent community needs. In the broadest sense, we will be trying to achieve a delicate balance between social justice (working to inclusively attend to the needs of all citizens, especially those who are in positions of disadvantage and/or disempowerment), environmental resiliency (recognizing the ecological implications of all decision making processes and treating the living environment as another stakeholder in the planning process), and economic viability (understanding the role of economic development in terms of job creation and increasing the tax base, and as the foundation for the community’s current and future capital improvements)


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.