Urban Sustainability, BA

More than half of the world’s population lives in cities, and the number is projected to approach seventy-percent within a few decades.  These urban centers generate most of the world’s wealth, and directly or indirectly, most environmental damage.  Are you concerned about the future of urban settlements, the well-being of their residents and their impact on the environment?  WWU’s College of the Environment’s BA degree in Urban Sustainability provides a foundation for a range of careers aimed at improving the environmental and social health of people and the planet.  This program maximizes student flexibility in designing their own major, focusing on areas of greatest interest to them.  The Urban Sustainability major positions students to enter a range of graduate programs and entry-level jobs.

About the Program

While completing foundational courses, students work with faculty and staff to develop a program of study that best engages their interests.  Students can tailor a unique learning path, choosing from an array of courses taught on campus.  They can also complete one or more of minors that compliment the major, strengthening student learning in each area.  The following examples illustrate course selections that enable students to strengthen their program of study with a concentration or minor.

Urban Sustainability + Sustainability Studies

The Sustainability Studies minor compliments the Urban Sustainability major with perspectives on social, economic and environmental sustainability from diverse academic disciplines. Students obtain a cross-disciplinary understanding of social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainability. Students seeking additional depth in one of these areas have ample opportunity as an entire menu of courses is offered for each of these areas.

A mural on the side of a building in San Francisco's Mission District

Urban Sustainability + Food Security

Growing and eating, importing and transporting adequate and culturally-appropriate food means participating in a huge cultural-political-economic-environmental system rife with inequities. Energy access, too, is of critical importance. Urban sustainability and food security explores lenses of economic strata, race, gender identity, class, and caste to achieve in a rapidly-urbanizing societies. Such interdisciplinary study is needed to understand, critique, and act on the problem of access, sufficiency, and satisfaction from numerous perspectives.

People stand in front of a dome-shaped green roof.

Urban Sustainability + Sustainable Design

Excellent design solutions integrate social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability, and are essential for progress towards a sustainable future. The Sustainable design minor enables students to gain the skills needed for design careers. Students in the program obtain an understanding of the natural systems within which human institutions and technologies function. This background allows students to make informed decisions about how ecological constraints define sustainability, and how human choices shape the context in which sustainable projects may be implemented. Students select courses from a menu for a total of twelve to sixteen credits. Students study effective design, acquire drawing and design skills, and apply these in studio courses addressing real-world issues.

Urban Sustainability + International Studies

Understanding the dynamic relationship between local and global issues and decision-making is essential to developing a sustainable future. Courses introduce students to environmental, social and economic issues at the global scale, as well as legal and political frameworks for addressing these. Students have the option to add a regional specialization with their coursework.

Program Mission

The mission of the Urban Sustainability major is to facilitate student inquiry into diverse facets of the relationship between humans, cities, and the natural environment. Students acquire knowledge and skills to address challenging issues in an environment that values rigorous inquiry and the free exchange of ideas. Students are encouraged to critically examine their own views and those of others as preparation for careers and lives on a planet challenged by urbanization.

Jobs in Urban Sustainability

  • Sustainability Manager
  • Recycling Coordinator
  • Sustainable Transportation Coordinator
  • Community Activist
  • Policy Maker