Welcome

Fostering community-driven development & social change

We are a critical development studies department that is committed to preparing students for both thoughtful analysis of the processes of human development and applied practice in the pursuit of transformative, community-driven development and social change.  Sustainable development aims to enrich human well-being, protect and conserve healthy and productive natural systems, support shared economic prosperity, and advance an ecological worldview.

  • With more than 300 undergraduate majors and 50 minors, our students examine the interdependent complexities and challenges of the world’s most pressing environmental, economic, and social problems and envision and enact creative and innovative solutions to these challenges in the context of sustainable development.
  • Our faculty and students are deeply committed to the creation of a just and sustainable future for all.  
  • Students in the Sustainable Development Department are exposed to key theoretical concepts and analytical tools in order to assess what development means and how it is experienced in different places and cultures in all parts of the world.  
  • Students examine how current development and livelihood challenges are shaped by globalization and environmental change. 
  • Our faculty have a strong transdisciplinary dedication to sustainable development, and our curriculum integrates theory and practice from across the social sciences, natural and agricultural sciences, and humanities.
  • Our students concentrate in one of four degree programs: community, regional, and global development; sustainable agriculture; environmental studies; or an individually-designed program.
  • The Department is home to one of the largest diversified teaching and research farms in the nation.
  • Our department has deep historical roots at our university, where faculty across the campus share our commitment to sustainability.

Join us as we engage in understanding and advancing the social, economic, and environmental transformations necessary to create thriving, equitable, and sustainable communities within an ecologically healthy world.

News

Dr. Jennifer Westerman is the new department chair for Sustainable Development.

Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development Announces New Department Chair Dr. Jennifer Westerman

The Goodnight Family Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University is announcing Dr. Jennifer Westerman as...

Rebecca Brown said she learned a lot from her time on the farm.

Senior Says She's Learned About Life Through Her Experiences On The Farm

When things are challenging, Appalachian State University senior Rebecca Brown said she sometimes thinks back to her favorite moments on the farm, inc...

Sustainable Development student Justin Marks

‘Active citizenship’: How an App State sustainable development major hopes to save the world

Justin Marks, a senior at Appalachian State University, recently announced on national television he wants to “save the world.” Marks, a sust...

What Our Alumni Are Saying

"My SD degree exposed me to several different aspects of sustainability - a concept which can be applied to most any field. Getting exposure to so many different disciplines within that realm helped me to figure out exactly what I wanted to do after graduation. The coursework and hands-on experiences that I had at Appalachian also gave me the right tools to live a healthy, proactive and conscious life as an adult. I continue to sing the praises of the SD department at Appalachian, and my time spent with that work and those professors has truly changed my life for the better.

I can't speak more highly of the SD department. As a student who saw it finally become its own accredited department offering both a BA and a BS, it has really been a pleasure to see how things have continued to evolve since graduation. The lessons I learned and friendships that I made during my time there are things that I carry with me everyday, and I love to tell other people about the incredible experience that I had with SD at Appalachian. I can't say that I have a single regret about choosing Appalachian or about my degree and coursework. Keep it up - you all are doing great things!"