Welcome to the Sustainable Development Department
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.
Please check back for events.
What Our Alumni Are Saying
"The SD program helped me learn to be a systems thinker, to integrate information from all kinds of seemingly unrelated domains, to come up with original ideas, new realizations, and to find solutions to new and challenging problems. I don't know that I would be as facile with these approaches to my work and life if I had not been through the SD program in concert with what was called the IDS department back in the early 90s. My time and work at Appalachian taught me not just subject details and specific information, but it taught me how to think, how to process information, and how to work hard to see a future result. The value is not only in the subject expertise you walk out with, but the abilities that will let you become a lifelong explorer and discoverer.
Students entering today are very lucky to have this grounded and established SD program to foster their knowledge and practical acquisition of new skills the world definitely needs more of. Learning how to learn, and how to learn deeply and quickly is a critical life skill in 2014, where there is more superficial pseudo-information around than we could have imagined in the 90s. Students today must acquire strong critical thinking and filtering skills."