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.

We 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. We examine 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, including how current development and livelihood challenges are shaped by globalization and environmental change. 

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

Photo of Meredith Gibson

Meredith Gibson joins SD Department as new Lead Administrative Assistant!

The Sustainable Development Department is pleased to welcome new Lead Administrative Assistant, Meredith Gibson. Meredith is an alumna of Appalachian ...

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Saijie Inman Receives National Scholarships for New Zealand Study Abroad Program

Saijie Inman, a senior SD major from Asheville, recently completed a study abroad program in New Zealand (Aotearoa). Saije‚Äôs study abroad exper...

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First High Country Grains Gathering a Success!

The First High Country Grains Gathering was held in December 2023, organized by SD student Maya Fontana for her Senior Capstone Project. The Grains Ga...

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."