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 degree in SD has provided me with the building blocks upon which I have begun my career with the National Park Service as an interpreter and proponent for natural, wild places.

One thing that constantly impressed my about the program was the diversity of the students within it - the range of interests we had, and what we hoped to do with everything we learned. The faculty and staff in the Sustainable Development department gave individual, personalized attention to each of us to make sure that we would be prepared for our individual goals while also ensuring that we left with broad knowledge of all branches of sustainability - environmental, economic, agricultural, and global."