The Goodnight Family Sustainable Development (SD) Department at Appalachian State University (ASU) is the oldest Sustainable Development program in the country. Established in 1991 by Jeff Boyer, Loren Raymond, and Dennis Scanlon, with the financial support of the Ecumenical Project for International Co-operation, the program enabled undergraduate students to minor or concentrate in SD. Since 1996, students pursuing a Masters in Appalachian Studies could also concentrate in Sustainable Development.
Because community engagement is a central tenet of sustainable development, Sustainable Development Outreach was added as a structural component of the program in 1997. This was made possible with support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Since its inception, SD Outreach has been a model of participatory sustainable development for the region. SD Outreach assists communities with their initiatives in sustainable agriculture and land use, promoting Appalachian traditions and culture, and localized community development efforts.
Connecting academic and outreach efforts is the Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm. In 2001 SD began utilizing a farm in Valle Crucis for courses, research, and community activities. The farm's purpose is to educate students in agroecology, agroforestry and sustainable farming practices. Information from farming research is exchanged with the local community to help local farmers and entrepreneurs better foster alternative, sustainable agricultural practices in the region.
A generous gift from a local business family, the Goodnights, in 2001 has greatly assisted SD in its academic and outreach activities.
In 2008 the Sustainable Development Program once again took a great leap in promoting sustainable development by offering undergraduate degrees. The BA/BS degrees focus on blurring the lines between theory and practice as students engage in the interdisciplinary work necessary to understand sustainable development. For more information on the degree program, go to Academics.