Sustainable & Resilient Communities Track


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a list of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the current university catalog at To determined the courses required for your major, check the "Majors and Minors" tab for your area of study.


Introduction to environmental management.  An introduction to the MEM program, to bioregional and resilient approaches to environmental management, and to the environmental stakeholders, problems, solutions, and learning laboratories of the Gunnison Valley. Requires two-week residency in Gunnison during culmination of course. Prerequisites: Admission to the MEM Program. 


Provides a rigorous and hands-on overview of the principles and methods of environmental science. Students gain practical experience with a range of laboratory, field, and analytical approaches, with a focus on current environmental research in the Gunnison Basin. Topics include water quality, riparian condition, rangeland monitoring, forest health, threatened and endangered species, air quality, conservation, and ecological restoration. Students develop skills in scientific literature searches, writing monitoring protocols, ensuring quality data collection, statistical analysis, interpretation of results, written and oral communication, and peer review. Prerequisites: ENVS 601.


Analysis of the key interactions between environmental policy and management, focusing on environmental decision-making within an array of policy contexts. Emphasis is on important federal policies such as the Clean Water Act and NEPA, with additional attention to relevant state and local policies. Prerequisites: ENVS 601. 


Course focuses on developing and managing environmental projects and organizations.  Students develop a thorough understanding of integrative assessment, adaptive  management, and triple bottom line strategies. Students apply these approaches to the  development of professional skills such as organizational development, conflict management, and environmental communication. Prerequisites: ENVS 601. 


An overview of a range of quantitative analytical methods and statistical approaches essential to environmental management careers in both Integrative Land Management and Sustainable and Resilient Communities. Topics covered include descriptive and inferential statistics, geographic information systems, cost-benefit analysis, and graphic presentation of results. Course empowers students to organize, analyze, and graphically present environmental data. Prerequisites: ENVS 601 and an undergraduate-level course in statistics.


An investigation of the science of climate change, with an emphasis on mitigation and adaptation strategies for careers in environmental management. Students will develop an understanding of the principles of atmospheric and earth sciences that form the scientific basis of climate change and survey the large body of evidence of anthropogenic warming. Topics include greenhouse gas emissions, climate forcings and feedbacks, observed and projected climate changes, effects on ecological and human systems, and the opportunities and challenges of a diverse suite of strategies for climate change mitigation and adaptation at the local, regional, and planetary scale. Prerequisites: ENVS 605; two undergraduate courses in natural or environmental sciences, one of which must be upper-level with lab/field component. 


Environmental Organization Development and Management - 

An introduction to developing and managing environmental organizations, including  managing change within and beyond organizations to maximize the effectiveness of  environmental solutions. Course discusses competitively advantageous strategies and practices organizations adopt to write successful grants, grow revenues, cut costs, and  redesign projects and processes. Management examples will include sustainable  innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship in private, government, and nonprofit  sectors from around the world. Students learn leadership skills that foster a culture of  innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship within an organization, utilizing principles  from a variety of thinking methods including systems, design, and group thinking.  Prerequisites: ENVS 605; ENVS 608; ENVS 611; ENVS 612. 


An examination of selected topics covering the content understanding, analytical skills, and management approaches vital to cultivating sustainable and resilient communities. Topics include subjects such as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, Sustainable Food Systems, Sustainable Energy Futures, Sustainable Economic Development, Movements in Community Resilience, and Frameworks in Sustainability. This course is repeatable, since students are required to take this course three times, as long as the topic changes. Prerequisites: ENVS 616. 

The Sustainable and Resilient Communities (SRC) track prepares students for careers in: 

  • Environmental nonprofit development
  • Sustainability consulting and coordinating (businesses, towns, universities)
  • Sustainable and resilient community advocacy
  • Environmental organization management
  • International project scoping and leadership


The Sustainable and Resilient Communities track focuses on the emerging interdisciplinary studies of “sustainability” and “resilience” for communities at various scales. SRC examines and experiments with the multitude of challenges with balancing ecological, economic, and social values for communities and socio-economic systems in the U.S. and abroad.  The track raises questions about how to enhance the ability of future generations to continue a way of life in a place, without unjustly contradicting the ability of other cultures and species to do the same.

SRC students examine how human and ecological communities adapt, and perhaps thrive, in the face of the possible disturbances of climate change, economic boom and bust cycles, unsustainable energy- food-material systems, water scarcity, and other essential infrastructures. This track provides the graduate-level content and theoretical understanding of sustainability studies, applying systems thinking, resilience theories, and industrial ecology skills such as circular economy and life-cycle analysis (LCA) in a way that is unique to Western’s liberal arts traditions while using both the learning laboratories of the Rockies as well the global reach of our faculty. Moreover, this track helps deliver entrepreneurial management and organizational skills that 21st Century environmental managers need in order to build sustainable and resilient communities, businesses or organizations from diverse stakeholder groups through our rigorous MBA-like curriculum. The Sustainable and Resilient Communities is a 46-credit track, sharing the 20-credit Core with the Integrative Land Management track.  Sustainable and Resilient Communities students are also required to take four courses (12 credits) within their track. All students, across both tracks, must complete a Master’s Project and Portfolio in the second year.

A wide suite of possible practicum, internship, and on-the-ground opportunities help our students accelerate and complement their professional development goals. These opportunities include, but are not limited to, our students engage with local community policymakers and stakeholders on greenhouse gas emissions accounting, climate action planning, and policy recommendations and development, to seasonal positions with organizations delivering high-need analysis and products.

See our CS2I lab for community scale work that you can be a part of!

There are SRC international project opportunities available to you with partners from around the world.  Please view past student projects and our map and descriptions of current program partners and projects on our Global Sustainability webpage

M.E.M. track in Sustainable and Resilient Communities:

  1. Complete 20-credit Core
  2. ENVS 616 Environmental Organization Development and Management (MBA-like course) (3 credit)
  3. Choose three (9 credits total) ENVS 620 Studies in Sustainable and Resilient Communities (3 credit) courses. Options include such course titles as (samples evolve, depending on job, faculty and student interests)​
    • Triple-Bottom-Line Management Strategies
    • Community-Based Climate Management
    • Sustainable Food Systems
    • Sustainable Energy Futures
    • Sustainable Economic Development
    • Natural Resource Systems
    • Building and Planning Communities
    • Sustainable Consulting and Leadership
    • Global Sustainable Development
  4. Complete Master’s Project and Portfolio (14 credits)

Faculty & Staff


Assistant Professor & Public Lands Coordinator
Office Location: Kelley Hall 109
Lecturer, Department of Environment and Sustainability; Graduate Faculty, Masters in Environmental Management Programs; Marketing Coordinator, Center for Environment and Sustainability; Resilience Studies Consortium Coordinator for Western State Colorado
B.A., Western State Colordao University , M.A., Prescott College, Ph.D., University of Exeter
Phone: (970) 943-2294
Office Location: Kelley Hall 207
Dr. Abel Chavez
Assistant Professor of Environment & Sustainability, and Sustainable & Resilient Communities MEM Coordinator
BS, University of Colorado Denver, MBA, University of Houston, PhD, University of Colorado Denver
Office Location: Kelley Hall 104
Katherine A Clark
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
B.A., James Madison University, M.S. University of Colorado Boulder, Ph.D. Environmental Studies University of Colorado Boulder
Office Location: Kelley Hall 226
Clark Sustainable Development Chair in Environment and Sustainability
JD, University of California School of Law, B.A., Antioch College
Phone: (303) 912 0855
Office Location: Kelley 206
Coldharbour Chair in Environment & Sustainability, Executive Director, Coldharbour Institute
Seattle Law School, JD, Vermont Law School, MSL, Fort Lewis College, BS
Phone: 970.943.2023
Office Location: Kelley Hall 114A
Dr. John C. Hausdoerffer
Professor and Director of the Master of Environmental Management Program; Professor of Env Sustainability & Philosophy; Director, Headwaters Project
B.A., Western State Colorado University; , M.A., St. John's College; , Ph.D., Washington State University.
Phone: (970) 943-3450
Office Location: Kelley Hall 107
Dr. Jessica Young
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability and MEM Global Coordinator
B.A., University of California San Diego, Ph.D. Purdue University
Office Location: Kelley hall 114A