Sustainable and Resilient Communities

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

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

The Sustainable and Resilient Communities track focuses on the emerging interdisciplinary study of “sustainability.” This field examines and experiments with best practices in balancing ecological, economic, and social values for developing communities and socio-economic systems.  The discipline raises tough 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, locally and globally. The ecological concept of resilience, the ability of a system to absorb disturbance and maintain function, has complicated and strengthened sustainability studies. 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 or food systems, and water scarcity. This track provides the graduate-level content and theoretical understanding of sustainability studies, applying systems thinking and resilience theories to the field in a way that is unique to Western’s liberal arts traditions and the learning laboratories of the Rockies. Moreover, this track delivers entrepreneurial management and organizational skills that 21st Century environmental managers need in order to build resilient communities, businesses or organizations from diverse stakeholder groups.  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.

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

  1. Complete 20-credit Core
  2. ENVS 616 Environmental Organization Development and Management (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
    • Resilience - Frameworks, Theories, and Movements
    • Sustainable Economic Development
    • Global Case Studies in Sustainability
  4. Complete Master’s Project and Portfolio (14 credits)