Want to learn how to build a robust and sustainable food system? The Sustainable Development (BS) - Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture provides students with the theoretical and practical skills necessary for careers in food and agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is modeled on nature, relying on nutrient cycling and preservation of the soil and its fertility. You will learn to build food systems that provide healthy food and support local community life. You will study fundamental ecological processes such as nutrient cycling, effective solar capture, efficient use of water, and interactions among plants and animals and their environment. You also will learn to analyze the ecological, economic and cultural dimensions of complex food systems.
This is one of four degree options in the Department of Sustainable Development at Appalachian State University. The others are Sustainable Development (BA), Sustainable Development (BS) - Community, Regional and Global Development, and Sustainable Development (BS) - Environmental Studies.
Employment: Graduates are qualified for employment in a variety of positions in sustainable food and agriculture, including farm management or operating one’s own farm, wholesale and retail management, environmental and agriculture education, research technician, or in environmental, agricultural or food system nonprofits. See a list of employers in the right column.
Core courses include:
- Principles of Sustainable Development
- Science for Sustainability
- Environmental Justice & Sustainability or Environmental Ethics
- Principles of Agroecology
- Applied Farm Operations
- Development Theory and Practice
- Classics in Sustainable Development
- Senior Seminar
The Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture concentration also includes Soil & Soil Fertility Management, Livestock Production & Management, Farm Business Management, Practicum in Sustainable Agriculture, Agroecology Practices, Systems, and Philosophies, Applied Farm Operations II, Ecologically-Based Pest Management, and Reasoning with Statistics.
This degree also requires courses in a Focus Area and a Skills Area.
A minor is optional.
Engagement Outside the Classroom
SDSA (Sustainable Development Student Alliance) - Supports a variety of student-led community-building and sustainability-oriented projects on campus and community wide.
Sustainable Development Teaching and Research Farm - 35 acres of pasture, 130 acres woodlot and woodlands, a large greenhouse, late-19th century barn, and a student residence where five or six agroecology students live and work. Read story
Sustainability & Environmental Education Club (SEEC) - Dedicated to increasing the community’s understanding of sustainability through the involvement of Appalachian students in environmental education programs with local youth. Appalachian State Students for New Urbanism - Engages the community and students in promoting more vibrant and sustainable, urban environments. Blue Ridge Conservancy
Appalachian State University Campus Chapter - Works to permanently protect land and water resources with agricultural, ecological, cultural, recreational and scenic value in the northwest North Carolina. Activities include trail clean-ups, hikes, guest speakers, and much more.
High Country Local First - a non-profit organization that seeks to strengthen the community and local economy by supporting locally owned, independent businesses and farmers through education, promotion and networking.
Appalachian is committed to introducing students to different cultures and teaching them how to live and interact in a global society.
The Department of Sustainable Department offers occasional faculty-led study abroad programs to Madagascar and Malawi. Students learn about rural livelihood strategies and conservation issues related to sustainable development. Learn more
There are no admission requirements beyond admission to Appalachian State University.
- Appalachian’s Sustainable Development program is the oldest program in the country, and its interdisciplinary focus sets it apart from other schools.
- All students get to study and work on Appalachian’s Teaching and Research Farm, one of the largest sustainable agriculture teaching-research farms in the country.
- Internships are highly encouraged. Host sites include: Environmental Protection Agency, Blue Ridge Conservancy, organic and sustainable farms, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture, Appalachian Voices, and other green organizations across the U.S.
- The Department of Sustainable Development works with a number of community outreach projects, from the Civic Gardening Project to its Sustainable Farming Resource Center and a farm-to-school support network.
Number of Students
Approximately 300 in the Department of Sustainable Development
Method of Delivery
On campus only
- Agriculture Extension Officer
- Consumer Researcher
- Agriculture and Food Education
- Farm Manager
- Farmers’ Market manager
- Food Policy Analyst
- Food Systems Advocacy work
- Health and Nutrition programs
- Farm Credit Analyst
- Garden Manager
- Land Conservation
- Natural Resources Specialist
- Non-profit work related to food systems
- Rural Development Worker
- International Relief Representative
Recent graduates have been hired by:
- New River Organic Growers
- Grass to Greens
- Organic Growers School
- Green Opportunities
- Planters Garden
- Mill Village Farms
- Riverbend Malt House
- MoM’s Organic Market
- Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy
- NC State Park System
- Schoolhouse of Wonder
- Peace Corps
Dr. Richard Rheingans