The Sustainable Development (BS) - Environmental Studies degree is a cross-disciplinary exploration of the relationship between humans and their environment. The degree prepares you to be conversant in multiple dimensions of environmental sustainability through course work in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. Studying the ecological, social, political and economic aspects of complex environmental problems prepares you to address these problems with a systems perspective and an understanding of the inextricable linkages between human and natural systems.
This concentration has self-designed focus and skills areas, which provides the opportunity to select courses that match your interests and career goals. Graduates of this degree program are prepared for careers in which they help to bridge the gap between environmental scientists, decision makers and the public.
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) - Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture.
Employment: Graduates hold positions with environment-focused non-profit organizations, government agencies and private businesses. See a list of employers in the right column.
Core courses include:
- Principles of Sustainable Development
- Science for Sustainability
- Environmental Justice & Sustainability/ Environmental Ethics
- Principles of Agroecology
- Applied Farm Operations
- Development Theory and Practice
- Classics in Sustainable Development
- Senior Seminar
The Environmental Studies concentration also includes The Physical Principles of Energy and Sustainability, Energy Issues and Technology, Society and Technology, Reasoning with Statistics, Nature, Technology, & Environment, and Environmental Politics.
This degree also requires courses 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.
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
- Consumer Researcher
- Environmental Impact Analyst
- Environmental Quality Specialist
- Grant writer
- Natural Resources Specialist
- Park Ranger
- Rural Development Worker
- Urban Planner
- Community Organizer
- Community Planner
- NGO Director
- International Relief Representative
- Environmental Researcher
- Park Ranger
- Sustainability Officer
- Non-profit work
- Project manager
- Resource conservationist
- Renewable Energy analyst
Recent graduates have been hired by:
- New River Organic Growers
- Grass to Greens
- Organic Growers School
- Green Opportunities
- Cedar International School
- Belk Inc.
- County governments
- Peace Corps