Interdisciplinary Studies - Community Development and Sustainability, Bachelor of Science

NAU Yavapai

Extended Campuses

The Community Development and Sustainability Program (CDSY) at Northern Arizona University-Yavapai is a unique and vibrant three-year degree that combines the natural and social sciences to build a solid foundation for understanding the elements necessary for a sustainable society. Organizations are "going green" and need professionals to design, lead and implement environmentally conscious solutions.

This program integrates environmental education with cultural and social relevancy, institutional drivers such as politics and the press, ad hands-on skill building through a variety of applied learning projects and community sustainability activities. Classes are taught by expert faculty with advanced degree and experience and are centered around: sustainability and environmental issues, globalization,social change, governance, technologies and environmental journalism.

This plan will not be available to new students after Summer 2019

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's liberal studies, diversity, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.
    The full policy can be viewed here.


In addition to University Requirements:

  • 33 units of Community Development and Sustainability specialization requirements
  • Completion of Concentration, Minor, or Certificate
  • Completion of Computer Literacy, Communication Skills and Science Requirement

  • Up to 9 units of specialization prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy specialization requirements.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units

Please note that students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MATY 142
Emphasis, Minor, or Certificate Required Required
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link Not Available

Purpose Statement
The Community Development and Sustainability major seeks to produce students that have the knowledge and skills that will enable them to make a positive contribution to society during this critical period of sustainability transition. They will have the skills to be effective social change agents, able to help humankind undertake the transition to sustainability with intelligence, understanding, and creativity, by protecting the natural environment while advancing the cause of social and environmental justice. The CDSY Program will therefore:

  • Provide an education that recognizes the assets of our students, and focuses these passions and talents in formulating holistic solutions to create a sustainable world
  • Develop and model ecological systems thinking and critical thinking as the basis for understanding society and the environment.
  • Provide a supportive community for intellectual inquiry, applied/service learning, and practical skills development at both the personal and collective levels
  • Synthesize personal transformation, leadership and policy-making skills, eco-literacy, and the building of alternatives into strategies and practices that lead to a more just and sustainable world. 
Student Learning Outcomes 
  • Interdisciplinary: The ability to study, synthesize, and integrate interdisciplinary knowledge and research methodologies when evaluating or seeking solutions to environmental issues.
  • Knowledge: Students will be well grounded in fundamental knowledge within the natural and social sciences that are relevant to global environmental change, sustainability and community development. These may include, but are not limited to; environmental biology, geography, meteorology, politics and press, social change and social systems, current Issues in sustainability, environmental and social justice, community development, sustainable economics, sustainable energy, sustainable technologies, ethics, mathematics and statistics, human behavior. Individual students may find themselves drawn toward either environmental science or social science approaches to addressing sustainability issues. Whereas all students will develop knowledge and skills in both fields, the program is structured to allow students to explore either approach.
  • Critical thinking skills: Students will have the ability to analyze, interpret, and synthesize information from a wide variety of sources; evaluate the relevance, accuracy and validity of information, empirical evidence, and theoretical arguments, and to solve challenging problems and arrive at well-reasoned conclusions.
  • Research: Students will acquire the ability to develop research papers that spans global, national, regional and local scales, articulate a thesis, employ relevant quantitative and qualitative methods, understand the strengths and limitations of various research methods, evaluate and interpret case studies and research results, document and effectively use a variety of sources, communicate information and make conclusions.
  • Communication: Students will have the ability to express facts and ideas in a variety of written and oral formats, to organize and present evidence-based ideas, to communicate scientific understanding, and to write and speak clearly, precisely, and cohesively.
  • Applied Learning Experience: Students will gain hands on experience of key sustainability and community development concepts from every core CDSY course, as well as through CDSY campus and community outreach, education and service projects, internships, and field trips. In the process, they will gain the ability to synthesize and integrate the knowledge and skills obtained through their coursework into a coherent framework and project, in preparation for professional life after graduation.

Liberal Studies Requirement
    • Students with a completed AGEC from Arizona Community Colleges will have met the 35 units of liberal studies requirements.
    • Students with a completed IGETC from a California Community College will have met the 35 units of liberal studies requirements.
    • Up to 9 units of specialization prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy specialization requirements.
Major Requirements
  • Choose one of the following (3 units)

Certificate Requirements
  • Complete a NAU-Yavapai undergraduate certificate (at least 15 units) in an area outside of your Specialization.

Interdisciplinary Studies Requirements
  • Communication courses (6 units):

    Choose 6 units in the following two categories

    • Performance-based courses, select one from the following (3 units):

    • Theory-based course:

  • Please note that you cannot use CLEP or locally prepared exams to satisfy this requirement. Transfer credit used to satisfy this requirement must be approved by the program director.

  • Science Requirement (18 units)
    • Select from the following (12 units):

      • Courses with Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Geology, Mathematics, Statistics prefixes.
  • Please note that other courses must be approved by the program director.

  • AND

    Computer Literacy (6 units)

    This coursework must help you to understand, in general, the technical components of computers and information systems, how to solve problems using information systems technology, word processing, spreadsheet use, database management, graphic information software, website development, graphic design and use of statistical analysis software.

    • Select ISM 120 or BBA 293 (3 units)
    • Complete 3 units of advisor approved coursework including the CIS or CS prefix (3 units)
General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit. 

    You may take these remaining courses from any academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.)

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.