College of Social and Behavioral Sciences2021-2022

Sustainable Communities

Sustainable Communities, Master of Arts

Learning Outcomes

Purpose Statement

The mission of SUS is to provide interdisciplinary face-to-face graduate education on the complex issues of sustainability and social justice, encouraging students to pursue important social and environmental issues concurrently. The program seeks to educate students as critical thinkers for community leadership and to enable its graduates to contribute to the well-being of communities. At the same time, the program aims to push students intellectually, looking to produce thoughtful and critical graduates who can think theoretically. The curriculum is student-centered; students bring their intellectual, ethical, and practical concerns to bear on their particular academic inquiry. These skills are sharpened in collective collaborations between students and different communities through praxis.
Central Concepts Of The Program

  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability encompasses the interactions between human and natural systems; sustainability is broadly defined and emphasizes the necessity for people to live in communities. Students explore what makes communities economically, environmentally, socially resilient and equitable, and how to ensure that communities have a direct say in building their future. They also examine the interactions and networks that form between different communities at the local, bioregional, national, and international levels.
  • Civic Engagement: students envision themselves as interconnected to the fabric and leadership of the university through both their work on the university campus as well as their meaningful participation in the larger Flagstaff community through the use of various models of activism, organizing, and scholarship. This includes examination and use of various models of activism and organizing, historical analysis of movements for social change, and other scholarship on democratic practice and civic engagement.
  • Inquiry-based Research: recognizes the interdependence between theory, modes of inquiry, and practice. Students explore models and understandings of action research and community-based research.
  • Scholar-Activism: scholarship and praxis acknowledges and speaks directly to the needs of communities and offers theoretically and empirically pragmatic solutions grounded in sustainability. Approaches are inherently interdisciplinary and take into account the social, cultural, economic, and ecological dimensions of issues.
  • Social Justice: considers issues of environmental and community sustainability as deeply interrelated. Students examine relationship between intersectionality of multiple identities (e.g. race, ethnicity, social class, gender identity, language) with issues of power, access to resources, place, climate change, and ecological impact.
  • Social Transformation: recognizing that individual transformation in terms of knowledge, understanding, and skills are deeply connected to collective transformation, students critically reflect and demonstrate elements of individual transformation as well as the implications of their work towards collective transformation.
Student Learning Outcomes
  • Define, examine and apply various interdisciplinary definitions and conceptions of sustainable communities
  • Distinguish, formulate and evaluate interdisciplinary theories and modes of social transformation through multiple communities.
  • Identify, question, and transform power dynamics between environmental, economic, ecological, and social factors that foster or inhibit sustainable communities.
  • Name, describe, interpret positioning self along lines of differences and lived experiences vis-à-vis sustainable communities
  • Appreciate, generate, and apply interdisciplinary methods of inquiry.
  • Recognize, explain and synthesize how global, local, economic, political, and cultural systems are interrelated.
  • Think critically through reading, writing and discussions.
  • Work collaboratively along lines of difference (e.g. race, class, gender, etc.) in classrooms and communities.
  • Foster and develop strong interpersonal, listening, and leadership skills.
  • Develop and apply different ethical and social justice frameworks.
  • Translate understanding to action and commitment using multiple change-agent strategies.
  • Imagine and design possible alternatives of sustainable communities.
  • Facilitate and create inclusive, diverse, egalitarian, and democratic spaces in the classrooms and communities.


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