Sustainable Community Development (BS)

Program Director: Flavia Montenegro-Menezes flaviamontm@larp.umass.edu 
Peer Advisor: Jeremy Price Jtprice@umass.edu 

SCD Program Handbook 9-24-17   Apply

In the Sustainable Community Development major, students can explore a variety of perspectives on creating a more sustainable world through planning and design.  The planning and design of a sustainable world is complex, and this major offers students the opportunity to prepare academically to deal with this complexity by drawing on a variety of disciplinary fields and working at a range of scales. 

Students will become familiar with the theories and techniques  for creating sustainable communities, conserving the environment, and responding to other social, cultural, economic and political challenges of the built environment. Perhaps most important, students will gain experience in knowing how to facilitate and lead change in communities.

Students with this degree are well qualified for positions with non-profit organizations and community development agencies, municipalities, and private firms specializing in site, municipal and regional level work.  Students are also well placed to go on to graduate school at UMass, either in the Masters of Landscape Architecture (MLA) program or the accelerated Masters in Regional Planning (MRP), or to other programs and other universities.

Core Classes

Core classes prepare students to understand the dynamics of neighborhoods, cities and landscapes, and to engage communities in envisioning a more socially and environmentally balanced world. Through five concentration options, the BS-SCD program provides historical, theoretical, and professional perspectives in the liberal arts and science fields. Each concentration emphasizes environmental or social issues at a different scale, from construction details and buildings to urban landscapes and regions. 

SustComm 110 Transforming Your World:  Intro to Comm Engagemt GE
SustComm 140 Awareness of the Visual Environment GE
SustComm 232 Sustainable Cities GE
SustComm 314 Writing in Comm Development & Landscape Arch GE
SustComm 394RI Research Issues in Community Development GE
SustComm 543 Landscape Architecture History I E/O, GE
SustComm 544 Landscape Architecture History II E/O
LandArch 547 + 547L Landscape Pattern & Process + Lab
SustComm 574 City Planning

E/O      Take one of the two History courses – either SustComm 543 or SustComm 544
GE       General Education Requirements:

  • SustComm 110        (SBU)
  • SustComm 140        (AT) –  course usually also offered online in the summer
  • SustComm 232        (HS-G)
  • SustComm 314        JYW – students must have completed the College Writing (CW) requirement to enroll in this course
  • SustComm 394RI     IE – GenEd requirement for Juniors or Seniors
  • SustComm 543        (AT)

Students who enrolled prior to Fall 2017 can find requirements here. 


Areas of Concentrations 

The SCD areas of concentration are Landscape Design and Build (formerly Horticultural Studies), Built Environment, City and Society (formerly Urban Studies), and Climate Change and Green Infrastructure (formerly Landscape Studies). With approval of the Program Director, cross-scale interests may be pursued with an Independently Designed concentration.  Students should decide on their Concentration by the end of their Sophomore year.

  • The Concentration in Built Environment (BE) allows the study of the living environment from a variety of perspectives, ranging from building techniques and architecture to the larger context of social and ecological landscapes. Architecture is a social art, thus, this concentration is as much about design theory and practice as it is about people and how their needs and ambitions can be expressed in spaces and structures. Students will study the sustainability, functionality, and beauty inherent in a well-designed building as well as the physical fabric of the city. Classes for the BE concentration emphasize studio art, architectural history, building technology, and human use of space. This concentration develops technical skills for understanding design and planning at the building scale within the framework of creating sustainable communities. Students in this major can go on to a wide range of design positions such as in the green building industry or pursue a graduate-level professional design degree that bridges building technology, architecture and landscape fields. BCT and architecture classes may be used toward this concentration.  This concentration also works well for students interested in the accelerated 2-year Master of Landscape Architecture, with the addition of 500-level LandArch studios in the senior year (the 4+2 program). PDF icon BE Requirements
     
  • The City and Society Concentration (CS) is concerned with the quality of life in neighborhoods, towns, cities, and metropolitan areas.  Closely aligned with urban planning, the CS concentration allows students to explore creative and systematic approaches to environmental, economic, and social issues affecting communities and larger regions. Sustainable communities may be created through careful economic development, control of sprawl, heritage conservation, expanded recreational and cultural opportunities, green infrastructure, improved housing, preserved open space, not to mention political reform and environmental justice. CS concentration courses focus on social equity, human ecology, cultural vitality, economics, politics, policy, land use, and other issues related to city planning, to build a broad social science understanding of how cities work and how they can be influenced to better serve a broad range of sustainability goals. Students with this concentration often go to work in government agencies, consulting firms, or start their own non-profit organizations. They also go on for a Master’s degree in planning or other related fields such as public policy and transportation planning. This concentration works well for students interested in pursuing the accelerated Masters in Regional Planning (the 4+1 program). PDF icon CS Requirements
     
  • The Climate Change and Green Infrastructure Concentration (CCGI) is concerned with urban and regional environmental planning and policy. This concentration focuses on the ways that cities and buildings can reduce greenhouse gasses, improve livability and resilience, and enhance ecology through building, infrastructure and planning interventions[FM1] .  Students will learn planning and design that mitigates, anticipates and accommodates pressures arising in rapidly changing environments while balancing uses  between development and conservation.   Students go to work in sustainability related professions, policy and consulting firms. They are well placed to attend graduate school in a wide variety of climate or design related fields. This concentration works well for students interested in pursuing the accelerated Masters in Regional Planning (the 4+1 program). PDF icon CCGI Requirements
     
  • The Concentration in Landscape Design and Build (LDB) is concerned with building and maintaining sustainable landscapes. It allows environmentally-aware students to explore different aspects of the rapidly expanding ‘green’ industries and learn how to apply sound scientific, construction, and management principles in adding beauty to a sustainable environment. This concentration brings together scientific knowledge of plants, soils, and ecology with the theoretical and practical aspects of landscape design, construction technology and business management.  The LDB concentration serves students who want to design and build landscapes in a sustainable way.  This major provides an excellent background for those who want to go on for a Master in Landscape Architecture or go to work for design and contracting firms. This concentration is well suited  to students with 2-year Associates Degrees in Landscape Contracting or related fields. It also works well for students interested in pursuing the accelerated 2-year Master of Landscape Architecture, with the addition of 500-level LandArch studios in the senior year (the 4+2 program). PDF icon LDB Reuirements
     
  • If a SCD Major has potential professional interests at the intersection of the standard concentrations, that student may, in consultation with the Concentration Advisor and with the approval of the Program Director, combine LARP courses from the various standard concentrations to allow more interdisciplinary focus - e.g. cultural heritage, urban policy, transportation planning. The Independently Designed Concentration could also support applications to the 4+1 accelerated Master of Regional Planning, or to the 4+2 Master of Landscape Architecture. Students in this concentration must work closely with the Concentration Advisor. PDF icon Independently Designed Concentration (ID)

Paths to the BS-SCD

Following standard university requirements, a minimum of 120 credits are needed for the Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Community Development (45 credits in residence at UMass Amherst) as follows:

nine (9) General Education courses, accounting for at least 33 credits;
eight (8) core courses for the Major accounting for 28-29 credits – Including IE and JYW GenEds;
six (6) courses in the student’s area of Concentration within the Major for 18-24 credits; and
Elective courses for between 34 and 41 credits.

The standard completion time for the major is four years, but it is possible for students willing to work on their degree over summer and winter sessions to complete it in three years.
BS-SCD students may also choose to undertake the 4+1 accelerated program toward a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning (BSSCD+MRP) or the 4+2 Master of Landscape Architecture (BSSCD+MLA).

  • 4 Year Path The standard completion time for the major. 

  • 3 Year Path The Sustainable Community Development Bachelor's Degree is both rigorous and flexible, with a high percentage of elective courses.  As such, it is very feasible to complete it in three years. A suggested curriculum to achieve the Sustainable Community Development degree in three years is available here.

  • 4+1 Accelerated Bachelor in SCD and Master of Regional Planning The accelerated BS-SCD + MRP (5 years) will prepare students for a professional career in public policy, resource management, economic development and planning at the national, state and local level. 

  • 4+2 Bachelor in SCD and Master of Landscape Architecture The BS-SCD + MLA (6 years) will provide the fundamentals of the theory and practice of landscape architecture, including the history, principles, techniques, and materials of landscape design. 

  • Minor in SCD

  • Double Major & Dual Degree  
    Students pursuing a Double Major (one degree, but two Majors recorded on the transcript) are required to complete at least 120 credits. Credits can double count for both Majors, unless the other department has a restriction on double counting. A student who has already completed one major, received one degree, and desires to return for a second Bachelor’s degree, would have to reapply to UMass as a post-graduate.

    Students pursuing a Dual Degree (two Bachelor degrees) must earn a minimum of 150 credits, completing all of the major and college requirements for both, and also completing at least 30 additional units in residency. This must be accomplished within the normal ten semesters, unless a Dean grants an extension.
    Students pursuing the double major (120 credits), with Sustainable Community Development as a Secondary Major, are not required to complete the IE requirement or JYW in Sustainable community Development but must satisfy these requirements with courses in their Primary Major. Likewise, students pursuing a dual degree (150 credits) must complete the IE requirement and junior year writing requirement only for the major that is listed as their primary major in SPIRE.

  • Departmental Honors (DH)
    Departmental Honors (DH) tracks are Advanced Scholarship Tracks of Commonwealth Honors College, available in most majors.  The are recommended for students who wish to undertake advanced research within their majors, especially those who intend to pursue graduate study in the discipline of their major.  Students may complete DH as part of the full CHC curriculum, which includes Honors General Studies, or they may complete DH alone. All DH students are members of CHC. For information about DH, please check: https://www.honors.umass.edu/dhreqs/environmental-design-departmental-honors