Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Urban Development

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Accomplishing sustainable urban development is a crucial challenge for the twenty-first century. The University of Washington Tacoma is at the forefront of engaging and educating undergraduate students on this topic. The Sustainable Urban Development degree provides students with a critical and rigorous training in ecological, political, economic, and social aspects of urban development processes.

Sustainability is often treated as a synonym for environmentalism...but that’s not the whole story. Sustainability is not just about the environment; it is also about social equity and economic prosperity. The Urban Studies faculty members help students learn how cities and urban regions are the key to true sustainability — for the planet and for the people who populate it.

Students will learn how to understand, assess, and manage urban development processes through a carefully designed curriculum that includes urban policy, planning, and environmental science coursework. The degree provides students with a broad but concrete understanding of linkages between urban ecosystems, urban systems (planning, transit, energy, etc.), and the multi-dimensional problems of urbanization, especially as they relate to public policy and urban advocacy.

As one of the first such degrees in the nation, students with a degree in Sustainable Urban Development will be prepared to address recent initiatives that have called for a significant “greening” of urban development, both locally and internationally. Graduates will be prepared for careers in planning agencies, corporations adhering to sustainability practices, consulting firms, nonprofit organizations, and environmental/resource related agencies at the local, state, and federal levels of government. The degree is also excellent training for further graduate study in fields such as urban planning, public administration and law.

Major Requirements

The Sustainable Urban Development major admits students every quarter except summer. The curriculum consists of 74 credits of required course work:

  • Introductory courses (11 credits)
  • Core courses (43 credits)
  • Major electives (20 credits)

In addition to the core coursework, students are required to complete general university requirements and electives, bringing their total number of credits to 180. 

Introductory Courses

Core Courses

  • Foundation courses (27 credits, all required)

  • T SUD 222  Introduction to Sustainability (5 credits)
  • T SUD 240  The City and Nature (5 credits)
  • T SUD 444  Green Internationalism and the City (5 credits)
  • T SUD 445  Urban Ecology (5 credits)
  • T SUD 475  Community and Economy (5 credits)
  • T URB 403  Professional Development for Urban Careers (2 credits)
  • Methods courses (16 credits, all required)

Major Electives (20 credits)

Any T SUD or T URB course that is not among the required Introductory or Core Courses (listed above) may be counted as an elective course toward the SUD major, except that a maximum of 10 credits total of T SUD 494, T SUD 498, T URB 496 and T URB 498 may be counted toward these 20 credits of Major Electives.

In addition, any of the following courses may be counted as Major Elective course toward the SUD major:

  • T UDE 210  Introduction to Urban Design History & Theory
  • T UDE 260  Introduction to Urban Design (Urban Design Studio I)
  • TESC 201 The Science of Sustainability
  • TEST 332 A Natural History of Garbage
  • T GEOG 101 Introduction to Geography

View T URB courses and descriptions

View T SUD courses and descriptions

General Electives

The balance of credits needed to meet University credit requirements are general electives. Students may focus on an in-depth area of study (i.e., a minor or certificate) or explore the liberal arts, business, social work or health-related fields, or may take further T SUD or T URB courses. Transfer credits from other institutions may apply toward general electives. Contact academic advisor for details.