Sustainable Communities

Sustainable Communities

Get your hands dirty at Eastern Oregon University, Oregon’s Rural University. In the Sustainable Communities degree, students learn about the unique nature of rural societies, environments and economies. Directly apply environmental science, resource ecology management and environmental policy to help industry and communities create sustainable development. With the project-based learning model, students become project managers doing ecological and industrial restoration work that engages communities and industry partners.

Real communities, real solutions

In an innovative new format, students solve real issues in rural communities. A partnership with Baker Technical Institute provides the first cohort’s long-term project: restoring former industrial and commercial sites affected by environmental contamination. With remediation, these brownfields become useful community spaces once again.

Project-based learning

Students move through the program with a cohort of peers, building connections with and gaining responsibility each year. Seniors learn project management skills and model teamwork and mentorship for incoming freshmen.

Currently, SRS projects include brownfield remediation projects, rail-with-trail planning and development, and community engagement and proposal writing activities to help support regional trail development. Other projects include a community garden expansion plan and rural revitalization through smart growth planning. 

Learn together

Courses designed for group-based learning take on real-life challenges alongside community and industry partners. Students build distinct skillsets to address environmental remediation or restoration, public policy, rural economic development and other community-building projects.

Learning outcomes:

Students in the program learn how to identify and address place-based needs by developing partnerships with community leaders and collaborating with organizations. SRS students engage in on-the-ground problem-solving that is mutually beneficial to students and communities.

Make a difference

Students in the Sustainable Communities program at EOU study all aspects of a rural community and engage in authentic projects that improve the quality of life in rural communities.

Potential careers:

  • Environmental consultant
  • City planner
  • City manager
  • Community-based nonprofits
  • Grant writer
  • Business manager
  • Community development
  • Land management
  • Cooperative Extension Service

Get started

Contact us for more information!

Shannon Donovan

Shannon Donovan
Associate Professor
Sustainable Communities
Phone: (541) 962-3594

Frequently asked questions:

Q: What kinds of courses will students take?
A: Students can take a wide range of courses, the program core includes environmental biology, economics and project leadership courses.

Q: What type of degree do SRS students earn?
A: SRS students can shape their curriculum to earn a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science degree.

Q: Can transfer students or online students major in SRS?
A: Transfer students can apply prior college credit toward an SRS degree. Academic advisors and faculty members can provide additional details about individual transfer credits. This degree is currently available for on-campus students only.

Q: What kinds of projects will students tackle?
A: Students will start with a brownfield restoration project, but future projects could include refurbishing a historic building, analyzing industry changes after a timber mill closes, or exploring new methods of delivering healthcare in rural areas.

Meet the program faculty: