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Sustainable Rural Systems Degree

Get your hands dirty and make a difference

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Shannon Donovan
Associate Professor of Sustainable Rural Systems

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.

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.


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


In an innovative new format, students will work to 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.


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

Get your hands dirty in La Grande at Eastern Oregon University, Oregon’s official rural university. In the Sustainable Rural Systems degree, you will learn about the unique nature of rural societies, environments and economies. You will get the chance to directly apply environmental science, resource ecology management and environmental policy to help industry and communities create sustainable development. With the project-based learning model, you will become project managers doing direct ecological and industrial restoration work that engages communities and industry partners.

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