Jun 23, 2024  
2018-2019 Catalog 
2018-2019 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development, BA

Department of Environmental Studies, Huxley College of the Environment

117-121 credits


This interdisciplinary program prepares students to enter professional fields concerned with the sustainability of the human and natural environment. The Urban Planning and Sustainable Development major consists of a core and specialization courses. The core incorporates the interdisciplinary foundation of Huxley College’s approach to the study of the environment, with emphases in public policy development, law, and the methods, theory, and processes of planning and decision-making. The specialization courses allow students to develop an area of special interest in a defined planning sub discipline, to concentrate on a minor in an academic discipline, or to select from a number of thematically oriented clusters of courses.

Huxley’s Urban Planning and Sustainable Development major emphasizes innovative approaches to solving complex problems facing communities from the local to the global level. The program stresses progressive change leading towards equitable, healthful, livable, and sustainable communities with the emphasis on social and environmental justice, multiculturalism, diversity, and under-served communities. The curriculum combines urban planning, sustainable design, environmental policy, and environmental science to provide students with an understanding of the linkages between urban and natural systems and the multidimensional problems in urban development.

Graduates are prepared for entry-level careers in planning agencies, consulting firms, and nonprofit organizations in various fields locally, nationally, and internationally, as well as advanced graduate studies.

Why Consider a Study of Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Major?

Do you want to acquire knowledge and skills that promote positive change in the environment and help create more livable communities? Do you enjoy the challenge of solving complex problems and implementing shared visions in both natural settings and urban communities? Are you committed to working towards building a more equitable and sustainable society? Are you interested in the laws and policies, and processes that guild community and environmental change? Then Urban Planning and Sustainable Development is the major for you.

 Contact Information

Department Chair
Grace Wang
Arntzen Hall 212

Huxley College Professional Advisor
Kathryn Patrick
Environmental Studies 539

Planning Program Advisor
Nicholas Zaferatos
Environmental Studies 444

 Sample Careers

Urban Planner | Regional Planner | Sustainable Development Consultant | Planning Consultant | County Planner | Environmental Planner and Resources Manager | Emergency Manager | Director of Non-Profit Organizations

 Major/Career Resources


How to Declare (Admission and Declaration Process):

How to Apply as a Pre-Major:

At any time, you can declare yourself as a pre-major with interest in urban planning and sustainable development or any other major in the Department of Environmental Studies. There are several advantages to declaring an Environmental Studies department pre-major during your freshman or sophomore year. Once you are declared as a pre-major you are assigned a Huxley professional advisor and a faculty advisor based on your academic interests. Your professional advisor can help you understand graduation requirements and how to navigate through the Huxley curriculum. Your faculty advisor can discuss with you which courses to take, and when, and give you advice about how to prepare for graduate school or a future career. As a pre-major, your email is added to an email distribution list for Huxley majors so you will begin to receive notifications and general announcements. Pre-major status will also give you access to priority registration for some classes.

How to Apply to the Major:

As a nationally accredited professional planning program, admission to the urban planning and sustainable development major at Huxley College is a competitive process. The program typically accepts a junior cohort class of 25 students annually during spring quarter. Before applying, students should complete urban planning and sustainable development foundation courses. 

To apply, submit an application (and a PDF copy) that includes the following:

  • A statement of interest (700-1,000 words) that describes your interest in the urban planning major; your familiarity with urban planning and sustainable development problems; and your vision and affinity to work in the planning field. 
  • A plan of study created with and approved by the Huxley professional advisor and signed by a faculty advisor. 
  • A resume summarizing academic, curricular, extra-curricular, and volunteer activities.
  • A portfolio of work that demonstrates your skills and affinity with the major. Suggested portfolio materials include any or all of the following, or other materials that represent your vision, skills, and experience: a) examples of your best academic writing; b) an annotated list of no more than three inspirational readings; c) examples of creative expression, drawings, or other illustrative skills; and d) description of volunteer or work activities. 

Applications are ranked based on the applicants’ demonstrated interests in solving urban planning problems; commitment to planning’s social and environmental justice goals; aspirations for working in the public interest; relevant skills and experiences; and academic performance. Applicant selection is also based on creating a cohort representing diverse perspectives and lived experiences.

To become familiar with the work of urban planning and our program’s curriculum, applicants should review the American Planning Association website (planning.org) as well as the program’s brochure (huxley.wwu.edu/urban-planning-and-sustainable-development-program).

Applications are accepted at the Huxley College office, ES 539, in the spring quarter only for admission to the program in fall quarter.

If you have any questions, please contact a professional advisor at the Huxley College Student Support office in ES 539, or by phone 360-650-2817, or 360-650-3748.

Grade Requirements

A grade of C- or better is required for a student’s major or minor courses, and supporting courses for majors and minors.


Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Foundations (32 credits)

MATH 112 or suitable math placement score is necessary for some foundations courses, but higher-level math courses are recommended. Students are strongly encouraged to take chemistry, biology, and MATH 114 as part of their GUR courses to access upper division Environmental Science courses.

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Major Core Courses (52-54 credits)

Urban Planning and Sustainable Development Depth and Specialization (minimum 20 credits)

❑ Students are required, during their junior year, to select from one of the defined planning specializations, with advisor approval. See program website or program brochure for list of specializations and course requirements: faculty.wwu.edu/zaferan/UPSD_website/UPSD_Specializations.pdf.

Culminating Courses - Capstone and Experiential (minimum 13-15 credits)

Huxley Capstone

Students are required to take one ENVS approved course with a capstone “CPST” attribute during their senior year. A capstone class is a field or project based class that can be taken by students from both departments (ENVS/ESCI). This class is meant to be a culminating experience for the students bringing all the varied disciplines together as applied work on a real world issue. Several capstone options are open to all Huxley College students; others have prerequisites.

  • Urban Planning and Sustainable Development majors are encouraged to select from ENVS 410, 474, or ENVS/ESCI 493 as their capstone.
  • Environmental Policy majors are encouraged to select ENVS/ESCI 493 as their capstone.