• northland college sustainable community development faculty and student

    Sustainable Community Development

Create effective change

Whether you aspire to be an activist, planner, or advocate, the sustainable community development (SCD) program presents you with the toolbox to create effective community change. Our SCD major is one of the first of its kind in the nation. Through an interdisciplinary approach we examine the three pillars of sustainability—environmental, social, and economic—in a comprehensive and holistic manner, melding the concepts of community organizing, urban/rural/regional planning, local and international economic development, and ecological restoration.

Innovative interdisciplinary courses introduce you to the theory and practice of sustainable community development. Outside of the classroom you’ll have the opportunity to apply theory, acquire additional skills, and gain work and research experience through volunteering, internships, study-abroad opportunities, and employment with the Center for Rural Communities.


“I majored in sustainable community development because I want to help communities thrive.” Madeline Jarvis ’13, Marion Public Librarian

Program Emphasis Options

  • Physical Planning and Development

    This emphasis will train you to think about sustainable community development as it relates to the physical environment, by exploring urban, rural and suburban contexts.

  • International Development

    This emphasis will train you to think in a variety of local, national, and international contexts, by exploring various political and economic systems.

  • Community Development

    This emphasis will solidify your knowledge of how individuals, groups, and organizations operate within communities, so you can effectively strategize and develop sustainable solutions.

Why Northland?

Experiential Learning

An education at Northland involves more than just sitting in lecture halls. We combine classroom learning with immersive field studies and opportunities within the community to create a one-of-a-kind learning experience. Our career-focused curriculum will provide you with the tools and confidence to succeed in anything you do.

Access to Financial Aid

Think all private colleges are expensive? Think again. With 99% of all Northland College students receiving some form of financial aid, you can receive a private school education at a public school price.

Proven Outcomes

A degree from Northland is your pathway to opportunity. Our 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio allows our professors to personally invest in your success, and the results of this approach speak for themselves. 93.5% of our recent graduates are employed or in graduate school.

Full-Spectrum Sustainability

At Northland, we live our sustainability mission every day. Going green is a part of everything we do as an institution and everything you’ll do as a student—from how you’ll live, to what you’ll learn, and ways you can contribute.

Live & Learn in a Natural World

Our location in Ashland, WI, a small, safe community of just over 8,000 tucked along the south shore of Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and over a million acres of national forest, creates truly unique educational and recreational experiences.

Work with the Best & Brightest

Our faculty are passionate about learning—and not just student learning. They are dedicated learners and scholars, and that shines through in the classroom and in the field. And they’re more than just teachers. They are mentors who often establish life-long relationships with students.

Ready to take the next step?

Get in touch to learn more and start planning your journey at Northland College.