Building Sustainable Communities - Detroit and Boston


Do you want to learn about the strategies that practitioners are using to build sustainable communities? Do you want to see first-hand how urban agriculture and community food systems are transforming cities?  Do you want to connect the theory and practice of sustainable development?  Do you want to understand the social, ecological, and economic aspects of sustainable communities and urban development?  Are you interested in sustainability issues but wondering how you might integrate this into your future?  Are you working or hoping to work in fields related to sustainability, entrepreneurship, urbanism and design, urban planning, social services, environmental education, food systems, or environmental policy?


This course will investigate contemporary urban environments through the eyes of urban farmers and community innovators who are building more equitable communities and sustainable relationships with the land. Fieldwork, class discussions, environmental media, and workshops with community partners will facilitate our engagement with sustainability narratives and practices. Course themes include the urban planning and racial politics, challenges and opportunities of deindustrialization, the environmental justice movement, youth education, organizational development, and community-based urban transformation.


In order to explore possibilities of sustainable communities in a variety of social and urban contexts, this hybrid course includes one week of fieldwork in Boston, one week of fieldwork in Detroit, and online components. Fieldwork experiences in Boston and Detroit will give students an on-the-ground perspective of urban agriculture, environmental justice, and sustainability practices that are shaping cities around the world. Guest lecturers, field placements, and site visits with organizations that are closest to urban sustainability problems and solutions will compliment classroom instruction. ​

Join us this summer!  Any level of prior coursework, experience, or interest in sustainability and cities is welcome.

For more information  on program content, please contact:  Matt DelSesto, or Mike Cermak,


Current Woods College students should register online through the Agora Portal. If you encounter difficulty trying to register online, you may also complete and submit your registration requests here.

Boston College Students (non-Woods College students) should register for summer courses at Student Services in Lyons Hall  anytime following their April advising/registration appointments.

Please register for course ENVS 332101

A program fee of $1100.00, which covers the cost of accommodation in Detroit at Wayne State University, onsite travel in Boston and Detroit and co-curricular activities will be added to your account. Accommodations in Boston on BC campus are available per request.

Program Costs:

Approximately $3600.00

Price Includes: Tuition, co-curricular activities, accommodations, and on-site travel during fieldwork component of the course.

Meals and travel between Boston and Detroit are not included. 

Program Highlights:

  • Earn three elective course credits in Sociology or Environmental Studies (cross listed course)
  • Urban agriculture biking tour with Wheel House Detroit / Keep Growing Detroit
  • End of session cookout/visit to Belle Isle



May 21 - May 28


May 29 - June 4

On-site in Boston

June 5 - June 12

​On-site in Detroit

June 13 - June 22