CPS adds sustainability degree

Students interested in pursuing an eco-friendly career can enroll this fall in the College of Professional Studies’ new master’s program in sustainable urban planning.

The program – which will focus on promoting sustainable development within cities – will offer four types of certificates: urban sustainability, climate change, sustainable management and policy, and sustainable landscapes.

“The goal of the program is to train urban and regional planners for careers in the public, private and non-governmental sectors to become leaders in the practice of sustainable development,” said John Carruthers, a former economist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and director of the program.

Carruthers, who has completed research in land use and environmental issues, said he was excited to work with students in the program.

“I am passionate about the field of urban planning and have been engaged in it for nearly 20 years, since I was an undergraduate student at Hunter College in New York City,” Carruthers said. “I am also passionate about teaching and mentoring.”

Carruthers, several adjunct faculty and possibly faculty from other universities around the country and around the world will teach the courses in the program, which expects to admit 20 to 25 students each year.

The program is designed for working professionals, and will accommodate their schedules by holding evening classes during all three semesters – spring, summer and fall – at GW’s Graduate Education Center in Arlington, Va. The program will take 2 years to complete and will consist of 48 credit hours.

“The Program is rigorous, requiring commitment of students for more credit hours than you might usually encounter in master’s programs,” College of Professional Studies Dean Kathleen Burke said. “Some students may find this challenging, but we tell students that the rigor ensures excellent preparation for working in sustainable planning areas.”

The program is expected to attract professionals from urban planning and policy at the city, county and state levels; environmental policy and advocacy; parks and planning; land use and public and private partnerships; commercial development and contracting and green industries.

“This program provides a great opportunity for those who want to make a difference in our world and who are not afraid to tackle complex issues,” Burke said.

Carruthers and Burke said they expected to face some challenges with launching the program, especially in building a student body.

“The challenge for us will be in marketing this new program and recruiting students who are truly committed to making a difference in sustainable planning by enhancing their own skills,” Burke said.

Carruthers added the program still needs to receive accreditation by the Planning Accreditation Board, an independent entity that evaluates programs for urban planning. GW’s program will be eligible for accreditation after it graduates 25 students.

“We know that GW students are among the most committed nationally, in terms of public service and choosing careers that ‘give back,’ ” Burke said. “So we thought the program would be an excellent addition to what GW already offers.”

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