UMass CESL promotes learning for life-long, engaged citizenship, partnering with communities on and off campus to work collectively for a more just society.

Sustainable Communities

“Sustainable communities are urban, suburban or rural communities that have more housing and transportation choices, are closer to jobs, shops or schools, are more energy independent and help protect clean air and water.”                       -New England’s Sustainable Knowledge Corridor

Sustainability involves a range of conditions, including, but not limited to the health of our natural environment.  Today, a number of academic departments at UMass Amherst, including Geosciences; Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences; the Department of Environmental Conservation and Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning are thriving. UMass offers a Certificate in Sustainable Food and Farming and a Master's degree in Sustainability Science.

The UMass permaculture program has won national accolades (links below). Faculty and students across campus are actively engaged in partnerships with community organizations to create lasting change and to enhance sustainability in local communities.

UMass Amherst Permaculture on Facebook

What we do at CESL

By building and maintaining long-term partnerships with community organizations, consulting with and training faculty and student leaders,  CESL supports sustainability education. These initiatives engage students in meaningful learning as they collaborate with a wide range of partners to create a more sustainable future.

Sample program:  UMass Permaculture

As one of the first permaculture gardens on a public university campus in the country, the Franklin Dining Common garden provides locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs to the UMass dining services. The 1/4 acre lot outside the DC is a low maintenance, high density site which is operated entirely without the use of fossil fuels, further reducing the University's ecological footprint.  Under the direction of Ryan Harb, a LEED-certified sustainability specialist, undergraduates and others passionate about permaculture give back to their local community through volunteer hours and dedication.  Youth from the Amherst Big Brothers Big Sisters program have particiapted in the UMass Permaculture garden and the UMass students also share their knowledge and skills with local schools and organizations.  Anyone is welcome to join and there is NO previous experience necessary. Learn more at their blog!

In the words of one community partner -

"Our collaboration with UMass CESL has supported our food systems and agricultural work through linking our organization with university resources.  We have received over $26,000 through in-kind labor with student projects, internships, volunteer work days and even a student led class being offered in the fall 2012 about our special organization.  Our staff has presented at several UMass classes and we recently hired our new Farm Site Manager, a UMass grad, who learned about our project through one of our presentations."
                                                           -Diego Angarita, Nuestras Raices, Assistant Director

Related SL Courses/Programs

COMM 494FI -  Food as Communication (Leda Cooks)
GEO-SCI 397WG - Water Geographies: Conflict & Sustainability (Eve Vogel)
HTMGT 150 -  Food Production Management (Linda Kinney)
PLSOILIN  265 - Sustainable Agriculture (Katie-Campbell Nelson)
PLSOILIN 397C - Community Food Systems (Catherine Sands)
REGIONPL 577 - Urban Policies (Ellen Pader)
SRVCLRNG 292F - Hunger and Community Food Security (Will Snyder)
STOCKSCH 290P - Permaculture in the Pioneer Valley  (Ryan Harb)
STOCKSCH 297NR -  Nuestras Raices: Community Farming and Food Security (John Gerber, Carol Soules)

For a list of our Sustainability Partner Organizations, please click here.