Urban Sustainability


Why Urban Sustainability?

The Urban Sustainability concentration provides the basis for a holistic understanding of cities through the lens of environmental and social sustainability. By combining coursework in urban studies, history, sociology, and design with the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), students in the Urban Sustainability concentration are exposed to both the environmental and infrastructural aspects of cities, as well as issues of human development, urban societies, public policy, and social equity.

Students in the concentration acquire a foundation in sustainability concepts and skills for research and professional practices. The Urban Sustainability concentration helps prepare students to serve as social change agents in future roles as scholars, urban planners, designers, entrepreneurs, public servants, and advocates to address the most pressing issues of urban development and its human impacts in cities around the world.


Students in this concentration may select as their advisor:

Zephyr Frank (email) (read more)
Deland Chan (email) (read more)

Special Programs and Opportunities

Students in the Urban Sustainability concentration may be interested in the Goldman Undergraduate Honors Program in Environmental Science, Technology and Policy, which aims to provide a select group of Stanford undergraduate students with a unique honors capstone experience in the area of environmental solutions, as well as the MAP Sustainability Energy Fellowship, which places students in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to support sustainable energy development. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies may consider the Coterminal M.S. degree program in Earth Systems.

Required Course

The following course is required for the urban sustainability concentration:

  • EARTHSYS 112, Human Society and Environmental Change, 4 units

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Additional Courses

Courses (20-25 units in total):
25 units for students declaring before Fall 2014
20 units for students declaring after Fall 2014

Students must select at least one course from each of the following categories: 1) environmental sustainability, 2) social sustainability, and 3) project-based courses.

Autumn 14/15 Courses--Enviromental Sustainability
( Environmental sustainability refers to the biosphere, environmental planning and policy, natural resource planning and development, sustainable building design, and urban infrastructure systems.)

CEE 100 Managing Sustainable Building Projects
CEE 129 Climate Change Adaptation for Coastal Cities: Engineering and Policy for a Sustainable Future (CEE 229)
CEE 173A Energy Resources (CEE 207A, EARTHSYS 103)
CHEMENG 60Q Environmental Regulation and Policy
EARTHSYS 10 Introduction to Earth Systems
EARTHSYS 41N The Global Warming Paradox
ENGR 90 Environmental Science and Technology (CEE 70)


Winter 14/15 Courses--Enviromental Sustainability


CEE 64 Air Pollution and Global Warming: History, Science, and Solutions (CEE 263D)
CEE 171 Environmental Planning Methods
CEE 176A Energy Efficient Buildings
EARTHSYS 101 Energy and the Environment (ENERGY 101)
ECON 17N Energy, the Environment, and the Economy
ECON 155 Environmental Economics and Policy


Spring 14/15 Courses--Enviromental Sustainability


CEE 172S Green House Gas Mitigation (CEE 272S)
EARTHSYS 175 California Coast: Science, Policy, and Law (CEE 175A, CEE 275A, EARTHSYS 275)
EARTHSYS 188 Social and Environmental Tradeoffs in Climate Decision-Making (EARTHSYS 288)






Autumn 14/15 Courses--Social Sustainability
(Social sustainability refers to land use planning and its human impacts, distribution of public goods, human-centered design, human and community development, citizen participation, and social equity.)

URBANST 168 Housing & Community Development--Policy and Practice


Winter 14/15 Courses--Social Sustainability

SOC 135 Poverty, Inequality, and Social Policy in the United States (SOC 235)
URBANST 107 Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning



Spring 14/15 Courses--Social Sustainability

ANTHRO 183B Human Mobility and Adaptability (ANTHRO 283B)
EARTHSYS 105 Food and Community: New Visions for a Sustainable Future (EESS 105)
URBANST 163 Land Use Control


Autumn 14/15 Courses--Project-Based Courses

(Project-based classes enable students to work on a real-life urban sustainability issue in collaboration with local and international community partners. Students will grapple with sustainability concepts while practicing community engagement and capacity building, fluency in cross-cultural collaboration, human-centered design thinking, and developing a sense of one’s place in relation to global society and the praxis of urban sustainability.)



CEE 124 Sustainable Development Studio
URBANST 145 International Urbanization Seminar: Cross-Cultural Collaboration for Sustainable Urban Development (EARTHSYS 138, IPS 274)


Winter 14/15 Courses--Project-Based Courses


CEE 124 Sustainable Development Studio
CEE 177X Current Topics in Sustainable Engineering (CEE 277X)
URBANST 164 Sustainable Cities


Spring 14/15 Courses--Project-Based Courses

CEE 124 Sustainable Development Studio
URBANST 171 Urban Design Studio


Sample Course Plans

The inclusion of a range of sustainability-relevant skills and focus courses – e.g. policy, engineering, environmental science, urban history – offers the opportunity for each student to tailor the cumulative learning process to their own interests. A couple of few sample course plans are listed below. Please consult with an advisor to discuss potential course plans.




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