Urban and Regional Sustainability and Resilience (MA)


Program Details

Effective May, 2020, we are no longer enrolling new students in this program.

Xavier's MA in Urban and Regional Sustainability challenges students to develop a deeper understanding of urban and regional systems and sustainable best practices. Our graduates pursue careers as leaders and advocates committed to making changes to public and private organizations that contribute to a more sustainable future.

Program coursework incorporates research from multiple disciplines, including economics, communications, philosophy, political science, geographic information systems and statistics so that students have the theoretical frameworks and skills needed to become effective sustainability leaders and advocates for positive change.


The program has a trans-disciplinary curriculum that provides a rigorous theoretical framework in sustainability from a business, environmental science and planning/public policy perspective along with the technical skills in using quantitative methods, GIS, economic modeling, cost-benefit analysis and in promoting community engagement. The program is designed to be completed as a full-time program with a cohort of students from different disciplines involved in joint team research, seminars and projects.


Each student is expected to complete a summer internship between the two academic years. The internship is planned as a full-time position in a related placement for pay. The program coordinator assists students with placements. Through our network of corporate, government and community partners, students have access to several opportunities that can be tailored to complement each student's career path.


  • HIST 536: Urban Ecologies and Economies
  • SOCI 554: Intro to Urban Systems
  • POLI 554: The Politics of Urban Sustainability


  • SOCI 555: Urban Development and Space
  • UNST 554: Urban Geography and GIS
  • SOCI 552: Quantitative Analysis
  • Field Placement


  • MGMT 621: Corporate Sustainability
  • ECON 520: Urban and Regional Economies
  • COMM 560: Strategic Organizational Communication


  • PHIL 554: Eco-systems Thinking
  • PHIL 506: Social Justice in the City
  • HIST 556: City as Vocation (four tracks)
  • SOCI 556: Urban Planning and Community Organizing
  • POLI 555: Politics and Urban Administration
  • WCB 555: Sustainability Initiatives in the Corporate and Non-Profit Sectors
  • UNST 555: Scientific Research in Sustainability

Sample Courses

Urban Ecologies and Economies (HIST 536): - This course taught by Dr John Fairfield explores the deep history of cities and the relationship of the movement towards environmental protection and naturalism and increased urbanization. This framework provides much of the structure for the rest of the program. See Dr Fairfield's web site theecologicalcity.com for more background.

Urban Development and Space (SOCI 555): - This course, taught by program director Liz Blume is designed to give students an understanding of the dynamics of land use, transportation and infrastructure planning and design issues and to talk about how aspects of design, architecture and density impact upon the sustainable outcomes of a place. Ms Blume is also the Director of the Community Building Institute at Xavier; see the CBI website for more background Xavier.edu/community building.

Quantitative Methods (SOCI 552): - This course, team taught by Liz Blume and Jim Snodgrass (Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences) is designed to give students a solid grounding in the social, economic and environmental data sets that are available and an understanding of quantitative data so that they can be critical consumers of the volumes of data available in the field of sustainability and resilience.

Corporate Sustainability (MGMT 621): - This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of the processes that drive corporate decision-making around sustainability topics and how to successfully propose and manage positive changes a business environment.

Social Justice in the City (PHIL 506): - This course, taught by Dr Gabe Gottlieb provides a comprehensive review of issues of race, class and equity as they play out in urban environments. It uses local community engaged examples of both positive and negative outcomes and explores the ethical underpinnings of connecting sustainability and social justice.


Students graduate from the program ready to make a difference. They become:

  • proficient writers and speakers, tailoring specialized information to diverse audiences, in order to advocate for positive change in policy, organizational, and public context
  • skilled interpreters of data, capable of building and analyzing data sets to study complex problems and recommend solutions;
  • able to articulate a philosophical and historical understanding of liberalism, criticisms of liberalism, and the relationship between policies and liberal ideals
  • trained to cultivate habits of mind that draw on the insights of humanistic inquiry to frame problems, and to recommend humane solutions, working both within and outside organizations to address complex social and environmental problems
  • effective at navigating formal and informal structures and systems in business, government, the nonprofit sector, and other relevant domains
  • advocates for positive change at the intersection of private interests and the public good.

Possible career fields include:

  • Political consulting and lobbying firms
  • Congressional offices
  • Nonprofits like Teach for America and the Peach Corps
  • U.S. Government
  • Foundations and think tanks
  • Journalism
  • Private business and industry

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