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Hortus in Urbe: Building a Sustainable Development Curriculum in Chicago

Integrating Sustainable Development into the Curriculum

ISBN: 978-1-78769-942-7, eISBN: 978-1-78769-941-0

Publication date: 18 March 2020


In this chapter the authors describe the development of an interdisciplinary graduate program focusing on sustainable urban development at Chicago’s DePaul University. Locating the curriculum both in the administrative institutional context and the historical geography of a racially and economically segregated urban area, the authors discuss the process of program formation and adjustment over its first five years of operation, 2013–2018. The chapter highlights some of the challenges encountered by program faculty, from internal curricular competition to external classification of the program under federal educational designation, and notes some of the interdisciplinary innovations, such as requiring courses in Geographic Information Systems to aid spatial data analysis and visualizations. In the second part of the chapter, to assess the impact of the graduate program on students, the authors review and draw from reflection essays written by students who, while completing their studies, pursued internships with nonprofit organizations in Chicago. The chapter concludes by discussing the employment status of recent alumni to suggest how these former students are pursuing jobs that may come to impact sustainability policy and practice. The authors maintain it is necessary to push the understanding of “sustainability” beyond solely environmental concerns to incorporate understandings of how economic development and community engagement must be included to deliver a sustainable city. The interdisciplinary curriculum described challenges students to become leaders in local efforts to make urban areas not only more environmentally sustainable, but also more economically and socially sustainable for all residents.



Hague, E., Rosing, H. and Schwieterman, J.P. (2020), "Hortus in Urbe: Building a Sustainable Development Curriculum in Chicago", Sengupta, E., Blessinger, P. and Yamin, T.S. (Ed.) Integrating Sustainable Development into the Curriculum (Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 91-105.



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