Environmental Studies (ENVS) 435

Transformative Change in Building Sustainable Communities (Revision 4)

ENVS 435 course cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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Environmental Studies 435: Transformative Change in Building Sustainable Communities explores community-based approaches to environmental change. ENVS 435 is structured to facilitate student learning through participatory methods. This means that students learn about community-based environmental issues through readings, videos, and case studies, while simultaneously using tools from community development to engage with others on environmental issues at a community level. The assignments are designed to help put community development theory into practice and make connections between the course materials and the “real life” experience of working with community members and learning together. There is no expectation that every student will have background in participating in or leading community workshops, and so materials have been developed and supplementary materials provided to help students in undertaking these activities.


When students have completed Environmental Studies 435: Transformative Change in Building Sustainable Communities, they should be able to

  • use analytic tools for understanding environmental issues at the community, local, and global levels.
  • discuss critiques and various explanations of development, community development, and globalization.
  • discuss community-based adult education and critical community development, and their connection to environmental issues.
  • recognize how different ways of knowing, different values, and different worldviews influence your and other people’s perceptions of their relationship to the natural environment and their geographic community.
  • describe the roles of community-based knowledges, social institutions, and social movements in solving environmental problems.
  • demonstrate workshop facilitation skills and facilitate community-based learning by collaborating with people in a community to identify environmental and community issues, and what can be done to address them.
  • outline alternative strategies for the creation of sustainable communities.


  • Unit 1: Establishing the Conceptual Framework
    Unit 2: Adult Education and Community Development
    Unit 3: Community Development in Action—A Tool Kit
    Unit 4: Ecological Knowledge and Traditional Ways of Knowing
    Unit 5: Power and Popular Education
    Unit 6: Globalization, North-South Relations, and Cross-Cultural Sharing
    Unit 7: Food Systems and Gender Relations
    Unit 8: Consumerism and the Ecological Footprint
    Unit 9: Environmental Justice and Transformative Change


To receive credit for this course, you must complete seven assignments and achieve a minimum of 60% on Assignment 7, a final project. In addition, students must receive a composite course grade of D (50 percent) for Assignments 1 through 6. There is no final exam for the course. The following chart summarizes the evaluation activities for Environmental Studies 435 and the credit weight associated with each.

Assignment Type of Activity Weight
Assignment 1 Tree of Life (drawing and letter to your tutor) pass/fail
Assignment 2 Reflection Journal (2 entries) 10% (5% each)
Assignment 3 Workshop—Community Asset Mapping or Community Visioning 15%
Assignment 4 Workshop—Competing Perspectives on Development 15%
Assignment 5 Workshop—Exploring Food and Justice 15%
Assignment 6 Workshop—Ecological Footprint or 100-Mile Diet Dinner 15%
Assignment 7 Final Project 30%
Total   100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Ledwith, M. (2011). Community development: A critical approach (2nd ed.). Bristol, UK: The Policy Press.

Other Materials

All other materials are online, including study guides, and electronic readings and videos.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, September 21, 2016.

View previous syllabus