Capital Sustainability

Washington, DC is in a unique position to be a role model as a modern sustainable national capital. In this course, we will ask what a sustainable DC could look like and how to pursue those visions. Our topics will include human development, equitability, and environmental sustainability including both conservation and climate change. Recent city policies and work by anchor institutions, like American University’s carbon neutrality achievement, have helped DC to lead in environmental sustainability efforts. However, DC faces many challenges including its relationship with the federal government, rapid gentrification, economic inequality, persistent crime, aging infrastructure, and issues of tourism and daily commuters. This course will consider how DC’s history and culture shape its current choices. We will learn about key actors and their approaches to addressing intersectional challenges and to creating economic, political, and social opportunities. Students will investigate urban sustainability issues of interest to them through exploration of the city, personal interviews, and current event research. Together, we will propose strategies for creating an inclusive, environmentally sustainable, and economically innovative DC. Students will conclude with consideration of how they can civically engage with and learn from DC resources during their time at American University.

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