Sustainable Communities Course Explores 21st Century Planning

About this Training

As communities struggle with increasingly complex social, economic and environmental issues related to sustainability they need the expertise of community development professionals now more than ever. Whether your expertise is in agriculture, natural resources, youth, family or economic development you will be asked to help guide a stakeholder group through a difficult decision making process.  The Foundations of Practice course, Sustainable Communities, offers you the tools, skills and knowledge to be the trusted resource community groups need in the emerging dialogs around local foods, energy and natural resources.

Successful community sustainability initiatives rely on understanding systems thinking, sustainability models and the needs and conditions in your town, county, state or region. Tapping into a long legacy of one of the country’s most respected organizations, this training, brought to you by the Cooperative Extension System and the Regional Rural Development Centers, provides the background, resources and strategies to support your work in communities.

This program comes directly to you! Each week via Zoom and Moodle, an Extension Specialist will deliver world-class training to you in your office, conference room or even home.  Discussions and supplemental resources will be supported using a course website.

The eight-week series begins February 2, 2017. Each week features a 90-minute webinar focusing on timely topics including Energy, Local Foods, Built Environments, Mobility and Natural Resources. Supplemental resources and online discussion opportunities will be available on the course website. Participants can log in at their convenience to explore these topics further, pose questions, investigate additional resources and visit with colleagues in similar situations. Can’t make the live presentation? No problem, the recordings will be available.

Sustainable Communities is an offering of the Foundations of Practice Program. It is appropriate for individuals who regularly work with community groups in any subject area and have a basic understanding of community development principles.  If you find yourself called upon to facilitate community-based initiatives, or you just want to better understand how communities function, this course is for you!

If you have any questions about this course or would like to discuss connection options, contact the course facilitator below:

How to Sign Up

Go to the registration page now!  

The cost is only $125. Register before January 27 and save $25



All sessions will be held at 3pm Eastern (2 pm Central, 1 pm Mountain, 12 pm Pacific) for 1.5 hours (90 minutes).

Introduction to the Series and Basic Introduction to Community Sustainability (February 2)

Want to know more about the principles of sustainability and systems thinking? Here’s the starting line. Covering how we got here and what sustainability means to community, this introduction helps you understand some of the models of sustainable communities and why so many communities are wrestling with sustainability issues like energy and local food.

Local Food (February 9)

Consumer demand for food that is locally (regionally) grown has increased sharply. This session will introduce you to the many benefits and help you understand the holistic approach needed to provide community leadership for sustainable community food systems.

Energy (February 16)

This session will provide you with information about non-renewable and renewable energy from three angles: production, consumption and distribution, in addition to discussions about the important energy issues and debates of the day.


New Economy (February 23)

The New Economy module explores the implications of sustainability with respect to understanding and promoting community economic development.


Built Environment (March 2)

This session will discuss the scope and complexity of the built environment as a system of interrelated parts. The session will help extension educators think through the issues affecting the built environment, strategies that can be used at different scales, and how to help communities make decisions leading to a more sustainable built environment.


Mobility (March 9)

This session will provide a broad understanding of different aspects of moving people and goods. You will learn about mobility, accessibility, and connectivity; modes of transportation; linkages to energy and climate change; ongoing trends; administrative framework of transportation planning and implementation; and how can you participate in and contribute to your community transportation solutions.


Natural Resources (March 16)

This session will explore how communities are moving toward sustainability by producing food, housing and energy in ways that respect and restore their natural resources including soils, water, air, forests and biodiversity.


Community Capacity (March 23)

This session will provide you with information to help mobilize community groups or committee’s to take action on issues of sustainability. Useful tools and process skills will be shared to help groups determine community readiness, build high functioning committees, create momentum to take action, implement solid community decision making structures and determine how best to evaluate the work of communities as they address sustainability initiatives.