DC Urban Sustainability

Summer 2025

Washington, DC is a city of dramatic contrasts. Staggeringly powerful decision-makers work within sight of communities struggling with deep and entrenched poverty. It is a city to be discovered and enjoyed: rich in culture, entertainment and some of the most beautiful urban green spaces in the United States. It is a city that bears the markers of long histories of racial segregation and economic inequality. Like all urban areas, its high population density, complex transportation networks and commercial and industrial areas may compound existing environmental and health issues and exacerbate these social inequalities. At the same time, it is also possible for cities like Washington, DC to become centers of creativity and innovation and models of sustainability in transportation efficiency, land use, water conservation and wastewater management, urban farming and public access to green spaces and public resources.

For three weeks, students will explore and try to understand how these contrasts fit together within the concept of urban sustainability. To focus our efforts, we will concentrate on the Anacostia River and its surrounding neighborhoods. A microcosm of the complex history of social inequality and environmental neglect in DC, the river also provides numerous examples of successful efforts to address the environmental, social and economic pillars that comprise a sustainable approach to urban development. We will spend time on the river itself, visit environmental justice organizations working to improve conditions in marginalized neighborhoods, and talk to those involved in the 11th St. Bridge Park Project, a 10-year effort with the goal of infrastructure improvements, equitable green space development, and wastewater management, all while prioritizing engagement and feedback from the communities it will serve.

Seminar Leaders

Jim Yoder, Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science
Ann Butwell, WCSC


May 8-28

Estimated Cost

$3,000 includes Tuition, Room & Board

Course Titles

ICSSC 201 Intercultural Social Science: DC Urban Sustainability 3 SH


15 students


  • Routine – MMR, DPT series with last booster within 10 years, IPV or OPV, Hepatitis A, Hep B, Influenza and Covid-19 as required for EMU enrollment.
  • In an effort to maximize the safety of our hosts and our students, EMU Intercultural Programs requires all employees and students who plan to travel for intercultural immersion, both domestic and international, to have completed their vaccination regimen for COVID-19 more than 14 days before travel. This requirement is one of the standard immunizations required for enrollment, effective Mar. 1, 2021.

Immunizations and prescriptions may be obtained at EMU Health Services by appointment.
Immunizations may also be obtained from your local health department or primary care provider.

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