Western Washington University


Western Washington University
Sustainable Communities Partnership
Case Type
Program Stories
School Size
0 - 20,000
Focus Areas
Climate Justice, Economic and Social Inclusion, Environment Sustainability
Anthropology, Computer Science, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Studies, Journalism, Management Studies, Recreational Administration, Urban and Environmental Planning and Policy

Sustainable Communities Partnership

Website | www.wwu.edu/scp

The Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) program focuses on the issues that communities face as our society transitions to a more sustainable future. SCP facilitates a program in which Western students carry out community-engaged learning projects to address challenges identified by the partner. 

Through SCP, students work with faculty experts to generate innovative solutions to community challenges.  Students learn best practices and translate their newfound knowledge into real-world practice. Completed projects have tackled issues in planning, economics, disaster preparedness, engineering, geography and GIS, business, journalism, outreach, statistics, climate change and more.

SCP partners with communities each academic year, facilitating a program in which WWU students complete community-based projects that address problems identified by the partner.  In a typical year, approximately 250 students from about a handful of classes undertake roughly a dozen projects. Previous SCP projects included classes from environmental studies, environmental science, GIS, anthropology, economics, computer science, recreation, public relations, sociology, and journalism.

Fun Facts about SCP

In 2020-2021, SCP remained active despite the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with the Columbia Valley Park and Recreation District to conduct a remote public engagement campaign and compile a Comprehensive Park Plan which would provide community access to diverse parks and recreational opportunities.  Students in a Community Development and Participatory Methods course facilitated the engagement process, remotely completing a community survey, holding focus groups and stakeholder interviews, developing a website, creating an outreach video, and writing a communication plan. The Comprehensive Park Plan can be found at: https://sustain.wwu.edu/files/2021-04/CVPRD%20Comp%20Plan_Final.pdf

Year Program Established | 2016
Country | US
Federal Region of Program | 10
Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 15,197

Highlight Articles/Videos

WWU students map flood risk in Stanwood by Mark Wright and Allison Sundell
Ferndale City Center Plan
Bainbridge Island: Shoreline Master Program Monitoring
Ferndale Downtown Design Manual
City of Arlington: Housing and Business Mix
City of Arlington: Centennial Trail Connections
Arlington: Downtown Master Plan
Arlington: Downtown Corridor Plan


Community Partners

2016 | Edmonds, WA • Population: 40,000
2017 | Stanwood, WA • Population: 6,500
2017 | Skagit County, WA • Population: 70,000
2018 |City of Monroe, WA • Population: 17,789
2018 |City of Bellingham, WA • Population: 89,045
2018 |City of Ferndale, WA • Population: 14,026
2019 | Arlington, WA • Population: 19,483
2019 | City of Bainbridge Island • Population: 24,486
2020 | Columbia Valley Park and Recreation District
2021 | Whatcom County • Population: 229,247


“These students have been able to accomplish things that are better than we are able to accomplish and probably better than any professional contractor could accomplish. Where else are you going to have 10 students working on a setback project?”

Ryan Waters
Skagit County

“This Sustainable Communities Partnership was incredibly valuable for the City of Edmonds. From mapping the cemetery, to completing an Environmental Assessment of a local marsh, to adding education and expertise to many areas of our city government, the influence of student learning has been immeasurable. Thank you for the opportunity to benefit from this inaugural program. It was well received from elected officials, city staff, and citizens!”

Carrie Hite
City of Edmonds

Contact Info

Lindsey MacDonald
Associate Director of Sustainability
(360) 650-3824

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