Sustainability Pathways

WWU in the Methow Valley

Aligned with Western Washington University’s strategic goals around supporting student success with state-wide impact, we are building inclusive access to WWU programs and degree paths for people living in the rural mountain towns of the Methow and Okanogan Valleys.

Student Katie Boon holds up mud-caked hands in front of a river
A group of students hang out in a green space outside TwispWorks in the Methow Valley
3 students work together on a group project

We are creating these pathways for both enrolled WWU students and other locals interested in pursuing a range of sustainability related certificates, undergraduate courses, and eventually, pursuing flexible graduate studies. 

Current pathways being developed include ecological restoration, energy studies, urban planning, wildlife biology, food systems, and community health.

We are engaging young people in the shared work of building sustainability pathways towards the innovative green-economy futures possible in our Okanogan communities.

We offer interdisciplinary approaches to sustainability studies as a vehicle for providing access to higher education in a rural area not otherwise served by a 4-year university. 

Our structure is a combination of in-person courses, online degree tracks, and some hybrid options. Using a community-campus approach, we utilize public spaces for classes and operate out of the WWU Sustainability Pathways office located in Twisp, WA on the Twispworks campus. 

Students sit in a circle in a wood-floored classroom full of natural light

We also offer a residential “community learning lab” for 11 weeks in the summer that is open to students from both WWU and other colleges, and are building capacity for offering an 8-month residential option.

Our approach is place-based, community-engaged,  and a practice of reciprocity between student learning and helping advance sustainability initiatives with organizational partners in the community. 

We facilitate a supportive cohort learning environment and our organizational partners provide mentorship and professional skill building opportunities for youth interested in entering sustainability fields related to public health, social justice, economic vitality, and ecological quality. 

Part of the 2021 Sustainability Pathways cohort poses for a group photo at the top of a Methow Valley hike
A group of students gathers around an instructor at a Methow Valley park