Environment and Society in a Changing World

Written Assignment 4: Sustainable Cities


This Written Assignment requires you to  write  a clear, well-organized paper which answers the questions in Part 1 of this assignment and demonstrates that you have read the material in the modules.

First and foremost, I am grading your comprehension of the course material. If you do not demonstrate that you have read and understood the content from the modules, you will not receive a good grade. To get a good grade, you must show me that you have read and understood the content in the modules we have looked at so far.

Second, I am grading for critical thinking and analysis. How well do you form and support your arguments with evidence from the course material or external sources?

Third, I am grading for the mechanics - proper grammar, well-written paragraphs, answering all the questions, correct formatting of sources (if you use external sources, please use APA or Chicago Style to cite).

Written Assignment Instructions

Part I: Do Some Research

You will select an urban neighborhood with which you are extremely familiar, preferably one you have visited a few times. In addition to your own experience with this urban neighborhood, you may also use Google Earth or Google Street View to analyze the location. Using course content and three outside sources, you will analyze this neighborhood from a social and environmental perspective. Please do not select State College for your analysis.

You will need to cite at least 3 reputable outside sources that do not include the course modules for your essay. For more information on what constitutes a reputable resource, please consult the following information on how to evaluate sources from the Penn State libraries.

Part II: Write a paper

After you have selected your urban neighborhood, write a 500-750 word paper which answers the following questions.

Your paper will consist of two parts:

  1. Analysis of the urban environment
    1. What are the main attributes of the built environment of this neighborhood (e.g., size/existence of sidewalks; width of streets; height/size of buildings or homes)?
    2. What are the main environmental attributes (i.e., proximity to greenspace or water; habitat)? Is there a lot of vegetation in this neighborhood?
    3. How do people use this neighborhood? Is the neighborhood full of pedestrians, or are most people inside cars or buildings? What groups might feel welcome, and which not, in this neighborhood? How easy is it to access this neighborhood by different modes of transportation?
    4. Does this neighborhood have historical or cultural significance? Was it part of a redlined (or green) neighborhood? (See:
  2. Provide at least two strategies that you have learned about in the course module or from your independent research that might make this a more socially and environmentally sustainable neighborhood.
    1. How do these two strategies support social equity or environmental sustainability?
    2. How feasible are these strategies for this place?
    3. What challenges would this neighborhood face in enacting these changes?

You must engage at least three course concepts in your paper. Remember engaging a course concept means defining that concept and explaining how it helps you think about the theme of your paper. Please bold the concepts you engage in your paper.

Review the grading rubric before completing your assignment.