Intentional Sustainability Community

Leader: Greg Hitzhusen



Recognizing the need for ongoing innovation in addressing student well-being and providing support and engagement programs that complement academic programming, this group will investigate the opportunity to create an experiential Intentional Sustainability Community for OSU students interested in sustainable living and environmental citizenship. In distinction from a Learning Community (such as SUSTAINS at OSU) which houses students on a floor of a residence hall, the “experiential intentional community” envisioned in this project proposes to combine a hands-on and outdoor-oriented living space. It would feature a student-led community design processes whereby students design and construct their own living space, and establish their own community living and governance standards. The community would also produce some amount of its own food from a communally-managed farm or garden. 

The motivation for this experiential intentional community is to explore real-world applications for students of the many benefits of greater contact with nature (including enhanced mental health, reduction of anxiety, physical fitness, and self-efficacy) through hands-on and engaged processes of community (and living space) development, which also provide social engagement and relational capital. The goals of this community are also envisioned to complement the academic interests of students in environmental and sustainability fields, and provide a living laboratory for exploring different approaches to sustainable living.

Some important dimensions of community life this group plans to explore include:

  • Environmental considerations include practical considerations of green building and design, development of sustainable transportation practices, and energy and resource-use lifestyle choices. Hands-on application of land management and sustainable agriculture best practices also provide environmental lessons. 

  • Social considerations include developing lifestyles and community practices that take environmental justice and social equity into consideration.  

  • Governance considerations include designing and implementing (and then testing by living) community standards and plans for communal living, transportation, energy efficiency, and conflict management. 


The group will meet monthly to collaboratively develop a project vision that draws on the expertise and research interests of group members. This might include consideration of sustainable construction and landscape design, community planning and governance, program evaluation, cultural norms and narratives, ecological footprint, educational attainment, biophilic design, and personal health and well-being.

We will further revise the project vision through a benchmarking study of similar programs around the world, and construct and carry out a plan to assess the feasibility of implementing the project at OSU (including considerations of location, finances, accessibility, and program structure and logistics). Capstone students in the Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS) major may be invited to contribute analysis to some of these steps (benchmarking in Autumn 2021 and feasibility analysis in Spring 2022).

For more information or to get involved, contact Greg Hitzhusen:

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