Sustainable Triangle Field Site (STFS)

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The Institute for the Environment at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) offers the Sustainable Triangle Field Site (STFS) as an urban field experience located on and near the UNC campus. With its proximity to both strong academic departments and pioneering private and nonprofit enterprises, the STFS offers students the opportunity to pair academic studies in the environment, urban planning, geography, health, and related fields with practical experience delivered through internships and Capstone research projects.

Headquartered in Whitehead Hall on the west side of the Carolina campus and an easy walk to downtown Chapel Hill, the STFS is a unique and flexible field program that serves students in residence at UNC-CH. Rather than living in a remote location with a small cohort for a semester, students participating in the STFS retain their established Chapel Hill residences, relationships and school base. They learn and grow as a group through common courses, Capstone team projects, field experiences, and seminars. Internships place students at nonprofits and private companies around Chapel Hill and in nearby communities. These range from applied activities (such as the small-scale, self-sustaining systems at the Pickard Mountain Eco-Institute), to institutional placements at government agencies or nonprofit organizations, to experience in sustainable business. By exploring how sustainability is practiced on and near their own campus, STFS students incorporate into their UNC experience an understanding of how communities, industries, and government and nonprofit organizations can work together toward a sustainable future.


The field site is designed to run spring semesters, with all components offered concurrently. However, students are not required to complete the field site requirements in one semester, if course sequencing or other factors prevent a student from doing so; some courses (e.g., capstones, internships) may be picked up in fall semester. Note that the rotation of STFS and other Sustainability Minor courses, along with students' own scheduling constraints, call for careful academic planning so that students can successfully incorporate the field site into their UNC undergraduate experience.


The Sustainable Triangle Field Site delivers much of the curriculum associated with the Sustainability Minor. Students will take the core course for the minor: Principles of Sustainability (ENEC 330), along with ENEC 208H (Reimagining the American Landscape) and ENEC 420 (Community Design and Green Architecture).  An internship with a local agency, non-governmental organization, or business and a capstone research project round out the requirements for the STFS.

Principles of Sustainability (ENEC 330) uses several key themes to frame the study of sustainable development, energy and resource consumption, and human systems. Themes include natural limits on material and energy growth, sustainability rubrics and frameworks, and technology as problem and solution. Weekly topics include resource management, architecture and urban design, water quality and quantity, energy, transportation, agriculture, commerce, and more.

Reimagining the American Landscape (ENEC 208H), taught by Dr. Greg Gangi of the Institute for the Environment,examines sustainable pathways for the US that incorporate the 3Es (economics, environment, and equity) by exploring relevant ideas from macro and micro economics, public policy, city and regional planning, environmental science, psychology and sociology.

Community Design and Green Architecture (ENEC 420), offered for the first time in spring 2011, is taught by Anthony Sease, an architect and civil engineer. This course examines the impact of building on the environment and health from the perspective of land use planning, water resource use, energy, materials, and indoor environment.

Sustainability internships (ENEC 207) are arranged through the Institute for the Environment, drawing on a growing suite of sponsors from the private and public sectors who have committed to mentoring an intern. Students who have an internship sponsor in mind may work with the internship coordinator to develop such placements.

Environmental capstones (ENEC 698) fulfill a requirement for all environment sciences and environmental studies majors, and for students doing the sustainability minor. The Institute generally has several capstone projects running concurrently each semester. The STFS enrollees will be clustered together in a single capstone project (or two related projects) with a clear sustainability framework that considers economic and social dimensions in addition to environmental.

Faculty and Staff

The site is directed by Dr. David Salvesen, whose areas of research and teaching are land use and urban planning. Core courses will be taught by Salvesen and other faculty members. Other courses with a sustainability orientation are currently taught across the campus by distinguished UNC-Chapel Hill faculty.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact David Salvesen at (919) 962-7045 or email

Sustainable Triangle Field Site (STFS)

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