A growing body of evidence suggests that human populations world-wide are not living on the earth in ways that can be sustained indefinitely given current patterns of natural resource consumption, population growth, land development, and institutional arrangements. In response to this predicament, the concept of "sustainable development" has become prominent in popular and academic policy-making and planning debates over the past decade. Does the notion of sustainable development itself offer any useful guidance for making public policy and planning decisions, or is it merely an attractive oxymoron that different interests can agree on only at an abstract level? The goal of this class is to explore this question in depth. The course begins by considering the variety of ways in which our current lifestyles, locally and globally, are not sustainable, and then works through the concept of sustainable development from different vantage points: in terms of fundamental principles, scale (from global to local), and institutions, policies, and laws. Finally, the course addresses a variety of policy-making and planning prescriptions that have been offered and assesses whether and how those various prescriptions will likely work in practice. Working in groups, students test these theories of sustainability by applying them to selected client communities in Michigan.