“I wouldn’t trade having gone to Sewanee for the world.”

Blueprints, Community, & Service-Driven Design

Daniel Church, C’11
Senior Urban Planner
City of Dallas
Major: Environmental Studies

Daniel Church, C’11, came to Sewanee to study environmental policy, hoping it would position him to pursue a career in architecture. What he found in addition was a passion for outreach.

“To me, Sewanee is built on three pillars: spiritual formation, unparalleled academics, and outreach,” he says.

His service trips to Haiti and New Orleans radically shaped his career path and reinforced his desire to give back to a community by means of his vocation. After graduation, Daniel worked at Sewanee as a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow in the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability. There, he did energy retrofitting for some low-income homes on the plateau. Something as simple as increasing energy efficiency in the home of a community member sparked in Daniel the desire to pursue a service-driven career and view it through a lens of sustainability.

“Working with the community around campus helped shape how I understand the world as a whole—and also how I do my job,” he says.

Daniel now works as a senior urban planner for the city of Dallas, Texas. He designs neighborhoods, addresses transit problems, maps new urban plans, and attempts to address the effects of gentrification. With social equity at the forefront, Daniel goes out into local neighborhoods. He asks questions and lets residents draw on maps and talk about their dreams for Dallas.

“The urban system is such a complex web—it’s ecology, it’s economics, politics, and even climate,” Daniel says. “And because of my educational background, I can look at urban planning more holistically.”

During his time at Sewanee, Daniel took classes in a broad range of disciplines. He studied religion, music, economics, and English—classes that he says greatly enhanced his required major classes.

“I stumbled into urban planning initially because I was drawn to its interdisciplinary nature,” he says. “It was nice to leave the Mountain and know that I could apply these things to life—not just what I learned, but what I learned about myself.”