Special Report: Green Academic Programs

Greening Education: The Impact of Sustainability on Academic Programs

The defining characteristic of a modernized and prosperous economy is the quality of its labor force.

A nation’s workforce ultimately determines the rate of technological progress, economic growth, innovation, and aggregate standard of living. It is why advanced economies value the productive use of human capital.

And at the source of a nation’s labor supply is its educational foundation — the universities and trade schools that prepare participants to enter into the workforce.

Despite the continued economic contraction and net reduction in investments, the clean energy sector has fared better than most. Although investment in clean energy remains modest compared to its expected potential in the coming years, debt and equity markets are still willing and able to finance the needed capital investments for commercially proven clean energy technologies.

This reality, among others, indicates the market’s willingness to invest in long-term sustainability business ventures as a means to enhance profitability and technological advancement.

With the increased dominance of clean energy in today’s international economy, a focus on sustainability and economics is pivotal.

To succeed, modernized economies will need to instill within graduates an understanding of the importance of sustainability for the coming decades — namely that economic growth and the emergence of clean energy is intrinsically linked. A failure to acknowledge this inherent reality will result in a loss of competitiveness in the international marketplace.

So, where’s the action then?

With the harsh reality of high unemployment, we must focus our efforts on where the quality jobs will be tomorrow — and not lament over the jobs we've lost, and are unlikely to return.

Moreover, we must also consider that how we've conducted business in the past — with little or no regard for sustainability — will no longer be acceptable.

The triple bottom line (the financial, social and environmental effects of a company's policies and actions that determine its viability as an environmentally and economically sustainable organization) is quickly becoming the standard, and those who ignore this reality will do so at their own peril.

For this reason, it is of great importance that we examine sustainability as the new frontier for wealth and value creation. Because at the end of the day, if you're not properly prepared for the future, you will fall victim to it...

So to give you a better understanding of the vast array of sustainability programs that exist, consider the following 86 academic institutions — ranging from associate degrees to doctorate programs.

Associate Degree Programs in Sustainability


Amarillo College (Amarillo, Texas): Associate in Applied Science, Renewable Energy http://www.actx.edu/wind/index.php

Bronx Community College (Bronx, New York): Center for Sustainable Energy


Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, North Carolina): AAS in Sustainability Technologies


Coconino Community College (Flagstaff, Arizona): Associate of Applied Science in Alternative Energy Technology


Columbia Gorge Community College (The Dalles, Oregon): Associate of Applied Science Degree in Renewable Energy Technology


Cosumnes River College (Sacramento, California): AS in Environmental Studies and Sustainability


Eastern New Mexico University Roswell (Portales, New Mexico): AAS in Renewable Energy



Indian Hills Community College (Ottumwa, Iowa): Associate in Advanced Technologies – Renewable Energy Technology


Lane Community College (Eugene, Oregon): AAS in Sustainability Coordinator


Portland Community College (Portland, Oregon): AAS in Green Technology and Sustainability http://www.pcc.edu/programs/mechanical-engineering/

Bachelor Degree Programs (Bachelor of Arts)


Acadia University (Nova Scotia, Canada): BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies


Appalachian State University (Boone, North Carolina): BA in Sustainable Development


Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona): BA in Sustainability


Baldwin Wallace College (Berea, Ohio): BA in Sustainability


Columbia University (Manhattan, New York): BA Major and Concentration in Sustainable Development


Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia, Canada): BA in Environment, Sustainability, and Society


Dominican University of California (San Rafael, California): BA in Sustainable Communities


Drew University (Madison, New Jersey): BA in Environmental Studies and Sustainability


George Mason University (Fairfax, Virginia): BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies


Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland): BA in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability


Lipscomb University (Nashville, Tennessee): BA in Sustainability Practice


Meredith College (Raleigh, North Carolina): BA in Environmental Sustainability


Messiah College (Grantham, Pennsylvania): BA in Sustainability Studies


Pennsylvania State University (State College, Pennsylvania): BA in Energy and Sustainability Policy


San Francisco State University (San Francisco, California): BA in Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice


Stony Brook University (New York City, New York): BA in Sustainability Studies


Wilson College (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania): BA in Environmental Sustainability


Bachelor Degree Programs (Bachelor of Science)


Appalachian State University (Boone, North Carolina): BS in Sustainable Development


Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona): BS in Sustainability


Dalhousie University (Nova Scotia, Canada): BS in Environment, Sustainability, and Society


Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Virginia): BS in Environmental Sustainability


Kean University (Union, New Jersey): BS in Sustainability Science


Lipscomb University (Nashville, Tennessee): BS in Sustainable Practice


Maharishi University of Management (Fairfield, Iowa): BS in Sustainable Living


Mountain State University (Beckley, West Virginia): BS in Environmental Sustainability


Murdoch University (Perth, Australia): BS in Sustainable Energy Management


Philadelphia University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): BS in Environmental Sustainability


Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York): BS in Environmental Sustainability


St. Petersburg College (St. Petersburg, Florida): BS in Sustainability Management


University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida): BS in Sustainability and the Built Environment


University of New Haven (New Haven, Connecticut): BS in Sustainability


Western New England College (Springfield, Massachusetts): BS in Sustainability


Masters Programs (Masters in Arts)


Antioch University (Los Angeles, California): MA in Urban Sustainability


Antioch University (Keene, New Hampshire): MA in Advocacy for Social Justice and Sustainability


Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona): MA in Sustainability


Goucher College (Baltimore, Maryland): MA in Cultural Sustainability


Harvard University Extension School (Cambridge, Massachusetts): MA in Sustainability and Environment Management


Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Arizona): MA in Sustainable Communities


Ramapo College (Mahwah, New Jersey): MA in Sustainability Studies


Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (Vigo County, Indiana): MA in Earth Literacy


Savannah College of Art and Design (Atlanta, Georgia): MA in Design for Sustainability


Saybrook University (San Francisco, California): MA in Organizational Systems, Leadership of Sustainable Systems Specialization


University of South Florida (Tampa, Florida): MA in Global Sustainability


Masters Programs (Masters in Science)


Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona): MS in Sustainability


California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (San Luis Obispo, California): MS in Regenerative Studies


The City College of New York (Manhattan, New York): MS in Sustainability


Columbia University (Manhattan, New York): MS in Sustainability Management; MS in Earth Resources Engineering



Denmark Technical University (Copenhagen, Denmark): MSc in Wind Power


Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, Illinois): MS in Environmental Management and Sustainability


Leiden University/Delft Technical University/Erasmus University (Netherlands): MS Industrial Ecology


Lipscomb University (Nashville, Tennessee): MS in Sustainability


Slippery Rock University (Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania): MS in Sustainable Systems


University of Texas, Arlington (Austin, Texas): MS in Sustainability


Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut): Center for Business and the Environment: MBA, MEM, MF, MFS, MeSc


Specialized Masters Programs


Blekinge Institute of Technology (Karlskrona, Sweden): Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability (MSLS) and Sustainable Product-Service System Innovation (MSPI)



Presidio Graduate School (San Francisco, California): MPA in Sustainable Management


University of Massachusetts (Boston, Massachusetts): Online Sustainable Development Program


University of Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan, Canada): Master of Environment and Sustainability (M.E.S.) and Master of Sustainable Environmental Management (M.SEM.)



Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, Virginia): Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR)


Core Masters Programs in Europe


Ecole des Mines de Paris, France


Loughborough University, UK




University of Zaragoza, Spain


Oldenburg University, UK


Hybrid Systems Specialization – Kassel University, Germany


Wind Specialization – National Technical University of Athens, Greece


Photovoltaics Specialization – University of Northumbria, UK


Bioenergy –Specialization – University of Zaragoza, Spain


Grid Integration Specialization – University of Zaragoza, Spain


Doctoral Degree Programs


Arizona State University (Tempe, Arizona): Ph.D. in Sustainability


Columbia University (Manhattan, New York): Ph.D. in Sustainable Development


Prescott College (Prescott, Arizona): Ph.D. in Sustainability Education


Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York): Ph.D. in Sustainability


University of Alaska, Fairbanks (Fairbanks, Alaska): Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Sustainability


University of Rochester (Rochester, New York): Ph.D. in Solar Energy


University of Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan, Canada): Ph.D. in Environment and Sustainability


Walden University (Minneapolis, Minnesota): Ph.D. in Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities


In addition to all of the aforementioned educational institutions, there are also disciplinary concentrations in…

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture

  • Biology

  • Business

  • Chemistry

  • Development Studies

  • Economics

  • Education

  • Engineering

  • Environmental Studies

  • Interior Design

  • Landscape Architecture

  • Law

  • Planning

  • Urban Studies

It is clear that sustainability will impact not only science and engineering, but also every facet of the international marketplace, ranging from law to architecture.

Impactful Education for an Instrumental Field of Study

“It’s important not to miss the forest for the trees,” Nicholas Parker, executive chairman of the Cleantech Group, said in January 2009.

“In 2008, there was a quantum leap in talent, resources and institutional appetite for clean technologies. Now, more than ever, clean technologies represent the biggest opportunities for job and wealth creation.”

Parker's words highlight the essence of what the new wave of sustainability is: The reality is that sustainability is becoming paramount in today’s globalized and high-tech economy.

In order to survive, graduates will need to have at least a basic understanding of sustainable systems management, applying their knowledge to their specialized field of study. Whether it's engineering or economics, sustainability graduates will take the lead role in building on existing achievements in the international economy.

Energy demand will increase 58% over the next 25 years.

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