Green Chip Review

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

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

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.

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