Sustainability Programs on the Rise in Higher Education

Lisa Markowski, ERS, for Zondits

The popularity of sustainability programs within higher education continues to increase across the US in response to both heightened awareness and a growing number of jobs in the field. These multidisciplinary programs unite sciences with humanities and span subjects including ecology, economics, global studies, urban planning, and environmental law.

The University of New Hampshire was an early leader in this realm, providing students with hands-on educational opportunities in sustainability on and off campus. This includes the university’s long-standing Social Innovation Internship program and the UNH Sustainability Fellowship program. Under the guidance of mentors from both UNH and the program’s participating organizations, qualifying students are matched with corporations, municipalities, educational institutions, and NGOs in New England for paid on-site summer (10 weeks) project work. The program, which was launched in 2008, has a high success rate, with most of the 101 fellows currently employed in sustainability-related fields.

The University of Pittsburgh just this summer added a Master of Science in Sustainable Engineering major and professional degree. Last year, Binghamton University began offering the State University of New York system’s first graduate program in sustainability, with options for both Master of Arts and Master of Science. Connecticut’s Yale University recently added an executive MBA program in sustainability; Antioch University New England in Keene, New Hampshire, has offered an MBA in sustainability since 2007.