Online Master’s in Sustainability ScienceGrowing Resilient Communities
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January 15, 2018
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M.S. in Professional Science: Sustainability Science
Our communities are facing complex problems — we need skilled and qualified systematic thinkers to solve them. Become the change the world needs.
Learn to care for people and the environment while you grow your career.
Combining science with organizational and communication skills, the Unity College Master’s in Professional Science (M.S.) will give you the training and credentials you need to advance in your career path.
- A concentration in Sustainability Science
- 100% online. Sustainability Science students who take a full course load can complete the degree requirements in as few as 12 months!
- World-class faculty experienced in online teaching.
- Small class sizes allow for personalized attention. That’s something you won’t find at larger, online universities!
- Affordable and flexible. Take the classes whenever works for you. We offer five start dates per year!
- Unlike similar programs, no GRE is required.
Sustainability science is a problem-based, solution-oriented framework for creating a resilient civilization. The framework combines technical sustainability with skills based in the social sciences and humanities to create effective change agents who can work within the context of political, economic, and cultural concerns. Mitigation and adaptation to climate change is emphasized along with biodiversity conservation, resource conservation, and mitigation of pollution. Students within this track should expect to explore, debate, and research possible solutions to climate change from a variety of viewpoints.
Who should pursue an M.S. in Professional Science?
The M.S. in Professional Science: Sustainability Science track, is aimed at:
- new graduates
- career changers
- …and those interested in pursuing sustainability roles within their current organizations.
It is a great choice for graduate students who have a degree but want to complement their current skill set with training in business, management, and communications, as well as professionals who already have a job in the environmental field or at a business and want more experience in the tenets of sustainability.
Government workers who want more experience and knowledge about sustainability, and current sustainability coordinators seeking to upgrade their skills en route to a promotion, will also find this degree instrumental.
Graduates of the M.S. in Professional Science: Sustainability Science track at Unity College can become:
- sustainability coordinators
- sustainability directors
- program directors at non-profits
- community organizers
- project managers in any field
- municipal employees
- independent consultants
- environmental policy practitioners
30 credits earned
3.00 minimum cumulative graduate-level grade-point average
Professional Skills Core
PC 5023 Strategic Management of Innovation
The course is designed to help students understand the strategic, organizational and human issues that can either help or hinder you (and the organizations, both private and public, you work for) in efforts to develop and implement science-based solutions to environmental and natural resource challenges. It combines the study of those principles needed to manage scientific innovation with an emphasis on how environmental innovation fits within an organization’s strategy and business model, and why they matter, and how one creates an innovative learning organization, drives change within an organization, and drives the adoption of the innovations the organization creates.
PC 6013 Communication for Environmental Professionals
This course will provide students the opportunity to develop vital professional skills in oral and written communication while preparing them to communicate clearly about science, policy, and technology issues with demographically diverse and geographically dispersed audiences. Content will address mass media and public understanding of science; organizational communication issues such as structure and communication networks; rhetoric, advocacy, and strategic message development; the role of public opinion and public policy; innovation and decision making; crisis communication and conflict management; emerging communication technologies; and inter-organizational and cross-disciplinary communication.
PC 6023 Ethical Practice and Policy
This course will investigate some of the ethical dimensions of a life in professional science, examining dimensions of environmental and natural resource science and policy in the context of globalization, global change, and climate change. The course builds on the communications skill set of the science communication course by including a module on the role of science in society. Students critically evaluate the ethical dimensions of common scientific practice and policy issues related to sustainability and natural resources.
Environmental Science and Sustainability Core
SS 5113 Thinking in Systems
Ecological, economic, and social systems have complex interactions which can make management inherently difficult. Students will examine examples of these systems from both a top-down and bottom-up perspective. From a top-down perspective, students will use statistical tools to mine information about systems, as understanding system patterns and measures can help managers anticipate how systems will change under natural or artificially applied modifications. In some cases, modifying these interactions (due to variation in environment or natural or applied pressures) can produce unexpected results. Therefore, students will also examine systems from a bottom-up perspective, using quantitative tools to model systems and examine their responses under changing conditions.
SS 5123 Climate Dynamics
Climate change is the defining environmental issue of the 21 st century. Sustainability scientists and natural resource managers should be able to follow the emerging science and communicate it to a wide variety of audiences. This course begins with the science of climate and climate change and the anthropogenic contributions to that change. The course then examines the technical and economic challenges society faces with regard to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and strategies to increase the resilience of natural and human communities. Throughout the course, we will examine the historical and emerging responses to aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
MG 5133 Ecological Economics
Economic systems influence how society understands its relationship to the environment. From the neo-classical synthesis to socialism, none of our contemporary economic systems seems to provide the social and environmental resilience that sustainability theory demands. The interdisciplinary field of ecological economics attempts to overcome the deficiencies in traditional economic theory, first by recognizing the physical limits in which any economic system operates and then by including normative values into a holistic economic system. Students will learn the basic principles of ecological economics, evaluate the framework, and learn to apply its principles to sustainability work.
SS 6113 Leading Sustainable Change
The community dimension of sustainability science sets it apart from historical scientific problem solving. Truly sustainable solutions need to meet economic and cultural acceptability to be implemented politically, and the process of seeking solutions can change community perceptions. Through techniques for understanding the nature of stakeholders and the use of social marketing, sustainability professionals can strongly influence perceptions and behavior. In this course, students will practice research-based stakeholder analysis and social marketing.
SS 6123 Community Planning for Resiliency
It is increasingly essential that we couple our greenhouse gas reduction actions with preparations for climate extremes and other changes, both expected and unexpected. As the footprint of human society continues to grow, managing the built environment for resilience becomes one of the primary leverage points for mitigation of sustainability problems, and an important focus of adaptation. From buildings to transportation networks to the relationship between urban communities and their rural resource bases, a strategically developed built environment dramatically reduces the carbon footprint, protects open space, and fosters social cohesion. We will enlist successful frameworks used in community design and green building as we explore ways in which communities can anticipate and adapt to the consequences of climate change while contributing to global mitigation efforts.
PC 5503 Capstone I
This course guides students through the creation of a capstone project. Students from all degree tracks solve real-world problems through application of the variety of skills and knowledge acquired during their master’s experience. Students work to develop projects that demonstrate transdisciplinary thinking, analyze complex systems, and develop and communicate solutions to posed problems.
PC 6503 Capstone II
This course is the culminating experience in obtaining the M.S of Professional Science degree at Unity College. Students will work to solve real-world problems through application of the variety of skills and knowledge acquired during their master’s experience. Collaborators work to demonstrate transdisciplinary thinking, analyze complex systems, and develop and communicate solutions to posed problems. Students will work with mentors to conduct research projects in their fields of interest.