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What Does Sustainability Really Mean Today?

“Shared Well-Being on a Healthy Planet” — Specifically, sustainable actions improve people's quality of life while protecting and restoring the natural ecosystems and resources on which human well-being depends.

The next four decades—your working life—will be the most important in human history. World population will increase by 25%, to eventually 10 billion people. Today, half of humankind is barely getting by, and we are already fighting over water, oil, topsoil, forests, fish and biodiversity, while the planet gets hotter every year.

To lead the way to a prosperous and sustainable future, you will need to work as educators, policy change-agents, and business leaders to maintain relentless focus—rewiring the world with clean energy, redesigning every city on the earth, re-engineering production processes, re-imagining the global food system, and reinventing our systems of finance. We know how to solve these challenges, but we need collective willpower, effective leadership, and hard work to do so.


How Does Sustainable Change Happen?

Three Careers in Sustainable Change:

Education: Education careers mean changing minds through the familiar professions of teacher, professor, and researcher, but also, artist, film maker, journalist, rabbi, preacher, or imam. This field includes anyone whose job it is to communicate about the scientific and moral dimensions of the sustainability challenges we face.

Policy: Individuals pursuing a career in policy work to change the rules, fighting bad laws, regulations, and policies set by government and businesses, and replacing them with good ones. You can work in government (global, national, state or local), in large businesses or non-profits, or "outside the system" in NGO's, advocating and lobbying to change the rules set by government and business.

Business: If policy work is about changing the rules, sustainable business people want to transform the game. Within the confines of the existing rules, the business leaders of the future are building financially viable organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, that directly solve social and environmental problems. This includes work in both start-ups and big companies.

A Look Towards the Future

While education, policy, and business overlap, this trichotomy is a useful way to think about the range of sustainabilty careers. All three of these categories are critical to building a sustainable future.

Which path fits you best? A successful sustainability career — whether in education, policy, or business — requires vision, leadership, and execution.

Vision means that you can see positive opportunities and solutions where other people see serious environmental or social costs. Once you have that vision, you need leadership skills to engage others. And finally, you need to master the core capabilities of educator, policy change agent, or business leader in order to execute your vision.

Careers in Sustainability: What You Need to Know

Sustainability has come a long way very quickly. In an era of transparent supply chains, IT-enabled local production, expanded entrepreneurial opportunities, megacity growth, climate change, water shortages, and millennial demands for more meaningful work, the need for sustainable practices is not going away. This is good news for those looking for a career that makes an impact—saving the planet is a growth field.

Career Opportunities

Sustainability professionals work across the economy—in healthcare, business, social work, education, and politics. As an example, Bard has over 300 master's level graduates working in the field of sustainable business, education, and policy.

  1. Private sector (Amazon, IBM, Etsy, Pratt Whitney, Morgan Stanley)
  2. Non-Profit (Clean Water Action, Kaiser Permanente, BirdLife South Africa, Riverkeeper)
  3. Public sector (USDA, US EPA, FEMA, state and local agencies)
  4. Education (K-12 teachers, university faculty, National Wildlife Federation)
  5. International development (USAID, UNDP, World Bank, IUCN, WWF)

Alumni of Bard's Graduate Programs in Sustainability are purpose-driven changemakers who have become leaders of companies and organizations with critical missions.


Bard’s Graduate Programs in Sustainability

Bard offers one degree in sustainability and three degrees in environmental studies.

Bard MBA in Sustainability

Bard’s MBA is unique in that it fully integrates sustainability into a core curriculum. The MBA program “low residency” structure—one weekend a month plus on-line—supports working professionals to complete the degree from anywhere in the US.

Bard CEP Programs

All of Bard’s sustainability graduate programs feature a focus on experiential education, through a unique year-long course in sustainability consulting (MBA) and extended, high-level professional internships (MS and M.Ed). Finally, Bard’s world class faculty are deeply committed to student learning. Bard was recently awarded #1 in Classroom Experience by the Princeton Review.

Bard MBA logo

Redefine What Good Business Needs

Bard's MBA in Sustainability is one of a handful of programs around the world that fully integrates a focus on mission-driven business into every course they offer.

MBA in Sustainability: Based in New York City, Bard's MBA gathers one weekend a month for an on-campus experience; this weekend visit works alongside an online curriculum designed for working professionals and students who want to attend Bard from anywhere in the U.S.

Bard CEP logo

Become an Environmental Leader

Bard's Center for Environmental Policy offers master's programs designed to "change the rules" and to "change minds."

Master’s of Science in Environmental Policy: Courses delve simultaneously into curricular themes to provide students with a deep understanding of the issues from multiple perspectives and at the same time highlight linkages and divisions across disciplines. This holistic approach to learning illuminates integral connections between the social world and the physical sciences and encourages students to incorporate various perspectives and ideologies into their work.

Master’s of Science in Climate Science and Policy: Bard is one of the few programs in the world that supports students to gain master's level understanding of climate science, along with economics, policy, and law. The climate degree covers the interplay between climate systems, ecosystems, and agricultural systems on one hand and solutions on the other, training future policy leaders to guide efforts in greenhouse gas mitigation and adaptation.

Master’s of Science in Environmental Education: The Bard M.Ed. in Environmental Education program prepares educators to create an informed and engaged citizenry supporting progress towards a just, prosperous, and sustainable future. Through intensive academic training, real world professional experience, and career development opportunities, the program enable graduates to pursue successful, high-impact careers in private schools, NGO's, government and land management agencies, private land conservation organizations, museums, environmental education centers, and consulting firms.


The Bard Difference - A Graduate Program Where Sustainability is "Baked In" Rather than "Bolted On"

As millennials continue to transition into advanced degrees and become a bigger component of the workforce, sustainable practices are no longer an option: organizations that fail to integrate a focus on ethical practices are falling behind. In contrast, Bard is leading the change in the MBA industry by building a graduate business curriculum that bakes sustainability in from the ground up.

All of our graduates have one thing in common — a mindset of sustainability — which enables them to lead in the various business and organizations they work for to produce a future where humans cohabitate in peace with one another and the earth.


Learn more about our Center for Environmental Policy graduate programs by visiting our free resource!




A Resource for Aspiring Leaders in Sustainablity

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