Within the next two decades, Earth’s natural resources will be in jeopardy should the world’s economy and population continue to grow at its current pace, according to one study. By 2060, greenhouse gas emissions could increase by 43%, taking a toll on the lives and livelihoods of billions.
There is an overarching demand for sustainable solutions, which require more sustainable leadership and a need for leaders managing organizations with the environmental, societal, and sustainable development goals at the forefront of their agendas. These are the kind of leaders that graduate from the Master of Natural Resources (Online) program at Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability.
Virginia Tech’s mission with the online MNR is to produce leaders who will work towards a more sustainable future and solve the world’s most challenging issues. The university believes that the MNR students can come from anywhere–you don’t need a prior academic qualification or professional background in environmental science to join the program.
The online MNR degree was designed for those aiming to advance their careers or shift to leadership roles in the environmental and sustainability sectors, but need study-work-life balance. It is a 30-credit, virtual, and flexible degree program that combines online coursework and participation in a 10-day international Global Study module. These Global Study trips allow students to develop a strong network as well as gain insights from Virginia Tech’s partners and projects in various parts of the world–Argentina, Finland, Iceland, Italy, South Africa, Spain, and soon, Ireland.
The opportunities post-graduation are limitless for those aspiring to make a difference in the world. For example, Sourav Guha became an Executive Director at the Consortium on High Achievement and Success (CHAS). He completed the online MNR degree and now collaborates across multiple constituencies at numerous colleges and universities through CHAS. There, he facilitates peer learning and professional development opportunities that seek to improve the inclusion and advancement of racially minoritized members of campus communities—whether students, faculty, or staff.
While his professional role is not directly tied to global sustainability, Guha notes that one course in particular, “Leadership Communications,” remains very helpful and broadly applicable, even to his work in higher education. “We aspire to prepare students to respond to environmental challenges in a manner that is timely, just, and fair,” says Emily Talley, Managing Director of Graduate Education, who created the course. “We have recently introduced new environmental justice content in both MNR program formats, and continue to work with all of our students to help them deepen the intercultural competence required to create a sustainable future for all.”
A new course, ”Environmental Justice and Human Security,” offered as an elective in the online MNR program, examines environmental justice issues through the lens of the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security planning framework, according to Dr. Marcy Schnitzer, Professor of Practice at Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) who is co-developing the course with Dominique Leukenhoff, Associate Professor of Practice.
The course will dig deep into environmental justice scholarship and theory, but it is also a highly practical course, using numerous case studies on topics such as uranium mining on Navajo land in the southwestern U.S., the dumping of toxic waste and its impact on communities of color, food deserts, and the inequitable impacts of sea level rise on poor and wealthy populations. “Environmental justice is really a grounded phenomenon,” explains Schnitzer. “It comes from the community level. It comes from organizers. It comes from advocates. Most of the readings in this course are from authors who are working at the ground level.”
The ”Environmental Justice and Human Security” course provides students with the knowledge and strategies they need to address disparities and injustices and create a sustainable future for all. “Using a case study approach, this class examines public policy, geography, economic opportunity, systemic inequities, and other factors that result in human vulnerability to environmental hazards and risk,” says Schnitzer.
If you can’t wait to change the world, click here to learn more about the Master of Natural Resources at Virginia Tech.