MA in Sustainability Leadership

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In this program, students will master the knowledge and techniques required to work in a wide range of professional sustainability positions. The program can prepare students for further graduate work (PhD) or research, teaching and administrative positions in both the public and private sectors as well as academia. The following describes a typical MA student’s program. 

Advisory Committee

In collaboration with the EVS Advisor and their Project Advisor, students will customize a set of courses based on educational or work experience, professional aspirations, and project content. Master’s students have the opportunity to investigate across a wide variety of disciplines and propose solutions to real-world socio-ecological problems. Students have the choice of working independently or as part of a team. The methods of project differ from a thesis mainly because a project is usually interdisciplinary team effort resulting in a jointly authored document.

Students will seek out a Project Advisor in the area of interest and one other committee member to guide them through the process of completing the final project. Dr. Susan Clark (sclark1@buffalo.edu) in the Department of Environment and Sustainability can provide guidance and administrative support to individuals admitted to the proposed new degree program in Sustainability Leadership. 
Changes in Committee membership require EVS Departmental approval. Each semester the Committee evaluates the student’s progress toward their degree and reports that progress to the Committee.  In cases in which the student is not making satisfactory progress, the Committee may recommend to the Graduate School that the student be placed on probation.
 

Coursework

Students in the Masters of Sustainability Leadership will take coursework centered on the following learning outcomes:


•    Identify and analyze environmental, ecological, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability;
•    Develop a capacity for integrative systems thinking and practice;
•    Apply sustainability metrics and be able to interpret data on the environment and ecosystems.


This 30 to 31-credit MA program prepares students to lead organizations as they adopt sustainable practices and develop plans to minimize environmental impact. In addition to (SSN501) The Fundamentals of Sustainability, (SSN601) Professional Skills Capstone, students take courses from each of six areas:

•    Environmental/ Ecological
•    Social/ Cultural/ Human
•    Economics/ Business
•    Tools and Data Analysis
•    Leadership
•    Communication


The MA degree requires a combination of coursework and completion of a project.  The M.A. degree requires a minimum of three semesters. Coursework from the Advanced Sustainability Certificate may be applied to the MA.  Both programs can be taken at the student’s own pace.


The Department of Environment and Sustainability provides guidance and administrative support to individuals admitted to the proposed new degree program in Sustainability Leadership. See a full list of Course Offerings here. In collaboration with the EVS Advisor and their Project Advisor, students will customize a set of courses based on educational or work experience, professional aspirations, and project content.

It is highly recommended that students take SSN 501 in their first semester. SSN501 Fundamentals of Sustainability is only offered in the Fall semester. Students must complete the Fundamentals of Sustainability before they will be permitted into SSN601, the Professional skills Capstone Course, which is only offered in the Spring semester. Finally, students must complete both 501 and 601, as well as have a signed proposal from the student’s Project Advisor before being permitted to enroll in the Project Course.
 
It is highly recommended that students find an Advisor and Committee Chair by the end of their second semester. We encourage students to begin corresponding with potential Advisors during their first semester to determine whether the Advisor has the ability to chair or serve on a new graduate student’s committee.
 
It is suggested that the students try to complete courses necessary for the Capstone first. Otherwise students are free to schedule electives from the six areas as when they see fit.
 

The Project

Every MA student is required to complete a project, prepare a project report and present the results of the project to the faculty and students in the program. The project is developed in consultation with a faculty advisor.  Projects range from individual research to the work of small groups interacting with governmental, non-governmental or private entities. Master’s students have the opportunity to investigate across a wide variety of disciplines and propose solutions to real-world socio-ecological problems. Students have the choice of working independently or as part of a team. The methods of project differ from a thesis mainly because a project is usually interdisciplinary team effort resulting in a jointly authored document.


The project proposal will have a clear research question or question and an anticipated time-line to complete the project. Students will exhibit critical thinking and an understanding of the major steps of the scientific approach and research design, before starting the research and no later than the end of the semester before they plan to graduate.  This written proposal should begin with an abstract of no more than 300 words and should describe the anticipated research in no more than 7 pages including figures and references. In it, the student will present the problem and discuss the plan, objective, approach, and scope of the proposed project. In considering the proposal, the faculty will also consider whether the student is adequately prepared for the proposed research. Revisions may be requested at this time. The proposal must be approved by the student’s advisor and a majority of the Committee. The proposal assures that both the student and the advisory committee know and agree upon the nature and scope of the research project. To complete the MSL Project Proposal Form, click here.

Once the project proposal has been approved the student may proceed with their research. The Committee will monitor progress through a meeting each semester in which the student summarizes the status of the project. As the project nears completion the student will prepare a written project report in a style chosen by the Committee. 

Preferred Application Deadline: Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until capacity is reached, at which point admissions close. 


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MA in Sustainablity Leadership

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