Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources is expanding its graduate-level programs in the National Capital Region to focus on leadership for sustainability.

One key program includes the Executive Master of Natural Resources degree.

“Leadership in sustainability is critical for everyone’s future,” says Paul Winistorfer, dean of the college. “With most every organization, public and private, engaged in sustainability issues, we expect our new programs to have significant impacts. The program is the first of its kind in the nation to combine natural resource expertise with executive leadership development, regular classroom sessions, an international residency, innovative technology, and a transformative curriculum designed to facilitate team-based learning and complex problem solving. We expect to be a leader in both the Washington, D.C., region and nationally.”

The program is designed to meet the needs of working professionals interested in career advancement. To accommodate students’ busy schedules, classes meet only one weekend a month at Virginia Tech’s campus in Falls Church.

Focusing on peer-to-peer learning and problem-solving strategies that lead to innovation, the program culminates in a 10-day international residency and capstone project where students work with a team of faculty mentors and real-world clients to tackle complex sustainability challenges.

Michael Mortimer, director of Virginia Tech’s natural resources programs in the National Capital Region, says, “Immediate program outcomes include organizational and policy development, while long-term outcomes include personal and cultural transformation. Students will develop competencies in leading people and change, business and political acumen, and demonstrated results for their respective employers.”

David Robertson, program coordinator and faculty member, adds, “The curriculum emphasizes the development of advanced management and administrative skills, typical of [master of business administration and master of public administration] programs, but with a focus on leadership for sustainability. Students gain a robust understanding of a broad range of environmental sustainability challenges, including climate and energy policy, land use and water resources, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services, green building and infrastructure, population growth, and public health.”

Applications are now being accepted for the first cohort of 15 to 25 students to begin the program in September 2010. In addition to the new master’s program, the College of Natural Resources has also started a China Sustainability Initiative and a series of professional development seminars, workshops, and short-courses. International experience and a global perspective are key elements to all the new programs.

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