Georgetown University announced the creation of a new master’s program Aug. 5, aimed at addressing businesses’ impact on the environment through the joint study of sustainability and business management.
The master of science in environment and sustainability management, which will launch in the fall 2022 semester, will be an interdisciplinary program between the McDonough School of Business, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Georgetown Environment Initiative, a group of faculty working to advance sustainability and environmental research at Georgetown.
The yearlong program will focus on the study of sustainability and the environment through various lenses, including business management, environmental science and finance and accounting.
The new degree will give students the skills to understand and advance environmental science while simultaneously learning important management techniques, according to a press release from Alexander Sens, interim dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
“This new STEM-designated program will leverage the University’s expertise in both environmental science and business,” Sens wrote. “The MS-ESM program is an exciting partnership that we hope will pave the way for additional cross-university collaborations.”
The program will also aim to educate students on a variety of cross-curricular subjects vital to the study of sustainability, according to Vishal Agrawal, the provost’s distinguished Lapeyre family associate professor and one of two co-directors for MS-ESM.
“Sustainability is inherently an interdisciplinary challenge, which requires us to marshall different knowledge bases to be effective at tackling such challenges,” Agrawal wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Moreover, in our experience, businesses today are commonly looking for employees that not only understand business, but can act as a liaison between the scientists/technical staff and the business functions.”
The MS-ESM program will consist of 30 credits and will culminate in a capstone project in which students will work directly with local companies to research, advise and implement environmentally sustainable projects in local communities.
Through these interdisciplinary studies, students will be prepared to lead public and private organizations in sustainable ways and be adaptable and flexible to succeed in an uncertain future, according to Maria Petrova, MS-ESM co-director and assistant director of graduate education at the Georgetown Environment Initiative.
“The leaders of the future will be organizations that are innovative and make sustainability their top priority and those who adopt new technologies that help them save energy, reduce energy, reduce water consumption, increase sustainability,” Petrova said in a Zoom interview with The Hoya.
Applications for the first cohort of the program are set to open in the coming months and will consist of various elements to be judged holistically, including a resume, video essay, personal statement and other academic materials.
Ultimately, 40 to 45 students will be selected for the first cohort in order to foster relationships between students and keep classes small. The small cohort size will allow students to work more closely with local organizations and communities to address sustainability issues in the area, according to Petrova.
“I don’t think you’ve done anything, or you haven’t achieved much, as far as education is concerned, unless you embrace and try to solve the problems that your community has, because at the end of the day, universities are part of the communities,” Petrova said. “Not only the local community, but the global community, as well as other institutions, but especially for the local communities.”
The MS-ESM is not the first Georgetown program examining businesses’ role in the environment. In early 2020, Georgetown launched the certificate in sustainable business, an MBA certificate focused on business sustainability and environmentalism.
The new programs at Georgetown come as part of a larger national trend with graduate schools around the country launching academic programs relating to environmental business and sustainability. Similar programs have been created at schools including Yale University, Columbia University and American University.
Ultimately, the combination of studying sustainability and business management will better help graduates, as well as businesses, to address ongoing environmental issues in the world, according to Agrawal.
“We are hoping that this degree will equip our students with scientific knowledge and business principles — a powerful combination that will enable them to decisively address looming environmental threats and help build a more sustainable future within almost any organization,” Agrawal wrote.