Education for Sustainability

Education for Sustainability (EfS) Track

Our collective knowledge about everything from quantum physics and biological processes to macroeconomics and world religions is unprecedented, yet our ability to utilize and integrate this knowledge in service to a more sustainable and regenerative future has proven out of reach. At this critical moment, one of the greatest hopes for the well-being of the planet and the life it supports lies within our collective ability to learn our way toward new habits of mind, heart, and action.  The Education for Sustainability (EfS) Track explores tangible skills, pedagogical approaches, and applied frameworks that can immediately be applied in schools and other educational contexts.  This track is designed for educators who are involved with formal or informal educational organizations.  

Key Areas:

  • EfS Theoretical Frameworks

  • EfS Pedagogical Approaches 

  • Educational Systems Change

Collaborating Partners:

The curriculum has been collaboratively designed by UVM faculty, Shelburne Farms staff, and many practitioners and thought-leaders in EfS from around the world.


Required Leadership for Sustainability Core Courses

Leadership for Sustainability – 3 credits
This summer residential/online hybrid course addresses fundamental competency areas common to all Leadership for Sustainability students and will focus on three central themes: 1) Ecological/systems thinking, 2) Sustainability, and 3) Leadership skills. The cornerstone experience of this course is a week-long residential program at Vermont’s Shelburne Farms that will provide an experiential and theoretical orientation to foundational practices, principles, skills and questions at the heart of this program.

Power, Privilege & Catalyzing Change – 3 credit
This winter residential/online hybrid course focuses on frameworks and intercultural skills for actively engaging with issues of diversity, power, and privilege as leaders in organizational and community-based settings. As the course unfolds, we will turn our attention toward processes, frameworks, and practices for catalyzing and facilitating change at individual, community, organization, and larger system levels. Course content will be actively applied to each student’s home community/organization and will support the development of their Masters project concept and proposal.

“The major problems of the modern world are a result of the difference between how nature works and how people think.”
Gregory Bateson

Required Education for Sustainability Courses

Education for Sustainability Seminar 1 – 6 credits over 2 semesters
This online course focuses on creating conditions for learning our way toward a more sustainable future. It offers tangible skills, pedagogical approaches and theoretical frameworks that can immediately be applied in schools and other learning environments.  Over the course of each 15-week semester, we will cover seven themes using a module-based format.  Examples of learning module topics include: Exploring Ecologies of Place and Community, Educating in the Anthropocene, Diversity, Power & Privilege in Education, and much more. 

Ecological Leadership Practicum – 3 credits
The cornerstone experience of this course is a week-long residential program that will provide a suite of experiential learning opportunities to practice and integrate more advanced ecological leadership practices, principles, skills, and theoretical frameworks into your educational approach.  Throughout the week, students will engage with innovative sustainability organizations, learning how a variety of different leadership approaches and initiatives have catalyzed systems change.  Working in teams, students will practice their own leadership skills through a small-scale project. 

Competency Areas
Students can meet required competency areas as well as pursue coursework in areas where they seek additional training through elective coursework. Content and competency areas that must be met by electives and/or previous training:

  • Applied ecology – advanced understanding of ecological principles and systems
  • Applied social processes (some course/experience that provides advanced understanding of social principles and systems)
  • Management and planning principles

Year One


  • Residential Retreat: Leadership for Sustainability
    • August: 7-day residential
  • NR311: Leadership for Sustainability (online, 3 credits)
  • NR388: Ecological Leadership Seminar I (online, 3 credits)


  • Residential Retreat: Power, Privilege, and Catalyzing Change
    • Early January: 7-day residential
  • NR312: Power, Privilege, and Catalyzing Change (online, 3 credits)
  • NR388: Ecological Leadership Seminar II (online, 3 credits)
  • Master’s project proposal due


  • Residential Retreat: Ecological Leadership Practicum
    • Late July: 7-day residential
  • NR389: Ecological Leadership Practicum (online, 3 credits)

Year Two


  • Elective (online, 3credits)*
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Master’s Project, (3 credits)
    • 1st Formative Assessment (September)
    • 2nd Formative Assessment (December)


  • Elective (online, 3cr)*
  • Master’s Project, (3 cr)
  • Summative Assessment (March)


  • Elective (online, 3cr)*
  • Sustainability Leadership Summit: Student Presentations and Assessments.
    • Late July/Early August: 2-day residential

*Students choose the timing of electives based on course offerings, individual time management, and possible financial aid requirements.


Example Online Elective Courses

  • CDAE295: Leadership Practicum
  • NR242: Advanced Geospatial Techniques
  • NR327: Human Dimensions of Land Management
  • NR328: Law & Policy, Land conservation
  • NR385 Ecology for Sustainability
  • NR385: Systems, Sustainability, and Landscapes
  • PA385: Human Resource Management
  • PH303: Biostatistics I: Applied Research
  • PH304: Environmental Public Health
  • PH311: Global Public Health
  • PH312: Food Systems and Public Health
  • PH314: Environmental and Risk Communication
  • WFB352: Population Dynamics and Modeling

Additional electives are currently being developed in partnership with many of our professional affiliate organizations and will be co-taught by instructor practitioners who are on the front lines of many innovative change-making initiatives.  For more information about electives under development, please contact us!