The M.S. in Sustainability Management (SUMA) program is celebrating its tenth anniversary this fall. The program was jointly launched by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Professional Studies in 2010 with 114 students and 11 courses. Subsequently, it has grown into the world’s foremost master’s degree program in applied sustainability studies. Today, we have more than 250 students and 800 alumni. We have introduced over 60 new courses since the program began, and have offered 65 courses per year on average over the last three years. Our offerings now include not only the Master of Science degree, but also four certificates and an accelerated B.A./M.S. program.
Since its inception, the SUMA program has aimed to provide students with interdisciplinary training that allows them to advance in their professional careers and become leaders in their fields. The program was designed with three goals in mind:
- To create real-world policies and management practices that can ensure sustainability across all organizations.
- To develop a cohort of problem-solving sustainability professionals.
- To train a new kind of manager for private, nonprofit and government organizations — a manager who understands finance, organizations, strategy and information, but also understands the physical dimensions of sustainability: a sustainability manager.
By any metric, the program has been successful in building a group of sustainability managers. From our robust student community to our growing network of alumni holding leading positions in large private firms, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations both in the United States and abroad, our students are tackling the world’s most complex and disruptive environmental and natural resource problems.
“A decade from now, all excellent managers will be sustainability managers. Just as the definition of excellent management today includes effective financial, human, and information management, soon it will also include effective sustainability management.”— Steven Cohen, Director, M.S. in Sustainability Management
A Brief Timeline
Over the past decade, we have systematically expanded our program offerings, including Certifications of Professional Achievement that may be taken as a complement to the M.S. in Sustainability Management, or as a stand-alone program.
In 2012, the Certification in Sustainability Analytics was created to train professionals to develop skills in analytic methods and quantitative analysis that enable practitioners to measure, report, and communicate the sustainability of organizations, products, and services. The certification focuses on key topics in accounting, metrics and indices, monitoring procedures, and reporting. Students who complete the certification will have a strong framework that can be used to benchmark performance and develop future sustainability initiatives.
In 2013, we introduced the Certification in Sustainable Water Management. This certification equips professionals with the skills to conduct integrated water management and water systems analysis. It addresses concepts of hydrology, water policy and regulation, economics, finance and conflict resolution. The program is designed to provide sophisticated and multidisciplinary training in water issues—the nexus of natural science, social science and public policy.
In 2015, the Certification in Sustainable Finance was launched, which aims to prepare students to meet the growing demand for professionals who understand and can integrate the fundamentals of both corporate sustainability and financial analysis. This year, for the first time, we are also pleased to offer the online version of the Certification in Sustainable Finance for finance professionals around the world, who are seeking to enhance their knowledge and skills in sustainable finance. Students learn traditional financial and accounting tools supplemented with sustainability-specific methods and topics. The certification program provides graduates with the practical information and tools they need to understand the impact of environmental sustainability in corporate financial management and in financial markets, and to enable them to prepare for and manage the consequences of both.
In 2016, we began offering the Accelerated B.A. in Sustainable Development and M.S. in Sustainability Management program. This program gives undergraduates in the Sustainable Development program at Columbia University the opportunity to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in just five years.
For the rest of this anniversary academic year, we will be posting articles highlighting and celebrating our program, faculty, students, and alumni. Should social distancing guidelines permit it, we look forward to hosting a celebratory gathering in the spring at the end of the academic year.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2020, the M.S. in Sustainability Management program, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. Visit the website to learn more.