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What Do You Do With A Degree In Sustainability?

By Sharon Chen
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As the world focuses on mitigating the impacts of climate change, students need to be prepared to meet the demand for sustainable skill sets. Higher ed is increasingly offering courses and degrees in sustainability, incorporating environmental issues into curricula, and providing hands-on training for students.

The University of Wisconsin, Green Bay’s (UW Green Bay) nascent Sustainability Management graduate program is an example of how higher ed is evolving to meet the green job boom. By focusing on the impact of environmental issues on businesses, UW Green Bay offers a practical approach to sustainability. Alexandria Skoch is the sixth graduate of the program, and she is hoping to use her education and experience to green the NFL; she is interested in making professional sports more sustainable, and pursuing a career in government.

Skoch’s experiences and her career plans provide a real world example of sustainability education in action. Just as importantly, Skoch shows that to pursue a degree and career in sustainability, you don’t have to be a scientist or academic. Working with the NFL to become more environmentally-friendly is an important endeavor that will touch millions of people; successful climate action depends on this type of collective, relatable, easily incorporated green behavior. By continuing to grow sustainability programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, and by showing students that while climate change is rooted in science its effects touch every aspect of our lives, higher ed will give students the tools they need to lead on climate action. 


Sustainable Management Graduate Focuses on Greening NFL Franchise

Eric Craver | Inside UW-Green Bay News | January 11, 2016

When Cleveland native Alexandria Skoch (pictured with Prof. John Katers) wanted to dig deeper into “greening” her hometown NFL franchise, the Cleveland Browns, she turned to a partner NFL city Green Bay and its hometown University, UW-Green Bay, for guidance.

Skoch graduated a few weeks ago with a master’s degree in Sustainability Management from UW-Green Bay. Her capstone project is “Greening the Browns: Understanding and Analyzing the Environmental Implications of a National Football League Team.”

“My final project focused on the Cleveland Browns’ environmental implications, and a lot of research, observation, and time went in to the final paper,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to experience home games at FirstEnergy Stadium from a behind-the-scenes perspective. This opened my eyes to numerous shortcomings of National Football League teams and the Cleveland Browns. Perhaps most importantly, this project has shown me that sustainability, when viewed through a business lens, is handled through more of a “greenwashing” approach rather than a truly impactful approach. Honestly, there is a lot left to be done in sports sustainability, and although the Green Sports Alliance exists and has numerous resources to help NFL teams become more sustainable, little action has been taken by a majority of teams…”

Skoch’s final recommendations for the Browns focused on fully integrating sustainability into each department, branch, division and location within the organization and hiring an individual who would focus on full integration.

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