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Sustainability Alumni Proving Valuable Assets for Public, Private Sector Alike

As the sustainability field continues to grow, job applicants with a relevant degree are proving to be ever more valuable assets, according to a recent Arizona State University School of Sustainability (ASU SOS) report. Since the inception of ASU’s School of Sustainability in fall 2008, the University says alumni have gone on to pioneer new sustainability positions and lead change at local, national and global organizations. According to the report, 73 percent of employed undergraduate alumni have found careers directly related to sustainability with companies including Aramark, Henkel, Intel, Waste Management, Tesla Motors and U-Haul International.

The report also shows that as educational experience increases, so does employment. Of the students surveyed, 88 percent of Master’s graduates and 100 percent of Doctoral graduates are now in sustainability careers. And the private sector isn’t the only one hiring — ASU SOS graduates have found positions with Central Arizona Project, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Geological Survey as well as professorships at colleges including ASU, Illinois State University and Portland State University.

Because the sustainability field continues to grow and more and more employers are seeking highly educated experts, the School of Sustainability launched the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership, a program developed and administered through the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives. Created for working individuals who want to lead sustainability practices and programs for their employer, the hybrid program complements theory with real-world practice.

Just as more employers are turning to sustainability graduates for key positions, students seeking graduate programs are prioritizing those that incorporate sustainability issues into their curricula. A growing number of MBA programs are now incorporating a social and environmental focus, thanks in part to this overwhelming student demand, as revealed in Net Impact’s annual Business as Unusual study. According to the 2014 report, a whopping 93 percent of current graduate students think focusing on social and environmental issues is very important or essential to a business’ long-term success; and more than half of the schools surveyed reported adding and adjusting curriculum to incorporate social and environmental issues in courses, certificates, experiential learning opportunities, and collaborations across graduate programs in their universities in response to student demands. These students — many of them millennials — overwhelmingly support integrating sustainability into their careers, with 85 percent reporting they would take a 15 percent pay cut to work for an organization whose values match their own.

The ASU SOS is hosting an open house for the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program on October 16, and offering a limited number of scholarships for the 2015 Executive Master’s cohort — see the School of Sustainability website for more information.


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