The International Master’s Program in Interdisciplinary Sustainability Studies (MSS) is a cross-college program hosted by the Office of Academic Affairs. The goal of this program is to prepare leaders to radically accelerate the transition to a sustainable and inclusive society. The world is facing a new class of environmental, social and economic challenges, which are unprecedented in complex spatial and temporal relationships. Transforming these challenges into powerful educational opportunities requires a new kind of knowledge base that integrates critical thinking, creativity and collaboration, which supports students, and future leaders, to envision a sustainable future for all.
About the Program
The MSS program prepares students to apply sustainability principles and approaches to research in a variety of fields, and to address complex human and environmental challenges with creativity and solution-oriented approaches. Students participate in real-world investigations, but also learn to effectively handle data and communicate within interdisciplinary teams focusing on the development of transitional changes toward sustainability. The three core educational competencies of the MSS program are as follows:
• Design Thinking as a Mindset for Innovation
• Systems Thinking as an Approach to Integration
• Transdisciplinary Research to Facilitate Actionable Knowledge Discovery and Delivery
Core competencies in support of the education for sustainability transitions
The MSS program prepares students to become effective participants and agents of change as individuals, in teams, and within organizations across all sectors of society. The curriculum integrates theoretical and conceptual knowledge, mindsets, and practical skills to enable students to:
• co-discover alternative perceptions of complex problems to create conditions for collaboration
• co-develop a shared understanding of the problem and its underlying systems structure
• co-design risk-informed systemic solutions according to scenarios and targets
• co-evaluate proposed solutions through prototyping or policy analysis
• co-deliver actionable solutions and roll-out as system-wide interventions.
MSS graduates will be able to think holistically about sustainability challenges from a complex systems perspective. Students will gain technical skills to formulate questions and solve problems at the appropriate scale and breadth of vision to recognize the interconnectedness of coupled social and environmental systems. A focused technological and information literacy will be developed to engage with others and to reimagine new ways of managing these systems.
The Sustainability Living Lab and practicum opportunities are a distinguishing feature of the MSS program. Students experience working collaboratively on applied projects emphasizing the application of practical sustainability principles and methods in their chosen research field. Students are able to produce policy-relevant results and develop real-world sustainability solutions. This practical experience positions MSS graduates perfectly in today’s competitive, solution-oriented job market. The MSS graduates are sought after for careers in a wide range of fields, including but not limited to the following:
• Academia - Sustainability knowledge-to-action managers, transdisciplinary researchers, etc.
• Government - Sustainability transition specialists/analysts, sustainability coordinators, etc.
• Corporates - Corporate ESG managers/planners, social responsibility specialists, etc.
• Communities, NGOs/NPOs, Startups - Social entrepreneurs, sustainability project planners, etc.