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the Sustainability: Principles and Practice Short Program
This course is designed to help participants deepen and strengthen their sustainability efforts, by introducing new research on how sustainability principles and practice can inform goals and actions. Many organizations, companies, and institutions are increasingly conducting their activities with an eye towards managing environmental, social, and other concerns over a longer-term future. However, despite many existing efforts, substantial challenges remain.
This course will deepen and enhance knowledge and practical skills for participants in the area of integrating sustainability into business practices, operations, policies, and research and development. We will examine the major environmental issues and trends happening in modern society from a scientific and practical perspective, including energy and resource use, pollution, climate change, water, and population. We will explore why, despite much talk about sustainability, many trends are still headed in the wrong direction — and how the latest research in sustainability science and engineering can help reverse them. The course emphasizes sustainability in all its dimensions, including all “three E’s” of environment, economics, and equity.
It is highly recommended that you apply for a course at least 6-8 weeks before the start date to guarantee there will be space available. After that date you may be placed on a waitlist. Courses with low enrollment may be cancelled up to 4 weeks before start date if sufficient enrollments are not met. If you are able to access the online application form, then registration for that particular course is still open.
Takeaways from this course include:
- Describing and defining the state-of-the-art in sustainability assessment and planning
- Understanding the environmental, social, and economic drivers of sustainability challenges and their status and trends
- Analyzing the benefits and addressing the shortcomings of sustainability goals and indicators
- Formulating effective short and long term sustainability objectives and plans
- Appraising and evaluating new sustainability practices and programs at an organizational or institutional scale
Who Should Attend:
This course is appropriate for professionals from a wide-range of industries and sectors who are interested in sustainability issues. Participants from local, state, and federal government, especially those who are engaged in environmental and planning activities, would also benefit from the course. There is approximately equal emphasis on science/engineering, policy, and business perspectives.
Laptops are required for this course. All materials will be provided exclusively in electronic form.
Day 1: What is Sustainability?
Participants will be introduced to the concept of sustainability, with special attention to historical and international perspectives. Different definitions of sustainability will be introduced and discussed and an interactive exercise will explore sustainability definitions and relevance to different organizations and contexts. Topics include:
- Large-scale trends and grand challenges of sustainability
- Sustainability in context: historical and multinational perspectives
- Definitions of sustainability
Day 2: Trends and Strategies
Lectures and discussions will focus in depth on the specific areas in which societies and organizations might be concerned with sustainability. Among these are energy, materials, natural resources (water, land, etc.), and social justice concerns. We will identify common challenges in these areas and strategies to address them, using case studies to inform discussions. Topics include:
- Sustainability of global resources
- Materials use and life-cycle analysis
- Water quantity and quality
- Toxic substances and policies
Day 3: Setting Goals and Measuring Progress
Lectures and activities will identify best practices in setting concrete goals and designing appropriate, measurable indicators in the area of sustainability. This will involve discussions about how to identify and define what is and what is not sustainable. Topics include:
- Sustainability goals and planning
- Benchmarks and indicators
- Measuring progress
- Adaptive management strategies
Day 4: Business Perspectives
Through interactive assignments, participants will explore the advantages of sustainability-related planning in a business context, focusing on the “triple bottom line” of economic, ecological, and social progress. An interactive project will focus on hands-on sustainability planning for organizations and their staff.
Day 5: Perceptions, Communication and Wrap-up
The final day’s class will explore relationships between organizations and the public in sustainability efforts. Lectures and discussions will introduce theories and practical techniques to communicate environment and sustainability information within organizations and to the public.
View 2016 Course Schedule (pdf).
Class runs 9:30 am - 5:00 pm on Monday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and 9:00 am - Noon on Friday.
Special events include a networking happy hour for course participants and faculty on Monday night and a dinner on Thursday evening. Dinner on Thursday is included in tuition.
MEMBERSHIP CHAIR, SOCIETY OF WOMEN ENGINEERS
"The class was a great overview of sustainability, and explained the many facets that are involved."
ASSOCIATE EXPERT, UNITED NATIONS
"A good course for someone wanting to learn different approaches of the private sector to sustainability."
GRADUATE STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
"It provided a global perspective on sustainability and a better understanding of its principles . . . [from] different people from different fields in different parts of the world."
PRESIDENT AND CEO, GLOBAL BUSINESS CONSULTING COMPANY
"This course was very good in my opinion because it brings me a clarity on sustainability on different angle (policy and business); it gives me the way forward in my industry which is struggling to find a sustainable solution for the whole supply chain. It also provides info on challenges still to overcome."
PRINCIPAL ENGINEER, CANON VIRGINIA, INC.
"The combined depth of knowledge, background and perspective of the faculty AND students made the class very real-world applicable!"
Noelle Selin is Associate Professor in the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT. Her research focuses on air pollution in the context of climate change. She uses atmospheric modeling to inform decision-making on air pollution, climate change and hazardous substances such as mercury and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). She received her PhD from Harvard University in Earth and Planetary Sciences. In addition to her scientific work, she has published articles and book chapters on the interactions between science and policy in international environmental negotiations, in particular focusing on global efforts to regulate hazardous substances..
Jason Jay is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Director of the Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan. He teaches courses on leadership, strategy, and innovation for sustainable business. Jay engages students and alumni in hands-on projects with leading companies and organizations. These efforts help build a community of innovators for sustainability that includes MIT students and alumni, faculty and researchers, with partners in business, government, NGOs, and hybrid organizations. Jay’s own research focuses on how people navigate the tensions inherent in the quest for sustainability, as they simultaneously pursue their own self-interest and the flourishing of human and other life. Alongside these efforts, Jay is an active leader of sustainability efforts across MIT. Through the MIT Sustainable Societies Research Group, he brings together scholars from across the Institute to examine the invention, implementation, and transformation required for a sustainable society. He has helped improve the energy and environmental footprint of the MIT campus by founding the MIT Generator and the 'Greening MIT' community engagement campaign, and serves as founding member of the Campus Energy “Walk the Talk” Task Force. Prior to MIT, Jay ran an Internet startup, traveled around the world, taught kindergarten in a progressive preschool, and worked as a consultant with Dialogos International.
Stacy D. VanDeveer is Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. His research interests include international environmental policymaking, and its domestic impacts, the role of expertise in policymaking and the politics of consumption and environmental and human rights degradation in global commodities markets. He co-edits the journal Global Environmental Politics (MIT Press). He spent two years as a post-doctoral research fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government after getting his PhD from the University of Maryland. He has received research funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Embassy of Canada, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (MISTRA), among others. He has authored and co-authored over 70 articles, book chapters, working papers and reports, and six co-edited books on international and comparative environmental politics. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University (2006-07) and on-site Director of the UNH London Program at Regents College (2007-08). He directed the master's program in Political Science at UNH from 2006-2011 and developed and launched the Graduate Certificate Program in Sustainability Politics and Policy. He was the Interim Director of the UNH Center for International Education in the first half of 2010. More recently, he was a Senior Fellow at the Transatlantic Academy in Washington, D.C. from 2011-12.
This course takes place on the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We can also offer this course for groups of employees at your location. Please complete the Custom Programs request form for further details.
|Fundamentals: Core concepts, understandings, and tools (40%)||40|
|Latest Developments: Recent advances and future trends (20%)||20|
|Industry Applications: Linking theory and real-world (40%)||40|
|Lecture: Delivery of material in a lecture format (40%)||40|
|Discussion or Groupwork: Participatory learning (30%)||30|
|Labs: Demonstrations, experiments, simulations (30%)||30|
|Introductory: Appropriate for a general audience (70%)||70|
|Specialized: Assumes experience in practice area or field (20%)||20|
|Advanced: In-depth explorations at the graduate level (10%)||10|