It is not easy to add programs to an academic curriculum, especially in large institutions like DePaul University with 10 colleges and schools and 20,000 plus students. However, with experience over four development years at DePaul, and with growing student interest, we gathered resources and the feedback from about 60 faculty members from 5 of DePaul’s 10 colleges.
We started by launching an executive 2 day Sustainable Management Workshop and 4 month Sustainable Strategies Lab, and tested courses and methods in an MBA Sustainable Management Concentration Then, we developed the MS in Sustainable Management (MSSM) proposal from a standing start to approval to the highest level of the University in just four months. in our presentation to faculty Council, we were greeted by unanimous approval and applause. Such speed and support is almost unheard of in academia. Here is the original proposal and then five years later we were asked to defend it, which we did successfully. But with the usual movement of faculty and administration, it requires constant attention to keep the interdisciplinary and interconnected curriculum together, student focused and current in such an ever changing field.
Entering students begin by statements about their purpose why they are pursuing the MS in Sustainable Management. They then start their coursework with several professors expressing interest and support in our student-centric Arc of Pragmatic Inquiry. So, in addition to their usual course delivery, we provide space for students to write a paper at the end of the course outlining how the material presented has helped them in developing their overall project. In the MSSM, four of the courses which were critical to this effort were:
- the environmental science course: “Earth Resources and Human Population.” (Originally: “Sustainability Science: Environmental Limits, Human Needs, And Systems Thinking.”)
- The finance course: ” Sustainable Value Creation.”
- the marketing or economics course: “Business, Society and Sustainable Economic Development” or “Ecological Economics: A Macromarket Perspective.”
- the capstone course: “Developing Sustainable Strategies: Capstone Practicum.
The main focus is to help students explore their interest within the larger context of some sort of a circular economy or what we often referred to as an “macromarket ecosystem.” We insist on this economic/market perspective simply because every organization, profit, nonprofit, government is designed to provide some good or service to society.
Their final capstone project is to present some product or service idea to intervene in their system to make it more sustainable. They conclude with a statement of how their projects are evidence of and driven by their values – their own and their organization.
Here is the portfolio template Arc of Pragmatic Inquiry website the students used to develop their Capstone:
Here is an example of one student’s portfolio: