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2014 XMNR International Residency

Every year, Executive Master of Natural Resource (XMNR) students, within the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS), participate in an International Residency (IR) to help broaden their understanding of global sustainability challenges and strategies being developed to address them. Thanks to these trips, the XMNR program, geared towards full-time working professionals, provides students with concrete international experience, dealing with real world sustainability issues.

During the Spring 2014 semester, the 2013-2014 cohort spent four months researching environmental challenges and opportunities in China before heading to Yunnan Province, in the southwest corner of the country, for two weeks. Once on the ground, students deepened their understanding of the situation through interviews and personal observations. The cohort was organized into four teams, each focusing on different strategies for sustainability:

  • Housing Development. The housing team partnered with the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Housing Knowledge Community to explore issues surrounding sustainable housing in Yunnan Province, and to provide recommendations on best development practices.
  • Sustainable Tourism. Divided into two sub-teams, this group explored the role of tourism for sustainable development.  One group focused on luxury tourism while the other examined heritage tourism. Each team gathered data on best practices in tourism development that manages preservation of the natural and cultural landscape.
  • Networking Best Practices. This team determined best practices for forming Sino-American partnerships in China, and identified environmental networking needs in the Yunnan Province specifically.

The IR experience helped this group of professionals apply the skills and knowledge they’d learned throughout the XMNR, creating tangible products, and expanding their cross-cultural competencies.

Confucian temple ceiling

Architects Explore Sustainable Housing Development in China

This year the Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability (CLiGS) continued to build upon its experience in China, expanding the reach of its China-related programs, by developing and leading a study tour for the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the U.S.’s leading professional association for architects. The group of 19 professional architects, all members of AIA’s Housing Knowledge Community and representing a wide range of both private architecture practices and academic institutions, traveled to China’s Yunnan Province in May, (more…)

GreenBiz Soy Series

Bean Seeds, Edamame Soybean-Vegetable SeedsIn Spring 2014, CLiGS Affiliates Bruce Hull, Barbara McCutchan, and Arlin Wasserman authored a three-part article series, published by, exploring the rapidly changing landscape of sustainability in the global soy market.  Hull and McCutchan served as faculty advisers for the Brazil International Field Experience in 2013, and Wasserman is an expert on global food systems. The overarching theme of the series — as climate, diets and consumer tastes change, soy production is becoming a more prominent part of the sustainability equation both as a ubiquitous part of our food, clothing and other consumer goods and also as a major factor that is shaping our landscape and water resources.

Dr. Paul Polak, Capstone Speaker for XMNR

Book: The Business Solution to PovertyOn Friday, May 9, 2014, Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability has invited Dr. Paul Polak as the final speaker to close out the last weekend session for the 2013-2014 cohort of the Executive Masters of Natural Resources degree program. During the program the 24 graduate student cohort and faculty have covered leadership–from self to system, and sustainability from local to global with focuses on water, agriculture, food, climate change, energy, and shelter. They have worked on sustainable enterprise analysis, collective impact and public-private partnerships as models for action. Their classwork and fieldwork included client engagement projects in the Yunnan Province of China. (more…)


Xiaotang Jiang, New Yunnan Sustainability Coordinator

CLiGS is pleased to welcome Xiaotang Jiang, a Yunnan native, as the new Program Coordinator for the Yunnan Sustainability Network.  (more…)