Virginia Tech™home

Executive Master of Natural Resources in Global Sustainability

XMNR2019 cohort
XMNR students are current and aspiring sustainability leaders working in business, government, and non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. and beyond.

The Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) is an accelerated graduate degree program for working professionals that takes place over three semesters within one year. The program is taught as a hybrid of in-person/virtual meetings* and online individual and small-group work.  Students gather on campus in the Washington, D.C. metro area five times a year for three-day interactive study weekends, convene six times virtually for two-day meetings, and participate in a 10-day Global Study trip. XMNR students typically have demanding full-time jobs, which is why our curriculum is designed to help them improve their performance at work, advance their careers, and have greater impact in the world.

Our innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum focuses on the theme of “leadership for sustainability” in the context of climate change. We believe that everyone can lead from where they are, to have greater influence and bring innovation to the workplace and their communities at local to global scales. We teach practical knowledge and skills that students can apply and practice at work to improve their performance immediately. We have a proven track record of success helping students achieve their career change and advancement goals. Contact us to learn how we can help you accomplish your goals.

*All in-person meetings are being delivered virtually in real time until it’s safe to travel again. 

Expand your professional network

Although the Virginia Tech Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability campus is located just outside of Washington, D.C., our students come from all over the country and internationally. Class meetings are designed with work schedules and travel needs in mind. We provide lodging and meals during our weekend meetings, so that students can make the most of their time focusing on coursework and building connections.

The map below highlights some of the many locations where our students and alumni live and work.

Subjects of Study

Climate change has the potential to disrupt human civilization, reduce economic growth, harm human health, and degrade environmental functions. Students examine the causes, consequences, and responses to climate change, and consider the benefits and drawbacks of various approaches and strategies for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.

Pulling a billion people out of energy poverty and meeting the needs of a growing middle class may require several doublings of energy demand. Students compare energy systems’ returns on investment and social/environmental impact and consider the relationship of energy to social, economic, water, food, and climate systems. Renewable and alternative energy systems are considered alongside conventional systems, especially as related to urban and rural needs, critical infrastructure, and international development.

Meeting the demand of a more prosperous and populous humanity may require a doubling of food supply, yet current agricultural practices are the leading cause of water stress, biodiversity loss, carbon emissions, and other sustainability challenges. Students explore how we can meet future food demand, with a focus on our agricultural systems and their relationship to climate, water, and ecological systems and biodiversity. Food waste, farming production intensity (local, organic, industrial), technology, and diets are also examined.

Abundant but finite, water is critical to human health, food, energy, and economic production. Students learn how to prioritize managing our water systems, and consider factors that affect the supply and demand for water in agriculture / food, energy, public health, economic development, and industry. Water resources and innovative best management practices are examined at local, regional, and global scales.

Students review major sustainable development frameworks, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Green Circular Economy, Malthusian models, and more. Equity, justice, health, and well-being are core environmental and sustainability challenges addressed through diversity and inclusion initiatives. Specific cases and leadership practices are explored in detail, particularly during the Global Study module.

Rapid urbanization means that, between now and 2050, 1 million people per week will be moving to or born into cities. Students examine how to accommodate this new population while ensuring sustainable development in a manner that fuels economic growth, pulls people out of poverty, increases human rights, lowers per-person environmental impacts, fuels innovation, and supports good governance. Cities and the business supply chains that support them are key to circular economies and sustainable development.

Students explore how to supply the material needs of a more prosperous and populous humanity by transitioning to a circular economy. Innovations in sustainable business and corporate sustainability practices are transforming markets, governance, and public policy. Supply chains, markets, production-consumption, technological design and development, consumer behavior, service-dominated corporate behavior, economic opportunity, regulation, and risk management are considered.

Human development has an adverse effect on biodiversity and ecosystems, but future development pathways could lessen the pressure. Students examine strategies for reducing poverty, meeting the global demand for food, accommodating urban development, and countering the impact of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems at multiple scales, local to global.

A Systemic Approach to Learning

An example of a resource system: Water
An example of a resource system: Water

Over the course of the program, students examine several resource-management areas—or systems, such as water, energy, climate, food and agriculture, etc.—to learn the complexities and interdependencies of each system as well as best practices for their sustainable management. The download below illustrates our integrated approach to teaching and learning about the subjects listed above via the specific example of the Water System.


Interested in an online-only program for maximum flexibility? Check out our Online Master of Natural Resources.

Student Spotlights

COVID-19 UPDATE: To keep our students and faculty safe and to help slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus, we are postponing all Global Study trips in accordance with Virginia Tech’s travel and study abroad policies

Early Admission Scholarship for Executive Master of Natural Resources

Apply by November 1, 2020 to receive $1,000.