Executive Master of Natural Resources in Global Sustainability
Sustainability requires innovation and leadership on the part of public and private partners working together to solve complex problems at multiple scales.
Executive Master of Natural Resources (XMNR) students broaden and deepen their understanding of critical global sustainability topics through readings, presentations by subject matter experts, engagement with dozens of core and guest faculty members, and analysis of both domestic and international case studies. All aspects of the program—including coursework, the Global Study, and capstone directed-study projects—are designed to bring about institutional and policy change, as well as personal and cultural transformation.
The XMNR degree is a cohort-based educational experience. This means that while students are enrolled in specific individual courses, the classroom experience is an exploration of a wide variety of sustainability topics, with a focus on systems thinking and leadership development.
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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.
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.