Virginia Tech®home

Curriculum

Student group meeting

All aspects of the curriculum emphasize the development of professional competencies and advanced leadership, management, and administrative skills for achieving local, regional, and global sustainability goals. Students learn about a wide range of environmental sustainability systems—including climate, water, food and agriculture, energy, etc.—and strategies that stakeholders use to influence those systems. Students graduate with competencies in leading people, leading change; business and political acumen; and demonstrated results for their respective employers.

The program emphasizes a broad range of leadership skills and executive core qualifications identified by public and private sector employers, including:

  • Interpersonal and organizational communication
  • Financial, information, and technology management
  • Program evaluation and policy-making
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Partnerships, team building, and conflict resolution
  • Entrepreneurship, innovation, and resilience


First Half
The first half of the XMNR curriculum focuses on specific cases and instances of environmental management and sustainable development, primarily in the United States. Together, we will:

  • Review multiple cases and meet many stakeholders, at times working with them on specific projects.
  • Explore multiple systems to help develop systems thinking skills, focusing specifically on water, climate, energy, urbanization, and food and agriculture systems.
  • Examine how these and related systems manifest in different contexts and specific places, including public- and private-sector organizations working in the Washington, D.C. metro region and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
  • We will look closely at how stakeholder strategies influence system outcomes, including corporate sustainability, smart growth, cross-sector partnering, collective impact, advocacy coalitions, boundary-spanning leadership, and collaborative social innovation processes, among others.

Second Half
In the second half of the program, our focus shifts from North America to other regions of the world. Some of the frameworks and concepts introduced in the first half of the program will be revisited and applied in other geographic and political contexts. You will complete Global Study projects in one or more of the Center’s focus destinations. We will focus on advanced professional and leadership skills, including global thinking, intercultural competency, interest-based negotiation, and storytelling. Also, you will complete one or more directed study projects as part of the Individual Development Process (IDP). Students have the opportunity to focus their studies on topics of interest to them as individuals and as relevant to their careers.

If traveling for Global Study is not possible—including for students’ personal reasons—we have alternatives for fulfilling this requirement to enable students to graduate according to their plan of study. Please consult one of our Academic Advisors for details. 

Student Reflections
Shortly before graduation, students reflect on their most influential learning experiences, which range from gaining specific skills to appreciating the opportunities to meet subject matter experts to fostering connections in the wide MNR alumni and peer networks. Here are some of the reflections: 

“Recommended strategies to Arlington County through the lens of Collective Impact, with a focus on equity, to improve upon their Community Energy Plan in a post-COVID-19 world.”

“Advanced project management skills and subject matter awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals by leading the collaborative authorship of an analysis of key economic and environmental tradeoffs in the global agriculture sector.”

“Collaborated with a remote team to provide a substantial cross-sector partnership analysis and best-practice recommendation report for Prince George’s County (Maryland) Clean Water Partnership.”

“Managed team projects to research, analyze, and develop a set of recommendations designed to improve efficiencies and engage new stakeholders for climate mitigation and adaptation plans in the United States.”