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Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership

About the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership Degree

Join our network of successful thought leaders – Our next cohort starts January 2018

Find the tools you need for the results you want

The Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership was designed with specific input from hundreds of sustainability executives and advocates from corporations, NGOs, communities and governments.

The innovative curriculum, created in partnership with academic and industry leaders, encourages the use of hands-on projects from your own workplace as practical case studies and builds to a final capstone project that will apply directly and immediately to your organization’s sustainability plans and challenges.

During the program, you will be armed with practical, actionable tools to become a leader who can embed sustainability throughout your organization, through four specific themes: global context, strategy, communication and leadership.

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Important dates

  • Application deadline: November 30, 2017
  • Workshop Session I and program kickoff (Tempe, AZ): January 7-10, 2018
  • International Workshop (The Netherlands): June 23-June 30, 2018
  • Workshop Session II and graduation (Tempe, AZ): January 9-12, 2019


Global Context

  • EMS 502 Global Context I—Translating Global Context into Organizational Realities
  • EMS 506 Global Context II—From Risk Avoidance and Compliance to Innovation and Thought Leadership
  • EMS 511 Global Context III—Addressing Sustainability Beyond Organizational Boundaries: Melding Global Context and Organizational Leadership


  • EMS 503 Strategic Sustainability I—Foundations of Strategic Sustainability: Sustainability as a Strategic Lens
  • EMS 507 Strategic Sustainability II—Reframing Strategy in a Sustainability Context: Weaving Success and Sustainability into Strategy
  • EMS 512 Strategic Sustainability III—Sustainable Integration in Developed and Emerging Markets: Building for Global Success


  • EMS 504 Communications and Sustainability I—Foundations for Professional Communications: Creating Chief Sustainability Storytellers
  • EMS 509 Communications and Sustainability II—Communicating Sustainability: How and Where to Tell Your Stories of Sustainability
  • EMS 513 Communications and Sustainability III—Engaging Stakeholders and Global Communications: How to Own ANY Room: Boardroom, Team Room, Break Room, Chat Room and Living Room


  • EMS 505 Sustainability Leadership I—Emerging Sustainability Leadership
  • EMS 510 Sustainability Leadership II—Sustainability as a Core Leadership Platform
  • EMS 514 Sustainability Leadership III—Transformational Leadership for Global Success

In-Person Workshops

While the majority of this program is conducted online, it also integrates three face-to-face workshop sessions to enhance the interpersonal network development and experience. Two sessions are held at Arizona State University, and one is held in a vibrant international location.

Workshop Session I (EMS 501: Sustainability Leadership Workshop I)
ASU Tempe Campus January 7-10, 2018

This course will introduce students into the four learning threads of the EMSL program—Global Context, Strategy, Communications and Leadership. Students will engage in meaningful group discussions, field trips and hands-on experiences directly tied to sustainability. Faculty, guest speakers and practitioners will engage students in critical thought and will apply sustainability theories into real-world scenarios. Students will set goals and develop a plan for completing the capstone project during the second half of the program.

International Workshop (EMS 508: International Immersive)
The Netherlands June 23-June 30, 2018

The international immersive experience will take place in a compelling location where all the challenges and opportunities of sustainability are in play. It is designed as a dynamic vehicle to make real-world connections to sustainability leaders, projects and communities, and is among the most memorable experiences of the program. Students will “see” and “feel” sustainability from another country and culture’s perspective and will see the overlap and conflict to their own context. Extending one’s professional network to other host countries and generating a reflective experience and analysis report are experiential learning artifacts that are generated from this experience. Collaborative teams will work through a sustainability case study and present their solutions. Students will also develop and refine their capstone project topics and will submit a capstone proposal and research outline for faculty review and feedback.

Workshop Session II (EMS 516: Sustainability Leadership Workshop II & Convocation)
ASU Tempe Campus January 9-12, 2019

Students will present their final capstone project and share the knowledge and experience gained during the 13 months of the program through a TED-style final project presentation. Students and guests participate in a convocation ceremony recognizing the completion of their coursework.


The faculty for the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership program provides you with a perfect balance of perspectives between seasoned academics, respected thought leaders and innovative practitioners.

George Basile
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability
Chair, Master of Sustainability Solutions Curriculum Committee, School of Sustainability

Kevin Gazzara
Instructor, School of Sustainability

Park Howell
Instructor, School of Sustainability
President, Park&Co

Bruno Sarda
Senior Sustainability Scholar, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability
Consultant, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, Juile Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Head of Sustainability, NRG Business Solutions

Guest Speakers

Featured speakers

  • Roian Atwood, Director of Sustainability, VF Jeanswear
  • Darren Beck, Manager of Corporate Responsibility, Sprint
  • Peter Byck, Documentary film director/producer and Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability & Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University
  • Jonathan Gottschall, Author of The Storytelling Animal
  • Lee Gutkind, Distinguished Writer in Residence for the Consortium Science, Policy & Outcomes and Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University
  • Bruce Klafter, Vice-President, Corporate Social & Environmental Responsibility, Flextronics
  • Sarah Finnie Robinson, Founding Partner, WeSpire
  • Daniel Sarewitz, Professor of Science & Society and Co-director, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, Arizona State University
  • Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy, Patagonia
  • Peggy Ward, PhD, Sustainability Strategy Leader North America Consumer Tissue, Kimberly – Clark
  • View the complete list of guest speakers


Alumni in the News

“I know that I’ve got experts in all sorts of industries and businesses throughout the country that I can call on if I’m ever in their area, if I ever have a question about something related to their business, and they can always help me. It’s those relationships that surprisingly are a huge takeaway for me.”
Tim Trefzer, Sustainability Manager, Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Meet the Class of 2016

Meet the Class of 2015

Connect with alumni on LinkedIn

Apply Now

Below you will find helpful information on how to prepare and submit your online application:


Jennifer Griffin
Assistant Director, Online Programs, School of Sustainability

More Information

If you have specific questions related to the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership degree: