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Need corporate sustainability education? 6 schools to study

Need corporate sustainability education? 6 schools to study

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Penn State University is the latest university to offer corporate sustainability courses. Here are five more schools with programs.

The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State University has started up a new bachelor of arts degree in Energy and Sustainability Policy. And, naturally, the degree is available as an online program because that is one of the principles of sustainability culture.

Here's the rationale behind the new program from Jeffrey Brownson, who is the program officer for the new degree program (he's an assistant professor of energy and mineral engineering at Penn State):

"Our goal is to develop students who understand the energy industry and what it will take to transform it into a sustainable structure. Graduates with communication skills, a facility with global business strategies and analysis, and an understanding of the energy industry and sustainability will be in high demand."

Topics covered in the degree program include knowledge of energy economics and sustainability ethics. There are seven different courses that make up the program. The university says that government agencies, in particular, are clamoring for individuals with this sort of knowledge.

So, this announcement go me thinking about where else you go to be schooled in sustainability?

In that spirit, here are five more schools that you might want to explore, if a career change is in your future. Or, if you're interested simply in thinking differently about the job you do now. There is even an organization called the Association for Sustainability in Higher Education that keeps tabs not only on where you can learn about these topics but also how sustainable colleges and universities are when it comes to their own campus operations.

So, here's my mini-list, which is not scientific. It's just that these schools are getting the most attention for business and corporate sustainability. Let me know about other worthwhile programs, and I'll do my best to highlight them.

No. 1: Penn State University

No. 2: University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Penn.): There are several different degrees that offer a focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, including what you can learn at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Here's an observation from the school's dean, Thomas Robertson: "Social responsibility is no longer relegated to the relatively small percentage of students who seek to work in the non-profit sector. It has become integrated in our way of thinking at Wharton. Our students now graduate with a deeper sense of social responsibility." The school refers to its corporate sustainability initiatives collective as the Wharton Program for Social Impact.

No. 3: Arizona State University School of Sustainability (Tempe, Ariz.): Billed as the first school entirely focused on corporate sustainability issues and established back in 2007, Arizona State's curriculum is tied to the Global Institute of Sustainability. There are an extensive array of courses you can take, and the school emphasizes community work along the way. Right now, though, there is no online option.

No. 4: University of South Florida School of Global Sustainability (Tampa, Fla.): This new school was started as a master's program, and its inspiration is "environmental justice, social equity and economic viability." The degree pulls faculty from natural and social sciences, engineering, business, the humanities, arts and health, and the school using the United Nations and the World Wildlife Fund for its definition of sustainability. Water conservation, consumption and management is a big initial concentration.

No. 5: College of the Atlantic (Bar Harbor, Maine): This small 325-student institute in the northeast is entirely focused on programs that explore "human ecology." It was one of 10 top schools for environmental programs listed by the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2010. Other schools on the Fiske Guide were Colby College, University of California at Davis, University of Colorado at Boulder, Dartmouth College, Eckerd College, Evergreen State College, University of North Carolina at Asheville, Tulane University and the University of Washington.

No. 6: Furman University (Greenville, S.C.): Starting in fall 2010, Furman University is starting up a new degree program for executives trying to manage corporate social responsibility. This is a post-graduate program focused on advancing your professional development that includes five different sessions.

For some extra credit, you might also want to see this list published by Fast Company a few months back, which includes schools that focus on everything from sustainable tourism to design to clothing. And here is more information on Green MBA programs offered through the United States.

Photo: College of the Atlantic

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure