Chatham University

Sustainability (MSUS) Curriculum

Program Structure

The Master of Sustainability at Chatham University’s School of Sustainability and the Environment (SSE) is a two-year, full-time cohort program offering an innovative and unique approach to the study of sustainability. By identifying and finding solutions to real-world sustainability challenges, our students develop the ability to champion and implement sustainability ideals in a range of professional settings.

Program Requirements

+ Core Courses (minimum of 29 credits)

SUS502 Sustainabilty and Systems

In this course, students will develop skills necessary to understand, describe, and communicate complex systems. Working from examples, exercise and interactive discussions, students will learn to identify key drivers and leverage points for change. Students will learn to solicit useful information, model, and enact change using a various systems-based tools.

SUS504 Introduction to Sustainability and Systems

This course provides students the skills to understand, communicate, and critique the fundamentals of sustainability at multiple scales and across disciplines and cultures. It explores sustainability's origins and foundations, application, and assessment. We evaluate the inter-relationships among environmental, societal, and economic well-being and the implications on individual and social decision-making.

SUS590 Careers in Sustainability

This is a graduate level course that will contribute to the mission of SSE in training students in the theories, applications, and assessment of sustainability in a broad range of contexts.

SUS595 Achieving Careers in Sustainability

Students will advance their efforts for a sustainability career through a series of professional development activities, guest speakers, and co-curricular activities. They will strengthen their sustainability challenges, and will develop experience in appropriate methods for addressing these challenges. Students will also utilize this course to meet MSUS program expectations.

SUS601 Applied Ecology

The overall goal of this course is to examine the role that science contributes to sustainability. Students will critically assess process, evidence, uncertainty, application, and communication for traditional and alternative scientific methods through focused issues of sustainability (i.e., climate change, energy consumption, water pollution, urban ecosystems, children's environmental health, agroecosystems).

SUS602 The Political Economy of Sustainability

This course will examine the economic dimensions of environmental change through the frameworks of political ecology, political economy, development studies, and sustainability. Through case studies and current theory, we will investigate the costs, benefits, and sustainability of environmental governance.

SUS603 Sustainability: Ethics, Equity, Justice

This course focuses on the role of the "social" as one of the three pillars of sustainability. It explores historic and contemporary notions of ethics, social equity and social justice. It examines how these concepts can be applied to sustainability by studying local and global case studies.

SUS511 Project Design, Methods, and Evaluations

SUS698 Final Project

Course provides supervision and research guidance for the final project. Students will complete a final project independently or as part of a group to complete the MSUS degree requirements. The form of the final project is flexible and should be linked to the student's self-defined sustainability challenge.


+ Elective Courses (minimum of 12 credits)

SUS550 Eden Hall Experience

This course provides an opportunity for students to engage Chatham faculty and staff, community members, and contractors and designers on topics related to the development and maintenance of the Eden Hall campus. It allows students an inside look at the first sustainable campus built in the United States from the ground-up. This is a unique opportunity for students to be involved in understanding and contributing to the process of building and maintaining a sustainable campus.

SUS610 Communicating Sustainability

This course will focus on the development and application of skills for communicating the principles, evidence, complexity and stories of sustainability. Students will be introduced to the major revolutions in communication technologies, various communication strategies (risk, health, environmental, science, green marketing), and the best practices in technical, web, and visual communication.

SUS621 Applied Methods

This skill-based course conveys specific qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods for conducting the systematic investigation of a business, client project, practical problem, or applied research situation. Each section will address a different method; examples of topics include GPS and mapping, introduction to statistics, surveys, sustainability audits, and water quality monitoring.

SUS622 Engaging Animals

This course considers human-other animal engagements and how these affect sustainability. We first make sense of what "engaging animals" means, focusing on human-animal relations at different scales and levels cross-culturally, and then consider the impact on sustainability. We end with a student-led symposium on a specific human-animal relationship in relation to sustainability.

SUS623 Applied Ecology Seminar

Current findings of ecological science have implications for many fields of practice including water management, landscape architecture, sustainable agriculture, urban planning, conservation, and sustainable development. This seminar will focus on understanding and applying primary literature from a range of subfields within ecology.

SUS635 Water Policy and Governance

This course addresses water policy and governance. We will consider water resources with specific attention to the challenges that come with managing a resource that crosses a range of boundaries and scales. The course will explore debates around topics such as Pittsburgh's urban water management, justice, climate change, and scarcity.

SUS640 Sustainable Community Development

This course explores how people can engage in creating more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable communities at multiple scales, from the local to the regional. The reading and assignments emphasize sustainable planning theory and practice as well as sustainable food systems perspectives. Students will engage in practice-based research and community projects.

FST605 Food and Climate Change

This course considers the relationship between Earth's changing climate and the human production and consupmtion of food. With attention to current theories and case studies, students will develp a comprehensive understanding of food systems in relation to global environmental change, with a specific focus on livelihoods, adaptation, sustainability, and justice.