Master of Sustainability (MSUS)
Nichole Brown, MSUS '15
Growing up in Kansas I always understood how connected humans are to the earth. Experiencing harvest and living under the expansive sky of the plains made me appreciate nature from an early age. Sustaining the beauty and power the world has to offer has always been important to me on a personal level. It wasn’t until my last year of undergrad that it dawned on me that I could do something to help for a living! After I graduated I was fortunate enough to receive a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Indonesia. After living in such an environmentally and culturally rich place I knew that continuing my education in Sustainability was the right choice.
Holly Eve, MSUS '15
I am interested in sustainability because I feel it has the power to bring people together. Before coming to Pittsburgh and Chatham, I had lived in many places across the United States and in Japan. I worked in many different fields including the military, healthcare, and retail. The one thing all of those experiences had in common was people. People are the same all over. We are so much more alike than different. I feel many people look towards the differences that separate us rather than the commonality we all share. Sustainability issues can cross divergent world views to bring people together for a common good. Sustainability has the power to improve quality of life for all things on Earth.
I hope to use my degree to encourage social connectedness. I would like to find way to transcend the differences and find a common ground to start rather than seeking the differences. In doing so, I hope to promote civic engagement and social justice. Chatham was a perfect fit with their transdisciplinary, systems-based approach.
Ziggy Osiecki, MSUS '15
I’ve had many influences in my life that have guided me towards a future in sustainability but I believe that it was my childhood spent at my grandparent’s home in the Laurel Mountains that really gave me the appreciation for nature and natural living that I hope to pass on with my career in sustainability. During my undergraduate education I took a class on Environmental Politics that changed the way I looked at my beloved Laurel Mountains. The environmental history of our nation has not been kind and the realization that Pennsylvania has been clear-cut several times greatly troubled me, however it was a trip to Hearts Content, a mere 120 acre patch of old growth forest, that really brought it all together. Three hundred and fifty foot eastern white pines towered over the mixed deciduous forest, the soft moss covered earth beneath the canopy and the rich smell of pine transported me to another time when the east coast was covered in these giants. I felt like I was finally home, and then the trail ended and I was back in the parking lot. From that moment on I knew that if I could save just one tree then I will have lived a meaningful life.
As I searched for graduate programs I came across Chatham’s Master of Sustainability program and knew immediately that this is the direction I was meant to take. As an undergraduate I studied history as my major but had also taken many courses in anthropology and philosophy. The fact that I would be able to pursue sustainability while incorporating my love of these other subjects really made this the perfect fit for me. It is my intention to pursue sustainable development through the use of drastically alternative building materials such as cob housing and rammed earth in an attempt to lessen the impact of construction markets while also investigating building code and regulation that inhibit the use of alternative materials and methods. After completion of this degree I intend to continue my education and undertake the trials of a doctorate degree.
Kyla Scherr, MSUS '15
I chose to pursue a Masters in Sustainability because the interdisciplinary aspect of the program offered me a chance to fully explore my interests, and the compassionate faculty and their commitment to sustainable principles attracted me to Chatham. Coming from a scientific background in Conservation and Wildlife Management, I want to hone my skills in social disciplines because people can both block and facilitate environmental policy. As a student here, I feel privileged to work collaboratively with others who can create art because I think this can be an invaluable way to reach people across language and ideological barriers. Ultimately, I hope that I can use citizen science and nature therapy to involve urban communities in ecological research and make them feel invested in its outcomes. I believe this program will allow me to do this and more!
Eric Autenreith, MSUS '14
I grew up in Glenshaw, PA, right about halfway between Chatham‘s Shadyside campus and the Eden Hall Campus. I moved to southern West Virginia in 1982 and for 22 years worked as a whitewater raft guide. Recently, the biggest environmental and justice threat to our community has arrived in the form of mountain-top removal mining and the Marcellus shale fracking – two very powerful industries that present us with difficult decisions in need of smart solutions.
I am in this Sustainability program because I feel I can see the problems and possible solutions, but felt overwhelmed and ineffective in making any meaningful change to the injustice of corporate-controlled government. It seems that where decision-making is transparent, equity in governance and other issues of sustainability will follow. I am inspired by the example of Rachel Carson and her scientist activism and the intelligence and energy of my teachers and Dean. I have a sense of being in good company – I love the diversity and good, fun, and funny character of all my classmates. A few of us may not have it all figured out but we’re pretty sure this is the right place to be.
Evelyn Mann MSUS '14
Why sustainability? I'm a logical thinker. We only have one planet, thus we should have an attitude of conservation and a desire to sustain what we've been given as long as possible.
I hold two Bachelor's Degrees - Chemistry and Civil Engineering. I used to see Sustainability as falling somewhere in the middle of the spectrum that runs from Tree-Hugging Activist to Environmental Engineer, which is where I believe I stand. I have come to realize that Sustainability is not even on the spectrum, but encompasses the whole of it. The potential for creativity and innovation in Sustainability is immense (and very inspiring).
After graduation I'd like to work either with stubborn adults, attempting to subtly persuade them to adopt more sustainable practices ("corporate sustainability"), or with impressionable youngsters, helping the next generation to adopt practices and an attitude so as to leave a burgeoning legacy of sustainability.
Sarah Menz, MSUS '14
When I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring for the first time during my junior year of college, I was smitten. I was studying literature at the time, and the idea of writing about environmental issues for a wide audience fascinated me. As a summer writing fellow at Pierce Cedar Creek Institute for Environmental Education, I was finally given the time and space to explore my interest and even try my hand at nature writing. I began researching graduate programs in creative writing, but something just didn’t feel right. Though I wanted to help communicate environmental concerns, I was more interested in understanding them for myself so that I could help search for and implement solutions. Chatham Master of Sustainability program offered me a way to do just that – without giving up on my love of writing. The program has allowed me to dive deeper into the issues I was already passionate about (climate change, sustainable housing options, and transportation, to name a few) and identify ways for me to contribute – all while building towards a rewarding career. I’m thrilled to be a part of this new program where I have the chance to determine my own educational focus and see the rise of the first wholly sustainable campus.
Gina Mucciolo, MSUS '14
While earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Interior Design, I began to realize that making positive changes goes beyond aesthetics. I became obsessed with one thing - the potential to have a positive impact on the lives of others. I wanted to learn what caused people to make unsustainable and ultimately unhealthy decisions - not only for themselves, but for others in their communities as well. I began to realize that some environmental issues are also equally social and economic issues; essentially, what we place our values on as a society determines how we live. This expands beyond our lives within our own homes to our neighborhoods and cities.
As a transit rider, bicyclist, outdoor enthusiast, and resident of Downtown Pittsburgh, I’ve visited many neighborhoods around our city and have become immersed in issues such as sustainable regional planning, multi-modal transportation and access, and food security - as well as the possibilities for research, education, and community development initiatives to address these growing challenges. Through my passion for transit and access, I aim to bring a high quality of life to many neighborhoods and help develop a better connected vision of sustainable communities in the Pittsburgh region - and wherever else life takes me!
Miriam Parson, MSUS '14
I am a program manager with over six years experience innovating and leading sustainability, community development, policy, and service-learning projects. I believe strongly in the power of networks and collaboration to leverage resources and better serve our communities’ sustainable futures. Currently, I lead SCA’s Green Cities Corps program in Pittsburgh, managing Sustainability Fellows across strategic partnerships to increase citywide sustainability.
In my graduate work with Chatham’s MSUS program, I’m interested in collaborative leadership and nudging leverage points. My thesis project deals with ecosystem services valuation and how organizations mobilize this expanded benefits accounting. After graduation, I plan to continue collaborating across the Pittsburgh region’s green renaissance.
Ann Payne, MSUS '14
Sustainability has always had a presence in my life and consciousness, it is more than an idea or long word, it is a necessity for the world. Because it is something that is so needed in all aspects of life, it's broadness and multi-entry nature was the largest appeal for me to pursue a professional degree in solidly learning its basic principles, and real world applications.
I grew up in Louisiana, and came to the Chatham Sustainability Masters program after completing a BA in Journalism/Public Relations from Baylor University deep in the heart of Texas, with minors in Studio Art, Museum Studies, and Music. After a year working as an exhibit coordinator and designer at Baylor, and running a lifestyle photography business for a few years, I wanted to tie up my formal education with something that was for me at least, the best framework for living on a finite planet - Sustainability.
I am looking to create a career in the Sustainability field with a strong communications and design aspect; perhaps marketing, advertising, or museum educational exhibitions to name a few. Creating an understanding and appreciation for protection of natural resources, environments, and healthy lifestyles is my lifetime goal, and gaining a professional degree in Sustainability has bolstered my sense of direction for this all-encompassing framework for life.
Kristen Reynolds, MSUS '14
After receiving a degree in Geosciences and Environmental Geology, I was searching for a way to bridge the gap between the science academia community and the general public. Sustainability consisted of all the tools, ideas, and structure I felt that I needed to begin building this bridge. As a water nerd, Pittsburgh’s three rivers offered me an ideal setting to study sustainability and water resources. Chatham University’s Masters in Sustainability program allows me to add a layer of creativity and innovation to my science driven mind.
Being surrounded by a classroom full of students with diverse undergraduate degrees, we are able to teach each other and see how collaboration across disciplines really works. Each class has an action oriented assignment or project that allows students to participate in the community, implement ideas, and experience things first hand.
I like to consider myself as a well-travelled women and thankfully, my studies have supported many of those experiences. From place to place, I have observed that people’s knowledge and perception about their water resources varies tremendously. Blending sustainability and water resources has allowed me to think about the systems that influence our interactions and relationships with water.
James Snow, MSUS '14
With the complexity of environmental issues facing us today, the ideal graduate program provides students with the skill sets, tools and critical thinking approaches necessary to propose innovative solutions. In addition to this, the ideal program also allows you to define and pursue your personal and professional goals, while preparing you for a solid career in a sometimes volatile market. The Master of Sustainability program does just that, and more. A great aspect about the MSUS program, (and one that lead to my enrollment) is its trans-disciplinary make up. As a rural farmer turned urban planner, it is essential that I approach ecological issues within the built environment with a team of individuals ranging from engineers to visual artists. No one person ever has the right answer, and that right answer never comes from only one background. After I graduate, it is my hope that I will continue my work in the non-profit or public sector creating vibrant and sustainable communities that are open and available to all. Author Jane Jacobs once said, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” It is my intention to create sustainable and vibrant communities that guarantee this very capability for generations to come.