Sustainable Leadership Academy

Want to help build a happier, healthier and more equitable future? Interested in a career in sustainability but not sure where to start? 

Explore topics in sustainability and social justice during an unforgettable week-long experiential retreat at Chatham University, including the Eden Hall Campus—the world’s first academic community built to be sustainable from below the ground up. 

Open to rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders as well as students leaving 12th grade, Chatham’s Sustainable Leadership Academy provides the chance to:

  • Participate in hands-on experiential learning with Chatham faculty in the field
  • Explore sustainable highlights of Pittsburgh during guided tours
  • Dive deeply into the connection between participants’ social identities, social justice and sustainability
  • Develop the leadership skills needed to be a change agent
  • Meet like-minded friends
  • Relax and recharge in nature, through exercise or with art
  • Experience a taste of college life

For the first time this year, now offering two different program dates with two unique themes! Register today—both programs have limited seats.

Register Today

My definition of sustainability absolutely changed from before this program. I didn’t really know about the triple bottom line or the social equity aspect of sustainability.

—SLA Student Testimonial

Photo of a group of SLA attendees posing for a photo in downtown Pittsburgh

Global Lens: June 18-23, 2023

The June program will be filled half with Japanese high schoolers and half with American high schoolers. We will focus on global sustainability through activities related to UN climate efforts, international aid, global business supply chains, cultural exchange amongst program participants and more.

Photo of SLA students working in a group, in a greenhouse on Eden Hall Campus

Local Lens: July 22-30, 2023

All seats in the July program are open for anyone across the country or world to enroll. We will focus on local sustainability through Western PA examples related to neighborhood revitalization and gentrification, urban agriculture, small businesses, community-scale renewable energy initiatives and more.

Chatham University's Eden Hall campus amphitheater with rows of built-in shelves sits at the bottom of a hill looking up to a white dairy barn with a solar panel roof.

Where You Will Live

In summer 2023, SLA participants will all either live on Chatham’s Shadyside Campus in the city of Pittsburgh, or on the Eden Hall Campus in Gibsonia, PA, a 35 minute drive north of the city. We will update all registered participants on the intended program host campus ASAP.

Explore Locations : Checkerboard 3 - Where You Will Live

What You Will Learn

You will explore the intersection between environment, economy, and equity through experiential learning site visits across the Pittsburgh region and on-campus sessions. We cultivate opportunities with real world sustainability professionals that will encourage you to think critically. Experiences are debriefed in facilitated dialogue, where we unpack the way identity influences how we show up as sustainable leaders.

View Curriculum & Schedule : Checkerboard 4 - What You Will Learn
Photo of a group of SLA students seated at tables and working on projects in the ADC on Shadyside Campus

Cost & Scholarships

The Global Lens program costs $1325 and the Local Lens program costs $1500. Both programs include meals, outings, art and outdoor education classes, and Chatham swag (including a t-shirt). Price also includes six nights’ accommodations plus linens for the June program and eight nights’ accommodations (no linens) for the July program. Full and partial need-based scholarships are available. Note: The schedule is tentative and subject to change. $150 deposit due upon registration. Balance due by April 15, 2023. Full refunds are available until June 1, 2023. After that date, we are unable to provide refunds. 

Learn About Scholarships : Checkerboard 5 - Cost & Scholarships
Photo of SLA students feeding and petting goats on Eden Hall Campus

Rachel Carson Healthy Planet Award

Named for Chatham's most famous alumna, environmental icon Rachel Carson ’29, the Rachel Carson Healthy Planet Award is awarded to deserving students nominated from high schools nationally and internationally who embody the spirit of Rachel Carson in their dedication to sustainability and community development. Winners receive a discounted price to SLA, a $5,000 merit scholarship (renewable annually) to Chatham University, and more.

Learn About the Award : Checkerboard 6 - Rachel Carson Healthy Planet Award
Photo of a group of SLA attendees in a classroom on Eden Hall Campus

Virtual Information Session

Learn more about the SLA, including scholarship opportunities and first-hand testimonials from current Chatham students, past program participants, faculty and staff! This information session is primarily intended for Black male high schoolers, but students with all race and gender identities are welcome. This virtual information session will be held over Zoom on Thursday, January 19 from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Register : Checkerboard 7 - Virtual Information Session
Photo of two SLA attendees in kayaks on a Pittsburgh river, smiling for a photo

A Look Inside the Sustainable Leadership Academy

By Friday, the 18 high school students participating in this year’s Sustainable Leadership Academy (SLA) have been together for five days, and they've clearly formed a tightly knit group. They chat and joke as they file into the conference room. Because the past week has been a curated whirlwind.

Photo of a man giving a tour to SLA students in East Liberty

What Students Are Saying

"I feel like it's really easy and kind of realistic now to make change. So many people say 'I want to make change' and don't know how, but now I know how. So that's really cool. I also used to feel like the odd ball out, but now I feel a sense of purpose and community, which is really cool. And comforting."—SLA Student Testimonial