Stanford University
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How do you shift an organization to advance sustainability goals?

Stanford Earth has launched its first online course to give working professionals access to best practices that drive sustainability. The school also will offer a 2.5-day on-campus program and certificate in September.

BY Barbara Buell
ClockJanuary 24, 2019

After years of teaching and research, Pamela Matson, a globally recognized environmental scientist and former dean of the Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, concluded that students who were committed to sustainability needed the science but also the leadership know-how to implement change in organizations. Now, for the first time, working professionals on the front lines of business, government, and nonprofit organizations also can access some of that learning through a new online course.

The key is learning to engage multiple stakeholders within and beyond your organization for effective implementation.

The new self-paced course, Essentials for Business: Put theory into practice, is aimed at anyone interested in advancing sustainability within their organization. No prior knowledge or experience is required. Available through Stanford Online, the $295 course offers about six hours of material and exercises that participants must complete within 60 days from time of enrollment.

“Sustainability can touch virtually every facet of an organization from customer marketing to supply chain,” says Matson. “Leaders should use a systems framework in planning and decision making, and build collaborations that can scale.”

The interactive course, developed by the Change Leadership for Sustainability Program at Stanford Earth, explains how a commitment to sustainability can contribute to an organization’s financial bottom line by mitigating risk, meeting customer demand, and addressing social and environmental problems. Course participants will learn practical tools and strategies to increase the impact and performance of their organizations. Material is drawn from the Sustainability Science and Practice master’s program that Matson and co-director Julia Novy-Hildesley created for Stanford graduate students in 2017.

Learning modules are taught by Matson and Novy-Hildesley, who has two decades of experience in organizational sustainability practice. The course also features video insights from corporate guest speakers such as the chief sustainability officer of Google. Content will include:

  • How to tackle challenges and capitalize on opportunities in today’s complex world
  • How employees, customers, and communities are increasingly influencing business strategy and outcomes
  • What decision-making frameworks and tools are most effective in driving social, financial, and environmental results

Essentials for Business: Put theory into practice

In this online course, you’ll learn how a commitment to sustainability can contribute to your organization’s financial well-being while helping to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, including the depletion of natural resources, social injustice, and climate change.

Navigate to Essentials for Business: Put theory into practice

Strategies for Sustainability Program certificate

Stanford Earth also offers a new in-person program for middle- and senior-level managers with responsibility for driving change in their organizations. Held on the Stanford campus, the course, Leadership and Design Thinking: Drive change in your organization, will help managers discover ways to shift culture to advance sustainability by leading others – including those who don’t consider sustainability to be core to their jobs.

“We will draw on design thinking and transformative leadership principles to cultivate participants’ capacity to understand and influence different stakeholders within their organizations to advance sustainability goals,” says Novy-Hildesley.

The on-campus program will include faculty lectures, industry expert panels, interactive sessions, and hands-on workshops. Participants will hone their ability to integrate sustainability as a core strategy into their organizations.

The 2.5-day on-campus experience will be held Sept. 11-13, 2019. Tuition is $3,350, if registered by June 30, and includes the cost of the online course. Participants who successfully complete both the online and in-person programs will receive a Strategies for Sustainability certificate of completion. Managers may also enroll in the in-person program without taking the online course. 

Leadership and Design Thinking: Drive change in your organization

In this interactive on-campus program, you will discover ways to shift your organization’s culture to advance sustainability through transformative leadership and design thinking. You will apply design thinking frameworks and systems leadership to engage stakeholders in transformative change.

Navigate to Leadership and Design Thinking: Drive change in your organization

Media Contacts

Barbara Buell

School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, 650-723-1771

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