Sustainability Training for the Real World: Lessons from the University of Vermont


Today, we bring you a sneak peek inside one of our collaborative client engagements. We've been working with the University of Vermont (UVM) to create a training program for business professionals as well as those who wish to specialize as sustainability experts of the future. The need for a sustainability-trained workforce has never been higher. At the same time, employers are finding it difficult to fill sustainability-related jobs because candidates lack practical training and experience. Too many higher education programs focus on the theory of sustainability at the expense of the practical sustainability challenges and opportunities facing today’s companies.

UVM wanted to develop a sustainability program that helped to fill the void in practical, skills-based sustainability training. Curriculum had to be grounded in solid theory with a real-world focus from the corporate world. UVM said, “To meet this new demand, a need for personnel to develop an expertise in the best practices and strategies of sustainability has emerged. Today’s organizations need trained subject matter experts to transform their standard operating practices in the proper direction.”

Want to learn more about how we work with clients like UVM? Check out these excerpts from our recent case study:

Jennifer Woofter outlined curriculum elements in the three-course certificate, identified subject matter experts, and delivered selected lectures on sustainability strategy development. “The most important aspect of the program,” said Woofter, “was to present a real-world view of sustainability. Companies struggle with making sustainability profitable, dealing with trade-offs, and making tough decisions about what action and metrics to choose. I wanted students to feel confident walking into an organization and talking about the sustainability options on the table.”

Courses, taken individually or as part of a certificate, focus on three different aspects of sustainability:

  1. Principles & Strategies for Sustainability - practical aspects of developing a corporate sustainability strategy, engaging employees and stakeholders, and tracking and communicating sustainability performance
  2. Sustainable Operations - applicability of a variety of sustainability subjects such as energy and climate, waste, water, green building, health and safety, transportation and logistics
  3. Sustainability Best Practices & Implementation -advanced topics like carbon accounting, green supply chain management, sustainable product design, sustainable agriculture, and biomimicry

As students become trained sustainability experts, they are well-equipped to integrate sustainability into a company’s bottom line. Student Rebecca LeBlanc said, "The program opened my eyes to how I could evolve into a knowledgeable sustainability professional who could walk into a company and add value from day one. Prior to taking the initial course I was floundering and wondering where my past 30 years of experience as a project manager would fit. After completing two of the three courses in the program, I confidently led two different life cycle assessments."

Want to learn more? Check out these resources!

Are you looking for a similar training program tailored to your specific organization’s needs? Interested in a short discussion to learn more about how our team of consultants can partner to find the right solution for you? Don’t hesitate to contact us!