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A Cross Disciplinary Approach

How MSSM Students Are Putting It All Together

By Peter Levine

MSSM A Cross Disciplinary Approach

Veronica Yow's capstone project focuses on increasing the use of organic cotton as it goes from farm to fabric to fashion house.

Veronica Yow, a graduate student in American University’s Master of Science in Sustainability Management (MSSM) program, understands just how complex and interrelated the problems of sustainability are. Now hard at work on her capstone project in China, Yow credits the MSSM program with helping her see sustainability with fresh eyes.

“I’m taking away a set of tools and knowledge that will help me manage the sensitive line between social, economic and environmental vitality,” Yow says. She’s putting these tools to good use in a fellowship program centered on increasing the use of organic cotton as it goes from farm to fabric to fashion house.

“I’m taking away a set of tools and knowledge that will help me manage the sensitive line between social, economic and environmental vitality.”

Joining the business and management principles of Kogod with a focus on environmental, social and political issues offers a rare, holistic experience to students. Through this cross-disciplinary approach, students acquire a robust picture of current issues in the field. Students interact with professors in the School of International Service, the College of Arts & Sciences, and the School of Public Affairs to develop a nuanced understanding of sustainability problems, including poverty and women’s rights.

The MSSM program, now in its 5th year, continues to evolve. Its four career tracks: Sustainability Executive, Sustainability Entrepreneur, Sustainability Consultant, and Sustainability Communications Executive can now be completed within one year. It also offers students an international experience and the chance to tackle a capstone project.

As businesses continue to embrace the impact and importance of corporate social responsibility, jobs related to sustainability have proliferated. “We now see many companies with sustainability-related positions. It makes a lot of sense to incorporate a sustainability degree program within a business school,” says Wendy Boland, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs.

That makes AU’s MSSM program not only a unique choice, but a timely one as well.