Find your purpose, drive your career and transform your organization. Let the nation’s leader in sustainability education equip you with the skills to accelerate your success.
Our next cohort starts January 2016 – join our network of successful thought leaders!

Real World Leadership Tools to Build a Sustainable Future

Why this program is different and why you will be different in 13 months:
  1. Experience a degree that is unlike a traditional MBA – faculty work together to provide integrated course content in a linked set of 6-week sessions, not a collection of unlinked courses.
  2. Participate in a hybrid program of interactive on-line learning with three face-to-face sessions including an 8-day international immersive event.
  3. Gain real-world applicability for immediate use through the course deliverables, international immersive and live faculty/guest speaker lectures – from Day 1 to graduation you will directly apply what you learn into what you are working on in the real world.
  4. Receive individual one-on-one engagement from faculty and experts – industry leaders within and beyond ASU who are pioneers in their field.
  5. Earn a degree that’s truly unique – differentiate yourself with skills that scale beyond sustainability.
  6. Arm yourself with the tools necessary to confidently move sustainability initiatives forward in the face of powerful obstacles.
  7. Realize perspectives outside your routine sphere of influence through the diversity of our cohorts.
  8. Achieve, as many of our students do, personal transformational growth in just 13 months.
Applicants to EMSL come from all corners of their organization and recognize that a traditional MBA does not adequately address their needs or goals. Our students are entrepreneurs, educators, managers, small business owners and community leaders with a rich variety of backgrounds and experiences who want to make the practice of sustainability central to their careers. They come from around the world and are re-entering school at various points in their life. Their diversity is a key strength of this program. The EMSL curriculum was created by practitioners for practitioners. Graduates leave the program with the tools to turn good intentions and valuable ideas into real change. They are transformed into highly effective leaders who use their skills to advance sustainability within their own area of expertise.
Each Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership student cohort is made up of a group of talented individuals with established resumes who share a passion for the pioneering field of sustainability and a desire to become agents for long-term change. This group will move forward, together and individually, to create positive outcomes around the world.

Find the tools you need for the results you want

The Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership was designed with specific input from hundreds of sustainability executives and advocates from corporations, NGOs, communities and governments. The innovative curriculum, created in partnership with academic and industry leaders, encourages the use of hands-on projects from your own workplace as practical case studies and builds to a final capstone project that will apply directly and immediately to your organization’s sustainability plans and challenges. When you finish the program, you will be armed with practical, actionable tools to become a leader who can embed sustainability throughout your organization, through four specific themes: global context, strategy, communication and leadership.

Important dates

  • 2016 Cohort Application Deadline*
  • Workshop Session I and program kickoff (Tempe, AZ)
  • International Workshop (The Netherlands)
  • Workshop Session II and graduation (Tempe, AZ)
  • November 30, 2015
  • January 10-14, 2016
  • June 19-27, 2016
  • January 11-15, 2017
* To be considered for the 2016 cohort and scholarship, applicants must submit a full application, including an answer to the scholarship essay question.


Through generous funding provided by the Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation, Arizona State University will award a limited number of scholarships of up to $15,000 to mid-career professionals applying to the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership program. To be considered for the 2016 cohort and scholarship, applicants must submit a full application, including an answer to the scholarship essay question. Scholarship recipients will be selected based on their complete application after their admission to the program. For more information on program costs, please read the FAQ.
Global Context
  • EMS 502 Global Context I—Translating Global Context into Organizational Realities
  • EMS 506 Global Context II—From Risk Avoidance and Compliance to Innovation and Thought Leadership
  • EMS 511 Global Context III—Addressing Sustainability Beyond Organizational Boundaries: Melding Global Context and Organizational Leadership
  • EMS 503 Strategic Sustainability I—Foundations of Strategic Sustainability: Sustainability as a Strategic Lens
  • EMS 507 Strategic Sustainability II—Reframing Strategy in a Sustainability Context: Weaving Success and Sustainability into Strategy
  • EMS 512 Strategic Sustainability III—Sustainable Integration in Developed and Emerging Markets: Building for Global Success
  • EMS 504 Communications and Sustainability I—Foundations for Professional Communications: Creating Chief Sustainability Storytellers
  • EMS 509 Communications and Sustainability II—Communicating Sustainability: How and Where to Tell Your Stories of Sustainability
  • EMS 513 Communications and Sustainability III—Engaging Stakeholders and Global Communications: How to Own ANY Room: Boardroom, Team Room, Break Room, Chat Room and Living Room
  • EMS 505 Sustainability Leadership I—Emerging Sustainability Leadership
  • EMS 510 Sustainability Leadership II—Sustainability as a Core Leadership Platform
  • EMS 514 Sustainability Leadership III—Transformational Leadership for Global Success
The program experience includes three face-to-face workshop sessions. Two are held at Arizona State University, and one is held in a compelling international location.
Workshop Session I (EMS 501: Sustainability Leadership Workshop I)ASU Tempe CampusJanuary 10-14, 2016 This first workshop session formally kicks off the program. It’s an opportunity to meet graduating and fellow cohort members, learn what the entire program will cover and what success will look like. This will include hands-on collaboration and group time with peer cohort members; engaging in thought-provoking workshops and discussions with individuals as diverse as policy makers and artists; and experiencing regional sustainability cases onsite, such as Chase Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks.Upon leaving, you will feel connected to your cohort and faculty and will have a personalized success and development roadmap for the following year.
Executive Master's class of 2015 in the Netherlands workshop
International Workshop (EMS 508: International Immersive)The NetherlandsJune 19-27, 2016 The international workshop experience will take place in the Netherlands where all of the challenges and opportunities of sustainability are in play. The international immersive is designed as a dynamic vehicle to make real-world connections to sustainability leaders, projects and communities. It is sure to be among the most memorable experiences of the program. You will ‘see’ and ‘feel’ sustainability from the perspective of another country and cultural context. You will extend your professional networks to other host countries and generate a reflective experience and analysis report. Collaborative teams will work through a sustainability case study and present their solutions.
Workshop Session II (EMS 516: Sustainability Leadership Workshop II)ASU Tempe CampusJanuary 11-15, 2017 You will present your capstone project and share the knowledge and experience gained during the 13 months of the program. The student portfolio will be showcased and brought to life when each student delivers their TED-style talk during this workshop. You will leave as graduates, energized to put your enhanced toolkits to work and become fully recommitted to your purpose.
The faculty for the Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership program provides you with a perfect balance of perspectives between seasoned academics, respected thought leaders and innovative practitioners.

George Basile, PhD

Instructional Lead: Strategy @fromgbasile George Basile is a professor in the School of Sustainability, a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and an Affiliate Professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University. He has been Executive Director of the ASU Decision Theater, a unique systems exploration, research and application center, and served as a faculty affiliate and advisor to The Sustainability Consortium. Dr. Basile led efforts on sustainability and business strategy at Fortune 100 businesses and start-ups, including Home Depot, McDonalds and Nike, and serves on the editorial board of “Sustainability, the Journal of Record.” He holds a BS in Physics from UC Irvine and a PhD in Biophysics from UC Berkeley.

Kevin Gazzara, DM

Instructional Lead: Leadership @doctorkevin Kevin Gazzara has spent the last 30 years in program management, leadership, organizational development, marketing and teaching for multiple industries spanning from heavy equipment to high tech, including 18 years at Intel Corporation. Dr. Gazzara is a senior partner in Magna Leadership Solutions, where he co-authored “The Leader of Oz: Revealing 101 Secrets of Marvelous Leadership for the 21st Century.” In 2007 he received the Future HR Leader award from Human Capital magazine and has been recognized for his international leadership development programs by Workforce Magazine. He holds a BS in Commerce and Engineering from Drexel University, a MBA from Philadelphia University and a Doctorate of Management in organizational leadership from the University of Phoenix.

Park Howell

Instructional Lead: Communications @parkhowell Park Howell is president of Park&Co, a Phoenix-based brand strategy and consultancy firm that ignites the growth of purpose-driven people, products, companies and causes through the power of storytelling. His mission is to turn sustainability executives into chief storytelling officers to help the executive master’s candidates propel their initiatives forward faster. Howell was honored as the 2010 Advertising Person of the Year by the American Advertising Federation for Metro Phoenix, and ParkCo was named among the top 10 IMPACT businesses for 2011 by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. In addition to running Park&Co, Howell is publishing his first book, “Story Built,” which chronicles the 10-steps of the Story Cycle, which is a process for brand story creation inspired by American mythologist Joseph’s Campbell’s Hero’s Journey model. Howell holds a BA in Communications and Music from Washington State University.

Bruno Sarda

Instructional Lead: Global Context @bruno68 Bruno Sarda is a leading practitioner in the field of corporate sustainability. In his role as Director of Social Responsibility at Dell Inc, he is responsible for leading the integration of human and social dimensions of sustainability across the business as well at industry level through leadership in various cross-organizational efforts. He also actively supports sustainability advocacy, policy, and objective setting, working with internal and external stakeholders, and was recently named one of the ‘most influential sustainability voices in America’ by The Guardian. An ASU alum and Senior Sustainability Scholar in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Sarda also teaches classes at ASU that prepare students for success in sustainability careers and as a coach and mentor through his leadership of the groundbreaking Dell-funded sustainability job training program.

Featured speakers

  • Roian Atwood, Director of Sustainability, VF Jeanswear
  • Darren Beck, Manager of Corporate Responsibility, Sprint
  • Peter Byck, Documentary film director/producer and Professor of Practice, School of Sustainability & Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, Arizona State University
  • Jonathan Gottschall, Author of The Storytelling Animal
  • Lee Gutkind, Distinguished Writer in Residence for the Consortium Science, Policy & Outcomes and Professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University
“I know that I’ve got experts in all sorts of industries and businesses throughout the country that I can call on if I’m ever in their area, if I ever have a question about something related to their business, and they can always help me. It’s those relationships that surprisingly are a huge takeaway for me.”
Tim Trefzer, Sustainability Manager, Georgia World Congress Center Authority

Apply now

Below you will find helpful information on how to prepare and submit your online application:


Jennifer Griffin
Program Advisor, Walton Higher Education Programs, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives