Executive Master's for Sustainability Leadership

Find your purpose, drive your career, transform your organization.



A limited number of scholarships of up to $15,000 are available to qualified students. Application deadline is September 30.


Let the nation’s leader in sustainability education equip you with the leadership skills to drive impactful transformation within your organization. Our next cohort starts January 2016.

  • 13-month program designed for busy professionals located anywhere
  • Hybrid curriculum built around four themes: global context, strategy, communication and leadership
  • Exclusive and interactive network of professionals per cohort

The Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership is a program of the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at Arizona State University, in affiliation with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and the School of Sustainability.

go beyond the MBA and become the solution

You have a strong drive for results and believe succeeding is worth the effort required. You are passionate about significantly advancing sustainability practices and leading the cultural change that transforms sustainability into an unavoidable path to success. You want to elevate your knowledge and enhance your skills but recognize a conventional master’s degree simply does not meet your needs. You have no time to spare, let alone waste. Does this sound like you? If so, you’ve arrived at the right degree from the right institution. ASU’s Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership.
The Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership at Arizona State University is more than a typical master’s degree. This unique degree:

  • is a hybrid online accelerated program from the nation’s leader of sustainability education that goes beyond an MBA – a program that will give you the real-life skills you need to take your career to the next level;
  • transcends traditional academics and can position you to move forward to the leading edge of sustainability and drive high-impact results for your organization and your career;
  • closely engages you with an elite network of peers and mentors – like-minded professionals with diverse backgrounds that you’ll remain affiliated with long after the course work is done;
  • is designed for professionals working anywhere in the world, with a solutions-based and outcomes-focused curriculum focused on strategy, global context, communication and leadership so you can integrate solutions into your organization now.

Each Executive Master’s for 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’s for 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.


course list

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

in-person workshops

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 Campus
January 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 Netherlands
June 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 Campus
January 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’s for Sustainability Leadership program provides you with a perfect balance of perspectives between seasoned academics, respected thought leaders and innovative practitioners.

Christopher Boone, PhD

Dean, School of Sustainability
Christopher Boone is the Dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University, a Senior Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and professor in the School of Sustainability and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change. Dr. Boone studies the nature of cities, urban life and the relationship between cities and the natural environment, primarily from a historical point of view. He is particularly interested in the processes responsible for changes in the urban landscape and the consequences of those changes for human beings and the environment. Three themes infuse his research: the study of urban infrastructure, public health and environmental justice. Dr. Boone received a BA in geography from Queen’s University (Canada) and received a MA and PhD in geography from the University of Toronto.


Gary Dirks, PhD

Director, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Gary Dirks is director of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and director of LightWorks, an initiative that capitalizes on ASU’s strengths in solar energy and other light-inspired research. He is also the Julie Wrigley Chair of Sustainable Practices and a Distinguished Sustainability Scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and a Professor of Practice in the School of Sustainability. Before joining ASU, Dr. Dirks was the President of BP Asia-Pacific and the President of BP China. In China, he grew BP from an operation with fewer than 30 employees and no revenue to more than 1,300 employees and revenues of about $4 billion in 2008. Dr. Dirks has served on the boards of the India Council for Sustainable Development, the U.S. China Center for Sustainable Development and the China Business Council for Sustainable Development. In December 2008 he was recognized by the People’s Daily as one of the 10 most influential multinational company leaders of the last 30 years of China’s economic development. Dr. Dirks received a PhD in chemistry from ASU in 1980.


George Basile, PhD

Instructional Lead: Strategy
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
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
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, and hosts The Business of Story weekly podcast. Howell holds a BA in Communications and Music from Washington State University.


Bruno Sarda

Instructional Lead: Global Context
Bruno Sarda is a leading practitioner in the field of corporate sustainability. In his role as Director of Global Sustainability Operations at Dell Inc, he is responsible for business integration and strategy, information strategy, measurement and reporting. 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.

guest speakers

  • Brad Allenby, President’s Professor and Lincoln Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment; Director, Center for Earth Systems Engineering and Management; Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University
  • Uwe Bergmann, Walton Practitioner Fellow, Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, Arizona State University; Head of Sustainability Management, Henkel
  • Ron Bonnstetter, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Target Training International
  • Nick Brown, Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University; Director, University Sustainability Practices, Arizona State University
  • Edward Cameron, Director of Partnership Development and Research, BSR
  • Tamara Christensen, Founder and Partner, Idea Farm
  • Kevin Dooley, Chief Research Officer, The Sustainability Consortium
  • Steve Craft, Strategist, NASA
  • Bart de Jong, Strategic Advisor of Economic and Aviation Affairs, Municipality of Haarlemmermeer
  • Suzanne Fallender, Director, Global Girls and Women Initiative; Former Director of CSR Strategy and Communications, Intel Corp.
  • Hayley Foster, Short Talk Expert and Presentation Coach
  • Jonathan Gottschall, Author, “The Storytelling Animal”
  • Kevin Groman, CEO, ECM Energy Services, Inc.
  • Lee Gutkind, Author, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up”; Editor, Creative Nonfiction Magazine; Professor, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, Arizona State University
  • John Hofmeister, Former President, Shell Oil; Founder and CEO, Citizens for Affordable Energy
  • Skelly Holmbeck, Scientist and Business Consultant, Environmental Resources Management
  • Minu Ipe, Clinical Associate Professor and Faculty Director, W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University
  • Bruce Klafter, Sr. Director of Corporate Social & Environmental Responsibility, Flextronics
  • Katie Kross, Managing Director, Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment, Duke University
  • Bob Kula, Vice President of Corporate Communication, Kiewit
  • Bob Langert, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility, McDonald’s Corporation
  • Kris Mayes, Former Arizona Corporation Commissioner; Professor of Practice and Director, Program on Law and Sustainability, Arizona State University
  • Susan McPherson, Founder and CEO, McPherson Strategies
  • Manjana Milkoreit, Walton Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, Arizona State University
  • Tim Mohin, Author, “Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehuggers Guide to Working in Corporations”; Director of Corporate Responsibility, Advanced Micro Devices
  • Susanne Moser, Director and Principal Researcher, Susanne Moser Research and Consulting; Social Science Research Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
  • Randy Olson, Scientist-turned-filmmaker; Creator of the And, But, Therefore system
  • Ray Quay, Research Professional, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University
  • Amy O’Meara, Director, Corporate EcoForum
  • Kevin Richardson, Executive Producer, GAMESPIN
  • Jonah Sachs, Co-founder and CEO, Free Range Studios; Author, “Winning the Story Wars”
  • Brian Small, Vice President, Competitive Power Ventures Renewables & Environment
  • Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy, Patagonia
  • Brian Swette, President, Sweet Earth Natural Foods
  • Colin Tetreault, Faculty Associate, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University; Former Senior Sustainability Policy Advisor, Office of the Mayor, City of Phoenix
  • Mike Wallace, Managing Director, BrownFlynn; Former Director for United States & Canada, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
  • Andrew Winston, Author, “The Big Pivot” and “Green to Gold”; Founder, Winston Eco-Strategies

important dates & FAQ

2016 Cohort Application Deadline November 30, 2015
Workshop Session I and program kickoff (Tempe, AZ) January 10-14, 2016
International Workshop (The Netherlands) June 19-27, 2016
Workshop Session II and graduation (Tempe, AZ) January 11-15, 2017


How do I apply?

Application for admission to the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program is done through the ASU Online Graduate Admissions Application portal. As you prepare your application for admission to the ASU School of Sustainability and the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program, please download and use the Executive Master’s Application Checklist to ensure that you have all necessary information and materials required to complete the ASU Online Graduate Admissions Application. You may begin an application and return at any time to complete it; however, please note that applicants have 90 days to submit an application before the application is deleted from the system.

What are the admission requirements?

Bachelor’s degree You must have earned a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution or the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree from an international institution that is officially recognized by that country. Equivalent to a B average The School of Sustainability requires the equivalent of a minimum GPA of 3.0 in the last sixty semester hours or ninety quarter hours of undergraduate work. Given that this is an Executive Master’s for experienced professionals, work and life experience may be taken into account in lieu of minimum GPA or other aspects of past bachelor degree program experience. Applicants whose GPA is below 3.0 may be admitted on a provisional status. Please contact us for more details if your GPA falls below the 3.0 requirement. Work experience Applicants to the Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership should be or are interested in being employed and ideally have experience managing or advancing some aspect of sustainability in their organizations, either directly or indirectly. Successful candidates will be expected to draw from and apply solutions to actual professional challenges and opportunities. Please contact us for more details if you are currently not employed. English proficiency If you are from a country whose native language is not English (regardless of where you may now reside), you must provide proof of English proficiency. For more details about the English proficiency requirement or to determine if you qualify for an exemption, please review the ASU Graduate Admissions English Proficiency requirements or contact us for further guidance.

What is the program structure?

The Executive Master’s for Sustainability Leadership program is a 13-month (January to January) program based around four principal curriculum threads: leadership, strategy, communication and global context. Each thread is led by an industry leader and complemented by module instructors from a pool of academics and practitioners to ensure the content is at the leading edge of sustainability practice. Each student will work on a project pulled from their organization’s program to maximize the impact on the participant’s involvement back to their organization.

For whom is this program designed?

This Executive Master’s program is designed for currently employed mid-career professionals in or near the field of sustainability, or for those who would like to lead change within the pioneering field of sustainability. Participants are passionate about sustainability and driving transformation throughout their organization.

How much does the program cost?

Exact tuition and fees for the 2016 program are still to be set, but will not exceed average pricing for other executive master’s and MBA programs across the country. The estimated cost of tuition and fees is expected to be between $48,000 and $63,000 depending on state of residency and eligibility for financial aid. 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’s for Sustainability Leadership program. The admissions application deadline for those who wish to be considered for this scholarship is September 30. 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.

What does the program cost cover and not cover?

Tuition and fees cover all program costs with the exception of airfare, immunization and visa costs for the three in-person workshop sessions and any equipment needs to access the online learning modules. The program cost also does not include the admissions application fee and graduation expenses.

What is the time commitment?

The program places an emphasis on self-directed on-line learning that will require a typical time commitment of 20 hours per week. Because Executive Master’s students will be working on company projects, we envision that this time will intersect with their regular workday seamlessly. The program also includes three in-person workshop sessions: one three to five-day kickoff session at ASU in Tempe, Arizona, an internationally-based eight-day session mid-program and a three to five-day closing session in Tempe.

What are travel requirements?

Aside from the three workshop sessions, no additional travel is required. The Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability hosts regular lecture series, workshops and special conferences that showcase current thought leaders and issues in the world of sustainability. All students are encouraged to participate in these events as they are able.

What if I already have a MBA or other master’s degree?

This program’s focus is on organizational leadership, business strategy and change management through the lens of sustainability. Participants will develop both the knowledge and skills to negotiate, advocate and implement sustainability practices within their organizations. By building a portfolio of projects throughout the program, students will have immediate impact on their organization. The first cohort included students who hold master’s and PhD degrees.

apply now

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


Jennifer Griffin

Jennifer Griffin

Academic Success Coordinator, Executive Master's for Sustainability Leadership Program
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ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives
Mailing: PO Box 878009, Tempe, AZ 85287-8009
Shipping: 21 E. 6th Street, Ste 126C, Tempe, AZ 85281
Phone: (480) 727-2704
Fax: (480) 965-5533