Integrating programmatic expertise from across the us and canada to model and guide leadership training for graduate students in sustainability

Nicole Motzer, Aleta Rudeen Weller, Kathleen Dietrich Curran, Simon Donner, Ronald J. Heustis, Cathy Jordan, Margaret Krebs, Lydia Olandar, Kirsten Rowell, Linda Silka, Diana H. Wall, Abigail York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


It is critical that future sustainability leaders possess the skills and aptitudes needed to tackle increasingly ‘wicked’ challenges. While much has been done to identify this need, inadequate Leadership Training for graduate students in Sustainability (LTS) continues to plague even the most highly-resourced institutions. Collectively, the authors of this paper represent the small yet growing number of LTS programs across the United States and Canada working to close this training gap. In this paper, we describe the integrative approach we took to synthesize our collective knowledge of LTS with our diverse programmatic experiences and, ultimately, translate that work into concrete guidance for LTS implementation and design. We present a framework for the suite of key LTS aptitudes and skills yielded by our collaborative approach, and ground these recommendations in clear, real-world examples. We apply our framework to the creation of an open-access curricular database rich with training details, and link this database to an interactive network map focused on sharing programmatic designs. Together, our process and products transform many disparate components into a more comprehensive and accessible understanding of what we as LTS professionals do, with a view to helping others who are looking to do the same for the next generation of sustainability leaders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8950
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2 2021


  • Aptitudes
  • Graduate program
  • Higher education
  • Interdis-ciplinary
  • Leadership
  • Skills
  • Sustainability
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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