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Sustainability Management: More Than Just a Buzzword

As the world becomes more "green" focused, new career paths are emerging to address the complexities of being environmentally conscious and sustainable. Sustainability - that's one of those new buzzwords you may have been hearing lately, but don't exactly know what it means. But stay tuned, since over the next few years, every corporation in America will be seeking sustainability management professionals to ensure that company is doing all that it can to be environmentally responsible, and minimize the potential negative impact on the environment.

What is Sustainable Management?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is "satisfying basic economic, social, and security needs now and in the future without undermining the natural resource base and environmental quality on which life depends." That idea is also trickling down to the business level, in that organizations are learning to increase their social value by decreasing their use of materials, seeking new energy sources, and reduce their carbon footprints.

Sustainable Management careers will not only be in demand at government and public policy levels. Lawyers, managers, engineers, scientists, and financial professionals will all need to understand sustainability in some way in order to contribute to their organizations. And many firms will in fact hire professionals who specialize in sustainable management, meaning they'll have knowledge of the systematic role that sustainability plays in the organization, and be able to solve complex problems.

Learn About Sustainability
As the demand for these skills grows, more and more educational institutions are offering advanced degrees, four-year degrees, certificates, courses, or specializations in sustainable management. Coursework often includes, but is not limited to, understanding environmental measuring tools and science; how to maximize water, climate, waste, and energy systems; and how to operate cost-effectively with consideration of social and environmental ecosystems. Other overlapping areas of study may focus on the business aspects of sustainability, working conditions, and understanding the ethical issues related to sustainability.

Students who complete studies in sustainable management should be able to evaluate the sustainability of an organization; develop creative, adaptive solutions to sustainability challenges; and work collaboratively with others to put solutions into practice.