MS in Resilient & Sustainable Communities

Green Mountain College

Year Founded: Jan. 1, 2014
Date Posted: Feb. 25, 2016
Submitted by: Monika Urbanski
Sustainability Topic: Curriculum
Content Type: Academic Programs
Program Type: Master's Degree
Completion: 2 years
Distance: Distance Education
Commitment: Full-Time


Green Mountain College's Master of Science degree in Resilient and Sustainable Communities (MRSC) is the first of its kind and is a truly unique program designed to give students the skills to develop, advocate, and implement fundamental changes in how communities function. At the heart of this program is the understanding that sustainability depends on creating resilient communities, which can adapt to changing conditions in ways that allow them to evolve without losing their fundamental identities. Students will synthesize knowledge about land-use planning, economic development, energy production, food systems, and resource management, while developing skills in leadership, group organization, and conflict resolution. Highlighting Green Mountain College's visionary bioregional approach to distant education, students are asked to apply the skills and knowledge learned to issues and ecosystems in their local area. This enables our students to go beyond conventional education and learn to identify and solve problems facing their own communities. The MRSC program is distinct in its goal to help students apply what they learn in each class to their own communities, wherever they may live, and to hear from classmates how the same concepts may take different forms in various settings. The applied emphasis of our online graduate programs is a natural expression of our college, which features a culture and curriculum deeply rooted in social, environmental and economic sustainability. As one of the nation's pioneer environmental liberal arts colleges, Green Mountain College is uniquely positioned to produce sustainability leaders equipped with the skills necessary to become agents of change and address environmental issues on a local, national, and global level. Typically completed in two years, the MRSC program consists of 39 credits. Twenty-seven of those credit hours represent a common core of courses providing the foundation of the MRSC program. Courses are typically taken sequentially (elective course options become available after the core courses have been completed), in year-round study, with a one week break between each course. Students complete projects by applying the skills and knowledge acquired in the program and engaging with classmates and instructors in asynchronous discussions. Because of the program's sequential course progression, students will normally enter each core course with the same students who started in their cohort. This enables the development of a sense of classroom community and establishes a level of collaboration that is often difficult to achieve in an online setting. The college fosters the communal identity of the program further by offering students the opportunity to attend an annual on-site residency here at the Green Mountain College campus in scenic Poultney, Vermont. The college's commitment to environmental causes and organizational focus on sustainability serves as the backdrop which enables MS degree in Resilient and Sustainable Communities students to graduate with a depth of knowledge, practical skills, and professional preparedness that is not possible to attain anywhere but Green Mountain College.

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