Global Sustainability Track


Faculty & Staff


Graduate Faculty, Master in Environmental Management programs (MEM) & MBA in Outdoor Industry; Coordinator of the Sustainable and Resilient Communities MEM Track; Resilience Studies Consortium Coordinator for Western State Colorado University
B.A., Western State Colordao University , M.A., Prescott College, Ph.D., University of Exeter
Phone: (970) 943-2294
Office Location: Kelley Hall 207
Dr. Abel Chavez
Assistant Professor of Environment & Sustainability, and Sustainable & Resilient Communities MEM Coordinator
BS, University of Colorado Denver, MBA, University of Houston, PhD, University of Colorado Denver
Office Location: Kelley Hall 104
Katherine A Clark
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
B.A., James Madison University, M.S. University of Colorado Boulder, Ph.D. Environmental Studies University of Colorado Boulder
Office Location: Kelley Hall 226
Clark Sustainable Development Chair in Environment and Sustainability
JD, University of California School of Law, B.A., Antioch College
Phone: (303) 912 0855
Office Location: Kelley 206
Coldharbour Chair in Environment & Sustainability, Executive Director, Coldharbour Institute
Seattle Law School, JD, Vermont Law School, MSL, Fort Lewis College, BS
Phone: 970.943.2023
Office Location: Kelley Hall 114A
Dr. Corinne Knapp
Assistant Professor of Environment & Sustainability, and Integrative and Public Land Management MEM Coordinator
B.A., University of Colorado, M.S., Colorado State University, Ph.D., University of Alaska
Office Location: Kelley Hall 106
MEM Graduate Faculty, Professor of Recreation and Outdoor Education
B.S., University of New Hampshire; , M.A., Harvard Graduate School of Education;, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire.
Phone: (970) 943-2118
Office Location: Wright Gym 223
Sally Thode
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
B.S. Colorado State University, M.S. Colorado State University
Office Location: Kelley Hall 114A
Dr. Jessica Young
Global Coordinator, Associate Professor of Environment and Sustainability
B.A., University of California San Diego, Ph.D. Purdue University
Phone: 970-943-2195
Office Location: Library 120

The global sustainability track inspires students through providing international course and project opportunities and serving global (USA and/or International) partners in the field of environmental management. Our students serve non-profits, businesses, and government entities that seek sustainable solutions which are placed-based yet recognize the interconnections that cross geographic and cultural boundaries. Projects include but are not limited to those that aid in reducing conflict over natural resource management; sustainable urban and rural development; scalable, place-based climate mitigation and adaptation strategies; development and implementation of policies and practices for conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services; and promoting the use of indigenous knowledge. 

Image of a person looking through a hole in a wall.

Global sustainability students complete their curriculum and do masters projects in the USA or in regions around the world (e.g India, Kenya, Costa Rica, Mexico, Spain, Paraguay, Columbia etc.).  Our partners include B-corps such as Eco2librium, non-profits such as Kathmandu Environmental Education Partnership and the Monteverde Institute, and municipal, regional, and national governments throughout the world.  We belong to consortiums that facilitate student exchanges such as the Joint European Master in Environmental Studies (JEMES – Cities and Sustainability) in Europe.  Regional organizations with global opportunities include the Sustainable Development Strategies Group and the Earthship Academy

Course Requirements: the 20-credit core required of all tracks; ENVS 617: Global Sustainability; a 600+ project which may be completed anywhere in the world; and three electives.  Electives may include (but are not limited to) an international field course (example Costa Rica course) offering each year and special topics such as global environmental justice, environmental economics, forest management abroad, strategic alliances and unlikely partnerships; regenerative design in global sustainability; international food system solutions, etc.

Funding Opportunities: Global Sustainability students may apply to a myriad of fellowships including our Earthship Biotecture Academy Fellowship, Global Climate Actions Fellow, Sustainable Development Strategies Group Fellowship, Global Mountain Resilience Fellowship, and more.  Please see details at the MEM Fellowship page.

Peace Corps Logo

Interested in the Peace Corps?  Western State Colorado University is one of the only programs in the nation in which you can receive your masters while doing Peace Corps service.  Whether you are in the Peace Corps currently or interested in joining during your graduate program, we can aid you in getting your graduate degree.  We also have a vibrant community of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in our program and basin, many of who are Paul D. Coverdell Fellows.  Contact Dr. Jessica Young ( for more information.


Current Partnerships Around the World


cBalance. Western is serving as a technical reviewer and evaluator for the Energy, Transportation, Materials, and potentially Food sectors of the India Emissions Factor (EF) database being completed by cBalance.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a global activist and advocate for food security and environmental justice.  She has worked with Dr. John Hausdoeffer and is a possible connection for visiting scholars and student projects.

The Foundation for Contemplation of Nature (FCN), based out of the Himalayas of India, has partnered with Western State Colorado University and the Coldharbour Institute to provide place-based, experiential learning opportunities around sustainability, resiliency, and community building. FCN serves as a hub of knowledge and research around nature connectedness, traditional agriculture, resilient living practices, sustainable development, sacred landscapes, and nature-based spiritual growth. There are recurring opportunities for graduate students to travel and work in India with FCN.

Kathmandu Environmental Education Partnership (KEEP)  is a non-profit, non-governmental organization.  Their mission is to ensure the future ecological and cultural prosperity of Nepal and its people by maximizing the benefits and reducing the negative impacts associated with tourism.  They work in energy, water and health projects and aid communities toward sustainable development and earthquake recovery.

Based on their StudyColorado visit, Pavlodar State University recently invited Abel Chavez to a conference and to discuss a variety of cooperative projects including joint advising of graduate students.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.   Driver of social and environmental sustainability in the UAE which works with businesses and governments to enhance social and environmental efforts. 

Latin America

Costa Rica
Monte Verde Institute - Their mission to advance sustainable living at the local and global level through place-based education, applied research, and collaborative community programs aligns with our program well.  We currently have two second year projects that the director of the institute, Deb Hamilton, has helped our students establish.  We are also using their education team to help create and deliver our first international special topics course about conservation corridors.
Finca Bellavista - We have been offered the donation of a piece of land to develop a group facility and campus for our students to attend for classes and to use as a base for second year projects.  This sustainable ecotourism community is in the heart of one of the most biologically diverse zones on the planet and the owners are alumnus.

México. SRE. The Mexican Federal Governments SRE (Secretary of Foreign Relations) and the Mexican Consulate are working with Western to establish their undergraduate scholarship program for first time in Colorado. While immediate impact is for Western undergrads (and ENVS!), long-term graduate level benefits will emerge.
UIMQRoo. Another exciting exchange agreement with UIMQRoo (Intercultural Mayan University of Quintana Roo, in English). Under this agreement we can receive and send faculty and students. 
Earth University - Earth University is a globally recognized undergraduate program in sustainable agriculture.   The campus is incredibly diverse with its 400 students currently representing 35 countries including 80 students from the African continent.  Spanish is the educational language for all programs at the undergraduate level.  Sixty percent of the students receive full scholarships and the majority of students receive some support.  They are interested in faculty exchanges, visiting class exchanges, and possible curricular opportunities as they are just starting two new graduate programs, one that may be a good match for our SRC emphasis.  


JEMES CiSu. The JEMES CiSu (Joint European Master in Environmental Studies - Cities & Sustainability) is an exchange agreement with four European Universities - Univ of Hamburg, Aalborg Univ, Univ of Alveiro, and Autonomous Univ of Barcelona. Western can send up to three students to JEMES CiSu per year, and Western can receive three JEMES CiSu students per year. This spring we’ll be hosting our first visiting scholar/student.
ICLEI. A long standing partner in US and South Asia, we are now partnering with ICLEI on a number of initiatives from Congress Impact Assessments to international research in/with communities, especially in Bonn, Germany.
Brussels - SDSG is seeking graduate student interns to work on an EU-funded capacity development program that is focused on the small-scale mining of stones (dimension stones, industrial minerals, construction materials and semi-precious stones).


ECO2librium.  We currently have one graduate student working with this organization in western Kenya where they have the largest manufacturer, distributor, and installation program for energy efficient stoves.  They seek business solutions to affect social and environmental change. Our enterprises currently focus on African rainforest conservation and job creation in rainforest communities.

Mzumbe University.  After a StudyColorado visit by faculty and administrators from several international universities, we developed a relationship with Mzumbe.  They are welcoming their first masters in environmental management graduate class this fall and are interested in developing curriculum and project exchanges.  We have written one grant with them (unsuccessful) and intend on working toward a stronger partnership.

Madagascar and Zimbabwe 
SDSG is working with to develop and implement a methodology for national level assessments under the Intergovernmental Forum Mining Policy Framework (MPF). 

General Worldwide Programs

  • World Action Teams which provides innovative leadership consulting globally.
  • SDSG is working on projects on several continents that provide community voice and policy ideas for environmentally just solutions for resource extraction.

Please visit our Fellowship Opportunities page and check out the Global MEM Fellows tab.