Global Sustainability Track

Follow your passion as a global citizen to build the sustainable communities of the future on a planet rich in sacred, wild spaces. The Global Sustainability (GS) track inspires students by serving global (USA and/or International) partners in the field of sustainable development and environmental management.

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

The GS track is the home of numerous international institutions for social and environmental change. Western’s School of ENVS co-founded the Mountain Resilience Coalition to facilitate the United Nations Mountain Partnerships in the North American, Central American, and Caribbean Region. GS is also the lead university partner with international sustainability organizations such as Earthship Biotecture Academy, Solar Energy International, the Sustainable Development Strategies Group, Eco2librium (Kenya), Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows, Foundation for the Contemplation of Nature (India) and Joint European Master in Environmental Studies.  As a GS student, you can transform extensive service to these and other many other organizations into your second-year MEM Project anywhere in the world.

Our students serve non-profits, businesses, and government entities that seek place-based sustainable solutions for a global network that crosses geographic and cultural boundaries. Projects examples include natural resource conflict management; environmentally sustainable urban and rural development; scalable, place-based climate mitigation and adaptation strategies; international conservation biology; and promoting use of local knowledge in the co-creation of environmental solutions. 

“Whether our students are building earthship-inspired structures in global mountain communities, enabling women’s associations in rural Paraguay, aiding communities fighting palm oil land grabs in Colombia, learning innovative conservation strategies in Costa Rica, or connecting urban youths to nature with our Sister City of Majkhali, India, they approach their work with humility knowing that other cultures and environments have much to teach us all.”  

Dr. Jessica Young, Global Coordinator, Master in Environmental Management program.

Course Requirements: the 20-credit core required of all tracks; ENVS 617: Global Sustainability; a 600+ hour project which may be completed anywhere in the world; and three electives.

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 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 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. 




Headshot of Chris Werre
Chris Werre's MEM project is designed to describe better practices for dealing with global displacement and resettlement issues.
Photo of Rachel Weakland
Rachel Weakland has dedicated her professional efforts towards environmental education and creating global leaders here in Colorado and abroad.
Jade Swor is a first year student currently exploring potential projects at the interface of tribal relations, mycology, and biomimicry.
Headshot of Francis Mitalo
“It is a skills-based master’s, which pushes you to learn theory and put those lessons into action.”

Faculty & Staff


Dr. D. Scott Borden headshot
Graduate Faculty, Master in Environmental Management (MEM); Adjunct Graduate Faculty, Outdoor Industry MBA; Coordinator of the Sustainable and Resilient Communities MEM Track; Resilience Studies Consortium Coordinator for Western Colorado University
B.A. Western Colorado University, M.A. Prescott College, Ph.D. University of Exeter
Phone: (970) 943-2294
Office Location: Kelley Hall 108
Dr. Abel Chávez headshot
Dean of Graduate Studies; Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs; Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainability
B.S., University of Colorado Denver, M.B.A., University of Houston, Ph.D., University of Colorado Denver
Office Location: Kelley Hall 104
Dr. Kate Clark headshot
Director of Undergraduate Environment and Sustainability Program; Graduate Faculty in Master in Environmental Management programs, Environment and Sustainability and Sociology programs
B.A., James Madison University, M.S. University of Colorado Boulder, Ph.D. Environmental Studies University of Colorado Boulder
Office Location: Kelley Hall 146
Luke  Danielson headshot
Clark Sustainable Development Chair in Environment and Sustainability
J.D., University of California School of Law, B.A., Antioch College
Phone: 303.912.0855
Office Location: Kelley Hall 206
Dave Ellerbroek, Ph.D. headshot
Graduate Faculty for Sustainability Transistions
B.A., University of Colorado Boulder, Geophysics, M.S., Colorado School of Mines, Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., Colorado State University, Environmental Engineering
Office Location:
Suzanne Ewy, J.D. headshot
Coldharbour Chair in Environment & Sustainability, Executive Director, Coldharbour Institute
J.D., Seattle Law School, M.S.L., Vermont Law School, B.S., Fort Lewis College
Phone: 970.943.2023
Office Location: Kelley Hall 114A
Corinne Knapp, Ph.D. headshot
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
Taryn Mead, Ph.D. headshot
Graduate Faculty
B.A., Western Colorado University, Ph.D., University of Exeter - UK
Office Location: Kelly Hall 108
Dr. Brooke Moran headshot
MEM Graduate Faculty, Professor of Recreation and Outdoor Education; Adjunct Graduate Faculty, Outdoor Industry MBA
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 headshot
Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
B.S., Colorado State University, M.S., Colorado State University
Office Location: Kelley Hall 114A
Jessica Young, Ph.D. headshot
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: Leslie J. Savage Library 120