M.A.E.S. Curriculum & Courses

To earn a Master of Arts in Environmental Sustainability and Management (M.A.E.S.), students complete 12 courses: 6 required core courses, 5 customizable electives, and one capstone course. Each course is 3 credits, and the total degree is 36 credits.

The required core courses cover topics in environmental management, climate change, sustainability, environmental policy, systems thinking, and cost-benefit analysis. Our elective offerings encompass a variety of subjects, including environmental justice, risk and society, natural resource management, community-based conservation, project management, marketing, and non-profit leadership.

Our online classes cater to a global audience and offer flexibility for students who want to work and study simultaneously. For those desiring a more traditional experience, courses can be taken in-person at our picturesque Baltimore, Maryland campus. An optional study-abroad offers hands-on learning and in-person interaction with faculty and other students in the program.


M.A.E.S. Required Courses

ENV 601 – Environmental Management (3 credits)

This course explores the management practices and tools that are used to improve the health of organizations, communities, and ecosystems. Emphasis is placed on the importance of sound, scientific information in decision making, a process that is also rooted in complex political, cultural, and socioeconomic systems. In particular, students evaluate the application of conventional and alternative environmental management practices that address complex environmental problems associated with air and water quality, energy, climate change, biodiversity, agriculture, and solid waste.  After considering the experiences of professionals working in environmental management in these settings, students are expected to use critical thought, innovation, and creativity to formulate an adaptive management plan for an environmental issue.

ENV 605 – Climate Change: Science and Society (3 credits)

This course offers an integrative approach to climate change, providing an overview of the complex and multidisciplinary sciences underpinning climate change science and the challenges of social and political accommodation.  As social and political implications of climate change have become increasingly apparent and communities across the globe struggle with impacts that include extreme weather and skepticism of causes, this course is designed to teach students to sort through the scientific, social, and political dimensions of climate change.  Students will evaluate topics such as climate impacts, adaptation and mitigation, climate justice, and carbon management.

ENV 624B – Systems Thinking & Evaluation (3 credits)

This course provides students the tools and critical thinking skills to interpret, evaluate, communicate, and use scientific-research findings. Systems thinking and modeling introduces students to the concept of design thinking, nonlinear dynamics, thresholds, uncertainty and surprise, ecosystem feedback loops, built-environment impacts, and human ecology. Students will develop quantitative literacy for understanding scientific models (mathematical, population dynamic, and dimensional) and their underlying principles and notational conventions as tools that organize data, define parameters, clarify processes, and enable predictions.

ENV 627 – Environmental Policy (3 credits)

This course examines environmental politics, policymaking, and policy analysis at various scales, including the relationship between society, politics, and the environment as well as the challenges and implications of decision-making, policy, and governance. Students will examine how environmental policy is developed and how laws are applied with the goal of better understanding the role of international agreements and federal and state laws and regulations on the sustainable management of environmental services.

ENV 633 – Environmental Sustainability & Resilience (3 credits)    

Sustainability and resilience are key, integrative frameworks for environmental studies.  Sustainability appeals to conservation, preservation, and mitigation efforts, while resilience prepares for change.  This course is solutions-oriented and designed for students to examine and critically assess alternative approaches to environmental challenges and social change.  Topics in this course will include scales of sustainability, adaptation, and mitigation; consumption and production; sustainable development goals; quality-of-life indicators (Genuine Progress Indicators) as alternatives to gross domestic product (GDP); life cycle analysis; the precautionary principle; and developing solutions focused on survival, security, and equity.

ENV 634 – Environmental Cost-Benefit Analysis (3 credits)

This course examines how natural resources intersect with social and economic-development initiatives, focusing on the valuation of sustainable options to minimize environmental threats.  This course provides students with a thorough understanding of the use of social benefits and social costs in traditional economic models to consider the effects of production and consumption on sustainability. Using cost-benefit analysis as a decision-making tool, students assess policy options intended to decrease or eliminate environmental threats while improving sustainable development and considering equity in environmental services.

ENV 675 – Capstone (3 credits)

Capstones are culminating educational experiences that provide students an opportunity for synthesis and demonstration of their capacity to effectively work in the fields of sustainability and environmental management. Under the mentorship of a faculty committee, students will develop a project or thesis. Students present and defend to the committee a portfolio of work accomplished at the end of the capstone experience.  Prerequisites: submission of proposal and approval of program director.


M.A.E.S. Environmental Electives

ENV 610 – GIS for Environmental Analysis and Management (3 credits)

This graduate-level Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course delves into the intersection of GIS technology and environmental issues, emphasizing techniques for analysis, modeling, and management within environmental contexts. Students will explore topics such as spatial analysis of biodiversity, habitat suitability modeling, land use change detection, pollution monitoring, and environmental impact assessment. Through hands-on projects and case studies, students will develop expertise in utilizing GIS tools to address real-world environmental challenges, equipping them with the skills necessary for effective environmental management and decision-making in various sectors including conservation, urban planning, and natural resource management.

ENV 612 – Energy, Natural Resource Management, & the Environment (3 credits)

This course covers a wide spectrum of topics on energy and natural resource management from a public-policy and environmental-affairs approach.  Students will investigate the politics, economics, and impacts of renewable and fossil-fuel energy sources, energy policy, energy efficiency, waste, restoration, environmental technology, public finance and investment, and environmental law and regulations.

ENV 615 – Environmental Communication & Media (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the role of the media and communications in articulating environmental claims, issues, and challenges. It explores techniques for communicating across social and political differences, expressing complex technical issues, mediating contentious issues, and managing crisis rhetoric.  Students develop critical thinking for understanding multiple points of view, developing scientific literacy, and identifying sources and forms of bias and misrepresentation.  Students evaluate popular environmental discourse, analyze environmental rhetoric, and develop a communication plan to engage stakeholders.

ENV 618 – Environmental Education Leadership (3 credits)

This course investigates the role of education in solving environmental problems and developing environmental literacy.  Students will explore models of environmental education, how it manifests across sectors (in nonprofit, academic, for-profit, government, and informal science contexts), best practices in environmental education program planning, and community-based environmental education. Emphasis is placed on emerging roles in leadership, program development, and program sustainability.

ENV 621 – Environmental Governance (3 credits)

This course approaches environmental governance from a multi-level perspective, including community-based environmental management, and policy and governance structures formally represented in institutions as well as adaptive and emergent forms shaped in response to decentralized negotiations over decisions and access to resources.  In addition to this multilevel framework, the course will focus on the process of policy making, decision analysis, the problem of scaling, and the techniques of scenario planning.  It will present basic concepts and illustrate real-world concerns in case studies.

ENV 622 – Environmental Justice (3 credits)

This course examines the roots of environmental inequities and injustices.  Students explore how indigenous peoples, people of color, and people of low socioeconomic status are denied access to natural resources, disproportionately exposed to environmental degradation and pollution, and excluded from environmental decisions. Considering social, political, economic, and psychological processes, students investigate patterns of environmental inequity, injustice, and racism as well as grassroots and community-based efforts to deal with environmental threats and systemic structural biases in environmental policy.

ENV 623 – Environment, Culture, & Community (3 credits)

This course explores the interrelations and interdependencies of environment, culture, and community.  Beginning with the current state of the world and its sustainability crisis, we will explore global environmental issues and topics, focusing on cultural and community impacts.  Students will be exposed to a range of domestic, international, rural, and urban theaters of conflict and change, as well as the complex political, social, scientific, and methodological challenges of working at the intersection of environment, culture, and community.

ENV 624C – Applied Sustainability Perspective & Practice (3 credits)

This course examines the development and implementation of strategies that promote sustainability by surveying methods, tools, and processes that are currently used in the application of sustainability and environmental management.  This examination provides students with a cross-disciplinary lens to prepare them to become strategic managers that promote sustainable practices in organizations and/or communities.  Case studies will illustrate the successful integration of strategic management decisions into systems that comprise organizations, communities, and ecosystems; an integration that have led to positive sustainability outcomes.

ENV 630 – Climate Communication & Public Engagement (3 credits)

This course delves into the multifaceted realm of effectively communicating climate science and engaging diverse audiences in climate action. Through interdisciplinary perspectives from communication theory, psychology, governance, and environmental studies, students explore strategies for crafting compelling narratives, designing impactful campaigns, and fostering meaningful dialogues around climate change. Topics include understanding audience perceptions and worldviews, framing climate narratives, utilizing digital media and storytelling techniques, and fostering collaboration across sectors. The course also surveys different types of public participation in the political process, including public comment, community organization, citizen science, and the co-production of knowledge. Through interactive case studies and practical projects, students develop the skills and confidence to effectively communicate climate science, engage stakeholders, and drive positive change at local, national, and global levels.

ENV 637 – Environmental Change: Causes & Impacts (3 credits)

This course examines the driving forces and impacts of a variety of environmental challenges and the geophysical and geopolitical ties that bind communities together around the world.  Students explore the changing global social, economic, and biological landscape of the present.  Special attention is given to deconstruct how these forces of environmental change also fuel conflicts, public health issues, poverty, and vulnerability in communities.  Case studies of successful mitigation and resilience are provided and discussed for students to analyze what is being done in response to these issues.

ENV 640 – Risk & Society (3 credits)

This course introduces students to theory and analytics of risk assessment and risk management with respect to the environment and climate change and the construction and representation of risk as a complex interweaving of ecological, social, economic, statutory, and political factors.  The course will consider the process of risk assessment and analysis, as well as risk communication and management in the context of environmental hazards, environmental health, and climate impacts.

ENV 653 – Community-Based Conservation (3 credits)

This course addresses how communities become effective stewards of their environment, history, and culture.  Students achieve a dynamic understanding of theoretical and applied concepts of collective action in conservation grounded in the development of complicated ideas concerning our perception of nature and heritage.  Through case studies that demonstrate the complexities of managing common pool resources and protecting cultural identities, participants examine a local or regional conservation community.  This course provides participants with opportunities get involved with or start a CBC project of their own.

ENV xxx – Wildlife Management (3 credits)

This course provides an in-depth exploration of the principles, techniques, and challenges inherent in the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife populations and their habitats. Drawing from ecology, population dynamics, and conservation biology, students delve into topics such as habitat management, conservation genetics, population monitoring, and human-wildlife conflict resolution. Emphasizing a holistic approach, the course addresses the complexities of balancing conservation goals with socio-economic considerations and stakeholder interests. Through hands-on fieldwork, case studies, and simulation exercises, students develop practical skills in wildlife population assessment, habitat restoration, wildlife management planning, and policy formulation, ensuring the long-term viability of species and ecosystems in a changing world.

ENV 668 - Sustainability, Culture, and Heritage in the Field (3 credits)

This course provides a structured immersion experience in a community to explore the richness and complexity of field sites by learning fieldworker roles and practicing fieldwork techniques in situ.  The specific community may vary from year to year and the themes may vary, but, in all cases, students will explore a broad range of heritage, cultural, and environmental/climate issues and themes as they are played out in dynamic relations in actual communities. Students will live in the community for 1 or more weeks, meet and work with community members, gain insight into community-based and regional environmental/climate issues and consider ways our fieldwork can contribute to community sustainability concerns.

ENV 691 - Environmental Internship (3 credits)

This elective course is designed to support graduate students seeking hands-on internship experience. Advanced graduate students in the MA in Environmental Sustainability & Management (MAES) program may propose an internship to receive on-the-job experience in environmental science, sustainability, climate change, environmental policy, environmental management, environmental communication, or a related skill. An approved internship receives 3 elective credits toward the MAES degree. Internships can be paid or unpaid. To be eligible for internship course credit, students should have completed at least three courses towards their MAES degree prior to applying for an internship. Interested students must submit a proposal in writing to the program director at least 30 days before the start of the semester. Proposal information should include details about the type of internship, duration, expected deliverables, and anticipated skills to be learned. To complete the internship course, students must write a robust paper for publication by the end of the semester. Students will be expected to work with an MAES faculty advisor and their internship mentor to meet these requirements. This course cannot be taken more than once.  Prerequisites: submission of proposal and approval of program director.

M.A.E.S. Management Electives

ENV 608 – Principles of Project Management (3 credits)

This course is intended as an overview, describing the fundamental principles, processes, knowledge areas, and tools and techniques of project management. Students will learn how to manage the "faster, better, cheaper" pressures that most organizations face. Topics include the project management life cycle, selecting projects, project planning, quality management, and controlling projects.

ENV 613 – Strategic Management (3 credits)

This course prepares students to assess their organization's strategy, culture, and operations and analyze competitors and the larger industry. Students will learn to use strategic management tools and develop their analytical skills in order to identify opportunities for competitive advantage. They will also use quantitative tools to measure organizational performance in order to achieve economic and environmental objectives. The course teaches students how companies, institutions, and regulators can incorporate the concept of triple-bottom-line reporting.

ENV 614 – Integrated Marketing Communications (3 credits)

A strong brand authentically represents an organization's vision and culture while also conveying key messages. Integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategies focus on building brands by developing relationships with customers. The focus of this course is on how to develop a strategic communications plan that is integrated across media both online and offline to create a consistent and seamless experience. Students will formulate and analyze promotional goals; develop a creative media plan; select appropriate channels for relevant audiences; and evaluate the effects and results of a campaign to determine its success. The course will use examples from social marketing and cause marketing that address social issues relating to health, the environment, and the community.

ENV 616 – Financial Skills & Managerial Accounting (3 credits)

This course covers the creation and interpretation of financial statements, with a particular focus on building financial statements, cash flow, accounting controls, financial analysis, cost-benefit analysis, financial budgeting, and applying accounting information for managerial decision making. The course stresses using financial information within organizations for understanding and analyzing activities and operations. Students learn linkages between accounting information and management planning through cost analysis (including activity-based costing), operational and capital budgeting, and performance measurement. Students learn how to build financial models, analyze business plans, and justify management decisions to create financially sustainable organizations.

ENV 617 – Principles of Marketing (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to look at marketing as a broad concept, beyond the usual functions of selling and advertising. Students will explore the principles of marketing management and the tactics for achieving strategic marketing goals. Students will also investigate relevant social and ethical issues related to marketing. The course goals are for students to develop competency and apply the concepts and skills learned in order to produce a professional quality marketing plan. The plan should include an analysis of the customer (including the customer identity, segments, values, and behavior), a clear and compelling value proposition or unique selling proposition, incorporate all the elements of the marketing mix in appropriate ways, and utilize the tools of segmentation and SWOT analyses to guide strategic marketing decision making.

ENV 626 – Nonprofit Leadership & Management (3 credits)

This course provides the broad knowledge necessary to understand and successfully contribute to the nonprofit organization. Topics covered include: understanding the place of nonprofits in society; developing, guiding, and managing a board; program development and evaluation; volunteer development and management; fundraising and development; ePhilanthropy; and other selected topics.

ENV 643 – Writing for Different Audiences (3 credits)

An overview of the elements of effective professional communications, including writing clear, concise copy; communicating ideas across a platform of mediums; and identifying and writing to specific audiences. This course will explore these communications elements as they apply to nonprofit and entrepreneurial organizations, arts organizations, and self-promotion.

ENV 644 – Strategies for Reaching the Media (3 credits)

An overview of the elements of effective professional communications, including writing clear, concise copy; successful public relations strategies; traditional and current marketing principles; crisis management; and using emerging technologies, such as social media. This course will explore these communications elements as they apply to nonprofit and entrepreneurial organizations, arts organizations, and self-promotion.

ENV 650 – Models of Social Entrepreneurship (3 credits)

An exploration of different organizational models of how people are working to change the world in positive ways. Looking beyond the traditional categories of nonprofit, for-profit, government, and education, this course identifies and analyzes innovative models that are being developed to address the pressing social and environmental issues faced by communities. The topics include earned income, social ventures, hybrid organizations, crowdsourcing, cooperatives, community engagement, grasstops partnerships, and co-working. Students evaluate existing models to determine their strengths and opportunities for improvement related to their context, resources, power relationships, and their value as solutions to specific problems.