SIT launches MA in Climate Change and Global Sustainability

April 26th, 2018   |   SIT

BRATTLEBORO, Vermont – Responding to one of the planet’s most pressing issues, School for International Training (SIT) has launched an innovative, globally focused master’s degree that will prepare professionals to work in the fields of climate change policy and advocacy.

Starting in fall 2018, SIT’s one-year MA in Climate Change and Global Sustainability will take students to the front lines of this international issue. They will spend the entire first semester in Iceland, the second semester in Tanzania, and the third semester doing a supervised, skills-building practicum anywhere in the world.

“Climate change is the biggest challenge confronting our planet today. It’s up to us all to get engaged as educators to support a new generation of people who can work on the legal, policy, and grassroots aspects confronting this challenge,” said SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett. With field centers in more than 45 countries, SIT is in an unprecedented position to train the next generation of global thinkers and equip them with the skills they need to enter the policy and advocacy arenas, she said.

“This program will give students a global perspective on the issue from multiple locations, topics, and themes,” said Dr. Richard Walz, the degree chair. In addition to climate science, students will look at the broad human dimensions of climate change through settlements, water, food, and energy, and the environmental governance strategies and community adaptations aimed at mitigating it, he added.

Hear Dr. Richard Walz talk about the MA in Climate Change & Global Sustainability

The 36-credit program kicks off in late August 2018 in Iceland, where students will be based at the University Centre of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður as they examine the natural sciences and renewable energy solutions in the Arctic.

During the second semester, the program continues in Zanzibar, a Tanzanian archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa, where students will explore the mangrove forests and coral reefs impacted by climate change. Living in and around Stone Town, a historic trade center and World Heritage site, they will study the social sciences and sustainable approaches to food production and clean water.

During the third semester, students will conduct a supervised practicum with an organization addressing climate change anywhere in the world.

Climate Change and Global Sustainability is the first in a series of new global master’s degrees in development that will draw upon SIT’s worldwide infrastructure. “SIT has always been at the forefront of international education,” said Dr. Howlett. “We’re working multidimensionally now — not simply bringing international students to the United States, or giving U.S. students an international curriculum. We’re taking people from all over the world and putting them in places where SIT can work with them to address the critical global issues that impact us all.”

Other degrees in development will focus on global health, migration and humanitarian assistance, and environmental management.

In addition to graduate-level programs, SIT offers more than 80 accredited, experiential study abroad programs on six continents, including at least 16 programs that partner with academics, professionals, NGOs, and universities around the world to focus on climate and the environment.

SIT has 45 centers in 39 countries staffed with experts like Dr. Walz, who is also research associate at The Field Museum in Chicago and whose research addresses long-term social and environmental change and the effects of climate change on communities and ecosystems in East Africa and the western Indian Ocean.

“With such a unique and distinguished set of resources, SIT is in a nimble position to develop a new generation of socially responsible leaders who bring broad global perspectives to their fields,” Howlett said. “SIT’s existing global infrastructure also enables us to rise to the challenges facing many higher education institutions, including tighter border restrictions and fewer international students coming to the United States.”

SIT was founded in 1964 as a training center for Peace Corps volunteers. It grew out of The Experiment in International Living, a student exchange program started in 1932 by Dr. Donald Watt, who believed that by immersing themselves in other cultures, Americans would expand their worldview and cultivate cross-cultural understanding and respect.

SIT retains those values today, offering experiential graduate and undergraduate programs that allow students to examine critical issues from multiple perspectives, acquire intercultural communication skills, and enhance their ability to work toward social justice.