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UW Extension, Campuses Offer First Online Sustainable Management Degree

Editor’s Note: For more information, contact: Anna Schryver, 608.225.5476, or Amy Pikalek, 608.262.6660,

MADISON, WIS | MAY 12, 2009 | Energy independence and an educated workforce are critical to a prosperous future for Wisconsin. To respond, the University of Wisconsin-Extension is charging in with a bold new degree: the nation’s first online sustainable management bachelor of science degree.

For the first time, University of Wisconsin-Extension has brought together the strengths of four campuses—UW-Parkside, UW-River Falls, UW-Stout and UW-Superior—to craft a degree program that equips workers with the management skills they will need to lead sustainable business initiatives.

The UW System Board of Regents approved the joint degree program May 8. Applications for fall 2009 will be accepted beginning May 15. In as little as two years, American businesses will be able to tap these newly minted green collar managers.

"I commend the UW-Extension for developing the nation's first online sustainable management bachelor's degree," said Department of Commerce Secretary Richard J. Leinenkugel. "The green economy has real growth potential in Wisconsin, and we will need skilled and talented workers to get the job done."

The sustainable management degree takes the theories of sustainability and makes them tangible in the business setting, through a hands-on, problem-solving approach. By learning the fundamentals of the “Triple Bottom Line,” graduates can immediately start helping their companies create profits, preserve the environment, and improve their surrounding communities.

The program is suitable for professionals like: Facilities managers who want to compare the costs of solar panels to clean coal or biofuels to determine not only the total currency cost but also the carbon cost; Plant managers who want to manage storm water run-off in an environmentally sensitive way or seek to install geothermal systems that use the Earth's temperature to heat and cool the plant; Human resources directors who look at the long-term impact of today's labor decisions on the welfare of the community; and Product managers who must figure out a new paint technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions or evaluate existing packaging processes against today's sustainability standards.

The sustainable management degree was crafted in close partnership with the companies that are leading the way in sustainable business practices, such as Johnson Controls, Ford Motor Company, Eastman Kodak, Quad Graphics, FedEx, SC Johnson, Kohl’s, Veolia Environmental Services and Modine Manufacturing.

"Johnson Controls continually seeks highly qualified, educated and skilled individuals to fill a number of key positions, and we look to the University of Wisconsin System to help educate and train the residents of the state,” said Judith Mouton, education program manager of renewable energy solutions at Johnson Controls in Milwaukee. “I have reviewed a draft of the curriculum and believe that the knowledge and competencies that students gain from this degree will be useful in the ever-growing sustainability job market."

UW-Extension Dean David Schejbal agrees. “There’s a clear connection between education level and economic stability. We knew we needed 21st century degrees that prepared students to make a positive impact on the state while moving their own careers forward. That’s what the sustainable management degree does. And we’re the first major university to offer undergraduate students this option.”

To Gregory Trudeau, chair of the department of business and economics at UW- Superior, this degree comes at an opportune time. “Those of us who remember the 1970s oil crunch and the green movement it spawned are glad to see these issues coming up again,” he said. “But this time we realize the problem is wider and deeper – and the interest at the corporate level is unprecedented. The reality is that green is here to stay. And we’re answering with the skills our business partners need.”

The 21-course, 63-credit degree is unique in that it is the first online degree to combine the full resources of four nationally recognized campuses with a minimal carbon footprint and the personal flexibility that online learning has always offered. Moreover, it is a degree completiion program in which students need an associate's degree or 60 credits from an accredited institution and have take suitable prerequsites to enroll. Courses are accessible wherever an Internet connection is available. For more information or to complete an application, visit


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