STOCKSCH 397 ES – Exploring Success with Sustainability

Exploring Success with Sustainability

Experientially Reaching Individual Dreams

or Community-Based Enterprises

To be scheduled…

This course welcomes non-UMass students who may transfer the credits to their home institution.  Also, individuals not currently enrolled at a college or university are welcome!

Course Overview and Objectives: This course is designed for students who want to dive into a particular topic of their choice by submersing themselves in a semester of learning about their subject matter. In addition to their individual research, weekly required readings and assignments will steer students towards how to be as successful as possible in the field of sustainability. The following are examples of topics that will be covered in weekly readings: Overview of Sustainability (terms and principles), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Models of Success in Sustainability, Steps to Reach Success, Writing a Sustainability Plan, Importance of Interdisciplinarity, Completing a SWOT Analysis, Introduction to Research, Writing a Research Paper, Analysis of Data, Successful Job Interviews and Finding a Job in the Field of Sustainability.

DSCN5608A bulk of the education will occur off-line in order to provide an environment for students to foster real-world relationships that hopefully lend themselves useful in a future career. Gaining knowledge by speaking directly with experts in a student’s area of interest also exposes a host of real-world challenges, opportunities and solutions.

Student’s topics must be directly related to sustainable food and farming, but can encompass a wide range of areas. Examples include cheese making, raising animals, pest/disease/weed solutions for vegetable growers, starting a farmers market, cover cropping, successfully running a CSA, beekeeping, creating a resilient local food system, conservation easements, organic food regulations, milling grain, saving seeds, season extension, etc. During the course of the semester, students will speak with four professionals in their field. Students will have the help and guidance of the professor to locate their contacts and create appropriate questions.

Prerequisites: While there are no defined prerequisites for this course, it is strongly recommended that students who sign up have either had some class time related to their topic of choice or practical experience. Students who begin the course should be passionate and focused on their area of study and have some solid ideas of how to get where they want to go. There will be continual assistance from the professor, but the level of learning and teaching is targeted at an advanced audience of students. All ages are welcome as well as any type of previous learning (in academia or personal studies). Please feel free to contact the professor via email with questions.


We will guide your research as we build toward success!

Course Structure: By the second week of class, students will know their specific area of focus and have a rough idea of who they will be speaking/working with. A timeline of personal weekly goals/accomplishments will also be created. At the beginning of every week students will be provided with a list of the work to be completed during each respective week of class. There will be Discussion Questions which students will post responses to in the “discussion forum” section of Blackboard. These responses are due by 11:59pm on the Thursday of that module’s week. Required Readings are also listed with weekly required Homework questions that are due by Sunday at midnight. Homework will be related to the student’s personal area of research and Discussions will be in response to the weekly required readings. The Final Research Project will be determined by the student’s personal interests and choice.

Final Research Paper: Please write a 15-18 page research paper on your topic (double-spaced, font-size 12 point) with at DSCN8530least 15 sources (not all web-based but also several academic, peer-reviewed articles). ​Formatting for the paper/citations can be either MLA or APA, but please be consistent throughout with whichever you choose. Include the information received from the four professionals in your field who you spoke with as well as any interview questions used. Refer to the reading resources provided related to research and writing when completing the paper.

Please submit a .doc file type named lastname_finalassignment.

Paper is due on Sunday, January 17, 2016 by midnight.


  • Class Participation and Discussion Assignments: 25%
  • Homework Assignments: 25%
  • Final Project: 50%

A        =  95-100 total points
A –     =  90-94
B+      =  87-89
B        =  83-86
B-      =  80-82
C+      =  77-79
C        =  73-76
C-       =  70-72
D+      =  67-69
D        =  60-66
F         =  59 or below

Outline of Content

Sustainability Overview

  • Sustainability definitions:
  • Natural Capital definition:
  • Components of Sustainability
  • Sustainable Building and Design
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Sustainable agriculture/farming systems
  • Sustainable food systems
  • Sustainable Development (IISD)
  • The Four System Conditions of a Sustainable Society from The Natural Step
  •  Overview of the Precautionary Principle
  • Importance of Interdisciplinarity
  •  Importance of Interdisciplinary Research

Sustainable Models

  •  Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
  • Models of Success in Sustainability
  • Using Sustainability as a Business Tool
  • Sustainable Cities

Research & Writing

  • Introduction to Research
  • The Process of Research
  • Writing a Research Paper
  • Writing an Outline
  • Why Write An Outline
  • Sample Outline
  • Citation Style Chart (Compares APA, MLA and Chicago Manual of Style)
  • Completing a SWOT Analysis
  • Examples of a SWOT
  • Analysis of Data
  • Statistics


Working in the Field of Sustainability

  •  Finding a Job in the Field of Sustainability
  • Matching Your Personality with the Right Career
  • Highest-Paying Careers in Sustainability
  • Types of Interviewing, Setting up Interview, Do’s and Don’ts
  • Tips for a Successful Job Interview
  • Giving a Successful Presentation
  •  Making Effective PowerPoint presentations
  • Grant Writing
  • Giving Effective Presentations and Creating PowerPoints

Steps to Reach Success

  •  Writing a Sustainability Plan

-Sample plans and guides

  • Planning and Creating Successful Local Food Systems


  • Running a Successful Business in Sustainability


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