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Greener by degrees

Have you thought about enhancing your professional credentials by obtaining a sustainability certification or degree? Demand for professionals with an understanding of green policies and applications are increasing in every aspect of event production, from supply chain and facilities management to logistics and design. Whatever your discipline, there are many options for adding to your knowledge base and increasing your professional value.

In 2013, the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) launched its Sustainable Event Professional Certificate (SEPC) program in partnership with Twirl Management. The program blends 40 hours of coursework with hands-on instruction. As part of their training, students work with various event teams to help achieve the sustainability outcomes of GMIC’s annual Sustainable Meeting Conference.

This year’s program begins on Feb. 24 and runs every other Tuesday through July 14, culminating in its final phase at GMIC’s Sustainable Meetings Conference, to be held June 17-19 in Atlanta, Ga. It includes eight online training modules, supplemented by small group assignments and live participation in the 2015 conference. For an investment of around $1,500, students will receive 2015 conference registration, learning materials and a one-year individual GMIC membership, with learning hours eligible for CEU credits.

By means of this experiential learning opportunity, students will achieve the following goals and outcomes:

SEPC Goals:

  • Expand the knowledge and skills of sustainability professionals in the event industry
  • Provide an interactive learning platform for education on conference sustainability
  • Better understand how to integrate industry accepted sustainable standards such as APEX, ISO & GRI into the planning and execution process
  • Create a case study and tell the sustainability story of GMIC’s Sustainable Meetings Conference

SEPC Outcomes:

  • Participants will be prepared to engage or increase sustainability efforts in their own event programs. At the conclusion of the course, participants will be able to:◦Design a sustainability framework for their event programs
    • Communicate sustainability strategy, performance criteria and objectives to personnel, vendors, attendees and all applicable stakeholders
    • Build tools which will streamline the engagement process with stakeholders

There are a number of other sustainability certificate programs offered by both traditional and online learning institutions. The University of Colorado Boulder features a Sustainable Practices Program which offers professional, non-credit certificates in business and community sustainability management. These may be taken as a full program or as individual seminars within programs. A certificate is earned by taking three core seminars and one specialty seminar and can be completed in one year.

The University of San Francisco offers a certification in corporate and environmental sustainability. The University of Vermont’s sustainability curriculum includes advanced certificate programs, as well as specialized mini courses for busy professionals. Southern New Hampshire University offers an online MBA in sustainability.

If you are thinking of more traditional educational opportunities for yourself or for the young student in your life who has still not committed to a major, it is fun to take a look at some of the new degree programs that are emerging from the green market sector.

The College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, is a micro, liberal arts college that offers only one major: Human Ecology. This study concerns the relationship of humans to the environment, with applications in various disciplines, like business, writing and conservation biology. It is the first carbon neutral college in the U.S.

If that sounds a little too bohemian for your tastes, you might try the Rocky Mountain College of Art in Denver, Colo. The institution features a degree in green interior design with a program that teaches students to use environmentally friendly materials, conserve natural resources and incorporate LEED standards in their interiors.

EcoGastronomy is the industry-related, designer degree offering at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. There, students learn about sustainable agriculture and holistic nutrition – skills that are increasingly in demand in the world of sustainable catering and event planning.

Sustainable tourism is a recent addition to the curriculum at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, where the university’s goal is to preserve “environmental and community attributes” in this global industry.

Make 2015 a banner year for growth and innovation in your business!

Green Tip:

Here is an at-a-glance reference for all of the institutions mentioned in this article:

Green Meetings Industry Council

University of Colorado Boulder

University of San Francisco

University of Vermont

Southern New Hampshire University

College of the Atlantic

Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design


University of New Hampshire

East Carolina University

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