New MS degree added for Geography, Environment and Sustainability

Posted on March 10, 2020

Students doing research in stream
Two students in a river working
L to R: Geography, Environment, and Sustainability students Stephanie Stephens and James Connolly perform a physical habitat assessment of the College Branch stream, a small tributary of North Buffalo Creek near downtown Greensboro.

With the topics of environment and sustainability regularly filling front page news, and in light of the remarkable increase in online learning opportunities in higher education, the introduction of a new online master’s degree within UNCG’s Geography, Environment, and Sustainability (GES) program is timely.

Starting this fall, GES will launch a new online Master of Science degree in Sustainability & Environment that will offer four areas of concentration: Natural Science; Society and Equity; Economics and Development; and Aesthetics and Ethics. Students will also have the choice to pursue thesis, capstone project, or internship options, making the program highly customizable.

Dr. Aaron Allen, director of the Environment & Sustainability Program and associate professor of musicology, notes two key motivations for making this an online program.

“It’s about accessibility and meeting people where they are – providing them with flexibility. A secondary reason is that we have the infrastructure here at UNCG to do it well.”

The inaugural core program courses will be offered by a diverse range of faculty from various areas of expertise: Dr. Allen covers aesthetics and ethics; Dr. John Stehlin (GES) covers economics and development; Dr. Etsuko Kinefuchi (Communication Studies) will lead the society and equity portion; and Dr. Sarah Praskievicz (GES) covers natural science.

Assignments encourage online students to interact through group writing, research, chat, and video conferencing. Presentations can take a variety of forms, including videos produced by the students. This process encourages professionalization in writing and speaking as well as concentration in the subject matter.

Students will pursue a combination of interdisciplinary and departmental electives along with core GES courses. The new MS will differ from the existing MA in Applied Geography in that its interdisciplinary approach prepares students for a growing set of job prospects in the area of environment and sustainability.

People wanting to make a career change, students coming from other backgrounds such as art, history, or other disciplines, and undergraduates on advanced or accelerated tracks of study are all great candidates for the program’s unique flexibility. The internship option of the new degree gives students hands-on, real-world experience working in the field as they pursue their studies.

To learn more about the new program, visit

Story by Matthew Bryant, University Communications
Photography by Sarah Praskievicz, Department of Geography, Environment, and Sustainability

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