The Sustainability concentration/graduate certificate will equip students with the theoretical knowledge, analytical skills, and communication competencies to create and implement innovative solutions for sustainability-related issues. Recognizing an opportunity and obligation to create a more sustainable world, the concentration/certificate will emphasize experiential learning, research with faculty, corporate and community service, and leadership development.

Course Requirements 

Core Courses (offered every year) 
OL 500 Leadership Theory and Practice
OL 502 Leadership and Organizational Behavior
OL 504 Research Methods
OL 505 Organizational Ethics
OL 530 Organizational Communications for Leaders
OL 651 Financial Operations and Analysis
OL 676 Thesis or OL 677 Research-Based Project

Sustainability Concentration
OL 603 Marketing for Leaders
OL 630 Grant Writing
OL 632 Foundations of Sustainability
OL 634 Environmental Communication
OL 636 Leadership in Sustainability


OL 632 Foundations of Sustainability (3 credits)
This course provides the foundation for the graduate sustainability program, introducing approaches to and measures of sustainability. Students explore relationships among sustainability, environmental challenges, economic development, and social justice. Students will also apply systems thinking and sustainability principles to current issues. Students practice a variety of methods that promote networking, planning, and public participation on sustainability issues with the goal of becoming effective social entrepreneurs and sustainability change agents. The course will also use an ecological framework to understand the scientific foundation of sustainable systems, principles of ecology, and natural systems at multiple levels of organization.

OL 634 Environmental Communication (3 credits)
This course focuses on communication theory, professional practice, and integrated campaigns as applied to environmental and sustainability issues. Case studies will review key environmental concerns and communication processes, including advocacy campaigns, media commentary, and policy reports. Students will research and conduct an environmental communication campaign for a regional organization that engages audience with coordinated media messages. Students will learn how to research and communicate key concepts and information that deliver valid messages to audiences.

      Highlighted Student Projects:

            *FreshFaceForward Campaign

OL 603 Marketing for Leaders (3 credits)
This course is designed to enable students to lead organizations from a strategic marketing orientation. It emphasizes strategic thinking, opportunity analysis and the adaptation of marketing management techniques to all types of organizations.

      Highlighted Student Projects:
            *Creation of a Strategic Business Plan for the Mercyhurst Farm

OL 630 Grant Writing (3 credits)
This course presents a comprehensive overview of program planning and grant writing. Structured to prepare students for both government and private sector grants in both paper and online formats, the sessions will combine concepts, tips, and strategies on effective grant writing with examples to critique from real-world applications, coupled with practice writing of grant applications with instructor and peer feedback.

OL 636 Leadership in Sustainability (3 credits)
This course is a facilitated, independent project offering students an opportunity to explore the relationship between leadership and sustainability through supervised field experience or research practicum. This course uses guided readings and practical experience to allow students to examine leadership at several levels including individual, group, and organizational and explore processes such as internal/external communication, decision-making, and problem-solving. Although a leadership approach consists of a broad array of concepts and theories, this course will delve into texts that are more applicable to the leadership challenges of sustainability work. Drawing upon current research, the course explores the relationship between leadership in the 21st century and the complex concept of sustainability.

      Highlighted Student Projects:
            *Creation of a Sustainability Literacy assessment for Mercyhurst University (In Progress)

Contact Us

Anne Zaphiris, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Organizational Leadership
Office: Preston 322
Phone: 814-824-3382

Colleen Hordych
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Phone: 814-824-3384