Businesses are realizing there are benefits to having team members know and understand sustainability and its impact on strategy and operations.  Society is asking more often and with growing intensity that companies not only deliver financial performance but also respond to broader societal challenges as well. Approaching business through the lens of sustainability provides a way to address both financial and social demands.

The Sustainable Business Administration Certification Program is designed for participants who are already working but are interested in leveraging sustainability to enhance their career.  There are four required courses to receive certification.  Classes are taught in person every other weekend over a 2-month period; Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm with sessions starting in April and in September.  There is also an option to complete all 4 courses within the month of June for those who are interested in a shorter timeline.  Lunch is provided, and there are morning and afternoon breaks in every class.  All needed materials will be supplied, and there is no work outside of the classroom.  Classroom time will consist of instruction, research, and both team and individual exercise to help make the theoretical both practical and applicable to your everyday work.

Course Description

There are four required courses in the program, and students must complete all four courses to receive their certification. These courses are open to all interested students. There are no prerequisites, and the classes are graded pass/fail.

Cost: $1,500 per class for a total of $6,000 to complete the certification program.

Our four courses will provide you with a foundational understanding of how sustainability applies to economics and management; strategy and operations; leadership; and marketing, messaging, branding and reporting.

  1. Introduction to Sustainable Economics and Management

This survey-style course covers the basic concepts, principles and practices involved in a sustainable approach to business economics and management. This includes an overview of the history and latest thinking around sustainability, social responsibility, finance and human resources.

  1. Strategy and Operations

This course draws from both theoretical frameworks and real-world applications of applying sustainable management practices in business operations. The course focuses on the most common and relevant aspects of sustainability: energy and emissions, waste and water, and buildings. In addition, students will learn about process and management approaches for delivering operational solutions, such as lifecycle assessments, supply chain procurement, stakeholder engagement and process mapping.

  1. Leadership

This course provides a deeper understanding of leadership with a presentation of the principles and techniques of Level 5 Leadership. The course will cover the application of Level 5 Leadership to promoting sustainable practices; managing change and conflict; negotiations and sales; interviewing and hiring; and consulting.

  1. Marketing, Messaging, Branding and Reporting – Elective

This course centers on the strategy’s businesses use to build and communicate their public-facing image with a focus on sustainability. Topics are built on the foundation of engagement strategy and include community- and employee- engagement, reporting and marketing.


Class Schedule – 2019


April 12/13 – Intro to Sustainable Economics and Management

April 26/27 – Strategy and Operations

May 3/4 – Leadership

May 17/18 – Marketing, Messaging, Branding and Reporting


June 7/8 – Intro to Sustainable Economics and Management

June 14/15 – Strategy and Operations

June 21/22 – Leadership

June 28/29 – Marketing, Messaging, Branding and Reporting


September 13/14 – Intro to Sustainable Economics and Management

September 27/28 – Strategy and Operations

October 11/12 – Leadership

October 25/26 – Marketing, Messaging, Branding and Reporting


Jeff Gowdy (J. Gowdy Consulting) is an internationally recognized thought leader and practitioner in corporate sustainability and responsibility. Globally, he serves on the Technical Advisory Group for Science Based Targets, a joint initiative of Carbon Disclosure Project, United Nations, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund. Locally, he teaches at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. His consulting firm, J. Gowdy Consulting, has won multiple awards for its globally innovative and leading work around goal-setting, reporting and strategy.

Sabrina Cowden (CEO of Milepost Consulting) is an exceptional leader and provides world-class strategic guidance to clients, builds high performance teams, and transforms innovative engagement thinking. From Indonesia to Indiana, she focuses on using innovative engagement techniques to guide diverse groups toward creative, strategic solutions. Her career has included human resource management, utility engagement strategy, crisis communication and speech writing, executive coaching, and strategic planning and support. Prior to joining Milepost, Sabrina was Program Director and for the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps where she was responsible for strategic development, managing both domestic and international staff, logistics, and event program development. She was also in charge of forging relationships intended to strengthen and expand Climate Reality’s message and the Climate Leader community at large.