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Packaging: An integral, critical part of sustainability studies today


Author Jason Monaghan is a specialist with the University Alliance, a worldwide leader in interactive professional education through partnerships with accredited universities. Reach him at 813-621-6200 x4283 or [email protected].


As the sustainability trend continues and more companies turn to employees who are specifically trained in eco-friendly production, a growing number of colleges and universities are offering sustainability-related curriculum. In fact, more than 800 colleges and universities were members of the Assn. for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) in 2010, a 15 percent increase over the previous year.

Among the areas of study drawing attention on campuses nationwide is packaging and the role it plays in a company's supply chain. For example, The University of Vermont's (UVM) Advanced Certificate program in Sustainable Innovation (ACSI) devotes several modules of study to addressing the impact of sustainable packaging, as well as other freight innovations. 

The in-depth curriculum for the online program was built from the UVM continuing education department's Sustainable Business summer program hosted on campus in Burlington, VT. During the ACSI program, students learn how to bring about change through transformative, financially sustainable innovations in business and business enterprise to help their respective organizations become a model of sustainability. 

UVM quickly recognized the increase in demand from top organizations and the need to offer this curriculum on a broader platform. By offering the program 100 percent online, it provided access to more students from the corporate environment by eliminating geographical boundaries and increasing the possibility for their message of sustainability to reach the international markets that would otherwise be unable to take advantage of this learning. 

UVM's online instructors were selected as respected real-world sustainability practitioners, many of whom are Ph.D. thought leaders in the field and engage with high-level visible companies through consultancy and direct influence into their corporate sustainability plan. The instructors combine their talents and experience to bring the Advanced Certificate to students through both recorded lectures and live facilitation. They provide up-to-date content and case studies in real-time to ensure the students have a robust and full-bodied understanding of the impacts, influences and best practices of sustainability today.

The program is made up of three eight-week courses: (1) Principles and Strategies of Sustainability, (2) Sustainable Operations, and (3) Sustainability Best Practices and Implementation. During their study, students will use three primary modes of online learning media: pre-recorded lectures, discussion boards and weekly live sessions.

Upon completion of each course and its online exams, the student receives a custom, framed certificate showing that she successfully completed each body of knowledge. After completing all three courses, the student receives the Advanced Certificate in Sustainable Innovation showing that she successfully completed the entire course of study.

As packaging continues to draw attention as a vital part of the green movement, more forward-thinking colleges and universities will likely make it an integral part of their sustainability-related certificate and degree programs.




For more information about the program above, visit the UVM website at and click on the Certificate Programs link.



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