Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) Specialization

Inspire, Transform, Collaborate, Change

The LSE program fosters leadership skills in sustainability education. LSE prepares those who wish to educate people of all ages for sustainable solutions in a variety of settings including schools, nonprofit organizations, local governments, and businesses.

LSE mission statement

LSE prepares graduates for professional careers in sustainability education through the rigorous study of educational leadership and sustainability pedagogy that addresses the importance of ecological systems, bio-cultural diversity, social and economic justice, and multicultural perspectives.

Be the change

As a student in the program, your learning will focus on the following four LSE Key Learning Areas, designed for you to:

  • Gain a stronger understanding of yourself, including your own ecological identity and sense of place, and enhance your educational and leadership philosophies
  • Cultivate an understanding of sustainability issues as interconnected, holistic, and relational, develop stronger systems thinking, and appreciate the importance of multiple perspectives
  • Create strategies for working with diverse groups to create change, understand how power, privilege and justice impact relationships, develop sustainability networks and partnerships
  • Develop a toolkit for enacting sustainable change, including educational tools and leadership skills

The Educational Leadership and Policy Department (ELP) offers a master of science or master of arts* in education with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE). Please send initial inquiries about the LSE program to askcoe@pdx.edu.

Program description

We see sustainability education as: developing the knowledge, perspectives, new ways of thinking, and skills needed to advocate for justice and equity, democratic participation, economic viability, and the regeneration and vitality of communities and ecosystems. We believe this requires a deep ethical understanding of living within the limits of natural systems, as well as personal and communal shifts to ways of being and acting that create healthy and balanced solutions to interconnected problems that face our communities and bioregions. Sustainability education involves shifting to holistic, systemic, connective and ecological ways of thinking and learning.

We believe that sustainability education should be embodied in all of our classes and activities. In LSE, students and instructors take on the roles of both teachers and learners, and we strive to model education that is inclusive, participatory, experiential, thematic, critically questioning, place-based and transformational. 

The LSE program provides opportunities to address real sustainability issues through a theory to practice curriculum that includes ongoing community based learning. You’ll create a network of relationships with your program colleagues and mentors, faculty, and community leaders, and will have the opportunity to apply your learning through a numerous individual and group projects.  

Working closely with a faculty advisor, LSE students will develop a program of study that is tailored to personal and professional goals in one of the following areas:

  • Garden-based education in schools and communities
  • Sustainability education in schools, colleges, and community organizations

LSE guiding principles

The following values guide the LSE program:

  • A commitment to social, ecological and economic justice
  • A commitment to multiple perspectives including multicultural, interdisciplinary, intergenerational, indigenous, local, and global perspectives
  • The development of reflective practitioners and critical thinkers with strong communication skills
  • The empowerment of change agents with leadership skills and the capacity to collaborate with diverse individuals
  • The integration of theory, research, assessment and practice
  • A commitment to bio-cultural diversity, ecological restoration, and the greater good
  • The integration of indigenous knowledge and whole systems design
  • The fostering of participatory, inclusive, transformational, and lifelong learning
  • The promotion of applied, experiential and community-based learning
  • The fostering of hope and resiliency through networks and relationships within local and global contexts

*Master of Arts degree requires proficiency in a foreign language. The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures (503-725-3522) administers the language examination, which can be taken any time prior to your final term.

Additional financial information

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