Graduate Certificate in Environmental Leadership | ESF Open Academy | The Open Academy | SUNY ESF
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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Environmental LeadershipCertificate of Advanced Study

Now, more than ever, the world is ready for leaders who can tackle complex environmental challenges.

Are you ready to switch careers or step forward in your current profession? Make your move with us and realize 21st century rewards. Our certificate of advanced study in Environmental Leadership (no GRE required!) is perfect for people who want to roll up their sleeves and drive sustainable change in any setting — corporate, non-profit, or government. Enroll today!

Program learning outcomes

Students in our fully online program will develop leadership skills in the following areas:

  • Advocating for a values-driven, sustainable culture
  • Staying current with ever-changing, but absolutely critical local, regional, national, and international policies
  • Facilitating productive decision-making even in challenging situations
  • Selecting appropriate tools, methods, and approaches to address society's most challenging environmental problems
  • Identifying team members and facilitating collaborative problem-solving
  • Communicating and problem-solving across cultural, organizational, and political boundaries

Earn our Certificate of Advanced Study and Step-Up Your Credentials (3 courses)*

The certificate of advanced study in Environmental Leadership requires the completion of three courses:

All courses are offered online and designed to accommodate working professionals' schedules. Course activities include readings, instructor-developed video presentations and podcasts, guided exercises, online discussions, and completion of class exercises toward a final project. Students regularly engage with the professor in online discussions, synchronous learning sessions, and phone or online office hours.

* We understand flexibility is important. Want to test the waters and enroll in just one course? No worries! Pick the course that sounds most interesting and click "register for a course."

Let's get started!

Apply to the Program

If you are not currently enrolled at ESF, you can also register for a course as a visiting student. We invite you to enroll in the one or more of the courses before applying to the program.

ESF Students: You can register for these courses through the normal registration process. Graduate students currently matriculated and in good academic standing in their graduate degree programs at SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University are eligible to apply for entrance to the certificate program; complete the application and certificate request form for matriculated ESF Students.

You're in good hands!

Instructor and Program Chair

Dr. Paul Hirsch, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, ESF;

Paul Hirsch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at SUNY ESF and is a recognized expert in his field. A frequent publisher in peer-reviewed journals, he is also sought after by main stream publications for his expertise and views on sustainability. For example, in a recent article in Women's World Daily Hirsch discussed his views on "consumers, collaboration and creativity" and talked about "three reasons to be optimistic about fashion's push toward sustainability."

Hirsch has played a facilitative role in a variety of sustainable change processes, both in the United States and internationally, working for organizations from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to the Tanzanian Department of Wildlife Management, the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law, and the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies in Vietnam.

Dr. Hirsch has served as a Board Member with the Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, a Senior Research Fellow with the National Council for Science and the Environment, and a Fellow with Planet Forward at George Washington University. He teaches courses in environmental philosophy, policy, and decision-making.

Course Descriptions

EST 640 / Environmental Thought and Ethics (3 credits; Offered in the Fall Semester)

Understand the role of values, science, and alternative ways of knowing in environmental problem-solving. Apply the tools of environmental ethics and philosophy to improving dialog, debates, and decision making in the context of complex environmental challenges.

EST 612 / Environmental Policy and Governance (3 credits; Offered in the Spring Semester)

Map the institutional context of an environmental problem. Identify applicable local, regional, national, or international policies and the processes by which they are made and changed. Identify strategic leverage points for driving sustainable change.

EST 635 / Public Participation and Decision Making: Theory and Application (3 credits; Offered in the Spring Semester)

Develop a strategy for the inclusion of key stakeholders in the problem-solving process. Facilitate reflective, adaptive, and deliberative decision-making in the context of uncertain science and divergent agendas.

Certificate at a Glance

Required Courses

The number of courses required for this certificate is 3.

Approximate Cost

Fall 2022 – Spring 2023

Time Investment

The average time it takes to complete this certificate is 1 year.

Request Information

Information needed

Program Chair

Dr. Paul Hirsch, Associate Professor, Environmental Studies, SUNY ESF;

Have a question?

Our Open Academy team ( or Program Chair ( can answer questions about our certificate of advanced study.

Apply or Register Now

You may register for just a course as a visiting student by completing and submitting the visiting student registration form:

About ESF

ESF is the nation's oldest and most respected college dedicated solely to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies and building a sustainable future. ESF is ranked among the nation's best colleges for students focused on the science, design, engineering and management of our environment and natural resources.