Course Spotlight: Sustainable Behavior Change (SUS 580) with Dr. Deborah DeLong

Chatham University’s Sustainable Behavior Change (SUS580) course, taught by Dr. Deborah DeLong, examines the latest science concerning sources of environmental degradation through real-world application.  The course is a core requirement for Dual Degree MSUS/MBA  students, and a required elective for MBA students in the Sustainability concentration, that engages student teams in sustainability projects with clients in the business world. In Fall 2015, each of the five groups worked with a local business to propose solutions for how they might tackle sustainability issues within the workplace.


Students in class discussing group work

The clients that students worked with include: FedEx Ground, Westinghouse, Chatham University- Eden Hall Campus, Direct Energy Business, and Sustainable Pittsburgh.

Students devised a creative marketing approach for their respective business clients. In teams, students applied motivational theory, collected secondary and primary data, and developed an action plan for increasing specific pro-environmental behaviors at each client site. Ashley LeDonne, MSUS/MBA  ’17, leader of the Westinghouse team, , shares her experience from the project, “Working with Westinghouse helped my group and I face the real life challenges of sustainability in the workplace, forcing us to adapt primary research and best practices into the the culture at Westinghouse to produce a strategic waste reduction plan and change employee behavior”


FedEx Ground team: Sara Sidelinger, Jill Bullister, Jephord English, and Katelyn Hughes, all MSUS/MBA ’17

By the end of the semester, students had the skill set to develop a strategic action plan for facilitating environmentally responsible behavioral change. They applied project management skills to define, analyze, and develop a set of actionable recommendations for improving business sustainability challenges.

Dr. DeLong infuses many of her courses with experiential learning opportunities to bring core business and sustainability concepts alive. Her teaching and service philosophy emphasizes learning beyond the classroom to effectively prepare students for the real world challenges that await them.

“I am very fortunate to work with students in the Falk School who demonstrate such passion and commitment to advancing sustainability in their future professional lives. Our corporate partners are delighted with the Sustainable Behavior Change projects for the highly actionable strategies and tactical recommendations we provide. It is a win-win exchange that benefits the planet as well; you can’t do much better than that!” exclaims Dr. DeLong.

Chatham University’s Falk School of Sustainability Master of Sustainability program, in partnership with Chatham’s MBA program, has developed a dual degree program that prepares graduates for sustainability management and leadership positions across all sectors including business, government, and nongovernmental organizations.

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