Increasing Graduate Education Relevance through Innovative Marketing: Interview with Mike Scorzo

Increasing Graduate Education Relevance through Innovative Marketing: Interview with Mike Scorzo

Lynn Wilson (SeaTrust Institute and Kaplan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4014-6.ch013
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Kaplan University’s new Master of Science in Environmental Policy is designed to fill a growing expressed need by governmental, public service, and nonprofit organizations, as well as industry, consulting, and research firms across local, national, and international arenas. One hallmark of this degree is its links to policy-related jobs for graduates. Innovative collaborations encouraging interdisciplinary flexibility such as customized specializations, internships, and transdisciplinary partnerships within and beyond traditional higher education circles allow this program to incorporate the academic rigor needed for a solid foundation with the dynamic disciplinary and experiential learning to maintain relevance to changing real-world requirements.

The aim of this paper is to illustrate innovative interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary implications for marketing for an academically rigorous graduate program that serves the needs of employers in the emerging field of environmental policy. By linking interdisciplinary curriculum design to the transdisciplinary nature of environmental policy work, program design and marketing become interwoven. Transdiciplinarity in this context means a “process in which members of different fields work together over extended periods to develop novel conceptual and methodologic frameworks with the potential to produce transcendent theoretical approaches” (Klein, 2008, p. 117).

One particular facet of environmental policy, sustainability, is currently being integrated into graduate business education as programs incorporate environmental studies into curricula. Some programs also leverage corporate sponsorship from organizations committed to incorporating business leadership with corporate environmental responsibility (The Aspen Institute, 2011) as part of linking programs with businesses that may provide future employment for program graduates. As evidenced in these business and sustainability programs, environmental policy as a separate, core field of study needs to make its own relationships with disciplines that support its unique goals. Environmental policy problems may require expertise in business, law, environmental science, economics, security, energy, health and more based around the core competencies of the policy professional.

Programs that appropriately prepare these new professionals require that environmental policy, rather than business or science, function as the programmatic focal point, leveraging other disciplines. The model for innovative environmental policy graduate programs borrows from the business and sustainability relationship but must attend to the unique characteristics of a field that requires significant specialized scientific as well as social scientific knowledge and practical experience focused on “government actions that affect or attempt to affect environmental quality and the use of natural resources” (Kraft & Furlong, 2010, p. 342). Traditional campus-based institutions offering programs specifically in environmental policy such as Georgia Tech, George Washington University, The New School, Lund University and Clark University recognize the unique characteristics of environmental policy in explicit program designs. Dedicated online programs in environmental policy are more recent and are well served to incorporate disciplinary and sectoral expectations within online educational marketing and delivery considerations (Columbaro & Monaghan, 2009) in both program and partnership development strategies.

Environmental policy programs committed to this approach must, as a part of their marketing strategy, consciously cultivate relationships with a variety of types of environmental policy professionals as educational resources and as potential employers for program graduates. In this interview, a graduate faculty member who is a working practitioner in environmental policy asks the Assistant Dean of Curriculum about some of the innovative marketing approaches Kaplan University is using with its new Master of Science in Environmental Policy.

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