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Sustainability Science is Key for Competitive Advantage

Dr. David Szymanski is a geologist with research interests ranging from the chemical evolution of magmas to environmental impacts of human and natural processes on surface waters.


 As a former Congressional Science Fellow in the U.S. Senate, Szymanski now involves Bentley students in research for nonpartisan policy development on issues of energy, climate and natural resources. As a science communicator and science educator, he conducts pedagogical research on how to teach non-scientists the business of applying scientific concepts to real- world problems and shared some insights for the students .

  What is Sustainability Science and why get a degree in it?

 We used to focus on the ethical argument for sustainability; that we should protect    the environment for future generations and respect our ecosystem, which is great.     But our current understanding and lessons from business community also show that sustainability is a necessity for a competitive advantage in business; sustainability has a positive effect on the bottom line.

 A degree in Sustainability science at Bentley prepares you to understand how natural, human and economic systems work and interact with each other. Through our courses in the natural sciences, combined with science policy,   environmental economics, and other fields you’ll  master an understanding of earth’s environmental systems — and then tackle the big issues of how they relate to business practices.

  What is Unique about NAS faculty and it’s Curriculum? 

 In NAS we hire faculty members who not only set a high bar for teaching students scientific rigor but at the same time also have a clear understanding that they are working with a unique population of business students. We deliberately work with our colleagues from other disciplines and think how we are going to teach somebody who is not only going to be a student of science but is also going to go into the world of business. By developing scientific acumen, we show our students how important sustainability is to build a robust global economy. Our sustainability curriculum is a cutting edge mix of science and business and that’s really the value of our degree.

What skills do graduates leave with, which help them make an impact in related field to promote sustainability in business and society?

We promote a fusion model of education at Bentley, which is a confluence of the study in the arts and sciences and business, preparing our students with skill sets not just for their business careers but also for life. Studies of this kind of educational fusion show us that there are four ways that we prepare our students for the outside world:

  1. By imparting conceptual knowledge and its practical application;
  2. Through developing problem solving and critical thinking skills;
  3. Creating and promoting an environment of reflective exploration and discovery; and
  4. Advancing learning through multiple framing that is developing an understanding that two seemingly opposite perspectives can both be true.

What opportunities available with a degree in Sustainability Science?

Though the word “sustainability” often invokes the idea of science and engineering, this narrow view does not accurately represent the diversity of the field. While these scientific careers are certainly part of the industry, there are many other options for those seeking a career in a sustainability-related field. In fact, many sustainability careers are often focused on helping corporations, nonprofits and other organizations run more efficiently and purposefully, thereby improving their bottom line, satisfying customers or sometimes shareholders, and generally working toward a better society.

What advice would you offer a new or aspiring Bentley student interested in a degree in sustainable science?

If you are a problem solver who can think broadly and you have a passion for sustainability -- balancing the environment with social equity and economic stability – then the degree in Sustainable Science at Bentley will be the right fit you.