Master of Arts in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership

Do you want to make a difference in the world?  Are you a change leader?  The M.A. in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership program give you a solid background in the mechanics of social innovation with a special emphasis on ethical leadership to make a positive impact on our communities. 

Designed for busy professionals, we offer remote flexible options in accelerated 8 week courses with a longer track for the capstone.  Our program will help you develop a greater sense of how individuals relate to the environment and communities we serve.


Program Highlights

The Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership program is student-directed, community-focused, and turns passion to action.  You will collaborate with fellow classmates, faculty, and community guests from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds to individualize your degree based on your personal and professional interest.  It is an action-oriented curriculum where you can learn the skills and knowledge to create systemic change.  

Designed for busy professionals, our program is flexible and convenient:

  • 33 credits
  • Offered in a remote learning format
  • Comprised of accelerated 8- week courses with a longer track for the capstone
  • Small classes in a highly interactive setting
  • Excellent networking opportunities
  • Flexible time to degree completion

Degree Requirements

A total of 33 credits is required to complete the Master of Arts in Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership.  The average completion time for the program is two years.

Required Courses (25 credits):

(SUST 650) Foundations: Leadership for Social Innovation and Sustainability
This course provides the foundation for the Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Program. It creates a community of reflective learners that support each other in becoming effective social entrepreneurs and sustainability change agents.  The course also explores relationships among sustainability, economic development, and social equity.

(SUST 651) Self and Natural Systems
How do we live in harmony with the natural systems of the planet in order to create wellbeing in ourselves, communities and organizations? Students explore the importance of understanding climate change, sense of place, eco-systems, indigenous knowledge systems, technology, energy, food, water, and waste.

(SUST 652) Innovation for Social and Economic Well-Being 
In this course, we consider the challenges to organizational and community change presented by global trends and by traditional socioeconomic and public policy models, and we introduce alternative models aimed at meeting these challenges: equity, ecological economics, community development, sustainable development, the sharing economy, social innovation and participatory democracy.

(SUST 751) Designing Regenerative Communities
This course offers students opportunities to explore how housing, economic development, inclusive community-based engagement and sustainable infrastructure (built and governance) might come together to more rapidly and more equitably advance wellbeing for all, in the urban context.

(SUST 752) Leadership for Organizational and Community Well-Being
This course explores examples of community and organizational practices that fulfill the vision of co-creating inclusive well-being that reflects the interrelatedness of personal well-being, organizational culture, socio-economic well-being, and the well-being of nature. Along with examples and case studies, students learn specific leadership skills that facilitate the creation of well-being in their organizations and communities.

(ORG 630) Organizational Change
Investigates the nature of change, forces for change, and the impact of change on its recipients. Introduces students to the practice of organization development with respect to change efforts in organizations as they examine their own roles and skill sets as change agents.  Students learn to choose between, and then design, appropriate interventions to transform an organization from a current state to a desired future state.

(SUST 760) Capstone A & (SUST 761) Capstone B
The Capstone courses are run as a peer-coaching learning community where each student implements a social innovation project of their choosing. Capstone A focuses on analyzing the system that the student is interested in changing, identifying a leverage point, and creating a theory of change.  In Capstone B, students implement a prototype and social impact evaluation based on the systems analysis conducted in Capstone A.  Students are encouraged to take Capstone A and Capstone B in their last two semester of the program.

Sample Elective Courses (8 credits): 

Elective credits allow students to tailor their degree to a special area of interest or deepen specific leadership skills and knowledge.  Sample elective courses may be taken from the programs listed below.  Elective courses must first be approved by your academic advisor.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Attending graduate school is one of the best investments you will ever make in yourself and your future.  While the benefits to personal growth are priceless, our program can expand your career options and enhance your earning power in the marketplace.  When considering the total cost of your education, be sure to consider the lasting positive impact it will have on your personal and professional future.

Graduate tuition for the 2021-2022 year is $764 per credit (effective Summer 2021).

Financing your Edgewood College Degree

We have worked with thousands of students who have questioned how they could afford to complete their graduate education.  Our dedicated counselors will work with you to find creative solutions including tuition reimbursement plans, third party billing options, monthly payment plans, and help you navigate the federal financial aid process.  Whatever your situation, we will work with you to support your future.

For more information, please contact Edgewood Central at  ecentral@edgewood.edu or call us at (608) 663-4300.

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission, applicants must provide the following:

  1. Completed graduate application. This application is for students who want to pursue a Master’s degree, certificate, or take courses as a non-degree seeking student.
  2. Official transcripts reflecting completion of a baccalaureate or more advanced degree from a United States regionally accredited or equivalent post-secondary institution with a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.0 on a 4.0 scale or a 2.0 GPA in the last 60 credits
  3. Students who do not meet the 2.0 GPA requirement may still be considered for conditional admission.  Please contact your admissions counselor for more information on how to apply for conditional admission.
Transfer Credits
You may submit up to 10 semester hours of graduate credit for consideration of transfer to Edgewood College for application to a degree program. Approval of the respective department is required. To be considered for application to a degree program, a course must have been taken within the past five years. For more information about transfer credits, please contact your admissions counselor.

    Students and Alumni


    Program participants represent a wide variety of fields: social entrepreneurship non-profit, government, small business corporate management; economic development, planning and design; education; public health; and energy and utilities. Students enter the program at various stages of their careers. Some students have recently completed their undergraduate degrees and are looking for the skills, connections and project-based learning that will propel them into their careers. Others are already in their chosen careers, and are looking for the knowledge and skills to enhance the work they are doing by launching or furthering the social innovation and/or sustainability efforts of their current organization.


    Our alumni are making a difference in the many complex social-emotional intelligence challenges facing our world today including equity, climate change, violence prevention, education, energy policy, green building, community development, equity, land use and water quality, biodiversity protection, food security and public health. They work for a wide range of organizations including: American Family Insurance, Boys & Girls Club, Community Groundworks, Environmental Leadership Program, GDS Associates Engineers & Consultants, Group Health Cooperative, Lincoln Elementary School, Madison Gas & Electric, Sustain Dane, Trek Bicycle Corporation, UW Health, and Wisconsin Department of Transportation.


    Alex Law
    Alex Law

    Alex works for the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC) as a Program Manager for Energy Finance Solutions (EFS). In this role he manages existing energy efficiency and renewable energy loan programs throughout the United States, supervises two teams of loan specialists, coordinators and administrators, and consults new clients to guide the setup and implementation of new loan programs. EFS’ clients are state government agencies or large utilities interested in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy by making financing available to consumers or businesses. Some of EFS’ programs provide incentives for low income customers, and some programs also offer non-traditional loan underwriting criteria, such as looking at the utility bill history instead of credit scores or debt-to-income ratios

    When Alex decided to pursue a graduate degree he wanted to combine his background in business and banking with his passion for sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. Getting an MBA from UW-Madison at the same time as the masters in the SISL program provided him with this perfect merger of focus areas, and was key in getting into his current position and field, which needs unique and creative approaches to solving some of the most pressing issues of our times.

    Faculty and Staff


    Victoria M. Palmisano, MA, MBA, MLS, PhD, Associate Dean & Assistant Professor
    BA, Tulane University
    MA, University of New Orleans
    MBA, Louisiana State University – Shreveport
    Masters of Legal Studies, The University of Arizona
    PhD, University of New Orleans

    Jacob Gill, MS, Accounting Program Coordinator & Lecturer
    BBA, Edgewood College
    MS, Edgewood College

    Stephanie Douglas, MS, PhD, Organizational Leadership and Change Coordinator & Lecturer
    BS, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    MS, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
    PhD, Colorado State University

    Fazel Hayati, MBA, PhD, Professor of Management
    MBA, Louisiana State University – Shreveport
    PhD, Auburn University

    Ken Kavajecz, MS, PhD, Professor of Finance
    BS, University of Wisconsin–Madison
    MS, Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management
    PhD, Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management

    Leigh Maxwell, MA, PhD, Associate Professor of Communications Studies
    MA, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville
    PhD, The Ohio State University

    Xiaodong Kuang, PhD, Associate Professor of Communications Studies
    PhD, University of Wisconsin – Madison

    Dan Schroeder, PhD, Associate Professor in Organizational Behavior and Leadership 
    BS, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater 
    MA, Western Michigan University 
    PhD, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

    Kayla StajkoviΔ‡ CPA, PhD, Assistant Professor of Management 
    BS, St. Cloud State University 
    PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Raj Kamal, MS, MBA, Senior Lecturer 
    BA, Delhi University – St Stephen’s College
    MBA, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
    MS, Purdue University – Krannert School of Management

    Annette Mondry, MEd, PhD, Senior Lecturer 
    MEd, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee 
    PhD, University of Wisconsin – Madison

    Justin Wilder, Professional Advisor 
    BA, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point

    Program Initiatives

    Students in the Social Innovation & Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program become part of a network of professional colleagues. The program’s project-based approach and integration of regional sustainability experts into the classes, either as guest instructors or through class field trips, builds breadth of knowledge, as well as social capital. Students have the opportunity to connect with many of our partners while in the program, and we can facilitate further connections based on student interest. Visit some of our partner organizations’ web sites:

    Links of Interest
    Full Catalog
    Gainful Employment Disclosure