Environmental Entrepreneurship

Woman presenting

The new MENV Environmental Entrepreneurship specialization is tailored to address the needs of aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders who are driven to work at the intersection of mission, profit, and environmental responsibility. Utilizing a curriculum that focuses on developing creativity and problem-solving skills to address sustainability challenges, this program is designed for the student who aims to develop innovative approaches to creating a healthier environmental, social, and economic systems.

This specialization provides a framework for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators to learn how to develop their ideas into businesses, organizations, and solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Whether one wants to develop a for-profit venture or a not-for-profit organization, this specialization will provide the tools and curriculum necessary to understand that process. The specialization provides problem-solving and organizational development skills for those interested in both market and non-market based approaches.

In addition to being centered in one of the most spectacular natural locations in the country, Environmental Entrepreneurship students are embedded in a scientific, entrepreneurial, and environmental ecosystem that is unrivaled anywhere in the world. CU Boulder is one of the world’s preeminent universities in the environmental and natural sciences and the leading comprehensive research university in the Rocky Mountain region - and in 2016 Boulder was ranked the number one city for entrepreneurs in the United States. 

Students will complete 12 credit hours of core coursework, 12 credit hours of Entrepreneurship coursework, 12 credit hours of skills and electives courses, and an Entrepreneurial Capstone project. The Capstone project provides students with the opportunity to design and implement their own sustainability business concept or work alongside established environmental entrepreneurs.

Specialization Course Requirements

Entrepreneur I and II: Entrepreneurship I and II provide a broad-based introduction to the foundations of business, exposing students to the breadth of skills necessary to be a leader. The class is broken into modules that vary in length and are delivered using a combination of lectures, coursework, and hands on activities. Modules are taught by professionals and experts in the field. Course activities will include accounting, communications, statistics, law, project management, marketing, finance, sales, operations management, strategy, research, and data analysis. Students who successfully complete the course will be able to evaluate opportunities, research new markets, understand competitive landscapes, plan releases, review marketing plans, understand sales funnels, review financials, and write releases.

Mission Hacker Lab: The Mission Hacker Lab is the foundation class of the Entrepreneurship program. Course activities will include opportunity analysis, communication strategies, innovation frameworks, and real world disruption opportunities. The class reviews mission driven innovations and uses different frameworks to uncover innovations for companies, startups, governments, and nonprofits. Activities will vary in length from hours to weeks, and students who successfully complete the course will gain knowledge into their own strengths/weakness, understand different frameworks for innovating, and gain valuable hands on experience experimenting in small, fast, iterative cycles for mission driven companies, startups, governments, and nonprofits. Whether desiring to learn more about entrepreneurship or launch a new enterprise, the course will provide students the know-how and tools necessary to be effective at delivering innovative ideas to the market.

Behavioral Insights for Sustainability: This class is designed to give students an in-depth understanding of the behavioral dimensions of sustainability. The success of programs, policies, and businesses in the sustainability realm often hinge on our ability to effectively engage the public. How do we promote the adoption of a new technology or behavior? How do we encourage people to care about our cause? Why do people often act in ways that seem to contradict their own best interests? We will draw on key insights from the behavioral sciences, public health, communications, and other related fields to address these and other questions. In doing so, we will examine a suite of scientifically-grounded approaches for engaging the public and promoting behavior change. Students will have the opportunity to adapt these tools into a behavioral engagement program of their choice with input from their peers and the instructor. Finally, we will cover essential tools to determine if your approach to behavior change is successful. We’ll review the basics of qualitative methods, constructing a survey, and setting up an experimental design to test the effectiveness of an intervention.

For more information on Environmental Entrepreneurship, please contact specialization lead, Robert Reich at Robert.Reich@colorado.edu.

Course sequence:

Fall Semester I

  • Foundations of Environmental Leadership (MENV core)
  • Socio-Environmental Systems (MENV core)
  • Entrepreneurship I (EE Specialization requirement)
  • Entrepreneurship II (EE Specialization requirement)
  • Capstone Project

Spring Semester

  • Mission Hacker Lab (EE Specialization requirement)
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Capstone Project


  • Ethics and Values in Environmental Leadership (MENV core)

Summer Semester

  • Capstone Project

Fall Semester II

  • Behavioral Insights for Sustainability (EE Specialization requirement)
  • Elective
  • Elective
  • Capstone Project