The outdoor recreation economy is one of our nation’s largest and fastest-growing economic sectors, providing livelihoods for millions of American workers. Nationally, outdoor recreation accounts for 7.6 million jobs and contributes $887 billion in annual consumer spending. The state of Colorado plays a significant role in the national outdoor economy, supporting 511,000 direct jobs and generating $28 billion in annual consumer spending. However, as the outdoor recreation industry sector is still relatively new, it holds great potential for integrating sustainability concepts into all aspects of its operations.

Sustainable development and environmental stewardship are essential for the long-term success of the outdoor recreation industry. To achieve this, innovation is needed across outdoor recreation businesses, including leadership practices and sustainable operations. Additionally, establishing new policies and regulations to govern and promote access to public lands is crucial for their sustainable use by future generations. Furthermore, leveraging outdoor amenities can foster the growth of local, sustainable economies at the community level.

MENV's Sustainability in the Outdoor Industry (SOI) specialization offers a comprehensive program that prepares students to be future leaders in the outdoor recreation economy. Our holistic approach examines the intersection of outdoor recreation businesses, public lands policy, and resilient communities, all with a strong focus on sustainability. Students gain a foundational understanding of these areas, acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to address the challenges and opportunities of outdoor recreation.

Guiding Principles:

1. Sustainable outdoor business development: We emphasize cultivating and promoting outdoor businesses that prioritize sustainable operations. By integrating sustainable practices, these businesses contribute to land, water, and air conservation, benefiting the environment and society.

2. Advocacy for policy dedicated to land, water, and air conservation: We advocate for policies that protect and preserve natural resources, supporting sustainable outdoor recreation and conservation efforts through a robust regulatory framework.

3. Building resilient communities through outdoor recreation: We recognize the role of outdoor recreation in fostering resilient communities. By promoting outdoor opportunities, we enhance community well-being, social cohesion, and economic prosperity while ensuring long-term sustainability.

4. Improving economic prosperity and community quality of life through conservation and transformative public spaces: We believe conserving nature and culture while creating transformative public spaces can enhance economic prosperity and improve community quality of life. These efforts contribute to a more sustainable and vibrant outdoor industry.

Students listening to a speaker at the Icelandic Ski Company. 5. Increasing equity in the outdoors and the outdoor industry: We strive to increase equity by improving the quality of, and access to, outdoor spaces and opportunities. By addressing barriers and promoting inclusivity, we ensure that everyone has equal access to the benefits of outdoor recreation.

With an emphasis on sustainability, the SOI specialization equips students with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in the outdoor industry, economic development, and the public lands and natural resources policy sectors. By completing this specialized masters degree program, students become catalysts for change, driving sustainable practices, promoting environmental stewardship, and advancing equitable access to the outdoors. Through their efforts, graduates contribute to the positive development of the environment, communities, and the overall outdoor recreation economy.