The outdoor recreation economy is among our nation’s largest and fastest growing economic sectors and provides livelihoods for millions of American workers. Nationally, outdoor recreation accounts for 7.6 million jobs and provides $887 billion in annual consumer spending. The state of Colorado represents a significant piece of the national outdoor economy, supporting 511,000 direct jobs and $28 billion in annual consumer spending.

The outdoor recreation industry sector remains, however, relatively new and holds great potential for the integration of sustainability concepts into all of its elements. For example, innovation is needed across outdoor recreation businesses industry in leadership and sustainable operations; new policies and regulations must be created to govern and promote access to public lands; and outdoor amenities must be leveraged to grow local, sustainable economies at the local scale.

The MENV Sustainability in the Outdoor Industry (SOI) specialization prepares its students to successfully engage with and be future leaders in the outdoor recreation economy. MENV views the outdoor recreation economy holistically. The SOI specialization looks at the intersection of outdoor recreation businesses, public lands policy, and resilient communities. Students will receive foundational understanding in each of these areas and will develop skills and knowledge to understand the challenges and opportunities presented by outdoor recreation.

Students graduating from the Sustainability in the Outdoor Industry track will be prepared to work in in the outdoor industry, economic development, and the public lands and natural resources policy sectors, as they relate to outdoor recreation.

Course Requirements

With over 640 million acres of land in the United States owned by the federal government, and significant holdings by both state and local governments, public lands are a venue ripe for opportunity and conflict. This course will examine critical and emerging issues on public lands across the U.S. today. Following an overview of the structure of public lands management, including federal land management designations and agencies and major laws and policies relevant to public lands management, we will transition into issue-based discussions of challenges facing public lands management today. Topics may include recreation, wildlife, livestock grazing, oil & gas leasing, roadless areas, wildfire management and funding, wilderness, planning, climate change, coordination with state & local governments, economic transitions for neighboring communities, tribal concerns, and international boundary issues.

The goal of this course is to provide students with the knowledge and tools to drive environmental and social responsibility in the business sector. The first part of the course will be focused on creating the case for a new business model by looking at market failures, the environmental crisis, and the role businesses play in being a force for good. The second part will explore the practical tools required to implement sustainable solutions throughout a businesses’ value chain including topics such as strategy development, supply chain management, philanthropy, and political advocacy. The course will draw heavily on case studies and real-world examples to help students create their own framework for holistic corporate impact. 

Students in this course will learn the concepts and analytical tools associated with understanding and facilitating individual or group decisions. The discussion and applications in this course will be tailored to environmental management, organizations, and discourses. Concepts from fields such as decision analysis, organizational behavior, environmental management, economics, and policy analysis will be used throughout this course to prepare students to work in the fields of environmental policy and management in various sectors.

This course explores resilience and sustainability strategies at the community scale and beyond, and the drivers of decision making and investment in sustainability action. We will explore various approaches to resilience and sustainability with the goal of answering the question, “How do leaders engage with diverse stakeholders and decision makers to implement effective, equitable solutions to environmental problems?” Led by local resilience and sustainability professionals, this course will focus on citywide solutions.

Sample Course Sequences

For student matriculating in August 2021