Google and ASU are offering a training program specializing in sustainability, where potential users can finish it completely online and learn skills that could help them attain entry-level sustainability jobs.
Students looking to expand their knowledge of sustainability practices can enroll in the Sustainability Analyst Fundamentals Specialization which complements Google’s Career Certificate in Project Management.
In 2017, Google launched Grow with Google, a program with a variety of informational modules and resources to help individuals grow their small businesses and improve their careers.
One aspect of Grow with Google is its Career Certificate Programs. Through Google and Coursera, a U.S.-based open online course provider, anyone can access the sustainability curriculum free of charge for seven days. After the week-long trial period, the entire course costs $39 monthly until the certificate is completed — typically within one to two months of study.
Among the Career Certificates, people can choose to enroll in Digital Marketing and E-commerce, IT Support, Data Analytics, UX Design or Project Management.
The sustainability training program was added to the Project Management Certification with the help of ASU faculty like Christopher Boone, a visiting professor at Yale, a professor at the ASU School of Sustainability and the lead instructor for the Google Career Certificate Specialization in Sustainability.
Boone’s research has focused on understanding the nature of cities and urbanization and their respective effects on sustainability and has taken his research and used that to guide the Sustainability Specialization curriculum.
"You can enroll at any time," Boone said. "We try to remove as many barriers as possible in the spirit of ASU, and in the spirit of Google, to make information as freely available as possible. So we're trying to be sure that if someone is inspired and they want to get started tonight, they can do it."
The certification course is self-paced, and students can move through the modules of videos, readings and slide shows over the course of weeks or months to earn the certification. The curriculum for Google’s Career Certificate in Project Management with the sustainability specialization puts an emphasis on skills that prepare individuals for entry-level positions such as sustainability coordinator or specialist.
“Sustainability specialists address organizational sustainability issues like waste management, green building practices, and green procurement plans," said Amanda Brophy, a director at Grow with Google, in an email. "Sustainability coordinators support environmental programs, helping the organization achieve sustainability goals. As a sustainability coordinator, your job revolves around advising management and staff on product and program development.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the employment rate for project managers is expected to grow by 6% by 2024, and 33% by 2027.
The demand for sustainability specialists and project managers with sustainability experience has risen in recent years because of the increase in the number of corporations that prioritize ESG, Environmental, Social and Governance.
ESG standards are used to screen companies for their practices, including but not limited to their consideration of the environment, said Michael Schoon, an associate professor in the School of Sustainability who focuses on policy and governance in sustainable systems.
ESG remains the most used investing strategy by those in the financial sector, meaning that the need for employees with backgrounds in sustainability is prevalent across all industries, according to a study by the Capital Group, an American financial investment services company.
“Companies are aware that more and more people are increasingly concerned with climate change and other environmental dilemmas that we're facing as a society, so companies feel that pressure from their consumers,” Schoon said.
Prior to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Kate Brandt, Google's sustainability officer, reached out to Boone after the technology company had identified sustainability jobs as a rapidly growing sector.
The pandemic would disrupt the project. In 2021, it resumed, and the decision was made to add sustainability as a specialization to the Project Management certification in order to prepare students for entry-level positions related to project management with an emphasis on sustainable practices, Boone said.
However, without individuals across all educational backgrounds collectively aiming to bring sustainability to their job sector, the global push to increase sustainability can not be realized, Boone said.
“We need more than all the students that are graduating from ASU," Boone said. "We need an army of people who are linking their livelihoods to thinking about how to build a better future at the heart of sustainability."
Edited by Kaden Ryback, Wyatt Myskow and Kristen Apolline Castillo.