Preparing Sustainability Change Agents

How are Master of Science in Sustainability (MSS) alums making an impact on the world today? What drove them to make a difference? UEP’s MSS program prepares graduates to contribute to a range of exciting sustainability industries and careers. Read on to learn how some of our recent alumni are working to develop sustainable and just communities, enhance climate change mitigation efforts, and support meaningful collaboration across government, nonprofit, and private sectors.

Chelsea Spaman – Sustainable Aviation Senior Analyst, Delta Airlines

I graduated from the MSS program in December 2022, and a few weeks after, I moved to Atlanta to start a full-time role on the Global Sustainability team at Delta Air Lines, one of the largest airlines in the world. Delta is investing in decarbonizing rapidly through efficiency and sustainable aviation fuel. My role is primarily on the sustainable aviation fuel side.

I wanted to address the challenges of sustainability with a holistic approach. The MSS program helped me understand how social, economic, and environmental problems are deeply interconnected. I gained a more well-rounded sense of the challenges I would be dealing with as a professional. As a result, I feel equipped to make an impact. The program really deepened my understanding of sustainability and the complexities within it. One class that I enjoyed and has been helpful for my career is the Greenhouse Gas Accounting class, which I use almost daily in my current role.  Apart from that, my research assistantship on the Decarbonization Plan for the Massachusetts State Auditor Office enhanced my knowledge of greenhouse gas accounting at multiple different scales.

I know that graduate school is not easy, and time is always fleeting, but it pays off to push yourself to learn more outside of your comfort zone. This program is a great opportunity to expand your thoughts and ideas on how to enact change as you’re surrounded by a community that will encourage, support, and challenge you. My experience at Tufts made me confident in my ability to be a force for change in the spaces I want to be in and to think critically about the problems presented. 

Jasmin Budhan – Materials Analyst, Brightworks Sustainability

I have always had a passion for the outdoors, hiking, camping, and sustainability, so I sought out a career path that was climate oriented. I grew up in Jamaica Queens, New York, and attended the City University of New York’s (CUNY) York College for my undergraduate studies, where I majored in Geology. My parents were only able to provide minimal education and career guidance. I found great mentors along my academic journey who guided and supported me. During my undergraduate studies, I interned with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation. This opportunity exposed me to building and development regulations in a metropolitan area and allowed me to see the importance of sustainable practices in a major city. I later decided that I wanted to pursue a master’s in sustainability.

After studying abroad in New Zealand and being exposed to their geology as well as the Māori and Indigenous development, I felt inspired to shift my focus to think more about how we can improve our planet for future generations. I decided to attend Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) Sustainability Program, which turned out to be a transformative experience for me. I was able to work closely with many leading experts in sustainability and collaborate with classmates to problem-solve and negotiate. I was mostly drawn to Tufts because of the program’s emphasis on integrating approaches that acknowledge the interconnectedness and complexity of social, ecological, and economic systems as well as the opportunity to work on case studies and real-world challenges. One highlight from my studies at Tufts was during my field project working with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), my team and I evaluated the performance of building material alternatives and made recommendations for an incentive program to encourage the use of lower embodied carbon alternatives in new construction in Massachusetts.

Shortly after graduating, I accepted a position at Brightworks Sustainability in NYC as a Materials Analyst. Tufts prepared me well for my career at Brightworks. Brightworks is a sustainability consulting firm. We establish and implement innovative sustainability programs that bring climate leaders together, advance holistic sustainability, increase operational performance, address human health in buildings, achieve net zero carbon targets, and challenge the status quo in the pursuit of ambitious climate action.​ I feel very fortunate to be an alum of Tufts UEP!

Molly Gilbert – Consultant, Baringa

I decided to study engineering in my undergraduate studies because I wanted to learn technical skills I could apply to solve the world’s biggest problem – climate change. Through some internships and projects, I learned about supply chains, especially for consumer goods. I realized there are a massive amount of sustainability problems (waste, transportation, water, energy, etc.) to solve in this area, and I wanted to get started. After graduating, I began a career in the supply chain at a manufacturing site for a major global consumer goods company. Over a couple of years, I had various roles in supply chain and operations and gained a solid understanding of how these systems work.

In September 2021, I began re-focusing my career on sustainability by starting the M.S. Sustainability program at Tufts. I focused my coursework on sustainability thinking (ex., systems, metrics and tools, corporate social responsibility), policy (ex., energy policy, climate change policy), and some specific knowledge bases (ex. food4all, economics, GIS). Each of these courses helped me gain a solid knowledge base for my career today. After graduating, I began a career in consumer goods consulting for a B Corp firm that focuses on providing clients with sustainable solutions. Baringa is a UK-based company that is just beginning to expand in the US, so I have been helping with defining and building our capabilities in sustainability: business strategy, operations, and value chain. My advice to current graduate students is to engage as much as possible in the coursework. Becoming an expert in sustainability takes practice, and by working with a large variety of problems, you further expand your area of expertise due to its inherent interconnectedness. 

Maxwell Dorman – Sustainability Scientist & Researcher, Power Shift Africa

As a Sustainability Scientist & Researcher, I conduct applied policy- and advocacy-relevant scientific work relating to climate change, energy, and other sustainability issues. I work for the Fossil Fuel Atlas project, an initiative of the Stockholm Environment Institute, Global Energy Monitor, and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. This initiative provides free GIS mapping tools for activists, litigators, etc., who need to illustrate the social and environmental threats of planned fossil fuel projects.

I chose to study sustainability because we live in a critical time where we have little choice but to shift our socioeconomic systems in a sustainable direction massively. Among many courses, I most enjoyed Socio-Ecological Systems Thinking and Program Evaluation. The courses helped me understand how NGOs function. My advice for the current students would be to use the resources Tufts offers. Also, don’t be afraid to email people asking questions!

You can find out more about UEP and the MSS program here: