Arizona State University honors first-ever graduate in sustainability

large group of graduate students at ASU

TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona State University (ASU) awarded the first-ever Master of Arts degree in Sustainability at its fall 2008 commencement ceremonies today. The new graduate, Brigitte Bavousett, received her diploma from the university’s pioneering School of Sustainability, the first degree-granting institution of its kind in the nation.

“This is a special moment for our School and for the university,” said Charles Redman, director of the School of Sustainability. "We are very excited to see Brigitte graduate and look forward to her leading a long procession of future graduates who become agents of change in our community and around the world.”

The graduate ranks as somewhat of a pioneer herself in this budding field. Bavousett was among the first to enroll in the School of Sustainability after it was formally established in fall 2007 by the Arizona Board of Regents. "I am honored to be making history as the first sustainability graduate," she said. "It seems only a few weeks ago that I began this fantastic journey with my classmates and professors. I love the variety of the curriculum, the fantastic faculty, the interdisciplinary projects."

Bavousett’s degree goes far beyond traditional environmental studies. The School's curriculum draws on a variety of academic disciplines that can be applied to the world's economic, societal, and environmental challenges, preparing graduates to understand complex problems and find real solutions. According to Redman, "Sustainability has captured ASU by storm and we expect its graduates to transform our country."

During her time at the School, Bavousett has been involved in a variety of research projects with businesses and other organizations. One project involved U-Haul International, where she researched forestation processes and non-profit partnership options to help the company create a plan to reduce its carbon footprint through carbon sequestration. U-Haul has extended Bavousett's internship indefinitely as it begins implementation of the plan.

"Brigitte has provided the personal interest, enthusiasm, and the most cutting-edge knowledge needed to further enhance our sustainability projects here at U-Haul," said Michelle Sullivan of U-Haul International's Phoenix corporate offices. "She has been a tremendous asset to our department."

A working mother, Bavousett said she has long had an interest in sustainability and was involved in fostering societal sustainability before she even knew what it was. Previously, as the founding director of an international cultural exchange program, she toured former Soviet countries and the U.S. for six years, exposing performers and audiences to new customs and traditions while bringing theater to sometimes culturally-starved audiences.

Looking forward to finding a job after her graduation, Bavousett feels prepared and confident. “I may have to be creative in this economy,” she says, “but I feel comfortable with the foundation of skill sets and cutting-edge technologies the School has given me.”

About ASU’s School of Sustainability

ASU’s School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the US, offers integrated degree programs that advance practical solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges. The School's first full class of masters and doctoral students will graduate in spring 2009. For more information visit:

About ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability

The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives. The Institute advances research, education, and business practices for an urbanizing world. ASU has a vision to be a New American University, blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines, promoting excellence among its students and faculty, conducting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research inspired by real world application, and leveraging its competitive advantage through strategic global engagement. For more information visit:


Media Contact:

Karen Leland
Director, Communications/Marketing
Global Institute of Sustainability
Arizona State University
[email protected]