Lyle School to offer Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Development

SMU will offer a new Master of Arts in Sustainability through the Lyle School with support from the Hunt Institute.

The Pallet House, by I-Beam Design, was conceived as a transitional shelter for refugees returning to Kosovo.

DALLAS (SMU) – It’s going to take more than engineering to build a world of sustainable cities.  That’s the challenge behind a new master’s degree from SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering that is already drawing multi-industry leaders to the intersection of engineering design, urban planning and environmental policy.

The Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will be offered starting January 2012 through the Lyle School, with support from the Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity.

The Lyle School and the Hunt Institute will kick off the new degree program Friday, Dec. 9, with a special mid-day program featuring renowned London urban sustainability strategist Peter Bishop and the unveiling of an innovative, low-cost “pallet house” previously featured at a sustainability expo hosted by the Prince of Wales.

“The world’s population just hit 7 billion,” said Lyle School Dean Geoffrey Orsak.  “The need to build livable, sustainable cities has moved beyond the critical stage.  This new degree program creates a framework for partnerships between engineers and the architects, city planners and environmental policy experts needed to ensure the cities can thrive in the face of so many challenges.”

“With this population growth comes a tremendous strain on non-renewable resources, infrastructure, and energy sources,” said Betsy del Monte, SMU Lyle adjunct professor, and principal and director of sustainability at the Beck Group. “Providing access to clean water, clean air, housing, and transportation will shape public policy, redefine business, and engage a generation.”

In concert with the Hunt Institute’s advocacy for the global poor, the Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will include research projects by global experts, seminars, site-based internships and service learning opportunities – both locally and internationally. Sustainability will be examined through the lens of environmental, technical, social, legal and economic issues.

The first group of Dallas-Fort Worth area professionals are expected to graduate with the M.A. in Sustainability and Development as early as May 2012, since a core group of students have already completed a series of courses for Lyle School sustainability certificate programs that apply toward the new master’s degree.  Those first graduates will range from a senior scientist at the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency to a licensed landscape architect with more than 2 decades of experience.

Students pursuing the Master of Arts in Sustainability and Development will complete a 30-hour interdisciplinary program that will cover sustainability-related topics from policy to design in both developed and developing worlds.  The program will advance the wise use of environmental resources in urban development, with a goal of creating and re-building economically and environmentally healthy cities, both here and abroad.  The program offered through the Lyle School’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department will incorporate studies in:

  • Re-use and redevelopment
  • Urban transportation systems
  • Modernization of existing structures  
  • Waste and sanitation

Offering the inclusive, solutions-based program as a Master of Arts rather than a Master of Science, reinforces SMU Lyle’s commitment to building professionals in both engineering and non-engineering fields who will serve as catalysts for change in a wide range of environments.  Coursework will cover sustainability, from policy to design, as well as the study of environmental resources and urban development.  Extensive use of real-world projects will ensure that new graduates are experienced in the practice of sustainability through research or case studies.

Classes begin in January 2012. Applications are now being accepted at

About SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering

The SMU Lyle School of Engineering is committed to developing the new American engineer, one prepared to excel and lead in creating new economic opportunities while meeting the most difficult challenges facing society. The Lyle School maintains a steadfast focus on using engineering to address important issues both at home and around the world.

Founded in 1925, the Lyle School is one of the oldest engineering schools in the Southwest. The school offers eight undergraduate and 29 graduate programs, including both masters and doctorate levels.


 About The Hunter & Stephanie Hunt Institute for Engineering & Humanity

The Hunt Institute is housed within the Lyle School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and is committed to identifying and creating technologies beneficial and affordable to the world’s developing communities, while also educating engineering and non-engineering students in the design and distribution of those technologies to accelerate global development.