Learn how to be innovative in the direction of sustainability and social justice

Meryl Hunter
Meryl Hunter, MBA Cohort 9
While we are one cohesive learning community, each of our unique programs provides different avenues of engagement within it. Choose the program that fits your learning preferences and community needs the best.

The life of a “Hybrid” Student
(MBA in Sustainable Systems)

Our Hybrid MBA format uses a combination of residential and distance learning instruction, allowing us to combine our emphasis on building an immersive learning community with the flexibility afforded by distance learning. This design allows students from across the United States to participate in the program while continuing to live and work in their current place of residence.


The program begins with a required four-day orientation at IslandWood, a LEED gold-certified facility that is a model of energy efficiency and sustainable design. Topics covered include an overview of accounting and exploring the critical elements of building and leading a sustainable enterprise, as well as conversations about thriving in complex systems and a global world of competing business interests. Learners are assigned to their Leadership and Personal Development learning circles, which is a team that will stay together and support each other throughout the course of the 2-year program.


The community meets nine times each year—once per month during Fall, Winter and Spring quarters—for a four-day residential “intensive” session (mid-day Thursday through mid-day Sunday) at IslandWood, a 255-acre environmental education center on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Distance Learning

Between intensives, the community engages through online distance-learning technologies, including online class sessions, assignments and activities to apply theory to live situations that support student learning.

» Learn more about our MBA in Sustainable Systems

The life of a “Metro” Student
(MBA in Sustainable Business)

The Metro MBA format combines our emphasis on cultivating a learning community with the additional interaction and flexibility afforded by in-person class sessions with variable schedules.


Before starting classes, Metro students are required to attend a one-day orientation at our Pioneer Square location. Orientation includes a welcome of new students in an Opening Circle, introductions, team-building exercises, first course introduction and overview.

The Classroom

Most class sessions for the MBA in Sustainable Business program are held at our Seattle learning site, located in the “220 & Change” Building at 220 Second Avenue South, in Pioneer Square. While the emphasis is on evening classes to accommodate working individuals, there are also required short immersions on the weekend and an opportunity for electives in the hybrid program.

» Learn more about our MBA in Sustainable Business

Committees and Organizations

Diversity & Social Justice Committee

Social Justice is one of the core Pinchot University values. Rather than have it live on as something abstract, our student committee makes sure it’s tangible and approachable for everyone in our community.

Led by a team of co-chairs, the committee has three primary goals:

  • Increase the measurable diversity of Pinchot University
  • Make our community an engaged and productive place for people of all races, cultures and other forms of diversity
  • Foster an environment in which all members of the community share experiences that deepen understanding and friendship between people of different origins, backgrounds and experiences

Through course evaluations, community engagement, “DSJ Weekends,” recommending CAIRs or hosting difficult conversations, the committee ensures that we strive to embrace diversity—in all its forms—and work towards social justice for all.

Net Impact

Net Impact’s mission is to improve the world by growing and strengthening a network of transformational leaders who are using the power of business to make a positive net social, environmental, and economic impact. Our Net Impact chapter has achieved Gold standing four years in a row by meeting a rigorous set of requirements based on their activities, programming and membership reach. The group holds approximately 12 networking sessions each year and collaborates regionally on events.

Student Representative to the Board

Each program has a student representative to the Board of Trustees, elected by their peers and appointed by the Board. This representative ensures that all students at the school have an ear and—more importantly—a voice at the table during all decisions about the direction of the school.

Kaizen and Disappearing Taskforces

Unlike most universities, we haven’t found a need for a standing panel of student government. That isn’t to say that we haven’t had a need for student governance. As issues arise, we bring them to community Kaizen sessions. A committee of students organizes the events, activities and topics of discussion. We convene with the purpose of strengthening our school through the power of communal understanding, participation and progress. Kaizen provides an opportunity to raise concerns or topics that might otherwise go without dialogue. Issues range from curriculum evolution to ethics and diversity awareness to graduation plans and school growth.

Disappearing Taskforces arise for areas that need work, driven by those students who are excited about making progress happen. These taskforces may live on for a week or a year, as long as is necessary for the work to be done, at which time they disappear.  This format allows us to exercise laser focus to get things done and the ability to know when our work has come to an end.

Summer Courses

While the “Hybrid” MBA program is off for the summer, the “Metro” program goes year-round. We offer several summer learning opportunities, available to students in all of our programs.

Study Tour

We have a Summer Study Tour, which is usually 10-14 days in length and focuses on sustainability and social justice issues within the areas visited. Current students choose the location for each year’s trip and co-create the agenda for topics and visits. Previous trips have included:

2011 – Vancouver, British Columbia
2012 – Cuba
2013 – China
2014 – Rust Belt, U.S.A.
2015 – Cuba
2016 – TBD – become a student and help us decide where we’ll go next!

Creativity & Innovation

Advancing sustainability is dependent on creativity and innovation on the part of both individuals and organizations to produce products, services, business models and human interactions. This class is a fast-paced week of structured participatory learning and collaborative prototyping activities on Cortes Island, British Columbia.

Students use creative processes for: exploring and questioning, imagining and communicating, brainstorming and synthesizing, building and testing, evaluating and iterating, presenting and appreciating, learning and laughing.

Community Events

We regularly host additional opportunities for connecting, learning and having fun. A few of these events are reserved just for current students and alumni, but the majority are open to the public.  Check out our » Upcoming Events

1.0.1 ABOUT Top RyanBrown-silo
When you get a bunch of really smart and really motivated people together, good things happen.

Ryan Brown
MBA Cohort 7
Planning Analyst, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance