The Sustainability Graduate Program's core curriculum and electives are taught by faculty from multiple departments in the Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities, as well as the School of Law and the School of Business. Our program’s inclusion of leading faculty members from a majority of the University’s schools and academic units makes it distinct among all other sustainability focused graduate degrees.
Interim Director, Graduate Programs in Sustainability
Affiliated Faculty for Interdisciplinary Humanities
Director of Ben Franklin Transatlantic Fellowship Institute
Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Ron Von Burg is an Associate Professor of Communication, Director of Graduate Studies, Interim Director of the Graduate Programs in Sustainability, and Core Faculty in both the Interdisciplinary Humanities Program and the Master’s Program in Sustainability. Von Burg, currently the Program Director for the Graduate Program in Communication, is the incoming Associate Dean for Academic Initiatives. In the new role, he also will serve as Program Director for Liberal Arts Studies and LifeLong Learning. Von Burg is also serving as the current director of the Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Summer Institute.
Dr. Von Burg contributes notably to scholarship on the rhetoric of contemporary argument intersecting religious and scientific views. His research interests include rhetoric of science communication, public argument, public discourses on religion and science, sustainability studies, rhetoric of algorithms, and science fiction film studies. His work has appeared in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Southern Journal of Communication, Journal of Public Deliberation, and POROI.
Graduate School Professor, Environmental Science
Dr. Rebecca Dickson is a strong education professional with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) focused in Geography from Clark University. She is an experienced spatial analyst and educator with a demonstrated history of working for non-profits, private companies and in the higher education industry. She is skilled in GIS, Remote Sensing, Spatial Analysis, and Spatial Modeling with a focus on Ecosystem Services, Land Cover Change and Sustainability.
Assistant Vice President, Apparel & Retail
James Cooper Jr., PE, is an Assistant Vice President at WSP, leading the Apparel and Retail practice for the Sustainability, Energy and Climate Change team. In the role, James guides corporate sustainability program initiatives and strategies, including GHG accounting calculation and assurance, ESG disclosures, climate and biodiversity risk, life cycle assessments, decarbonization roadmaps, circularity, etc. Before WSP, he led on developing and implementing corporate sustainability strategies at multiple companies, having seen the evolution of continued, and necessary, pressure for more robust corporate responsibility and disclosures.
James teaches Sustainable Organizational Management, where he challenges students to leverage systematic approaches to the evolving sustainability challenges for organizations of all types. The course introduces various subjects, including the GHG Protocol, science based targets, environmental justice, climate and biodiversity risk, and LCAs. Furthermore, the course is designed to provide insights into sustainability-focused careers as well, with guest speakers from multi-national corporations, government, and nonprofits.
James holds a BS in chemical engineering, a MS in environmental engineering and is a proud graduate (MA ‘19) of the Wake Forest Sustainability Graduate Program.
Assistant Teaching Professor
Graduate Programs in Sustainability
Leslie Straker, Ph.D. Dr. Straker is academically trained in marine affairs and coastal resource management. He has conducted research in those areas in several countries in different regions of the world. He teaches environmental science courses in the areas of coastal management, environmental decision-making and coastal resiliency in the Sustainability Masters’ Program at Wake Forest University. He also has practitioner experience in the management of coastal resources at the country and regional levels, in the Caribbean context. He brings his wealth of real-world experiences to the classroom, where he has been teaching in environmental studies programs at several universities for the past decade. He approaches environmental science from the perspective that it is a “science about the management of people and their use of resources and not the management of the resources themselves. Resources have always been fine until we begin to use them.” He likes to say.
Professor of Practice
Director of Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
Scott Schang is an expert on environmental law and governance. He is a Professor of Practice at Wake Forest where he directs the School's Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. He is also the senior director of corporate engagement at Landesa, an international land rights NGO, where he leads Landesa's work on responsible investment in land.
He has extensive experience working with corporations, multilateral investment banks, international development agencies, international and local civil society partners, and community members in designing and implementing socially responsible practices and in designing and assessing the efficacy of environmental legal systems.
Professor of Practice
Affiliate Professor of Practice at the School of Business
Jon Clift is a Professor of Practice with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Affiliate Professor of Practice at the School of Business, and Director of Outreach for the Sustainability Graduate Programs. He empowers students, colleagues, and clients to explore problems and develop new to the world ideas. After spending nearly a decade in the design field as a creative strategist working with startups to Fortune 100 clients, Jon knows we are all creative, and believes that with grit and a growth mindset we can all unlock our creative confidence.
Jon has developed branding solutions for some of the world’s largest firms from VF Corporation to Walmart, implemented transformative courses and curricula at Wake Forest University, incorporated human-centered design and systems thinking as core competencies in graduate programs, and worked with student teams to develop impactful solutions for entrepreneurs, non-profits, and global corporations.
Jon holds a Masters of Environmental Management in Business & the Environment from Duke University.
DfX Consulting LLC
Design Educator, Researcher, Engineer, Planner
Elise Barrella, Ph.D., P.E., really enjoys working with diverse teams on multi-disciplinary projects related to infrastructure systems, spatial justice, and sustainability. She has nearly 20 years of professional and research experience in the transportation and engineering education fields, and provides leadership in mixed-methods research, curriculum development and instruction, and design thinking facilitation. Elise has completed research sponsored by Federal Highway Administration, National Science Foundation, state DOTs, and private foundations.
As an engineering faculty member at James Madison University and a founding faculty member of Wake Forest University’s Engineering Department, she infused sustainability concepts and community engagement in interdisciplinary design courses from first year to capstone. As the founder of DfX Consulting LLC, Elise currently provides research and consulting services for the education and transportation sectors and teaches design thinking. She also uses her expertise to support local non-profit organizations including Community Design Studio of NC, Creative Corridors Coalition, and Boston-Thurmond Community Engagement Roundtable.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
The Andrew Sabin Family Center for Environment and Sustainability
Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities
Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Rotating Core Faculty
Professor of Biology and Ranlet and Frank Bell Jr. Faculty Fellow
Director, Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability
Budget and Administrative Coordinator
Office of Sustainability, and
Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability (CEES)