So this past June I wrapped up a 10 month master’s program in Karlskrona, Sweden, a beautiful city on an archipelago on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea. It was an epic year, undeniably the best of my 29 thus far. It featured over 60 worldchangers from 30 different countries coming together to explore how we can co-create a sustainable future. It was a small yet powerful example of the exact type of conversation the world needs more of right now: Global representation, inter-disciplinary and challenging dialogues, open and nurturing communities.

The program, called the Master’s in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS), was designed in conjuncture with The Natural Step Framework, an international consultancy that has worked with organizations such as Nike, Ikea and Interface Flor. This happened to be a beautiful partnership as we were able to draw from many case studies that utilized advanced strategies when planning for sustainability. The Natural Step also helped establish a scientifically robust definition of sustainable development and how to work within Earth’s system boundaries, both elements that are often confusing and misappropriated in regards to current understanding of sustainability.

Where much of the magic happened, on campus at the Blekinge Institue of Technology.

A key strength of MSLS was its ability to tap into a diverse and impressive pool of professionals who contributed lectures to the program. Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge from MIT, economist Mark Anielski, and former President of Ikea Goran Carstedt were just a few of the many voices that provided invaluable insights to the MSLS dialogues. But it was contributions from the proverbial father of the program (and founder of The Natural Step) Karl-Henrik Robert that really took the course to the next level. He set the tone with a series of provocative lectures on the state of sustainability and how to strategically implement it into systems of virtually any scale. Powerful stuff!

So the scientific foundation was tremendous, but perhaps even more valuable (at least for me) was the focus MSLS placed on understanding and developing leadership. It recognized that all of the greatest ideas in the world will be meaningless without a way to engage and implement them, to inspire and encourage others to create change themselves. The leadership thread explored an incredible array of social frameworks, theories, projects and champions who have shown how sustainability can be effectively realized throughout the world. Manfred Max-Neef’s Fundamental Human Needs, Donella Meadow’s Leverage Points, appreciative enquiry, storytelling, chaordic systems, the Oasis game, Open Space technologies, the Art of Hosting and many many other inspiring initiatives were explored.

And while this program taught skills in team-work, facilitation, presentation, project management, communication and strategic planning it taught me so much more. It taught me that when you get a group of people together that want to make the world a better place, amazing things become possible. People begin to really listen to one another, enjoy working together and become more authentic. Here, I really understood the importance of community building, sharing common goals and how working together is not only a lot of fun, but truly provides the foundation for a sustainable society.

A row of traditional Swedish homes near downtown Karlskrona

So I am writing about this to let you know that applications for the MSLS cohort of 2012-2013 are now open and will be active until mid-January. I could not encourage you enough to look into this program or share it with someone you know who is interested in being at the forefront of transformational change. It truly is a life changing experience!

Please visit the website to see the full program brochure and application procedures. If you are an EU citizen, the Swedish Government pays for your tuition (another reason to love Sweden!). Outside the EU, tuition is 100,000SEK for this 10-month program. Scholarships are available and if you are a fee-paying student, you are welcome to visit to find out more about the free services available to assist you in the application and funding process.

Do yourself and the world a favor – go on the adventure of a lifetime and join the amazing network of alumni in the Master’s in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability. Do it, do it, do it!