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We live in a time of enormous challenges for sustainable development, where the effects of climate change, the depletion of natural resources, environmental degradation and disorderly urbanization generate and intensify poverty, violence, inequalities and threaten world health and peace. .

Faced with these challenges, the Professional Master’s Degree in Sustainability Science at PUC-Rio intends to provide tools for understanding the dynamics between human systems and natural systems and for developing applied and customized solutions, addressing major themes of Sustainability, such as:

  • Global and local challenges of the Anthropocene, including climate change, biodiversity and ocean crises;
  • Interdependence and synergies between environment and social problems such as poverty, inequality and health;
  • Biodiversity and environmental services combined with poverty reduction and improved health;
  • Development and sustainability indicators;
  • Instruments, tools and methodologies applied to corporate sustainability;
  • Global, regional, national and sub-national socio-environmental agreements, laws and public policies;
  • Integrated land use planning (conservation, restoration, sustainable agriculture and livestock);
  • Sustainable cities and green infrastructure;
  • Economics of sustainability: fundamentals and tools;
  • Sectoral technological innovations targeting the low-carbon transition, including renewable energy, low-carbon agriculture and transport.

The Professional Master’s Degree in Sustainability Science at PUC-Rio is the first postgraduate course in Brazil in Sustainability Science

Sustainability Science is a new field that develops and applies transdisciplinary approaches from the frontier of science to contribute to the challenges of the transition to sustainability. Inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the course seeks interaction between the natural, social, human and technological sciences.

The program arises to meet a repressed demand from professionals in the public, private and third sectors who lack postgraduate training in this important topic.

About the Program

The Graduate Program in Conservation and Sustainability Science (PGCS), of which the Professional Master’s is part, was created based on the academic and professional interests of professors and researchers from various departments at PUC-Rio, from other educational institutions and research from Rio de Janeiro, third sector organizations, demands from the public sector, such as the Ministry of the Environment, and international partners such as the University of Cambridge, the United Nations Program for the Environment, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The embryo of the group emerged from the meeting and collaboration between the two coordinators of the Center for Conservation and Sustainability Sciences in Rio (CSRio) at PUC-Rio, professors Agnieszka Latawiec and Bernardo B. N. Strassburg, with Prof. Fabio Scarano, then Director of the Botanical Garden Research Institute and later Vice President of Conservation International, and with Dr. Carlos Scaramuzza, former WWF Conservation Superintendent and former Director of Ecosystem Conservation at the Ministry of the Environment. This interaction between academic careers, experience directing the two largest conservation NGOs in the world and the Ministry of the Environment, and the three institutions with the private sector, made latent the need and potential for transdisciplinary research that included elements applied from its conception. .

As a demonstration of Sustainability Science’s dedication to concrete problems, which naturally fit the profile of a professional Master’s course, collaborations with the Ministry of the Environment are strengthened, as an example, the central contributions of the IIS/CSRio team to the National Plan for the Recovery of Native Vegetation and the conservation and land use goals of the Brazilian NDC linked to the Paris Agreement under the UN Climate Convention.

Course history

In Brazil, the Science of Sustainability is still taking its first steps. There is no postgraduate course – academic or professional – focused specifically on Sustainability Science, although several have elements of it to a greater or lesser extent.

PUC-Rio created, in 2013, the discipline called Sustainability Science in undergraduate and graduate courses in Geography. In 2015, the Center for Conservation and Sustainability Sciences of Rio de Janeiro (CSRio) linked to the Center for Social Sciences at PUC-Rio. Today, the nucleus is the only existing center for synthesis in sustainability sciences in Brazil and one of fifteen existing in the world. Despite its youth, the Center already brings together researchers from different PUC units and departments and other national and international partners. The attention aroused by the creation of CSRio led to the decision to create the Graduate Program in Conservation and Sustainability Sciences (PGCS) and the Professional Master’s Degree in Sustainability Science, allocated in the Department of Geography and Environment of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio).

The creation of this professional master’s degree seeks concrete ways of exercising multidisciplinarity through an effort to integrate the treatment of ecological, social and cultural processes occurring in the environment (understood as an integrator of the natural and social dimensions).

Concentration area:
Sustainability Science

The Sustainability Science concentration area has as object of study:

i) the search for solutions to problems related to the transition to sustainability;

ii) the search for integrated scientific knowledge about the interactions between natural and human systems.

The Science of Sustainability seeks interactions with disciplines from the natural, social and human sciences, as well as technical-scientific disciplines. A theme that unites research and practice in Sustainability Science is the two-way interface between research and decision-making.

Course research lines

Course Objectives

  • Contribute to the incorporation of sustainable policies and practices in the public and private sectors;
  • Contribute to the advancement of sustainability science in Brazil and in the world;
  • Contribute to improving the dialogue between science and decision-making in the socio-environmental arena;
  • Train and capacitate professionals from different sectors to deal with sustainability challenges;
  • Train and capacitate professionals from different sectors in the theory and practice of sustainability science;
  • Train and capacitate professionals to facilitate and promote dialogue between the socio-environmental and development sectors;
  • Promote transdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration between PUC-Rio professionals from different units.

Who is it for?

The program’s target audience is professionals from the public, private and third sectors who need to acquire and/or improve their knowledge and practices related to sustainability. The target audience also includes graduate students from undergraduate courses in different areas, such as Geography, Biology, Environmental Engineering, Political Science, International Relations, Economics, among others.

Egress Profile

Graduates of the professional master’s program in Sustainability Science at PUC-Rio will have developed the following specific skills:

  • Oral and written communication skills in Portuguese and English;
  • Conceptual domain of Sustainability Science;
  • Skills in the use of tools and practices aimed at sustainability, including those aimed at promoting dialogue and conflict resolution between different actors;
  • Organizational and teamwork skills;
  • Skills in managing projects, plans and policies.

In the public sector, the professional master’s degree in sustainability science will be able to work in federal, state and municipal governments in management, planning and conflict mediation activities aimed at incorporating sustainable practices into public policies.

In the private sector, the professional master in sustainability science will be able to work in companies (financial, agricultural, oil and gas, mining, infrastructure, etc.) developing and monitoring their sustainability policy, as well as producing annual reports of sustainability. You will also be able to act in the growing field of consultancy in aspects of sustainability.

In the third sector, the professional master in sustainability science will be able to work in NGOs (environmental, social, development, etc.) developing, managing and executing sustainable projects at local, national and global levels.

Student testimonials

“I was in a big moment of professional decision and I knew that I wanted to work with something related to sustainability, but I didn’t know in which areas I could develop myself. The Master’s helped me to clarify this and to better categorize the themes for this choice. I entered with a lot of doubts about what I would find, but the course exceeded all expectations. The team of professors is exceptional, they have already occupied several roles in the most different areas of activity and manage to pass on a very relevant experience to the students”.

Ariel Tozzi – Bachelor of Nanotechnology

“I chose the course offered by PUC-Rio because of the programmatic content and the quality and experience of the teaching staff, which inspires us and drives us towards the transformations we want to imprint for a better future. This pioneering course attracted professionals from different backgrounds and backgrounds, which that catalyzes our learning with the continuous exchange in the innovative dynamics practiced in the classroom”.

Beatriz Espinosa – Chemical engineer and specialist in business management and corporate sustainability

“Today I’m in a career transition and I found the Master’s a great opportunity to be able to increase my knowledge and have the necessary tools to contribute to this great challenge, which is sustainable development. The disciplines of the course manage to approach in a very holistic way all the complexity that involves this theme. The program has numerous dynamics, debates and seminars, with the participation of invited experts in the subject. The teaching staff is extremely qualified, diverse and has professors of great importance in the scientific and political community and with great performance in the labor market”.

Daniela Neves – Civil Engineer

“The course is exceeding my expectations. The professors are highly qualified and transmit knowledge in a safe and aggregating way, providing us with a space for discussion and exchange of experience. I have taken many of these teachings outside the classroom, sharing them with my co-workers , teachers and students at the school where I work. Teachings coming not only from the teaching staff, but also from my fellow master’s students.”

Luzia Schmitd – Teacher of the public school system in Rio de Janeiro



PUC-Rio has a library system containing a wide collection (over 150,000 book titles) and access to journals (over 33,000 journal titles).

Rio Datacenter

The Rio Datacenter (RDC), a support body linked to the Vice-Rectory for Academic Affairs, provides the infrastructure for IT services and data communication necessary for the performance of academic and administrative activities at PUC-Rio, including microcomputer laboratories, consisting of of a set of 11 rooms, occupying 450m2, with 284 microcomputers connected to the Internet, general use software and specific programs for the activities of several courses, printers and resources for digitizing images.

Geoprocessing Laboratory (LABGis)

LABGis has 20 workstations, two geographic data servers, software from the Arcview, Erdas, Imagem and Ecognition families, in addition to a geographic database involving vector data and images at different scales, in addition to differential GPS and a plotter. The laboratory also has several portable GPS devices, and the set of these instruments allows students to interact with information from different sources, facilitating a more integrated understanding of geographic space and its projections, from very different levels of technology.

Physical Geography Laboratory

The Physical Geography Laboratory has sufficient facilities and equipment for the development of research in the area of hydrology and pedology, and has been used as a point of measurement of data and materials obtained in the various field works and areas of investigation in the city of Rio de Janeiro .

Ecology Laboratory

The Ecology laboratory is organized to serve monitoring work, field research as well as supporting floristic inventories in general and endopedonic fauna.


PUC-Rio has 185 classrooms, all equipped with at least Datashow, 44 of them multimedia rooms with several other computer and multimedia resources.

Duration and workload

The cost lasts for 24 months, and the credits must be completed in the first three semesters and the fourth semester is fully dedicated to the preparation of the dissertation. Over the first three periods, the master’s student could take two mandatory subjects and one or two electives per period, in order to add up to the 12 required elective credits. Among the electives, it is recommended that the master’s student seek a balance between the subjects of theoretical content with those of tools and practice.

Classes will be held from Monday to Wednesday, from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm, at the PUC Gávea campus.