Sustainable societies and social change
Addressing the role of society as central to transformative social change, the SACHA Masters program offers conceptual handles and practical tools for better understanding how societies are organized and regulated, while delivering instruments for supporting social change. By bridging theory with practice, students gain access to key concepts and central themes – such as sustainable consumption and production dynamics, social movements and the role of organizations, or corporate responsibility and supply chain management.
Originally launched in 2011 as the Master in Standardization, Social Regulation and Sustainability, the role of sustainability standards remains a central theme, thanks to a partnership with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
4 semesters (possible extension to 6)
Language English: compulsory classes
Assets of the master
The program builds core skills grounded in interdisciplinary approaches to understanding societies and social change in relation to sustainability issues. Housed by the sociology department, key competencies include systems-thinking, analytical skills, anticipatory skills and interpersonal skills, among others.
The thematic spectrum of courses delivers a robust, conceptual understanding of sustainability as a societal issue, to then consider the role of different actors / sectors / processes towards sustainable social change, including points of tension and opportunities.
- Highlights: Lectures in “Sustainability, concepts and critiques”, and “Sustainability, social regulation and standardization”
The methodological courses deliver competencies for working with both qualitative and quantitative methods, along with key experiences in conducting applied research projects, ranging from design through implementation and assessment.
- Highlight: A project-based, learning-by-doing workshop where students can apply their research skills, “Sustainable consumption and social change”.
In addition to our teaching program, we provide students with soft-skills training to prepare them for the professional job market or a career in research. Soft skills training varies from year to year, depending on student needs, and might include:
- Group work: how to work in teams productively, while recognizing and valuing different skills and competencies; Networking skills: both on and offline, how to build a network and know how to identify your needs and what you can offer; Negotiation skills: understanding how to position what you want to others, and to negotiate for a maximal solution, among others.
The program benefits from an external Advisory Committee, made up of key actors from the public and private sectors, as well as International Organizations. The aim of this Committee is to ensure the professional relevance of the program, and make links between the ‘world of work’ and studies
Students are encouraged to explore internship opportunities in the Geneva area – a city renowned for its dynamic international community – allowing them to gain hands-on experience. Students may do an internship-based thesis as a direct transition into the professional world. A research-based thesis is also possible, for students more inclined towards bridging conceptual reflections with empirical work.
Learning by doing:
The project-based spring workshop is an applied research seminar, where students learn about theories of change and other applied research tools, and adapt and apply them to supporting a sustainability-driven initiative – through a learning-by-doing approach.
A 2016 survey by our students found that a majority of our graduates were able to find a suitable job within six months of graduation, in international organizations, among private companies, or in the public sector. In 2019, a similar survey among alumni found that the internship opportunities during their studies were valuable.
The compounded nature of environmental, social and economic challenges facing societies today make ‘sustainability’ a complex and wicked problem. Effective responses require interdisciplinarity, bringing together sociological and economic approaches to sustainability, and linking these to questions of governance, globalization and standardization. Our excellent teaching staff guide students through concepts and practical examples, allowing students to reflect on the role of different actors and position themselves in societal processes for supporting change.
The students are also key to the success of this program: we recruit for academic excellence and diversity, creating an environment where students contribute to rich discussions and exchanges, based on their varied experiences. Group work is a central feature of the program, whereby students collaborate on a common research aim, improve collaborative approaches and bring together their different skill sets. Elective courses allow students to tailor their experience and focus on key interests in order to make the Master program relevant to their career paths.
For a total of 120 ECTS, the Masters program offers core courses (72 ECTS) and electives (24 ECTS), allowing students to tailor the program to their interests. The Masters thesis or internship report (24 ECTS) concludes the program.
|Fall, 30 ECTS
|Spring, 42 ECTS
A Bachelor degree or an equivalent title delivered by a Swiss University or a foreign institution fully accredited by the admissions office of the University of Geneva is required.
Language: All compulsory classes are taught in English.
TOEFL (code number 3607), IELTS or an equivalent test is required, except for graduates of Anglophone universities or programs.
Students with no prior knowledge of French are eligible to apply.
- Registration for the master's degree takes place between the beginning of January and 28 February for the following academic year (start of courses in September).
- Applications must be submitted online.
The University of Geneva offers some accommodation possibilities. Please note the latest date to apply for the University's housing for the autumn semester is the 15th of June. Please get in touch with the accommodation office of the University as soon as possible
By applying for one of the offers available on the websites of the real estate agencies in Geneva, it is possible to rent an apartment. However, since the real estate market is extremely tight in Geneva, it is complicated for a student to obtain an individual apartment. Three additional options are those most frequently used by students.
Subletting and apartment-sharing
The sublease/sublet is a temporary provision of all or part of a home. The object of the sublease is a housing unit as a whole (studio apartment) or a room in an apartment.
The roommate lease, or colocation, involves a contract between 2 or more persons and a landlord. The term "colocation" means that the occupants are all signatories of the contract that binds the landlord and that they are liable in equal shares.