Professional Skills Modules

The Professional Skills Modules (PSMs) provide students with opportunities to strengthen their proficiency in core areas considered essential to all professionals, including those focused on environmental management.

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    We have designed a suite of intensive, interactive workshops that are designed to help students thrive in their work at YSE and in their future careers. The workshops are held on Fridays throughout the year and usually run from 9am until 2pm. Each workshop is open to all YSE students, although if space is limited, MEM students will be given preference, as they are required to take at least four of the eight workshops prior to graduation. (MEM-5 students need to complete two PSMs, and MEM students in a joint degree program need to complete three PSMs.) 

    Professional Skills Module Topics & Objectives

     1. Verbal Communication

    This workshop is designed to teach students how to give clear and compelling oral presentations.. Facilitators introduce participants to best practices and useful frameworks, and then give students the chance to practice, providing iterative feedback on individual presentations.

    2. Visual Communication

    Through the Visual Communication workshop, students learn basic graphic design principles, apply them in interactive exercises, and then participate in a group critique. They become familiar with how to organize and present information in a way that draws the eye to key elements, and explore the connection between form and content.

    3. Negotiation

    This module provides an introduction to general negotiation topics through a variety of exercises. Content includes the concept of negotiation, strategies for preparing to negotiate, positions/interests, best alternatives to negotiated agreements and more.

    4. Cultural Competence

    The goals of this workshop are to cultivate an understanding of why cultural competence across differences – including those based on experience, expertise, values and other factors – is important, and to understand how each of us can work across differences and develop skills for interrupting bias effectively in the workplace.

    5. Fundraising

    This workshop uses a mix of lectures, discussions, and role-plays to demystify the fundraising process and share key approaches for attracting people to invest in your work. Students leave with an understanding of how to develop and steward relationships with funders, how to assess funding landscapes, and how to make funding asks.

    6. Project Management

    Rather than review an existing guide to project management, this workshop explores a number of key questions that practitioners use when tackling and managing environmental challenges. The instructors draw examples and lessons learned from their work across scales, sectors, cultures and continents, as well as from experiences of workshop participants.

    7. Stakeholder Engagement

    This module introduces students to using stakeholder engagement processes, beginning with the conceptual basics: why, how, when and what form of engagement to use. They then learn the practical steps of how to design, govern, fund, manage, evaluate and end a successful stakeholder process.

    8. Meeting facilitation

    This session provides an overview of key strategies and best practices to help participants make the most of their time with project partners and colleagues. It focuses on how to design and manage well-run, collaborative meetings to accomplish shared goals.


    Additional professional skills development opportunities are integrated throughout YSE courses and trainings. Each PSM topic represents a rich topic of study and practice, and there are often chances for more depth in each topic at Yale and beyond.

    Professional Skills Module (PSM) Schedule

    Fall Term 2022

    September 9 Verbal Communication with YSE's William Vance and team
    September 16 Environmental Career Strategies with YSE CPD team
    September 30 Project Management with Habitus, Inc. and team
    October 28 Stakeholder Engagement with Consensus Building Institute (CBI)
    November 11 Facilitation with CBI
    December 2 Negotiation with CBI

    Spring Term 2023

    January 27 Visual Communication of Data with YSE's Jenn Marlon and Simon Queenborough
    February 3 Cultural Competence in the Workplace and Community (Instructor: TBD)
    February 10 Proposal Writing and Effective Fundraising Strategies (Instructor: TBD)
    March 3 Skills for Effective Change Agents (Instructor: TBD)