In 2002, faculty from the U.S. University of South Carolina’s School of the Environment and the German University of Siegen’s Institute of Corporate Environmental Management developed the International Environmental Management Education Summer School. The summer school was established to educate university faculty and students on the importance of international management systems, such as the ISO 14001, and the European Eco-Audit and Management Scheme. The summer school assisted international students in understanding the relationship of international management system standards in business planning, economic development, environmental protection and social well-being. Other areas studied include eco-efficiency, sustainability management, country cultures and regulatory requirements, managerial cost accounting and integration of these environmental management tools that benefit the implementation of an international management system. Students also review and develop environmental policies, identify environmental impacts and brainstorm solutions on how to reduce their university’s negative impact on the environment. The first Summer School took place at the University of Siegen in 2004. Since that time, the summer school has continued in the U.S., Germany, and Spain. In 2009, the summer school was awarded a three year grant from the European Union. 

During the summer schools, students and faculty stressed an increased need for the study of sustainability and management.   Global organizations were beginning to develop sustainability management systems created through the integration of international management systems based on social responsibility, energy management, and risk management.  Therefore, the summer school advisory committee agreed to change the organizational structure to expand its environmental scope to include additional issues on global sustainability based on the Brundtland Commission definition in 1987. 

In 2012, the International Sustainability Management Education (ISME) network was formed to focus on teaching best practices in managing environmental, social, and economic resources.   The ISME Summer School will continue with the same interdisciplinary structure as the environmental management summer school through the partnerships of international students and faculty supporting actions and accepting responsibility to continue a global sustainable development. In addition, Global Sustainability Teams (GST) will be formed by students who have participated in the summer schools to assist in identifying and creating solutions for global conflict created through unsustainable conditions.