When university presidents tout a commitment to “going green,” they usually talk about sprucing up the physical campus—think energy-efficient dorms, locally grown fare in cafeterias and pledges to reduce carbon emissions. Now, academics want to devote attention to what’s taught inside all those LEED-certified classrooms. Driven partially by market forces (the stimulus package alone devotes $30 billion to green energy) and partially by growing student concern over the environment, green majors have become a hot commodity on campus. Universities launched at least 27 sustainability-themed programs, degrees, or certificates in 2007, up from just three in 2005. And that’s in addition to the scores of environment-related degrees, like environmental science or biology, that already existed. “Students are really interested in campus sustainability and thinking about the environment in terms of a future career,” says Stephanie Pfirman, president of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors. “It used to be jobs versus environment. Now it’s jobs and environment.” Green degrees are available in a wide range of academic disciplines—from architecture to agriculture, from engineering to interior design—and in every sort of school, from small private colleges in the Midwest to large state universities in the South and Southwest. And in all this variety, there is one common thread: students signing up for these courses aren’t just looking for a major. They’re looking to join a movement.
For some schools, focusing on the environment is nothing new—it’s integral to their mission. The College of the Atlantic has had exactly one major since its started offering classes in 1972: human ecology. Located on a 108-square-mile island off the coast of Maine, the school had students take on projects last year that varied from building an on-campus arboretum to working on an organic garden in Chile. In 2008 the college also added a program in Green and Socially Responsible Business. Students can still take courses in the ecology of the winter coastline (one offering from 2009), but now they can also take Business and Non-Profit Basics. “Students are really gravitating toward this,” says Jay Friedlander, who directs the school’s new business program. “They’re seeing that if you want to effect change in the world, you can do so with a powerful business model that improves society.” Green Mountain College in Vermont, an environmental liberal arts college founded in 1834, recently updated its curriculum to adapt to the mainstreaming of green principles. This fall they’ll start offering a concentration in renewable energy and ecological design where students will have the opportunity to graduate as LEED-certified contractors.
The degrees are available throughout the country in a wide range of academic disciplines, including agriculture, engineering, business and interior design. Nearly 30 percent of business departments and 22 percent of engineering schools offer undergraduate courses in environmental issues, according to a 2008 study by the National Wildlife Federation. Half the schools have programs supporting their faculty’s professional development on environmental topics and 43 percent offer major or minor programs in environmental studies.
Read the full post at Newsweek
Additional Sustainability Curriculum in Higher Education Resources
Campus Environment: A National Report Card on Sustainability in Higher Education -The first comprehensive national survey ever undertaken of environmental initiatives at U.S. institutions of higher learning covering management practices, curriculum and operations and were completed by 471 presidents.
Curriculum for the Bioregion – Curriculum for the Bioregion” is an initiative of the Washington Center that aims to better prepare undergraduates, as well as ourselves, to live in a world where the complex issues of environmental quality, environmental justice, and sustainability are paramount. This faculty and curriculum development project is based on two ideas: local environmental knowledge is the basis for understanding the larger issues of global change, and within this framework of global change, experiential learning in local places has lasting meaning.
Campus Ecology – The National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology® program promotes climate leadership and sustainability among colleges and universities by providing resources and technical support, creating networking opportunities and organizing education events.
Association for Sustainability in Higher Education – AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. Our mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. We do this by providing resources, professional development, and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research.
US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development – The U.S. Partnership consists of individuals, organizations and institutions in the United States dedicated to education for sustainable development (ESD). It acts as a convener, catalyst, and communicator working across all sectors of American society.
Council of Environmental Deans and Directors – The Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) is an association of institutional representatives who come together to improve the quality, stature and effectiveness of academic environmental programs at U.S. universities and colleges. CEDD is facilitated by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) as a part of its University Affiliate Program.
Recommended Green Career Resources:
SIX STRATEGIES TO FIND YOUR GREEN CAREER – This free ebook by Carol McClelland PhD is a step-by-step process helping green career seekers use their passions, interests, experience, and training to plug into the green economy.
THE COMPLETE GREEN JOB GUIDE 2009: SECRETS FOR GETTING THE JOB YOUR WANT – Discover How To Unlock The Booming Green Economy For Your Job Search And Future Financial Security with the 10 Breakthrough Steps You Need To Know To Find And Land A Green Job Quickly.
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