College plans sustainability minor

by Emily Goodell | 8/24/09 10:00pm

Faculty members from the environmental studies program are working to develop a minor in "sustainability studies" over the course of the next academic year, which would aim to connect campus sustainability initiatives from the Organic Farm to the Sustainable Living Center under a common "umbrella," according to professor and environmental studies department chair Andrew Friedland.

"I know a lot of undergraduates are extremely interested and excited to see a sustainability minor and a sustainability program happen at Dartmouth, and that's our intention," he said.

A large number of faculty, staff, students and administrators have identified sustainability as an important subject to address academically, according to Friedland.

"The word and the actual idea of sustainability' are appearing more and more often in this country and in the world when people have discussions about environmental issues," he said.

Friedland said he expects one of the driving forces behind the development of a sustainability minor to be Anne Kapuscinski, who was recently hired as the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor of Sustainability Science.

"One of her goals in her first year is to work on this sustainability science minor," Friedland said.

Kapuscinski could not be reached for comment by press time.

Although faculty members in the environmental studies program said it would be wonderful to implement the minor by the end of this year, they said they have not yet started the concrete planning stages of the project.

"The environmental studies program is in the information-gathering phase," Friedland said. "We're trying to come up with a model or a few models that we can then look at and do a really thoughtful and careful and excellent job here at Dartmouth,"

The sustainability minor would be different from the two minors the environmental studies program currently offers in environmental studies and environmental science, although the specific requirements of the minor have yet to be established, Friedland said.

"There's a lot of thinking and talking and exchanging of ideas going on but we don't have at this point a whole lot concrete things we've implemented or concrete plans," Friedland said.

The minor will be developed by Kapuscinski, as well as "a variety of faculty from around arts and sciences," Friedland said.

The minor, which must consist of at least six courses, would need to be approved by Friedland as well as the Divisional Council of Academic Programs, which contains the chair of each academic program, according to the Organizations, Regulations and Courses book.

Dean of the Faculty Carol Folt was not available for comment by press time.

The environmental studies program intends to look at programs related to sustainability at other schools as part of the "information-gathering process" including those at Yale University, the University of Michigan and the University of California, Santa Barbara, Friedland said.

Michigan offers a "global change minor," which focuses on the history of environmental change in addition to issues related to global sustainability, according to that department's web site.

The minor's curriculum includes courses on biology, geology, in addition to "global change" courses like "Physical Processes" and "Human Impacts." Ben van der Pluijm, director of the global change minor, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Yale offers a "Program for Sustainable Environmental Design," which is a joint graduate program between the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale School of Architecture, according to FES's web site. Students who complete the four year program receive two masters degrees, one in architecture and one in environmental management, the web site said.

The University of California, Santa Barbara, like Dartmouth, has numerous campus sustainability initiatives including green campus and internship programs, according to the school's sustainability web site. The university also offers three different majors through the environmental studies department to undergraduates.