Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Implementing Sustainable Degree Programs at DePaul

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” (Nelson Mandela) The next large step that DePaul can take in practicing sustainability is educating its students, as Nelson Mandela stated, to change the world. Sustainability is becoming much more than an environmental class on best green practices. There are majors in sustainable tourism, sustainable clothing, and interior design just to name a few. Business schools are also seeing a rise in the number of students interested in sustainability courses and programs.

DePaul currently offers a certificate through the Egan Urban Center that fosters community sustainability. The School of Public Service, the School of New Learning, the College of Commerce, and programs within the Liberal Arts and Sciences are currently offering courses in sustainability. Professional courses such as Sustainability and Business are being introduced to degree programs.

President Obama recently added an additional 150 billion to the 500 million dollars pledged towards environmental jobs to create 5 million new sustainability- related jobs. Jobs that promote sustainability are the future. DePaul already has a start on the course work of the future. My suggestion is that DePaul consider a College of Sustainability. With a College of Sustainability DePaul students can be at the front of the creative movements dealing with sustainability problems. A College of Sustainability could also find new ways of crossing this topic over into other majors like legal framework with the law school.

To begin the transition to a College I suggest that DePaul implement a graduate degree Masters of Science track through the School of Public Service in sustainability dealing with sustainable policies, governance, and economy. This program would allow for learning across a number of disciplines, and quantitative research in sustainability practices. I also suggest the availability of a Minor in sustainability. This would allow undergraduates to explore the connections with their major in such areas as human institutions, organizations, cultures, and technology. The Minor would draw off of the undergraduate’s major and supplement it with sustainability practices.

The benefits of a College of Sustainability, or a Major or Minor for the students is a diverse group coming together to solve the current world problems. Having a College or Major in sustainability would open up the university to new partnerships, and foster those that are already established. Sustainability issues are everywhere so this gives the opportunity to students to get involved with solving problems in their local community, nationally, and globally. Students who graduate from these programs find themselves eligible for jobs in higher education, industry, consultancy, utilities, regulatory agencies, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, or local, state or federal government. They will also find that they are at the fore front of sustainable jobs such as biodiversity and habitats, climate, social transformations, energy, materials and technology, governance and policy, international development, urbanization, and water.

Creating a college of Sustainability and a Major or Minor in the same will help DePaul move to the front of creative sustainable solutions. Having such a college will help to support the Vicentian principles of the University while opening it to new funding sources and partnerships.

Posted by: Kristina Vitali
Photo source: Vince Palermo, Global Institute of Sustainability

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