A study on green degree programs
It’s that time of year again … time to write that college-application essay, sign that acceptance letter, and start packing boxes. Or is it? I’m not quite sure. I’ve been out of the college-application process for a while now … what with having this real job now. But I’m sure somewhere out there you kids are looking all over the internets for some cool eco-programs to apply to, right?
And what better way to start off this biweekly column on college-related eco-initiatives than a post about some of the various green degree programs out there. (And also? What better way to title it? “Have Some Class” … ha ha! Ahem.) But seriously, there are some great new curriculums out there — and we’re not just talking your generic EnviroSci. Responding to popular demand and an ever-expanding field of applicants, these inter-disciplinary majors allow students to focus on green issues within their field of interest.
Want to be a recreation major (I know! Me too!) with biz management experience and a focus on tourism that treads softly on the earth? George Washington University has partnered with major eco-group Conservation International to create their Ecotourism Learning Program. The curriculum focuses on ecotourism management, targeting governmental and NGO staff working in tourism within 34 biodiversity hotspots.
If your taste lies more in the direction of alternative and renewable energy, look to Canton College of Technology in New York, one of the handful of institutions offering four-year degree programs in the field. Class topics will include wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, and solar power. Students will get hands-on research time making biodiesel fuel (which the school uses as an energy source) and operating a new methane digester that will supply the campus with natural gas.
Also in New York, The New School has joined forces with Lang College, Parsons, and The New School for Social Research to create the Tishman Environment and Design Center. The undergrad and graduate degrees offered through the Tishman Center will focus curriculum on design-based research, using a holistic approach that examines cultural, economic, and ecological factors.
And speaking of design, The Rhode Island School of Design has added a six-week Winter session course called Bridging Cultures Through Design in which students will learn about skilled crafts in other cultures within the context of sustainability. The best part, though, is that the group will travel to the destination of focus — as in, right now they’re in Guatemala.
Which brings me to my last point. Even if an eco-focused degree program isn’t for you, many schools have other interesting options, like service-learning projects or alternative break programs. Over school breaks, many students — including a group from Sarah Lawrence College — have been traveling to the Gulf coast to help with hurricane recovery. In fact, Break Away, a group that organizes school-vacay alternatives, says more than 200 students have already spent time in the region, and at least half of the org’s 80 chapter schools are planning hurricane-relief trips. Hey, it’s gotta beat hanging around at home with the ‘rents.
Know of another school with a new or unique environmental degree program? Post it in comments.