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New programs in sustainability soon to be available to PSU students

Pittsburg State University students with an interest in helping the environment or those wanting to apply an eco-conscious aspect to their current major now have the option to do so through the addition of two new certificates and a minor centered around sustainability. 

“We currently have a degree called Sustainability, Society, and Resource Management,” said Catherine Hooey, a professor of geography at PSU that teaches several classes on sustainability, “–it’s an integrated studies degree through the Bachelor of Integrated Studies program–and it’s a combination of biology, geography and communication. (That degree) is really about learning what sustainability is, how it affects the planet, how it affects people, and how we communicate it. Well, we had so many people interested in sustainability, but they already had another major, so over the past, probably five years, I’ve had several students come to my door and ask if we had a minor in sustainability. The certificate has been around for a while as a sustainability and leadership certificate. Now, because of the demand, the certificate in sustainability is a broader option of courses to choose from so you can tailor it to whatever your specific interests are. The minor, another outgrowth of demand, is nineteen hours compared to thirteen, and it again allows you to really be flexible. You get the core courses on what sustainability is, how it’s practiced, and then you can choose from seven core areas (of electives) and select those that suit your major best.” 

The seven core areas of the new minor include the following: Natural Systems, Communication, Planning, Economics and Marketing, Technology, Political/Legal Systems, and Social Equity. Students like Elliot Rowland, PSU’s current HVAC control specialist and the first person to complete the program’s Sustainability Leadership certification, can attest to the flexibility the certification option affords. 

“My career aspirations are to eventually work in either energy management or sustainability,” Rowland said, “and I wanted to have a formal credential pertaining to one of those concepts on my résumé. I already have a bachelor’s degree (in electronics) and a master’s degree (in physics) from PSU, so this certificate was a convenient way to reinforce my résumé without having to earn an additional degree.” 

Students who choose to pursue either one of the certifications or the minor will be taught various skills and knowledge that Hooey hopes will broaden their overall perspective of the world. 

“(The students in this program) will start to learn and think in an interdisciplinary way,” Hooey said.  

“When we each do our majors in different programs, we tend to focus solely on the material on our major. We may not think about how other things that you would study in other majors affect what you’re doing, so an interdisciplinary thinker is someone who can think outside the box, who can tie ideas together from a broad range of topics, and that’s what we need in real world thinking. Problems don’t exist in narrow little boxes, they exist across multitudes of different areas, disciplines, and so the ability to tie together concepts from a variety of different fields is a very important skill that I think these students will get. 

Students like Brandon Woodruff, senior in communication, also see potential in the addition of the new degree options. 

“I think we could help promote better reusable life and help better the economy,” Woodruff said. “Since we are a campus that promotes recycling and the reuse of bottled water, we should definitely have a degree in which the university is encouraging beneficial practices for the environment.” 

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