GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Following nearly two years of development, the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey has announced the start of a new undergraduate degree program in Sustainability.
One of only a handful of such programs in the nation, the new Sustainability degree is in keeping with Stockton’s long-standing commitment to environmental education. It offers new opportunities to students, and complement s Stockton’s nationally-recognized programs in Environmental Science and Marine Science.
“We are pleased to be offering the new Sustainability degree program,” Stockton President Herman J. Saatkamp said. “With a focused curriculum that integrates the natural sciences, economics, policy, ethics, and a great many other areas, students will be able to pursue either a BS or a BA degree. In addition, they may undertake focused study on topics such as alternative energy, pollution, conservation, public policy and law, sustainability management in business.”
According to Stockton Provost and Executive Vice President Harvey Kesselman, professors from across the college have come together to develop an innovative curriculum that places Stockton among a small group of American colleges and universities with such a degree. “Faculty members from every school in the college, from Arts and Humanities, to Business, to Public Health, and Social Sciences have helped shape this new program and will teach courses in the degree,” he said. “It took an innovative approach to design such an innovative degree program.”
Stockton has long been an environmental innovator. At the time of its 1993 installation it’s geothermal heating and cooling system was the largest of its kind in the world and is still one of the largest. Stockton has also implemented Aquifer Thermal Energy Transfer (ATES) systems into its heating and cooling, and conducted one of the nation’s first college-wide sustainability audits. The College also has one parking lot covered with solar panels and will shortly be adding another one to further reduce its carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuel generated electricity. Additionally, Stockton’s 2,000 acre campus is located within the Pinelands National Reserve, making it an attractive choice for students with an interest in careers connected to the environment and sustainability. And, with Stockton’s focus on community engagement and experiential learning, the program will expect students to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it in communities and businesses across the state as they learn.
Stockton Professor Patrick R. Hossay, its first Sustainability Professor and head of the program, said the College conducted an extensive review of the national and regional job markets and met with employers and educators from across New Jersey in an effort to add value to the degree. As a result, the curriculum incorporates a broad conceptual education with the hands-on practices and the skills needed in industry and demanded by employers, he said. “Indeed, the curriculum is filled with opportunities for hands-on experience, from training on how to conduct a building energy audit, to testing rivers for contamination, to holding a press conference,“ Hossay stated.
Dennis Weiss, Dean of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics, said “The new degree is academically rigorous, with students required to master topics in the natural sciences, economics, and political science, before they go on to advanced coursework. One of the degree goals is to empower students to understand both the world of the scientist and the worlds of the policymaker and business leader,” he said. “So, each of our students will be required to complete coursework in technology and design, physics, chemistry, mathematics, policy, economics and other areas before they begin their specialized concentrations.”
The program answers a growing demand by employers for students with specialized training in Sustainability. As industry and business develop a greater interest in their green profile, and as alternative energy and conservation gain prominence, the need for sustainability professionals has grown sharply.
Stockton’s program will help students serve that need. The new degree promises to be rigorous, requiring core courses in calculus, physics, chemistry, and ecology as well as focused courses in public policy, economics, management, and ethics; but the payoff is considerable. As Hossay states, “We’re looking for students who are excited about working in this new and innovative field, ready to bring together knowledge from across the academic spectrum, and excited to learn leadership, innovation, and intellectual creativity as they do so. . . We want students who want to make their passion their career.”
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