College just got greener.
Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York, has filed a proposal to create its first major with a broad focus on the relationship between humans and the planet. The new, integrated “Environment, Sustainability, and Policy” (ESP) major between SU and State University System of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) will asses ways in which “careful stewardship of natural resources requires the integration of multiple scientific disciplines and an understanding of the complexities of human societies,” according to Shere Abbott, a professor of Geography at SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and the vice president of sustainability initiatives at SU.
The major is on track to be certified by the upcoming fall semester. It can easily be combined with other majors. This allows students to incorporate a focus on sustainability into their primary field of study.
More than 100 American colleges, including the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL and the main campus of the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL, already offer a sustainability major according to StartClass’ 2017 data.
Professor Abbott has said that the need for communication between scientists and politicians is becoming more and more apparent due to the increasing complexity of environmental issues. For this reason, the ESP major helps students see the human-environmental relationship through a holistic lens. “The purpose is to blend natural and human sciences thinking and to integrate science and policy.”
Students studying ESP will be required to maintain a “base major” in one of the schools at SU. Students will also be expected to take core environmental science courses, environmental humanities and data analysis, a base major-specific course on scientific policy, and complete a senior capstone project.
This new major is especially useful when paired with base majors such as anthropology, biology, geography, or engineering–among others.
It isn’t exclusive to Syracuse either. Cornell University, also in New York (Ithaca), unveiled their own sustainability major this past fall. Dean of Cornell’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Kathryn Boor, said that student demand and practical necessity coupled to bring about the major.
“Not only are students interested in environment and sustainability, but also there is a strong, growing need for students who can understand environmental issues from different disciplinary vantage points.”
This is a promising sign, with excitement about sustainability at SU, Cornell, and elsewhere in academia.
With an ESP major on the horizon, students can be the change they wish to see in an eco-friendly world.