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Friday, May 10, 2013

New Minor in Sustainability Delivers 'Green' Education

New Minor in Sustainability Delivers 'Green' Education

DuBOIS – A new minor available to all Penn State DuBois bachelor’s degree students will provide them with the tools to be a champion for the environment, while also making them more appealing to future employers. The Minor in Sustainability Leadership allows students in any four-year major to incorporate sustainability as a significant theme in their undergraduate degree program. Through a combination of coursework and immersive experiences in sustainability, students develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to become sustainability leaders in their respective fields.

"The sustainable use of resources is perhaps the greatest challenge facing us at the local, national and international scales," said Penn State DuBois Associate Professor of Geography Debra Straussfogel, who worked to develop the minor for the campus. "Learning how to manage and use resources with a look to long term sustainability will take broad based knowledge, as well as leadership and problem-solving skills. Any sustainable solution to a resource problem must follow the three part goal of being economically viable and socially acceptable, as well as being environmentally sound."

The ability to achieve that three part goal, Straussfogel explained, makes education in sustainability appealing, if not necessary, in today's world and in the workforce of tomorrow. Not only will individuals with training in suitability have the know-how to work toward the conservation of natural resources, but they'll also be positioned to help their employers operate at maximum efficiency. According to EarthShare, a non-profit federation that connects companies with environmental causes, applying green and sustainable business practices can help organizations save thousands, to tens of thousands of dollars each year. Graduates who earn the Minor in Sustainability Leadership will have the tools to put those practices in place.

"The Minor in Sustainability Leadership gives students with an interest in any baccalaureate degree the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills relevant to their field of study and applicable to sustainability related problems in their target job areas," Straussfogel said. "Whether a student is interested in Business, Earth Science, Engineering, Human Development, Information Science and Technology, Liberal Arts and Sciences, or any Penn State four-year degree, this minor will provide an additional opportunity to become uniquely qualified to become leaders in their fields."

The concept of formal education in sustainable resources that can be applied to any field is still very new. Advocates of this notion, however, say that the need for it is very old, and that today's more positive attitudes about going green are a long time coming.

"People have started to come around and realize that there are some fundamental laws of the universe that won't go away," said Jim Hamilton, a retired Penn State assistant professor who taught courses in communications, as well as in forestry and other environmental fields. He has worked on sustainability issues for decades, and in retirement, he continues to contribute to Penn State's efforts to practice sustainability and educate others on how to do the same. Hamilton said society is more aware of the concepts these days, but education in bringing those concepts to life is a must for people in all fields, and relevant to nearly any career. He said, "There is not a single course I couldn't have put sustainability into. Issues of sustainability are among the most important issues of this century."

For more information on the Minor in Sustainability Leadership at Penn State DuBois, visit

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