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PitE celebrates 10-year anniversary

By Chelsea Hoedl, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 8, 2012

Though it may not be celebrating with paper hats or streamers, one University program is celebrating its 10th birthday this year.

The University’s Program in the Environment — an undergraduate academic major offered jointly by LSA and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment — is marking its 10th anniversary with a variety of events throughout the academic year starting in September and running through April 2013. PitE is an interdisciplinary undergraduate concentration program that addresses environmental issues in areas of natural science, social science and humanities perspectives. The program also offers minors in the environment, sustainability and global change.

PitE kicked off its anniversary celebration with a barbeque on Sept. 7, which was attended by PitE students, alumni, staff and faculty, and featured a guest concert by local performer Joe Reilly. The program also hosted an alumni tailgate over homecoming weekend.

One signature part of the program this year is implementation of a mentorship program for current PitE students. PitE held an initial event on Oct. 25 to initiate its Building Environmental Awareness and Relationships program, which pairs PitE students and SNRE student mentors. To celebrate its 10-year anniversary, PitE has also been working to connect current students with program graduates to encourage them to plan their future careers, according to PitE program coordinator Kimberly Smith.

“We have created a series of workshops for students to start thinking about how they can promote themselves and how to start thinking about their experience as PitE students,” Smith said.

Upcoming events to celebrate the anniversary include a “Grad Schools and Gap Years” workshop on Nov. 28 and a lecture with Chris Jordan — a Seattle-based artist who’s work reflects modern environmental issues — that the program is co-sponsoring with the Penny W. Stamps Distinguished Speaker series on Nov. 15.

In February, the program will host a Change Agents event intended to connect art and environmental change, with guests ranging from photographers to storytellers to journalists, who will lead workshops on how they use their mediums to effect change.

Smith said PitE has grown more than expected in the past 10 years, adding that the original estimate for program participants was about 50 students, but the program now boasts about 600 students. PitE has also added several courses to the curriculum in the past three years that cover topics such as sustainability and society, war and the environment, and sustainable cities.

Students can earn either a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts degree, depending on their course choices. PitE concentrators are also required to fulfill a practical experience requirement, in which they are expected to gain hands-on experience with issues related to their academic courses.

PitE is also responsible for encouraging students to apply for the Udall Scholarship, a national scholarship awarded to students from various majors who have expressed a commitment to career paths related to the environment.

Engineering senior Sita Syal won this year’s award, and said it has opened up numerous opportunities for her.

“We did a lot of professional development (within PitE) and just getting to know each other and networking,” Syal said. “That’s the best part. That and being around all these other students like you who want to change the world.”


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