A plan to build a partnership between the School of Natural Resources and the College of Literature, Arts and Sciences passed another hurdle last week when University President Lee Bollinger approved budgets allowing implementation of a new environmental studies program within LSA.
The plan, which still needs to be approved by the University Board of Regents, would phase out the undergraduate school at SNRE and create programs in environmental policy and environmental science in LSA, while involving the faculty of both colleges.
“The Program on the Environment is an undergraduate program that will be offered as an equal partnership between LSA and SNRE,” said LSA Dean Shirley Neuman. “This means that faculty from SNRE will participate fully with those in LSA in offering the courses, and that there will be an Advisory Committee with equal representation from LSA and SNRE.”
SNRE interim Dean Barry Rabe said he is excited about the program. “We believe that it will contribute to the long-term well-being of the school and is in the best interest of future generations of Michigan undergraduates,” he said.
Neuman said there will be several ways in which SNRE and LSA can complement each other and give students more opportunities.
“The program has been established to achieve several ends, including offering a degree that draws on expertise in both LSA and SNRE, and making it possible for students to pursue an environment science or environmental policy track with extensive course options,” he said.
If the program is approved, current SNRE undergraduates will have the option to complete their current course of study or transfer to the new program.
“The biggest concern is that we will lose our community, small classes and the fact that we all love the classes we take,” said SNRE senior Jenn Carlson. “But the fact that they are keeping the same professors and the Dana Building I guess makes it OK.”
SNRE Sophomore Jack Conroy said he thinks the new program will open up more options for students. “I think it”s a good thing because we will have more courses to choose from and it will open it up a bit,” he said. “I still think SNRE is gonna have its place for people to go. For students it won”t change much.”
Neuman said she believes the students and faculty are generally supportive of the program. “There have been extensive discussions with SNRE students over the course of the program”s development and those students” response has in part informed the positive vote of the faculty,” he said. “We must take this as an indication of their commitment to it.”