Faculty members from several different fields were selected last week to form an advisory committee for the LSA and School of Natural Resources degree program approved last month.
“Faculty in both schools, SNRE and LSA, endorsed the new program because they believed that it would create better educational opportunities for students than they have at present,” said John Knott, interim director of the Program in the Environment.
“We”ve always been proud of the undergraduate education we offered in SNRE. But fields are expanding, and many people who don”t want pre-professional training are now interested in learning about the environment. To serve such a broad audience, we really need a bigger pool of faculty,” said Bobbi Low, a Natural Resources professor and a member of the concentration”s faculty advisory committee, in a written statement.
In addition to Low, committee members are Catherine Badgley of the Residential College and Museum of Paleontology, Joel Blum of Geological Sciences, Deborah Goldberg of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Raymond De Young of Conservation Behavior, Gloria Helfand of Environmental Economics and Mary Anne Carroll of the College of Engineering and Chemistry.
In recent years, SNRE has faced problems meeting its enrollment quotas, Knott said. He said he hopes the new program will appeal to LSA undergraduates since there has also been an increasing demand for an environmental concentration from LSA.
“The new program will bring about good changes. Under LSA, the program will have more money and more resources to use to accomplish whatever we want. Now students don”t have to choose between the two schools when they apply to the University,” SNRE freshman Jamie Eldrett said.
But Eldrett expressed disappointment at the change.
“It”s a shame that SNRE couldn”t stand alone as its own school and was eaten up by LSA. It”s also a shame that there wasn”t enough interest and funding in the first place, but the new program will open lots of new opportunities,” Eldrett said.
One student expressed disappointment at the dissolution of SNRE”s undergraduate program.
“I”m not a big fan of the change. My biggest problem with it is that I really think the school will lose a lot of its community feel. If I knew about the program, I would have simply applied to LSA,” said SNRE freshman Sam Brown.
The program will be housed in the Dana Building, the current home of SNRE.
“The new program differs from the old in a number of ways. It will offer more course options to students and an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches to solving environmental problems, with some new team-taught courses and also courses taught by faculty in schools and colleges other than SNRE or LSA. It can lead to either a BA or a BS. LSA and SNRE will both be on the diploma and the transcript,” Knott said.
The University hopes to make the program more original through the creation of new courses.
“We will be asking for creative thought, and real interaction from people in disciplines that previously may not have worked across these boundaries. We hope to help students learn how to look past “particulars” and see the real shape the guts of a problem, no matter what field. So, every example will have a biological and a social science problem but these problems will have exactly parallel solutions. It”s quite exciting,” Low said.
Knott stressed the interdisciplinary angle of the new program, and said that there will be a balance between social science and natural science aspects of the program.
LSA Dean Shirley Neuman said in an e-mail that the concentration requires students to do an interdisciplinary core course and a capstone course that integrates science and policy issues.
Eldrett said the new program will better prepare students for employment.
“Now, there”s a lot of job openings in the social aspect of environmental careers so the balance is a good idea,” Eldrett said. “It”s somewhat balanced now. There are a lot of different classes that focus on a lot of different aspects.”
The other new component of the program is the field course or internship requirement for students. This will allow students to apply their classroom knowledge to real world situations.
“The requirements of a field course or internship reflects our sense that is important for real students to have real-world experience, either doing the kind of field work that they would do as scientists or working in an organization as an intern. In both cases, there would be faculty supervision,” Knott said.