Recognizing "that education is an indispensable element for achieving sustainable development", the United Nations designated 2005-2014 as the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Through its Sustainability Studies program, which continues to grow in enrollment and prominance on campus, RWU is proud to have helped support this international movement since it was established five years ago. In a recent essay about the DESD, Goolam Mohamedbhai, chair of the International Association of Universities' Working Group on Sustainable Development, commented that, "The post-2015 Development Agenda is currently being formulated by the UN (with the) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A glance at the proposed draft SDGs shows that their implementation will require substantial input from higher education." Through its many Sustainability Studies courses, RWU will continue to advance this international vision of helping future leaders develop the knowledge and skills they need to help create more sustainable human communities and environments, both locally and globally.
The following courses that fulfill requirements for the Sustainability Studies minor and/or core concentration appear on the Spring 2015 course schedule (which should be consulted for updates):
Approximately 20 students in the class of 2014 completed the SUST minor. As part of their capstone coursework in SUST 401 "Working toward Sustainability", they completed projects, among others, to help increase recycling rates in Bristol, analyzed suitability for a bike share program on campus and surveyed local restaurants about sustainability practices.
The issues of sustainability are not just a passing fad and it is not just an American issue. As reported in a recent New York Times article, sustainability is becoming mainstream in Canadian universities. Australians have been leaders in sustainability thinking for a long while. Sustainability is explored in South America through a unique organization. And of course, China continues to grapple with relationships between complex economic and environmental issues. in RWU's SUST classes, we explore the many global dimensions of sustainability while connecting them to our local communities and personal lives.
With majors as diverse as theater, engineering, historic preservation, environmental science, media communications and architecture, 22 students in the RWU class of 2013 have completed the Sustainability Studies minor. This is twice as many as in 2012 and more than five times as many as in 2011. In this case, exponential growth is a good thing! The SUST program faculty wish them all the best as they go on to put their sustainability knowledge to good use!
Members of the SUST class of 2013: Back row L-R: Garrett House, Cameron Peahl, Celina Hoar, Shannon Pitt, Daniel Khalife. Front row L-R: Katie Nolan, Lindsey Kaye, Mary Dillon, Kalya Maroney.
Alexandra will be pursuing a Master of Science in Sustainability Management from the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C. Reflecting on her RWU experiences, Alexandra commented that, “If it were not for the Sustainability Studies minor at Roger Williams, I doubt I would have discovered my passion for sustainability. I feel empowered, and am ready to make sustainability decisions that are long overdue in the corporate world. Roger Williams provided me with an invaluable foundation for my future sustainability endeavors.”
Garrett will continue his architecture studies at Washington University in St. Louis with an emphasis on environmental systems and sustainability. In his application statement, Garrett wrote, “I look forward to further investigating the collaboration between design and sustainability… (and) develop an architectural identity that will allow me to reach a vision for a more sustainable future.”
Photo: Current Students Rebecca Rokiki (Construction Management) and Alicia Wilson (Marine Biology) are among the students to declare their intent to enroll in the new SUST Core Concentration.
This fall, students from all majors and catalog years can enroll in the Core Concentration (CC) in Sustainability Studies (SUST) to fulfill general education requirements using the three SUST courses and two electives (see requirements and restrictions).
Currently, approximately 40 students are enrolled in the SUST minor which was created in 2010. Theresa Polly, a Global Communication major and SUST minor, said that the SUST program “allows us to see the world differently and … is about truly becoming a citizen of the world who cares deeply about its health.” Environmental Science major Philip Yashinowsky commented that, “Through (the SUST) courses I have gained decision-making skills and insights which I will keep with me throughout my life.” For more information about the SUST program and CC, contact the program coordinator, Dr. Loren Byrne (lbyrne"at"rwu.edu).
Is this something that RWU should strive for? Enrollment in our SUST minor has steadily increased suggesting that many students from many disciplines are interested in this area of study. Working to ensure that all students graduate with foundational understanding of sustainability ideas and practices is a worthy- and perhaps necessary- goal to catalyze a better future.
After enrolling in the SUST minor, Jess Sasso decided that a minor wasn't enough to satisfy her passion for the subject. She became RWU's first SUST major by proposing an individualized program in SUST studies to complement her major in English. She took a series of environmental science and ecology courses to build a SUST major and completed an English senior thesis analyzing the movie Into the Wild through a sustainability lens. Her advanced work and passion have rewarded her. In June, she received an educator and outreach position with the environmental group, the Buzzards Bay Coalition.
In only the second year of the SUST program's existence, 11 students from diverse majors completed the minor. For their capstone projects in SUST 401, they helped advance sustainability projects on campus and in the local community.
L-R: Row 1: Keith Ducout, Keenan Tancil, Destiny Archambault, Bob Strother. Row 2: Michael Tancredi, Jess Sasso, Rob Hand. Not pictured: Andrew Ercolano, Peter Lehner, Caroline Martin, Collin Schmidt.
According to Lee Epstein, it seems it is. In his essay, he makes a strong argument that the "real green colleges" are the ones that have strong educational programs in sustainability studies. He writes: "Education is about the only way we are going to get out of the ecological mess we’re in. It’s up to our much-vaunted institutions of higher learning to lead the way, and we should insist ... that they finally begin a green century of ... learning and teaching." With our SUST minor, RWU is helping lead the way into this green century.
More and more professional organizations, including corporations, are valuing and committing to sustainability as standard operating procedure. As one author said: "In short, the debate about whether sustainability should be a part of the business agenda is mainly over." Read more quotes from leaders in a report from the NYC Sustainable Operation Meeting.
A survey by researchers at Arizona State University indicates that employers view sustainability studies as a plus on a job candidate's resume. Professor Kevin Dooley, author of the study, stated that, "Job candidates with both sustainability skills and a solid professional background in a field like business or engineering are receiving job offers that far exceed what’s warranted in the current market, and that’s because there aren’t many of them.”
Read the ASU press release about the study.
Five RWU students completed the Sustainability Studies minor in May 2011 after finishing the 401 capstone course. Monique DiTullo and Emerald Epke, an American Studies and International Relations major respectively, also graduated this year. Having completed their undergraduate degrees, Matt Callahan, Dan Contelmo, and Emily Korzynski are continuing their Architecture studies in RWU's master's program.
L-R: Emily Korzynski, Matt Callahan, Emerald Epke, Monique DiTullo