New major offered: Sustainability will be focus

By Nini Edwards

nedwards@kykernel.com

Environmental studies is no longer for just chemistry lovers.

The College of Arts and Sciences is offering a new major, environmental and sustainability studies, focusing more on humanities and the social science traits of Mother Nature.

“We have had students come out of the woodwork begging for this degree,” said Kari Burchfield, an ENS staff support associate.

“We have made our electives in economics, environment and society: the three pillars on sustainability. There is not an environmental problem out there that doesn’t have the three pillars,” said David Atwood, a chemistry professor and the ENS director.

Atwood said the best writers that we have on campus come from the humanities department and they are the ones who will communicate best about environmental issues.

“Having a gap between writers and science people does not make sense because we need people to write effectively about things going on in the world,” Atwood said. “People need to understand science and need to know how to communicate.”

Atwood believes students should not be held back from choosing a major because the student must pass prerequisites like chemistry and pre-calculus.

“(ENS) doesn’t have a year’s worth of chemistry, there is no calculus, no biology and no physics,” Atwood said. “I think those gateway courses have deterred a lot of our students from picking up a natural science major.”

The major is designed for students to easily earn a double major with an ENS Bachelor of Arts.

Atwood has been advising a group of students waiting on the ENS degree to come to UK; the group has majors ranging from biology to international studies.

Because ENS is designed to coincide with many different and more disciplined majors, he encourages students to keep their main major.

“We have a bunch of minors already that have been waiting for this degree to come through. I probably will get one email a day about people who are interested in this new minor,” Atwood said.

The interest in environmental sustainability is trending among young people, ENS gives students a look into the future.

“Most campuses have courses like this, it is about time we have one as well,” said Jim Krupa, biology professor and ENS board member.

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Lee Meyer says:

This new major will complement the majors Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources and Environmental Studies majors already available in the College of Agriculture. UK now has a comprehensive set of majors to fits students’ interests and abilities.