UK goes green in a ‘major’ way

By Hannah Ellis

The carbon footprint made by UK will be getting smaller with the addition of a new major known, as Environmental and Sustainability Studies.

David Atwood, the Environmental Studies director and chemistry professor, said there is no other major exactly like it, and the closest another university offers is the sustainability degree available at Berea College.

This major allows students to be able to cover  many courses that wouldn’t fall together under another major.

The ENS program will incorporate subjects like humanities, natural sciences, writing, communications and environmental ethics, and will provide an independent study for students closer to graduation.

Because ENS will be a Bachelor of Arts degree, Atwood said it would be a great companion degree for majors like chemistry, biology, geography, anthropology, and earth and environmental sciences.

Jobs that could be available to students with a major in this field range anywhere from working with environmental groups to state government to the Environmental Protection Agency, or newspapers, magazines or other publications, Atwood said.

Writing courses coupled with environmental knowledge could create many job possibilities.

Atwood and the Board of Trustees spent all of last semester hammering out the details of the program to the point to where he feels there is not much room for improvement.

“It was so obvious that we needed this new major that it didn’t take long for us to come to an agreement on the overall courses and goals of the program,” Atwood said.

With this degree comes enhanced critical thinking skills, independent decision making and a factual basis for making decisions, skill in communications and particularly writing, and deep knowledge of sustainability and how it could be put into practice.

The major will have five areas of expertise from which to choose: economics and policy, ecosystems, energy and land, society and water resources.

This once again provides students with many options during independent study and after graduation.

This degree can also change the way students view the world and shows them how they can make a low impact on the planet, Atwood said.

The program has already passed the first Board committee and is in front of the second committee.

Atwood said it needs to be in front of the Board by at least the first week of June in order to be ready for the fall 2011 semester.

“The way we handled things 100 years ago wouldn’t be the best way now,” chemistry sophomore Gretchen Keller said. “A major like this will allow us to possess the knowledge and technology to take action and ensure a sustainable planet for future generations.”