Sustainability could become a new minor

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Sustainability could be a new minor at TCU. The Student Government Association’s Academic Affairs Committee has began the process to add the new minor to the TCU catalog.

Jennifer Villyard, SGA chairwoman of Academic Affairs, wrote in an email that faculty and students have expressed interest in a sustainability minor but it was still early in the process.

Michael Slattery, director of the Institute for Environmental Studies, said there had been a high demand from students for the minor, especially from students in the business school.

“Understanding sustainability is no longer just a fun, interesting fad,” Slattery said. “[Businesses] have to manage their businesses from a smart, informed perspective.”

Senior supply and value chain management major Erin Humphries said she thought the minor was a great idea, especially for business students.

Companies were moving toward sustainability and being “green,” Humphries said. “In the future, there is going to be a high demand for people who know about sustainability, [and] know how to implement it into a company,” she said.

High demand from students is not the only reason why the university and SGA have looked into developing the minor.

Instructor of sociology Keith Whitworth said because the university had signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, sustainability had to be included in the curriculum.

According to a TCU Magazine article, Chancellor Victor Boschini signed the commitment in 2008.

Slattery said he hoped the minor would be available for the fall semester.

Courses for the minor would come from existing courses, and there were enough professors to teach the minor, Whitworth said.

“There are at least a dozen faculty [members] that are passionate about sustainability,” he said. “There would not be any issue in regard to faculty either vetting their course to be in the minor or developing new courses.”

Sustainability courses are currently offered in the education, nutrition, communication and anthropology schools, Whitworth said. There could also be new courses for the minor, he said.

Slattery said the courses currently offered were spread throughout different colleges in the university because there were different perspectives on sustainability.

“You can look at sustainability purely from a scientific perspective, but that’s only one of at least three legs of a stool,” he said.

Although the minor is not available yet, the university is currently offering a certificate, or a specific subset, in sustainability, Slattery said.

The certificate was first offered during the fall 2011 semester, but was in the “pilot study phase,” he said. It would be formally launched later this semester.

The certificate would require 10 hours with three required courses in the science, business and sociology colleges, Slattery said.

Whitworth said students, not faculty, would be the driving force behind whether there would be a sustainability minor.

“When students get involved, when they request change, it often happens,” he said.


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