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Geneseo Offers New Sustainability Major

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SUNY Geneseo is offering students the opportunity to pursue a Sustainability Studies major through the Department of Geography and Sustainability Studies, starting this fall.

Through coursework and interdisciplinary studies across themes of society, development and the environment, students build a knowledge base, high-impact practical experiences, and professional skills that prepare them for graduate studies and careers in sustainability. Course offerings also reflect the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — and supports sustainability as a core value of the College. 

"There is an increasing interest in sustainability as many students wish to address pressing economic, social, and environmental problems through their careers and lifestyles,” says Jim Kernan, associate professor of geography who received a fellowship to lead development of the major. “This aligns with a growth in demand for sustainability professionals in a range of fields including conservation, urban and regional planning, renewable energy, food production, business, finance, management, and many others.”

The major will make an interdisciplinary curriculum more accessible to interested students, formalize extra- and co-curricular activities through an integrative and applied learning requirement (study abroad, directed study or internships), and provide focused advising.  

In the past, Kernan notes, students have tried to meet their academic interests in sustainability through double-majors and/or minors, such as the environmental studies minor. A significant number of students participate in the Eco House living learning community, Geneseo Environmental Organization, Office of Sustainability internships and other opportunities. Kernan said students’ experiences in the new major focus on integrative and applied learning requirements through internship, study abroad or directed study.

Kernan and others used recommendations from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher  Education (AASHE) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization  (UNESCO) for the major’s development, along with critical career skills identified by the International Society of Sustainability  Professionals (ISSP). The major also aligns with the SUNY Transfer Path for Environmental Science  (Social Science Track).  

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Kris Dreessen
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