Over the last few years I have witnessed and helped lead the growth of sustainability and environmentally focused programs here at Columbia. These include an undergraduate major in Sustainable Development, multiple masters programs, a Ph.D. in sustainable development and a new master’s level certificate in sustainability analytics. The growth of these programs represents a larger transformation already underway in society. Although I may be biased from my position as an educator in these programs, it is undeniable that a societal shift in thought is taking place. Young people in particular, are increasingly accepting the realities of the crisis in sustainability.
The development of these education programs is a key element of the transition to a sustainable economy. Our students will become the leaders in every field that can make this critical change. Students must master the science, engineering and architecture of the physical dimensions of sustainability to understand the complex challenges facing our planet and devise, implement, manage and communicate solutions to those problems.
This growing interest in sustainability education indicates a positive trend not just for those individuals in the programs, but also for the nation. As an educator at Columbia University, I see students everyday who are learning the details and theories of sustainable development. My job is to provide students the tools to drive sustainable changes. These students are energized, passionate, driven, smart, and equipped with the tools to succeed where past efforts have failed – and for these reasons, I choose to see the glass as half full and have hope for the future.
In the essays that follow, I describe the growing number of programs in sustainability education and discuss how these programs are changing the way the generation of professionals will go about their work, especially as the green job market continues to grow. I examine the impact of this growing field on public opinion, the job market, and our nation’s future.
The Sustainability Generation (April 15, 2013)
Distance Learning Can Augment But Not Replace Experiential Learning (February 11, 2013)
Educating Sustainability Professionals (December 24, 2012)
We Need to Put the Class of 2012 to Work (May 21, 2012)
The Growing Field of Sustainability Studies (February 13, 2012)
Educating the Next Generation of Sustainability Professionals (December 6, 2010)
Sustainability Education Provides a Reason to Hope (May 21, 2010)
Growing Public Support for Sustainability (April 19, 2010)
The Sustainability Generation Comes of Age (March 29, 2010)
Educating the Next Generation of Sustainability Professionals (February 15, 2010)