For this month's Ka'ana Mana'o, we asked University of Hawaii Maui College faculty Joie Taylor and Tim Botkin, and adjunct faculty member Kristen Freeman, to update the community on the new Sustainable Science Management Program.
"We launched the program one year ago," says Taylor, the program director. "And we now have approximately 100 students enrolled."
This fast-growing program is the culmination of several years of effort by UH-MC leadership, who recognized that the concept of "sustainability" had passed from buzzword to a growing body of knowledge and skills that cuts across multiple disciplines. They also realized that there is no greater need than to study the impact of human practices on island communities such as Maui.
As early as 1972, global conferences of the United Nations called for sustainability education, but creating actual programs has not been easy. Only a few universities in the United States have taken on a holistic version of sustainability, though many have programs in development.
UH-MC proponents are proud of their work.
"Along with being the first sustainability-focused degree in Hawaii," says John McKee, UH-MC vice chancellor of academic affairs, "the bachelor of applied science in sustainable science management is one of the first baccalaureate degree programs in the nation to combine environmental, energy and conservation studies with a focus on business management practices."
In addition to crossing traditional disciplinary lines, the sustainable science management program connects public and private sectors to ensure its efforts remain practical. Taylor established partnerships with the U.S. Geological Survey, Maui County, Maui Electric Co., several leading resorts and smaller local businesses to provide internships and learning opportunities.
Sustainable science management interns conduct energy audits and lighting retrofits, provide recycling education, prepare sustainability reports, work on "green" marketing projects, coordinate county environmental projects and assist in biodiesel processing.
"Looking at the needs of leading companies shows that sustainability credentials will be valuable in a broad range of vocations," says Taylor. "When students discuss renewable energy, it's not just about being cool; they must understand the practical aspects of who manages it, how much it costs and the full range of impacts. Staying relevant is the crux of sustainability study today."
The program prepares students to work as sustainability coordinators and managers, environmental scientists and energy consultants. Along with introductory courses that provide the backdrop for study, students now have advanced options in water and wastewater, law and policy, environmental health and energy integration. Additional courses in sustainable organizations and systems thinking focus on broader principles of sustainability pertinent to addressing today's complex and changing problems.
To meet the demand of this popular program, UH-MC has added a second section of Introduction to Sustainability for fall 2013. Existing students are just finishing the prerequisites needed to enter the upper-level portion of the sustainable science management four-year degree program.
It is not an easy degree, but UH-MC is excited that it is offering something few institutions have been able to assemble, and that Maui and Hawaii will benefit from the college's leadership. (To learn more about the UH-MC sustainable science management program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (808) 984-3709.)
About the authors: Joie Taylor holds a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering from Clark Atlanta University, an master's degree and doctorate in environmental engineering from Cornell University and is a certified renewable energy professional by the Association of Energy Engineers. Tim Botkin received his degrees from James Madison University and the University of Malta, and worked as an environmental lawyer and director of an advanced Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum designed clean energy technology business park. Kristen Freeman received her doctorate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she studied ecology and biogeochemistry and is currently an adjunct faculty member at both UH-MC and San Diego State University.
* Clyde Sakamoto is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka'ana Mana'o, which means "sharing thoughts," is scheduled to appear on the fourth Sunday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH-Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.