By Nima Kapadia
As college students make their way to campuses across the nation for the fall semester, many are thinking ahead to future careers in business, teaching, technology or sustainability. Sustainability?
Yes, says Arizona State University graduate student Brigitte Bavousett Hill, who hopes to use her Master’s Degree in Sustainability to help other countries lower their carbon footprints. Absolutely, says Carolyn Mattick, who is in the same program and wants to educate others about the impact of technology on the environment.
With experts predicting a boom in newly created green jobs, Bavousett Hill and Mattick are among a group of students who are making a green degree the starting point for a professional career. Green degree programs have so quickly become a trend that the Princeton Review began rating them this year.
The AASHE, which stands for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of universities offering green degrees. Since 2006, the number has increased from a handful to several hundred in the U.S., says Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director for AASHE.
“We’re seeing what impact movies such as An Inconvenient Truth can have on our society,” said Dautremont-Smith. “We’re also beginning to see that students are showing a demand to learn about environmental issues and that business have a demand to hire people with this knowledge.”
As students get ready to return to campus, the ecology-minded will have a vast menu of choices, from classes on green architecture to green engineering, to “green” curricula leading to degrees in sustainability and even a green MBA.
According to Dautremont-Smith, the green MBA programs are relatively new. Only three universities offer the program, including Dominican University of California featured below. Other universities offer a green twist to existing majors.
Here’s a look at three universities with strong green programs: Arizona State University (recognized by Princeton Review as among the top green colleges), Michigan State University ( a two-time winner of the AASHE Campus Sustainability Award) and Dominican University of California (which adopted the idea of producing leaders in sustainability with it’s MBA degree). Each school has been recognized by AASHE and other environmental groups for their curriculum.
Arizona State University School of Sustainability
Carolyn Mattick and Brigitte Bavousett Hill are both in their second year at ASU pursuing a Master’s in Sustainability.
They will the first graduates of ASU’s School of Sustainability, which was established in 2007 and is a part of the Global Institute of Sustainability.
Dr. Charles Redman is the director of the master’s program whose mission includes: “training a new generation of scholars and practitioners, and developing practical solutions to some of the most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges of sustainability.
The definition of sustainability varies among the students, but carries the central theme of the present affecting the future. Bavousett Hill defines sustainability with a quote from Sir Crispin Tickell, who serves on the Board of Directors for the School: “Treating the Earth as we intended to stay.”
Bavousett Hill, whose research interests include helping corporations to lower their carbon footprints, originally has a theater background. She performed onstage at various venues in Dallas, where she once lived. Always supportive of conservation and environmental practices, Bavousett Hill syas she felt a degree in sustainability would be a good intersection of her interests.