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SUSTAINABLE STUDIES: Green Courses Offered

Colleges and universities across the country are taking steps to make campuses more environmentally friendly. Now, a couple in central Iowa are making the curriculum greener.

Shannon Schmidt is majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. She says, “And I’m looking at grad school. I’m looking into environmental health sciences or something like that.”

This year, she added something to her course load at Central College in Pella. She declared a minor in Global Sustainability. Global Sustainability Education Coordinator Jim Zaffiro says, “Many students, including some freshmen, are looking at it already.”

He says sustainability means meeting our current needs without compromising the needs of future generations.  He says the minor is for students who already have a clear career path, but are also interested in the world around them. He says, “The purpose is really for them to find ways of building sustainability into those careers, to be able to go out into the real world.”

Students minoring in global sustainability must take 12 to 15 credit hours and participate in a community service project. The college offers more than twenty sustainability courses covering everything from the environment to economic and social justice.

Central College started offering the Global Sustainability minor in the fall. So far a handful declared it as a minor, but Zaffiro says more will in the future. He says, “One of the things we hope to do yet this spring is just to give it a little more visibility, publicize it so students know it’s there. We expect more.”

Zaffiro says students should consider the course of study. He says the corporate world is looking for sustainable solutions and employees with the tools to do the job. He says, “To have new employees come in with knowledge and skill set and just awareness of some of the issues and problems, as well as the solutions, gives them an added edge in terms to employability.”

Schmidt says she hopes that edge helps in her job search after graduation.

Iowa State University also started offering the minor this year.  So far, about ten people have signed up. But, ISU’s coordinator for the program says many more have shown interest.

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