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Sustainability Studies

Coordinator: Can B. Aktas, Ph.D.

“Live in the moment.”  “Live like there’s no tomorrow.” And the all-time favorite:  “You can’t take it with you.”  All sound advice for the type of personality that frets over the past or worries about the future.  But in terms of the earth, its resources, and the future generations who will need them, it’s misguided. In the late 20th century, the modern concept of sustainability began to address the reality that the activities of the present generation must take into account the needs of future generations.  Our program will give you a thorough education in this urgent but complex issue and prepare you to make a contribution in one of the most important fields of the 21st century. 

Understand the trans-disciplinary nature of the issue.

Sustainability is a multi-faceted issue, since the problem of dwindling natural resources must be balanced with the needs of the present generation for energy, food, health, shelter, and transportation.

In a nutshell, there are three main aspects of sustainability:  environmental, social, and economic.  Our course curriculum pulls in all of these perspectives so that you can understand how they interact with each other in successful ways and unsuccessful ones. 

At the same time, you’ll develop an understanding of the vision and methodology for successfully balancing competing interests in order to accomplish the ultimate goal — human well-being and security, now and years from now.

Learn from a trans-disciplinary faculty.

Your instructors hail from all the disciplines that make up the field of sustainability.  They are recognized experts in:

  • Mechanical engineering, including the study of traditional and alternative energy principles and energy efficiency concepts.
  • Civil and environmental engineering, including physical, chemical and biological treatment processes for environmental control, contaminant fate and transport, and sustainable remedial processes
  • Biology and environmental science, with landscape ecology approaches to sea floor ecology, food web ecosystem models for estuarine systems, effects of salt marsh change on coastal ecology, and geographic information systems in environmental assessment
  • Economics and finance, with specialization in international economics, quantitative decision-making, risk-adjusted economic performance, competition policy performance, and anti-competitive practices
  • System and Industrial Engineering, with specialization in product design, the use of sustainability indicators and eco-indictors, decision and policy making for complex socio-technical systems, multinational corporation supply chain and transportation network design. 
  • History and sociology of science and technology, with a research focus on the history of technology use in society 
  • Visual and Performing Arts, with a specialty in drawing, 3D Animation, and sculpture that focuses on environmental design and social commentary 
  • Human resource management, leadership, team building, and multicultural issues in the work place
  • Many other disciplines, including cellular biology, environmental geology, sales management, and entrepreneurship.

Get the hands-on experience that grooms you for a career.

You’ll back up your classroom learning with hands-on practice that lets you apply theory to reality.  Through our required internship or field experience, you’ll get “real life” exposure to sustainability challenges.  In addition, a sequence of two capstone courses will interweave the trans-disciplinary knowledge you’ve acquired with practical, problem-solving experiences.

This kind of experience is the best rehearsal there is for a full-time career after graduation and is often a deal-closer in job interviews.  In fact, Career Opportunity News found that employers give more weight to internships than grade-point average, leadership qualities, or technical skills.

Take a look at the jobs forecast.

Predictions for job growth in the field are quite good.  Connecticut Economic Digest estimates a 16% increase from 2006 in the number of green jobs in Connecticut.  The industry sector expecting the largest increase in “green” employment is management, scientific, and technical consulting services, with a projected increase of 29%.

The Connecticut Economic Digest goes on to say that even though companies will be creating new green jobs, the greening of existing occupations will affect the labor market to a greater extent as companies and consumers become more environmentally conscious.