What is Sustainability?
Sustainability can be defined as the ability to ensure that society meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The application of the concept of sustainability impacts virtually every part of human existence.
There is a growing consensus in the scientific community that the most urgent need of modern society is the transition to sustainability. The negative social, health, and environmental impacts of society's current unsustainable patterns of resource exploitation and waste disposal are now well documented.
The magnitude and severity of the implications of this global environmental disruption have led many to believe that humankind faces a "sustainability crisis" in which we are approaching the "ecological threshold" of the planet. Research into this field is burgeoning from a variety of scientific disciplines. Good science, however, is not enough to solve these problems.
Active sustainable policy is necessary to implement the latest science and technological solutions. As an institution with significant access to the latest knowledge of both environmental problems and social-technical solutions, Clarion University has both the opportunity and the responsibility to meet this challenge and lead society towards sustainability. It is within this context that Clarion University created a minor in Sustainable Science and Policy.
The minor in sustainable science and policy will provide students already enrolled in Clarion University the opportunity to add a vital skill set and knowledge base to their present baccalaureate degree. This program will also give students added incentive to pursue undergraduate research by providing them with opportunities to work with cutting-edge technology in an applied science and an opportunity to affect the real world in contemporary policy implementation.
This minor compliments established environmental programs because of the focus on students performing interdisciplinary research to find solutions to environmental problems, which are quantified in existing courses. The sustainability science and policy minor also compliments the work of the Pennsylvania Consortium For Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy, an organization comprised of environmental policy makers and universities and colleges devoted to improving environmental policy and understanding through government and academic cooperation that encourages interdisciplinary analysis and discourse.
The minor will allow graduates to synthesize the analytical skills of scientific disciplines with the policy skills necessary to navigate the real world of politics, which often trump the hard facts delivered by science. Minoring in sustainable science and policy will enhance the graduates' chances of obtaining jobs not only in Pennsylvania's businesses, which are taking an active role in ‘greening' their production to save money and enhance their public image, but also for positions in the Pennsylvania government and many non-profit organizations.
The minor is built around an existing set of environmental focused courses offered at and consists of five parts:
i) An introductory course in physics of energy and the environment
ii) Two elective courses in sustainable science
iii) Two elective courses in sustainable policy
iv) At least one credit of research in either sustainable science or policy
v) A capstone seminar on environment and society in their senior year.
See Checksheet for a complete list of requirements and electives.
Clarion's First Green Buildings
The proposed minor is a first step by the Clarion University in ‘branding' itself as the premier school in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education for applied environmental studies in both science and policy. The sustainability science and policy minor is housed in the new Science and Technology Center, which is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. . This building is the flagship of a new era in both technically and environmentally superior buildings for Clarion University and the Commonwealth. Hopefully, this minor will serve as a model for sister institutions seeking to encourage their students to learn advanced skills for science research and policy implementation.
Recently the Physics Department won a Energy Harvest grant to integrate solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new building.
In addition, the Clarion administration has committed to having the new Biotechnology Business Center and Incubator building silver LEED certified. Campus View and Valley View suites have received Silver LEED certification.
Jobs in Sustainable Science and Policy
It has never been easier to start a solid career in sustainable science and policy.
Below is just a small list of some of the types of careers in which you can be involved.
secondary school focusing on outdoor/environmental issues through literature, science, history, and politics
at an environmental center or Outdoor Center Management Consultant focusing on corporate challenge and development
Outdoor Trip Leader -
Outward Bound, National Outdoor Leadership School, or similar program; Program director/manager for outdoor center, environmental center, environmental organization, conservation group
University setting, private foundation, environmental organization, state or federal government, lobbyist for an environmental organization, conservation group, PIRG, green company, foundation
working for an environmental consulting firm, environmental organization, conservation group, state or federal government
working for an environmental consulting firm, environmental organization, conservation group, state or federal government Urban Planner/Architect working on a state or local level
Forest Ranger -
working for state or federal government fund raiser for an environmental organization, conservation group, foundation researcher for an environmental organization, conservation group.
Other places for good sustainability jobs: