Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma University Adds Sustainability Degree Option

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma University Adds Sustainability Degree Option

Article excerpt

Sustainability, which used to be a fancy word for recycling and conservation, has turned into a college degree.

As every major university in the state is adding an energy- related degree program, the University of Oklahoma is creating a curriculum for a master of science in environmental sustainability.

Professor Aondover Tarhule, chairman of the OU Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability, said this week that he and his colleagues came up with the curriculum as they were thinking about the needs of the next generation of students.

Tarhule said they created the specialized degree program because there wasn't a single department that addressed sustainability as a whole.

"When you are looking at climate change, water resources, urbanization and biodiversity, these issues are not handled in any one department, not legal, not climatological, not economics," he said. "So we figured we needed a whole new paradigm, a cross-sector approach to education that didn't already exist."

In addition to courses on theories of sustainability, students also must take courses in environmental law, renewable energy, geographic information systems and corporate environmental strategy.

Chris Goldsby, Nabholz Construction's local executive vice president, said he would definitely hire someone with a sustainability degree. In fact, the Conway, Ark.-based company's first sustainability director didn't have a background in architecture.

Her role was to reduce waste and wasted energy within the company. She helped employees reduce paper usage, reuse oil in generators and other equipment and use thermal imaging equipment to find energy leaks in the company's own buildings. Eventually, the company marketed the energy-efficiency service to its own clients.

Goldsby said he thinks there will be more opportunities in the future for those types of positions.

"People are starting to appreciate the world we live in and know we (have) to take care of it or be in trouble," Goldsby said. …

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