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ND creates two new environmental minors for fall 2011 semester

Emily Schrank | Friday, March 25, 2011

In response to students’ growing concern over environmental issues, the University announced the creation two new minors, Energy Studies and Sustainability, each of which will be offered to all undergraduate students beginning in the fall of 2011.

Rebecca Hicks, research, education and outreach program manager for the Notre Dame Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI), will oversee the Energy Studies minor. Assistant research professor of biological sciences Maria Miglietta will serve as the director of the Sustainability minor.

Hicks said the Energy Studies minor was developed by a committee of students and faculty members who conducted a survey of student interest and determined what courses would be appropriate for the minor.

“After examining all of this information, they concluded the minor should be open to all students on campus,” she said. “It will have both a technical track and a non-technical track to meet the needs and interests of as many students as possible.”

Hicks said the Energy Studies minor is being offered for two key reasons.

“First, meeting the world’s energy demands in an environmentally responsible fashion is arguably one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century,” she said. “We feel that to meet this challenge, Notre Dame must play a key role in preparing leaders from all disciplines who understand the complexity of it.”

Stewardship of the earth is an important component of the Catholic faith and provided another reason to create the minor, Hicks said.

She said many students have already taken an interest in the Energy Studies minor.

“We want to be sure those interests are met with a valuable, systematic course of study that will provide key information needed for students to be both well-informed citizens and leaders in solving energy challenges,” Hicks said.

Miglietta said a team of faculty members from various University departments collaborated to develop the Sustainability minor.

“They put their vision into a proposal that was approved by the College of Science Council and by the University Academic Council this past fall,” she said.

Miglietta said students enrolled in the minor will be required to take a gateway course in “Principles of Sustainability” and submit a plan for a capstone experience involving research, service learning or a campus project.

The minor will prepare students to serve as leaders in their communities by making constructive contributions to the development of more sustainable practices, she said.

“Sustainability implies meeting current human needs in a way that preserves natural capital for future generations,” she said. “One of the greatest challenges we face is thus establishing a new relationship with the environment.”

Miglietta said she expects that the minor will attract a group of diverse students from all majors with a common interest in environmental issues and sustainable development.

Students interested in both the Energy Studies and Sustainability minors may contact Hicks and Miglietta for more information and to discuss course selection and approval.