GV to offer sustainability-related courses

Ellie Phillips

As “sustainability” becomes more and more the buzz word in all disciplines, Grand Valley State University is looking to accommodate this new interest with fresh courses offered in upcoming semesters. Some classes are tried-and-true courses that have been around for several years, but GVSU is opening enrollment for several new classes as well.

“Most of the classes have existed for a fair amount of time, although we are also constantly developing new courses in response to changing student interests and new scientific advancements,” said Neil MacDonald, chair of the Biology Department at GVSU. “Both students and faculty respond very favorably to these classes.”

Many of these classes are required for Biology, Natural Resources Management, and Environmental Studies students, but most of them are available as general electives as well, and their enrollment is fairly steady.
“Enrollment varies from 70 to 80 in the lower level courses to 15 to 24 in the upper-level classes,” MacDonald said. “Laboratory sections in all the classes range from 16 to 24.”

The number of sustainability-related courses offered by GVSU continues to grow every year, aided by both student enrollment and professors excited about teaching the subject.

“Most of the classes that I teach are sustainability-related, since that’s my area of focus,” said Sarah King, assistant professor of Liberal Studies at GVSU.

Another professor interested in sustainability is particularly excited about her ENS401: Environmental Problem-Solving class.

“GVSU offers many courses addressing various aspects of sustainability—some courses more, some less,” said Elena Lioubimtseva, an Environmental Studies professor. “This course takes students out of the classroom into the local community, working with various organizations, nature centers, the city, etc., on very real sustainability issues and solutions.”

Course additions aren’t the only changes being made in the world of GVSU academic sustainability. A Master’s degree in sustainability is being added to the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies.

“We have recently put together a task force including all colleges (SPNA is a part of it) to create a Master’s program in sustainability to be housed in COIS,” Lioubimtseva said.
There will also be a new sustainability concentration in the Master’s of Public Administration degree.

“The Graduate Certificate in Sustainability in Public and Nonprofit Organizations offers a practical understanding of ecological, energy, climatic and consumption issues impacting communities and nonprofit organizations today,” said Mark Hoffman, assistant professor and department chair for the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration. “It helps professional managers develop a useful decision-making framework for identifying sustainability issues in their organizations, evaluate sustainable choices, and guide decision making that leads to positive social, environmental and financial returns.”

For more information, visit GVSU’s course catalog on the website.
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