In the classroom, sustainability has a broad meaning that touches a wide array of disciplines and methodological approaches. It is an over-arching concept that embraces the ideas of financial security, social justice, and environmental responsibility. Education can provide students with a sense of environmental and social citizenship, and with the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively for sustainability.
Building on the university’s impressive expanse of academic expertise, infrastructure, and archival resources, UTPA’s present efforts with sustainability in curriculum extend across all of its six colleges. Currently, a review of UTPA’s catalogue indicates there are approximately 105 courses offered that have sustainability content. These can build the foundation on which coordinated and integrated sustainability programs can grow. The University of Texas System can make this academic initiative a reality, and appears ready given the support it offers in response to student body requests.
Over the past year, a number of new educational efforts related to sustainability have been initiated at the level of student residential and cultural life, showing a growing interest among our student body. The College of Science and Engineering has developed an undergraduate degree program in environmental science, an interdisciplinary program with cooperation from the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, and Math. Students will receive a solid background in all sciences, but specific emphasis in environmental biology, chemistry, and geology. Also in the College of Science and Engineering, students can minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and receive sustainability content, or they can minor in Environmental Studies from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
The College of Education is pursuing a graduate program in Psychology and Technology, with a concentration in Sustainability. The combination of educational research, teacher-training, and outreach to K-12 teachers in the Rio Grande Valley that is offered at UTPA offers an opportunity to bring sustainability research to address the mission of service to the state of Texas and to show a developing interest in concepts of sustainability to the next generation of university students.
Find out which courses have sustainability content by college by clicking here.
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