SRU launches Certificate in Sustainability


sustainability students working outside

Feb. 24, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University has launched a 12-credit certificate in sustainability that targets non-environmental majors and includes a service component as part of its capstone course.

The program consolidates 30 existing courses into classes offered within the categories of environmental stewardship, social responsibility and economic prosperity. Students must pass one course from at least two of the three categories and complete the capstone experience to receive the certificate.

The new program aims to give graduates an edge when interviewing for jobs since many corporations need a greening coordinator, even in industries such as theatre. Professors from different departments, including geography, biology, parks and recreation, economics, history and philosophy will teach the classes.

"Graduating with a sustainability certificate on your transcript - and being able to converse intelligently on the subject - would give new graduates an edge when interviewing for just about any job," said Paul Scanlon, special assistant to the president for suitability planning and operations.

"Many major corporations now have a 'Corporate Sustainability Officer' or someone in senior management coordinating their sustainability efforts, including recycling and waste minimization - because it's not only good for the environment - and our combined future, but it's good corporate public relations and good for their bottom line," he said.

The certificate is a product of the President's Commission on Sustainability.

"The idea was to develop an interdisciplinary program to give students across campus the opportunity to learn more about sustainability," said Langdon Smith, professor of geography, geology and the environment. "Increasing the number of courses with a sustainability component has also been a goal of SRU's strategic plan."

langdon smith


Smith said the program outreaches to students in all majors. Most environment and science majors take many of the courses, so he hopes to reach students in the humanities, business and other programs.

He also hopes the new certificate will raise awareness and talk about sustainability on campus. Sustainability merges sound environmental policy with good economics.

Courses in environmental stewardship category are: "Environmental Biology," "Conservation Biology," "Ecology, "Environmental Geology," "Oceanography," "Science, Technology and the Environment," "Introduction to Environmental Problems," "Conservation," "Earth's Changing Climate" and "Foundations of Sustainability."

Courses in social responsibility category are: "Literature of Sustainability Development," "Planning for Sustainability Communities," "Environmental Law and Policy," "Environmental Justice," "Americans and the Environment," "Civil Engagement and Community Decision-Making, "Community Change and Development," "Social and Ethical Issues in Philanthropy and Fundraising," "Applied Anthropology," "Environmental Ethics" and "Social and Political Philosophy."

Courses in economic prosperity are: "Economics of Sustainable Development," Environmental Economic Geography," "Sustainability in the Hospital Industry," "Ecotourism," "Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry," "Ecotourism," "Sustainable Planning for Tourism," "Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Innovation", "Sustainable Business Consulting" and "Business Ethics."

The capstone course is "Principles of Sustainability."

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