PAUL SMITHS - Officials at Paul Smiths College have announced plans to offer a new degree program for students looking to make a career out of going green.
The new major in natural resources sustainability will produce graduates with the tools needed to compete for a growing number of jobs that call for skills spanning the sciences, business and policy. "Whether it's green construction, sustainable agriculture or energy development, we'll be providing students with hands-on experiences as they develop the skills they'll need to lead this growing conversation on sustainability," said Dr. David Patrick, a Paul Smith's College professor who is coordinator of the new program.
According to Patrick, more and more companies are seeking consultants and staff who can help their organization become more eco-friendly and less energy-dependent while simultaneously improving their bottom line.
"It's an area in which the possibilities are growing incredibly rapidly," he said, "and one of the things as a college we need to do is be adaptable and to make sure we're providing for the needs of our students."
A 2009 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts seems to back Patrick's claim, noting jobs in the clean energy economy grew two-and-a-half times faster in the U.S. than all other jobs between 1998 and 2007, and many expect that expansion to continue.
"A good number of students have expressed interest," said Patrick, noting two prospective students have already submitted applications to pursue the degree. As many as 60 students are expected to enroll in the program within a few years.
Paul Smiths is an ideal place to study sustainability, said Patrick, mainly because the interdisciplinary field fits in well with its major existing programs, which focus on ecological sciences, natural resource management, and business.
Also, being in the Adirondacks will allow sustainability students to be exposed to the many real-life efforts in green construction and business practices found here and the people who helped implement them, Patrick added, thereby supporting the college's mission of experiential learning.
Introduction of the new degree follows a host of sustainability measures taken by Paul Smith's College in recent years. College officials have pledged to eventually eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, and all new construction, including a new residence hall currently being added, is to be built to LEED standards.
"We want to make sustainability what we teach," said Patrick; "that it becomes a part of our ethos, and it's not just some information that we're transferring."