Today: Jul 23, 2024

Sustainability initiatives create jobs

Monica Szakacs, News Writer:
Southern, along with the other three Universities of the Connecticut State University System, has stepped up its programs in Environmental Studies to focus on potential emerging “green” jobs and technology.
Towns are hiring sustainability coordinators, according to Susan Cusato, science education and environmental studies department chairpersons and associate professors.
“New Haven has a sustainability coordinator and some of the Universities,” said Cusato. “Some are full time jobs and some are assignments that teachers are getting within school districts, but it’s a new position that wasn’t there 10 years ago in industry and public offices.”

Environmental Studies professors will help build the program at Southern.
Vincent Breslin, science educa¬tion and environmental studies pro¬fessor, said he suspects in other areas, green jobs are in support of green technologies.
“This includes the development of wind power, solar energy, alter¬native heating systems, you could be insulating homes, energy auditing,” said Breslin. “Certainly those kinds of things qualify as green jobs.”
Professor Suzanne Huminski said these jobs are not necessarily a focus at Southern even though they are well emerging in the future. She said the community colleges have taken that on as part of their mission to develop training.
“The graduate environmental program here is really unique,” said Huminski, who earned her masters of science in environmental education from Southern. “There is only a small handful in New England that train teachers or they can earn a master’s degree in environmental education.”
The undergraduate program offers anyone in any other major the opportunity to have a minor in environmental studies or marine studies, according to Huminski. The curriculum would prepare students to be environmentally aware citizens upon graduating, said Breslin.
“That concept here means,” said Huminski, “that any job can be a green job in a way because students will have, whether you are a teacher or economics major or business major, the background, skill and the
knowledge to make decisions about the environment.”
There are a number of departments on campus, according to Cusato, that are interested in developing courses that integrate environmental studies.
“I know for example, geography is aligning some of their courses with environmental related topics,” said Cusato. “It’s timely, I mean even in some of the research interest and biology faculty, so it’s out there on a global scale.”
Cusato said she thinks a number of programs will develop courses, because students are interested in the field. Breslin said for other departments to develop these types of courses depends somewhat on the resources that are being made available from the university and the state.
“For the university to develop additional programs or to develop majors for minors, we would probably need additional faculty members in order to do that,” said Breslin. “It would depend on administrative as well as state support and funding.”
Cusato said there are two things to think about when it comes to the future of green jobs. She said there are actual jobs considered green, and then there are green components to existing jobs where people have to act in a greener fashion.
“If you are in the industry, you might be a chemical engineer and that may be your training,” said Cusato, “but now you’ve been told you have to adhere to certain regulations either about your emissions or your recycling, and somebody has to coordinate that.”
Sustainability is permeating all the employment agencies in the state, according to Cusato, because everybody needs to save money, if not for greener reasons then for fiscal reasons. She also said people are now interested in where their stocks are being bought, such as if they are invested in green companies or companies that pollute, so businesses have to be aware.
Southern is also coordinating different programs to promote environmental and sustainability awareness for the students. Huminski said there is a recycling program on campus. She also teaches Inquiry 101 as part of the First-Year Experience program, in which her students work with Heather Stearns, recycling director, and promote recycling on campus as part of their class. This week, Huminski will also incorporate the campus garden into her curriculum, because it has been reseeded and taken better care of over the past year.
“The program gets students to think about sustainability as a part of the learning experience,” said Huminski. “The course is part of the environmental learning communities that students can decide to be a part of for the First-Year Experience as a theme for their work.”

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