University of Kentucky - Environmental & Sustainability Program

ID# 000743
Lexington, KY 40506
United States
859-257-9000 (Main Phone)
The Bachelor of Arts Major in Environmental & Sustainability Studies (ENS) is an important addition to the University’s Degree possibilities. Students can obtain the ENS B.A. as a stand-alone degree or as a second Major with any other department or discipline-specific B.A. or B.S. degree. Importantly, the ENS B.A. will be a means by which humanities and social science students can obtain a basic understanding of natural and physical science content relevant to a broad range of environmental and sustainability topics.

Environmental & Sustainability Studies is a relatively new academic program. The term “sustainable development” formally appeared for the first time in 1980 and obtained its modern definition in 1987 in the United Nation’s World Commission on Environment and Development (known more commonly as the Bruntland Commission after the Chairman, Gro Harlem Brundtland). ENS as an academic discipline hasn’t really changed but has evolved over the years to reflect the interdependence and relationships among economics, environment, and society. These are called the three “pillars” of sustainability and correspond to the three Areas of Expertise within the ENS B.A Curriculum. While sustainability subjects are appropriate within disciplinary degrees there is a significant need for students to obtain a deep understanding of this subject and the ramifications of unsustainable activities towards the future of humanity and the ecosystems of the earth. The ENS B.A. degree will educate students in a broad range of fundamental environmental studies subjects with concepts of sustainability integrated throughout the curriculum. The programmatic focus on sustainability will place the University at the forefront of degree programs offering courses in this new, critical area of academic endeavor.

Flexibility is one of the more important attributes a college graduate will need “given the dynamic nature of the U.S. labor market and ongoing technological change.” (Jobs of Tomorrow). The ENS B.A. is designed so that students can select thematic clusters of courses specific to their own career aspirations. These courses, along with the Core requirements, will provide ENS graduates with the expertise in sustainability and broad-based knowledge of environmental issues necessary to pursue meaningful careers in a job market where “flexibility is key”.

ENS students will obtain the fundamental knowledge required to understand the relationships that exist between the global economy, societal problems and needs, and the natural world. The program will develop the critical thinking, communication, and independent study skills necessary for students to pursue lifestyles and careers that are ecologically viable, socially desirable, and economically feasible. ENS students will be uniquely prepared to participate in the rapidly expanding “Green Economy” (see Careers). The ENS Program will be an important component of the College of Arts & Sciences goal of being defined by the characteristics: innovative preparation for life and career, multidisciplinary scholarly research, connectivity with the world, and substantive community involvement (Ampersand: Envision 2020, Fall 2010).
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