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ESF to Launch First Online Bachelor's Degree
New York Ag Connection - 01/21/2019

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is preparing to launch its first online bachelor's degree - a program in sustainability management that prepares students for entry-level jobs or mid-career opportunities in the growing field of sustainability.

The program, which will enroll its first students in the fall of 2019, is designed for transfer students. They will take courses typically offered during the third and fourth years of a four-year undergraduate program, and, upon completion, earn a Bachelor of Science degree.

Dr. Ernest Nkansah-Dwamena, a visiting assistant professor recently hired to help deliver the online program, said students who pursue the online degree will be part of preserving Earth for generations to come.

"It is easy to believe that someone else will save our planet," he said. "In reality, you are the one to save it for future generations. From climate change to sustainable urbanism, renewable energy to action planning, thinking differently will be what saves our world. Leveraging the knowledge you acquire today will make a difference in tomorrow's society. It is your time to create a sustainable future."

Dr. Charles Spuches, dean of the ESF Open Academy, which administers the online program, said the sustainability management degree will prepare graduates for a wide range of career positions in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

"Those career options will only expand as sustainability becomes more of a focus for governmental agencies and industries of all types," Spuches said.

Students who graduate from the program will be qualified for jobs such as sustainability coordinator, consultant or process manager. They could work in sustainable design or corporate social responsibility and sustainability. They could also be employed as industrial ecologists.

Sustainability management integrates knowledge, skills and perspectives based on the three pillars of sustainability: economics, society and the environment. The ESF program emphasizes environmental dimensions of sustainability and their interdependence with socially and economically viable policies and practices. Students who have received a broad and flexible foundation during their first two years of college study will delve into specialized sustainability coursework in the online program.

"Social, environmental, and economic dimensions of climate change, population growth, and other pervasive challenges will require ongoing leadership and mitigation," Spuches said. "This bachelor's degree is a timely and relevant education for career opportunity and growth, as well as for an empowered citizenry who can effect positive change, locally, and globally. This field has an estimated 5 percent expected growth through 2024 in the United States. Moreover, this program's knowledge, skills, and specialized focus will prepare individuals who are employable in a broad range of roles and contexts."

The new program represents ESF's commitment to serve New York's SUNY and CUNY community college students and others, including those interested in earning a second bachelor's degree, who want to pursue academic and professional advancement in the area of sustainability management.

The program is part of a larger effort to make online education an integrated part of ESF's academic and professional programs. The effort includes contributions from eight full-time ESF faculty members who have been part of the curriculum design and course development work, which has been supported by SUNY funding. The college has also added two staff members in addition to Nkansah-Dwamena. They are Ashley Gouger, a full-time instructional designer, and Kathy Lang, who serves half time as the ESF online education program coordinator.

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