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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Green Corner

A fairly recent and largely under-exploited addition to the UMass Boston campus is the Environmental Studies Program. First begun in the 1990’s, the program received a breath of fresh air in the fall of 2001 when it was taken over by Daniel Brabander and Robert Beattie. They revolutionized the program to give a broader understanding of current environmental problems to students across a wide variety of majors. The strategy seems to be paying off. By posting the classes offered and through student word of mouth, enrollment trends show an increase of 63% in the past three semesters.

The Environmental Studies Program is a program of study that aims to help students understand the underlying causes of today’s environmental problems. It allows students to examine possible solutions to these problems based in actual environmental science, as well as from a policy standpoint.

Students enrolled in the program have the option to study in one of two tracks. The Environmental Science track is designed for students in the natural sciences, while the Environment and Society track is geared toward students in the social sciences and humanities. The latter track is designed with political science, philosophy, literature and even art students in mind.

In addition to Environmental Studies 101, the core requirements include foundation courses in Biology, Economics, Social and Physical Sciences, as well as an Internship and Capstone course. The capstone course is conducted in a small seminar setting where students analyze a particular environmental problem, usually associated with the school or immediate community. The course serves to teach students to take into account all aspects of a particular problem, including the technical, social and political hurdles involved in its solving. In some cases, a plan of action will be developed to deal with any policy changes or other necessary initiatives.

Past capstone courses include a 1998 project analyzing the recycling programs on campus as well as an assessment of transportation habits of students and how that may affect the environment in 1999. The recycling project resulted in recommendations for increasing the percent of materials diverted from our conventional waste system. Since then, many of the student recommendations have been implemented throughout the campus.

In 2002, students finishing the program were looking to determine the environmental impact of the UMass BEST Center, a proposed environmental science and technology research center to be housed in a historic building near the campus.

Students spent the early part of the semester reading about the history and goals of Environmental Impact Reports (EIR’s) at the federal and state levels, then reviewed the specific regulatory requirements for EIR’s here in Massachusetts. This guided them in their research and the writing of their proposal, which was ultimately presented to the UMass community. Faculty, deans, and administrators responsible for making a final decision on the proposed BEST Center attended the poster session, and discussed the findings with the students.

For more information or to join the Environmental Studies Program, contact Daniel Brabander or Robert Beattie in the ENVSTY office Science-1-060.

About Ourselves….

By Anthony Coviello and Tyler M. Evans

As part of completing our program in environmental studies, we both had to fulfill an internship requirement. After discussing our options with our program advisor, we decided on resurrecting a column in The Mass Media known as the Green Corner.

In this capacity, we hope to bring the students of UMass Boston information on events and research taking place locally in relation to the environment. We’ll be counting down to Earth Week and bringing you up to date on student/faculty research on campus. Our first article is a little about the Environmental Studies Program itself. Now, students can get their weekly dose of “greens” all on one page.