Sustainability academic programs at the University of Arkansas are growing to accommodate the increased interest in sustainability issues across our economy. The goal of the University of Arkansas Sustainability Program is to become a global leader in sustainability education, knowledge generation, and outreach. The last five years have seen progress with the addition of the undergraduate minor, a graduate certificate, and a number of successful summer Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs. The Sustainability Minor has become one of the top 10 undergraduate minors, as students from an ever wider collection of majors and disciplines choose to add a focus on sustainability to their academic path.
The U of A Sustainability Minor requires three courses in addition to three elective courses from a portfolio of almost 100 technical electives from a broad range of disciplines. The required courses provide a common body of knowledge for students, and include Foundations of Sustainability (SUST 1103), Applications of Sustainability (SUST 2103), and Capstone Experience in Sustainability (SUST 4103). Enrollment in the minor has steadily increased since it became available in 2011. In 2016 the Sustainability Minor was again ranked among the top 10 most popular minors at the University of Arkansas.
SUSTAINABILITY GRADUATE CERTIFICATE
The University of Arkansas Graduate Certificate in Sustainability is open to any student admitted to the Graduate School, and is achieved by completing one required course and four electives from a variety of disciplines. The Graduate Certificate was created in 2012 to provide an opportunity for graduate students and working professionals to expand their competency in the science of sustainability.
For the past eight years, the U of A has hosted an Ecological Research Experience for Undergraduates (EcoREU) program. The program focuses on sustainable agricultural systems, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and sustainable management and assessment of ecosystem services, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This summer, the EcoREU undertook a project in partnership with the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC) to meet the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC)’s request for help in their Whitmore Food Hub. The agricultural facility in Whitmore, Oahu aims to transform the former Dole plantation facility into a high-tech facility to support local farmers. The EcoREU students laid a foundation which the UACDC has used to develop a Master Plan for the transformation of the Whitmore facility.