CAS to offer three new environmental majors this fall

Chatwan Mongkol, News Editor

In the fall 2021 semester, Quinnipiac University’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) will offer three new bachelor’s degree programs, which are Bachelor of Science in environmental science, Bachelor of Arts in sustainability and environmental policy and a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies.

“These programs were actually all developed at the same time because we see environmental studies as a large cohesive program that involves the curriculum of different majors,” said Mary Paddock, executive director of collaborative for interdisciplinary studies.

Paddock said there are many overlaps in environmental science and sustainability and environmental policy programs’ curriculums because the college wants students in both majors to be in conversation with each other.

Connor Lawless

The emphases of the two majors include environmental science, environmental policy, economics, law, culture and ethics. There will be several experiential learning components such as study abroad programs and on-campus programmings with the Albert Schweitzer Institute (ASI).

For the environmental studies program, it will be a co-major for students who are currently majoring in other fields and want to have a stronger focus on the environment. She said students may not complete this as a stand-alone major.

Paddock said there are currently four students who are working on environmental studies as an independent major. One of the students is senior English and environmental studies double major Anna Ciacciarella.

“I am incredibly pleased that Quinnipiac will now offer three environmental degree programs that prepare students to deal with the environmental challenges of the 21st century,” Ciacciarella said. “The adoption of such programs and the recognition of the environment in the academic curriculum are both long overdue.”

Through the CAS’s independent major program, Ciacciarella said she was able to learn about the effects of climate change, food security and environmental policy. She also held a three-year internship at the ASI.

Ciacciarella is also the president of Students for Environmental Action (SEA). She said it is important for students to learn about the environment both inside and outside the classroom. She hopes the new programs will introduce students to what environmental sustainability really means.

“The average student at QU lacks the knowledge to really understand environmental problems, such as environmental injustice and racism,” Ciacciarella said. “Our job as an institution should be to prepare all students, regardless of major or career path, to address environmental concerns within their discipline.”

Following the program’s experience that shaped her identity, Ciacciarella will attend the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability in the upcoming fall.

“I hope to one day become a professor and research community-led sustainable solutions to food insecurity,” Ciacciarella said.

In terms of faculty for the three new programs, Paddock said CAS plans to draw faculty from different departments on campus, including from departments outside CAS.

One of the reasons is because the new bachelor’s degree programs are interdisciplinary programs that require expertise from many fields. CAS also does not have a specific division for those new majors.

“We don’t have an environmental department, and I don’t think we ever will,” Paddock said.

She explained that the topics discussed in environmental programs are very diverse, so there is no singular department that could staff and run these programs without having to work with other departments.

“It’s conceivable that the home for these programs might one day be a more traditional department, but they will still be managed in the same way,” Paddock said.

Even though most faculty members for new courses are already on the ground and ready to teach in the fall, Paddock said another problem is that more faculty will be needed to replace those teaching in the environmental programs.

“We are going to be hiring this fall,” Paddock said. “We’re going to do a search for an environmental scientist, and we’re going to do a search for a geographer because we don’t have one.”

Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan said the launch of these three programs is an example of the university’s ongoing commitment to advancing environmental sustainability.

“Quinnipiac’s vision and framework defines sustainability in three thematic and strategic areas: learning, living and leading and calls for our community to be a model steward of our natural resources by educating our students, faculty and staff to be proactive in their efforts to advance sustainability in their professional and personal lives,” Morgan said.