Feb 142010
 
Authors: K.C. Fleming

CSU could have a new academic department if university researcher John Moore has his way.

Moore, the director of CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL), has been lobbying the university’s administration to create the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability.

The College Curriculum Committee will decide the proposed department’s future on March 8. If approved, the department will offer baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees in ecosystem science and sustainability.

In 2009, Moore was granted $130,000 by the Provost’s Office to develop courses for the major, which have been offered to students on an experimental basis. He was given another $150,000 this year, which he has not yet spent.

The proposed department would bridge a gap between science and activism to focus on green issues. While existing departments already offer some of the coursework required for the degrees, Moore said his proposed department would have a more hands-on approach.

“There would be some overlap, and we’d definitely draw from those disciplines,” Moore said. “But we want to be careful because I don’t want it to be viewed as competing with other disciplines. I would hope that it really compliments what they’re doing.”

Many researchers at CSU see a clear need for a department that addresses today’s growing environmental movement.

“I think (CSU) needs a sort of new framing of how we do education, and I think as you look at climate change, issues related to elimination of poverty, a lot of these things deal with environmental issues,” said Denis Ojima, senior NREL research scientist and CSU professor said.

“There’s a desire for undergraduates today to be involved in something more than just bookwork; to really get out, be engaged with the community, be involved, explore a career that they can see is relevant to them,” Moore said.

If the department is approved, Moore said he is unsure of how long it will take to implement because of several obstacles –– creating a comprehensive curriculum and gathering the finances necessary for launching the department.

Staff writer K.C. Fleming can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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