By Jillian Berman, USA TODAY

Students interested in pursuing a job in sustainability now can choose from a variety of “green” degree programs.With an increased interest in the environment and growth in the “green collar” job sector, colleges and universities are beginning to incorporate sustainability into their programs. From MBAs in sustainable-business practices to programs that give students the technical training necessary to operate wind turbines, students have an increasing array of options to choose from.

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“Clearly, demand is there for these types of workers,” says Marisa Michaud of Eduventures, a higher-education research and consulting firm. “Colleges are seeing that, and they want to provide appropriate educational programs to meet that demand.”

 Concern for the environment is the motivation, says Julian Dautremont-Smith of the Association for Sustainability in Higher Education.

 FIND MORE STORIES IN: University of Pennsylvania | The Princeton Review | Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“The past few years, society as a whole has become increasingly interested in sustainability,” he says. “Higher education has been swept up as well.”

 David Soto of The Princeton Review says student interest is driving colleges to create programs that offer training in sustainability. Two-thirds of students surveyed for the company’s recent “College Hopes and Worries” survey said a college’s “environmental commitment” would be a factor in where they applied.

 “Students are really savvy shoppers these days, so they’re realizing, with a changing economy and green jobs looking to take a leap within the next couple of years, that they want to be armed with those types of skills,” Soto says.

 Green — not greed — is good

 One popular program is an MBA that teaches skills for operating sustainable businesses.

A University of Pennsylvania program that started this year lets students earn an MBA and a master’s in environmental studies at the same time.

“There’s an increasing interest among businesses to take the environment seriously,” says Eric Orts, director of the Wharton School‘s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership at Penn.

 “Our take is you really need to have the science background and some other approaches that are not normally taught in the business school context,” he says.

 Architecture schools are responding to the increased interest in energy-efficient buildings.

 Christoph Reinhart, associate professor of architectural technology at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, says the school’s decision last summer to start offering a concentration in sustainable design was driven by interest from students and changes in the field.

 “Over the past few years, there has been an increased interest and pressure to provide this knowledge in more depth, whereas before, maybe a class would have been sufficient,” he says. “Now there’s an expectation that more of these skills are being learned.”

 Newly minted grads

 Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability graduated its first class in May. The school offers a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science in sustainability as well as a graduate degree.

 Charles Redman, the director of the School of Sustainability, says the school takes an interdisciplinary approach.

Student Drew Bryck says what drew him to the school was the opportunity to study biology, economics and a variety of other fields.

Bryck says he is “fairly confident” his degree will help him land a job because the need for people with a well-rounded background in sustainability is growing, especially in the private sector.

 The program resonates with students, Redman says; 300 undergraduates enrolled the first year it was offered.

 Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., will require all students to take at least one class that explores the human connection to the environment.

Dina El-Mogazi, director of the Campus Greening Initiative, says courses in a variety of disciplines will fulfill the requirement.

We feel that it’s very important, given the current state of the world, that students understand both the way the environment supports human life and the way human decisions” affect the environment’s ability to function.

 A growing number of schools, including community colleges, are training students to operate green technology.

 Kalamazoo (Mich.) Valley Community College will offer a 26-week program starting in October to train students in operating wind turbines.

 Jim DeHaven, vice president for economic and business development at the college, says the school is offering the program to meet the needs of wind farms that are “scrambling” for trained technicians.

 “They can really write their own future at this point because they’re needed at all the wind farms,” he says. “They don’t want us to wait and put people through a two-year program or a one-year certification — they want a fast track to employment.”

 

 

As reported in Bloomberg

By Hans Nichols

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) — President-elect Barack Obama said he’ll make the “single largest new investment” in roads, bridges and public buildings since the Eisenhower Administration to lift the sagging economy and create jobs.

Obama, in his weekly radio speech today, said his plan to create or preserve 2.5 million jobs will also include making public buildings more energy efficient, repairing schools and modernizing health care with electronic medical records.

“We won’t just throw money at the problem,” he said. “We’ll measure progress by the reforms we make and the results we achieve — by the jobs we create, by the energy we save, by whether America is more competitive in the world.”

Obama spoke a day after a government report showed employers in the U.S. slashed 533,000 jobs last month, the biggest decline in 34 years. The losses are “another painful reminder of the serious economic challenge our country is facing,” Obama said.

The speech offered the first details of Obama’s job- creation program. He said the investment in infrastructure will be the largest since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the interstate highway system a half-century ago.

“When Congress reconvenes in January, I look forward to working with them to pass a plan immediately,” he said. Obama takes office as the 44th president on Jan. 20.

Congressional Democrats

With the economy heading toward the longest and deepest recession since World War II, pressure is rising for a spending program that will create new jobs. Congressional Democrats have said they will send Obama an economic stimulus package as soon as he takes office. New York Senator Charles Schumer late last month put the size of such a program at between $500 billion and $700 billion.

In addition to investing in infrastructure, requiring energy standards on public buildings and updating health-care practices, Obama said that he will start a “sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings” and will boost broadband access across America.

To the states that will be the conduits for the funding, he had a simple message: “use it or lose it.”

“If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money,” he said.

Obama’s plan to make public buildings more energy efficient should reduce the government’s energy bill, which he called the highest in the world. He plans to replace heating systems and install energy-efficient light bulbs.

Internet Upgrade

Obama also plans to upgrade Internet infrastructure, calling it “unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption.”

Upgrading health care is the final component of the plan. By introducing new technology and electronic medical records, he said health-care workers could “prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”

Obama, in Chicago for the weekend, has no public events scheduled for today. Tomorrow, he will mark the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor with a news conference in Chicago, according to a statement from his transition team.

Obama will announce his choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs at the news conference, according to a Democratic aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Our Perspective:

President elect Obama is taking huge strides in turning the economy around. Instead of just throwing money at the problem he is investing in our future. This can be the start of something very special.