by Shirley Fenlason

Sustainability and the environment are hot topics these days. Have you thought about turning this interest into an education choice? Inside Higher Ed just published “Schools of Sustainability, Colleges of the Environment” highlighting universities that are establishing colleges or programs in these multi-disciplinary areas. Green and energy degrees incorporate diverse fields of study for students and prepare them for careers in a variety of industries. The report gives examples of such program options including those at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Their degrees include ecosystems and human impact, business management with a specialization in sustainable business, and environmental design, policy, and planning. You can also check out examples in Section 1 of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education‘s most recent report that highlights 66, new-in 2008 “sustainability-focused academic programs.”


So what programs are available in Minnesota?


The University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities‘ campus offers a Sustainability Studies minor that is housed in the U of M’s Institute on the Environment (IonE). You can sign up for the IonE newsletters and publications to keep current with what’s happening here in Minnesota.


Several colleges within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system also offer programs.  I wrote about some options in my July 1 blog post. Last week, new programs were announced by the System. Starting this fall nine colleges will be offering a two-year energy technical specialist  degree that will prepare students for employment in either traditional or renewable energy industries. If you’re interested in short-term training, check out the new “16-credit certificate in one of four specialties – ethanol production, biodiesel production, wind turbine maintenance, and solar energy assessment. The certificate programs, which can be completed in as little as one semester, will be available online.”


The energy technical specialist degree will be offered at Alexandria Technical College, Century College, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, South Central College, St. Cloud Technical College and four colleges of the Northeast Higher Education District – Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range Community and Technical College and Vermilion College.” If you’re interested in this program or one of the certificate programs, email recruitment specialist Carol Hegna at