In fall 2012, Tennessee Tech University plans to offer a bachelor’s degree in one of the fast-growing sectors of the job market in the state.
The Tennessee Higher Education Commission recently approved an undergraduate degree in environmental and sustainability studies at TTU.
TTU already has a doctoral program in environmental studies, and the new programs are expected to be popular with current and incoming students, according to Dennis George, director of the programs and the university’s Center for the Management, Utilization and Protection of Water Resources.
“When you look at the major issues facing not only Tennessee but the United States and the world, environmental issues are going to be at the forefront of where jobs are going to be available,” George said. “We have strength in this area and we’re going to offer degrees in this area.”
Nearly two years in development, the program combines disciplines and courses already in existence at TTU, including economics, engineering, sociology, biology and chemistry. Additional classes in environmental law are in development. George said he expects at least 100 undergraduates to be enrolled in the program within the first five years.
“It is meant to merge the sciences with environmental technology, leadership, sociology and communications to work together to solve real life problems,” said George, who also chaired the curriculum development committee. “It’s our philosophy that through interdisciplinary approaches, you get better answers.”
Tourism is one of the biggest sectors of the state’s economy and preserving the natural resources that bring in billions of dollars every year is an ever-present issue.
“Tennessee is one of the highest diversity states in the nation; Tennesseans have a lot to protect,” he said. “We’re looking to produce people who are aware of these issues and can do something in the future to protect it.”