Teaching Students Sustainability

Every day we hear about how the climate is changing. We hear how CO2 emissions and our fossil fuel dependence continue to rise every day. Not only the environment, but hearing about third world countries suffering has become a norm. The worst thing is that people do not realize that we can change the way we live and do business. We just need educated people to take a stand and make a difference.

In the curriculum seminar, the four professors not only explained what sustainability courses and majors are available but why they are necessary. I think one of the coolest aspects of the sustainability curriculum is that it is completely interdisciplinary.  With engineers, management, and humanities all including sustainability, I believe students obtain the opportunity to see the world differently. But the most important aspects of offering a sustainability curriculum is that allows students to have a chance to understand the demand for sustainability all over the world.

The professor’s speech that caught my attention the most was Tammy Hiller’s sustainability management curriculum. Instead of just discussing what the classes are and what they offer students, she explained why sustainability is essential to our society today and in the future. The part that stood out to me was that she acknowledged that a lot of businesses ignore ethics and focus only on the bottom lime However, Hiller emphasized how many companies are shifting and starting to focus on sustainable operations because it is the ethical thing to do, not just because it increases profit. But even if it is profit driven, it is still a step in the right direction. This really impressed me because I think she is being realistic. Many people view an act as ethical only when there is sacrifice involved. In reality, the end result of the ethical action is still good, it is just that the person or organization had an additional incentive to choose to act unethically. The additional incentive does not eradicate the righteousness of the act, it just facilitates the decision process.

After hearing Tammy Hiller discuss the management curriculum and how it can help change the way students see the world, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “But what job can you get with a sustainability management major?” As a result, when the Q and A opportunity came up I was the first to raise my hand. After asking Tammy, I was really surprised by her answer. She said that a sustainability management major would be able to get any job like the others. The advantage would be that they would think differently and have a higher demand to go into a sustainability department of a business. She further explained that the businesses all over the world are implementing “sustainability departments” because they know the future demands it. With this in mind, she explained that sustainability major would have the advantage of an education that emphasis sustainability practices.  In addition, she explained this major gives students the opportunity to work for large non-profit or NGO organization to gain insight and experience in a particular sustainability field. Then, if they do not like the operations or want to become involved in something else, they could start their own company and make a difference in the world in the way they want to.



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