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The Daily Wildcat


Updated: College of Architecture develops undergrad degree in sustainability

Alex Kulpinski
Ladd Keith, Coordinator of the new Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments Degree at the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning at the University of Arizona. Lydia Stern/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

A new degree in sustainability will be offered next semester in the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture that will allow students to develop an understanding of how the green economy works.

The Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Built Environments is a 120-credit program made up of four concentration areas: design, planning, open space and recreation, sustainable ecosystems, sustainable communities and housing and heritage conservation. While it is housed in the College of Architecture, the degree addresses sustainability in many areas, according to Ladd Keith, the program’s director. This is why it will implement other departments across campus like public health and chemical engineering in order to broaden its area of study.

The degree was started due to a large need for sustainability in the future world of business, Keith said.

“There’s a huge need for sustainability currently with all of the climate change and all of the new technologies coming out,” he said. “We were really finding that students were looking for something that was a little bit more dynamic than some of the other degrees that are currently offered on campus.”

Ron Stoltz, program director and professor of landscape architecture and planning in the college, was responsible for getting the program approved by the Arizona Board of Regents and the university. This was a two-step process that took a little more than 10 months.

“It (a new degree proposal) gets thoroughly vetted for its adherence to the university policies,” Stoltz said. “One of the biggest problems, of course, is to get a reasonable balance between the Arizona General Education Curriculum and the courses in the major.”

With the degree approved and classes ready to begin this fall, the response from students has been “phenomenal,” according to Keith. There are currently 15 students enrolled in the program.

“I really chose it (the degree) because it’s more focused on what I wanted to do,” said Chris Pennick, a senior who previously studied regional development. “It’s really broad, and that’s kind of the benefit of it. It gets us a taste of everything and then kind of lets us make our own little path.”

Ome Eichenberger, a sophomore who used to study architecture, said she also enrolled into the program to fulfill her interest in sustainable architecture that she said she couldn’t find with any other degree.

“Once I heard about this degree, I looked more into it and it kind of described what I’ve wanted to do ever since middle school,” she said.

Eichenberger said she would like, once graduated, to put her degree to use in a leadership position as a CEO, adding that it’s something she’s always wanted to do.

Jan Cervelli, the dean of the college, said the leadership aspect of the degree is a large part of the program itself, adding that she hopes the UA will become a primary source for green economy leaders with the addition of the program.

“The future is now,” Cervelli said. “The green economy is very broad and very wide. This is really an opportunity to expose (students) to good grounding to the next step to studying in more detail.”

Cervelli added that the ultimate success of the degree will be achieved when the program produces the first CEO of a major corporation.

The UA is the second university in the nation to develop a Sustainable Built Environments degree, following the University of Florida, according to Keith.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated a field of study for Ome Eichenberger. The Daily Wildcat regrets the error.

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