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University's new school will be first in the nation

Published: Monday, February 15, 2010

Updated: Monday, February 15, 2010 00:02

It will be the first in the state, even the nation. That's the reason USF held a celebration in honor of a new school to open in the fall.


USF's School of Global Sustainability, which will mainly function online, will offer only one program — the only global sustainability master's degree, said Dr. Karen Liller, dean of USF Graduate School.

The school will utilize existing classroom space on campus. No construction will be necessary.


"The school will be efficient and creative," said USF Provost Ralph Wilcox in his welcome speech at the Global Sustainability Conference on Thursday and Friday. "It will harness the intellectual powers of students and faculty and … create a new generation of green economy thinkers and doers."

USF held a tree planting and dedication ceremony for the school at the conference, where scientists from around the country spoke about global sustainability.

"The cause of sustainability is not one that we can go at alone," Wilcox said.


Speeches and panel discussions focused on global climate change, sea levels and local and regional policy — all of which the school's curriculum will include.


The school is only for graduate students, and USF will start enrolling students this summer for the fall semester.

The program will target working professionals in positions that already focus on sustainability issues, according to the proposal.


"At USF, we have created a truly interdisciplinary school, where students and faculty can search for solutions to building sustainable systems," Wilcox said.


George Luber, the associate director for Global Climate Change National Center for Environmental Health Centers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke about the interaction between public health and climate change, including its ethical issues.


"The line between refugees and labor migrants has become increasingly blurred … Understanding the inequity and impacts of climate change leads to intervention as well," Luber said in his lecture.

Interactions between humans and their water systems — an important topic in Florida — will be a main theme for the school, according to its Web site.

And that's also something Jerald Schnoor, Allen S. Henry chair in civil and environmental engineering for the University of Iowa, discussed in his speech.

Schnoor expressed his hopes for students at the school to become involved with the search for solutions to the many environmental problems the planet faces.

Schnoor also spoke on "Environmental Grand Challenges," which includes water conservation, climate change and the economy, energy choices and global poverty.


The University is in the process of searching for a director of the school.


"We want to search (for a director) across the globe because we want somebody to come and bring with him or her a reputation in sustainability," Linda Whiteford, associate vice president for global strategies, said to The Oracle on Nov. 5. "We want a respected scholar … someone who has the ability to bring in grants and has a lot of experience."


According to a proposal that was approved by members of the Faculty Senate's Executive Committee in November, the school's budget is nearly $3 million, made up of funds from several sources: $500,000 from 2009-10 tuition revenue, $300,000 in private funds, approximately $1.5 million in research contacts and grants, $200,000 in state funds, $383,130 in tuition revenue, $200,000 in special program fees and $21,000 from distance learning fees.

USF's Office of Sustainability was established in fall 2009 following President Judy Genshaft's step in signing the American Colleges and University President's Climate Commitment in April 2008.

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