A Look Inside the Sustainability Bachelor’s Degree Program at Wells
Working in small, discussion-based classes and out in the community, you’ll learn to practice your own research and investigate real-world issues. Our introductory sustainability classes teach you to build an informed, personal viewpoint. How do sustainability issues impact you? What is your carbon footprint? What are the things you can change or commit to? Along the way you’ll learn more about things like food, energy, water use, consumer habits, environmental toxins, and some of the choices we make that expose us to hazards. You’ll learn to write and speak about how to be more mindful and identify alternatives to improve the situation—and to apply these ideas and gain the tools to make more sustainable decisions.
The next step is to take a practical view of social impacts. How can you become a change agent, encouraging sustainability in others as well? Through discussions with classmates and professors, you’ll figure out what drives certain behaviors and how you can encourage people to change those behaviors for the better. We’ve seen the impact of student projects related to food waste composting, recycling, water use and energy conservation on campus, and more. Students in our sustainability bachelor’s degree program find ways to get engaged, make a difference in their community, and work with faculty and administrators to find sustainability solutions that make sense.
At Wells, the undergraduate sustainability curriculum focuses on skill-building and emphasizes the ways that lessons affect daily life. Individuals who can make sustainable change are valuable in any setting, and the knowledge you gain will be a real asset in your career.
What You’ll Learn as a Sustainability Major
- How to apply sustainability practices locally, nationally, and globally.
- How to make balanced, reasoned, ethical decisions based on an understanding of our interdependence upon one another and our natural world.
- How to work with others in a variety of situations in order to encourage more informed, sustainable decisions.
Sustainability Clubs and Other Aurora Campus Programs
Student organizations play a large role in campus life at Wells, and sustainability is well represented by the Campus Greens environmental club, FORCES (Friends of Recreation, Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship), and the Greenhouse Club. These groups offer additional opportunities to work alongside others within an organization and get involved with service projects, volunteer opportunities, and other sustainability outreach efforts as you pursue your bachelor’s degree.
The Center for Sustainability and the Environment at Wells provides additional learning opportunities through frequent guest speakers and workshops. Marian Brown, director of the center, organizes the Sustainability Perspectives Series, a series of regular informal presentations and discussions of current research or careers on the forefront of the sustainability field; coordinates the Sustainable Business Series alongside the Sullivan Center for Business and Entrepreneurship; and presents the annual Sustainability Speakers Series featuring a notable expert in environmental issues. In addition to showing the broad range of opportunities open to those with a passion for sustainable change, these events intentionally tie into coursework and topics discussed in the classroom.
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Beyond the Classroom: Experiential Learning in the Sustainability
As a sustainability major at Wells, you’ll have many opportunities to gain practical, hands-on experience and put your research into practice as you work toward your bachelor’s degree. We offer a wide variety of internship and study abroad programs that give you the chance to work in the field, make valuable career connections, and create real change. Other experiences offer the chance to get involved with gardening on campus, growing vegetables and herbs for campus meals or plants to be used in the College’s paper-making studio. Learn about sustainability in Indigenous cultures during the Peachtown Native American Festival and Education Week, or about the role of food in partnerships with the Sustainable Food Systems minor. Participate in campus clean-ups, volunteer at the nearby SHARE Farm, or learn about new sustainable technologies through field trips. We also welcome new ideas and active participation: if you have an idea for a campus event or a practical program in sustainability, you can make it happen.
Internship and Study Abroad Opportunities
Internships in sustainability provide even more opportunities to work first-hand with those who are helping to make change while also exploring potential career paths and working toward your bachelor’s degree in sustainability. Wells students have recently held internships with:
- The Aurora Farmer’s Market, Aurora, New York
- The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York
- New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Northville, New York
- African Conservation Experience, Berkeley, California
- Alpine Environmental Services, Alpine, New York
- Wolf Mountain Nature Center, Smyrna, New York
- Revolution Solar, Milford, New York
- New York State Parks and Recreation, Jamesville, New York
You can also take on sustainability challenges around the world while experiencing new cultures by taking part in one of our many study abroad programs. Learn more about study abroad opportunities at Wells.
Career Options for Sustainability Graduates
Sustainability strategies are increasingly vital to businesses around the globe: not only to help protect the environment, but to increase profits and manage risks. As a sustainability major at Wells, you’ll learn to help organizations to achieve their goals by ensuring that their business practices are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.
Graduates of our bachelor’s degree program bring specialized knowledge and skills in sustainability to the workplace and will be in demand globally. Sustainability professionals can be business managers, scientists, or engineers, and work in virtually any field.
Current Research in Sustainability
Just as the Sustainability program draws on a broad spectrum academic areas, many of our professors, working in diverse fields, are involved with sustainability-related research. These are just a few examples:
Professor Kent Klitgaard’s primary research interest is ecological economics: conceptualizing the economy as a subsystem of a larger biophysical system.
Biology professor Jaclyn Schnurr investigates responses of plants to differing environmental conditions—from the fates of seeds, to the growth and reproduction of adults, as well as the uses of the plants by people.
Professor Milene Morfei’s recent research work in the field of psychology focuses on applying psychological concepts to change environmentally destructive behavior and to promote sustainability at Wells College.