New sustainability concentration offered at BC

Starting this coming fall quarter, Bellevue College is going to be offering a new interdisciplinary concentration in the field of sustainability. According to Sonya Doucette, the sustainability concentration coordinator, this new concentration was formed because the faculty saw “a lot of demand for it on the student side.” Doucette was one of the driving forces in proposing and pushing for this new program to be established.

The concentration is interdisciplinary and will require students to take classes from across several different areas of study. The available course list is divided into two categories, “interdisciplinary systems” and “change agents.” Students going for the concentration must take two five-credit classes from each category to meet the requirements. Interdisciplinary Systems includes classes such as Environmental Oceanography, which deals which humanity’s impact on the ocean environment and how that affects the environment as a whole. There are ten available classes in that category, all dealing in some way with the social and environmental systems that govern the world. On the Change Agent side, classes like the new interdisciplinary course Inter 116, Fight for the Planet, teach students how to effect change in the world around them. The final requirement is a 15 hour sustainability related project.

There are high hopes for the new program, according to Professor Elizabeth Harazim, co-chair of the English Department and co-creator of the interdisciplinary course “How to Survive the Collapse of Western Civilization,” one of the classes available under the Change Agent category. Her involvement with the new concentration began after she was inspired by a sustainability workshop. Using the lessons from there, Harazim developed a “whole bunch of sustainability focused English classes.” Harazim said that what she hoped students would take from this academic course of study is “the ability to contribute meaningfully to the world around them.”

The program will also have professional benefits, according to Doucette. Remarking on the Harvard Business Journal having labeled sustainability as “the next mega-trend” similar to the concept of quality control in the mid ‘80s, Doucette stated that many companies have begun to look for sustainability related experience in applicants and recent graduates. Doucette hopes that the new concentration will be an immense help to Bellevue College graduates in the future.

Students have high hopes as well, according to Laurie Nord, a student at Bellevue College taking Information Systems classes. Through an internship at a fishery and a stint as a data analyst in the Office of Sustainability, Nord became interested in the field of sustainability. She stated that sustainability “is important to our future” and hopes to apply the knowledge from the concentration to the field of information systems and the “issues with sustainability that come up in that field,” and “in every field.”

The new concentration becomes available in fall 2016. Classes on the course list taken before then will count towards the concentration’s requirements.