Areas of Concentration
Students in the Urban Sustainability Program can choose one of three concentrations:
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Defining and solving many of the problems confronting urban centers requires an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes of coupled natural-human systems. Students in the earth and environmental sciences concentration will use the natural laboratory of New York City to examine such issues as urban soil contamination, loss of wetlands, coastal impacts of sea-level rise and effects of nitrogen pollution on marine ecosystems. Students will be prepared for graduate study in environmental and sustainability programs and acquire skills and knowledge that can be applied to careers in the government, nongovernment and private sectors that require management of resources and/or researching on ways to protect the natural environment.
Economic sustainability requires economic "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Our Common Future, 2007). Students choosing economics as a concentration examine environmental economics and policy, environmental management, economic growth, development and trade. Environmental economists study the interrelationships between economic institutions and the natural environment at multiple spatial scales — neighborhood, urban, regional and global. Students completing the economics concentration will be able to: 1) apply economic principles to problems related to the natural sciences; 2) understand the interdependence of risk and uncertainty in social behavior and natural systems; and 3) be familiar with multidisciplinary collaborative approaches for solving complex human-natural system problems. Students will be prepared for graduate study in environmental and sustainability programs, and in environmental law and public policy programs, as well as entry-level jobs in environmental government agencies, the not-for-profit sector, and environmental health and safety functions in Fortune 500 corporations.
Sustainability requires that social institutions respond to ecological changes and constraints. Students choosing sociology as a concentration will examine public policy, advocacy efforts and environmental justice. Environmental sociologists uncover the role of social structures and institutions in shaping how people interact with the natural environment. For example, students will examine how social institutions structure science and how that affects our views and uses of nature. Students will also examine how social groups compete to shape environmental policies, and how those policies affect social inequality and environmental justice. Students will examine institutions working to shape sustainability, such as social movement organizations, community groups and government agencies. Students who concentrate in sociology will acquire skills and knowledge that can be used in careers in environmental public policy, advocacy, diplomacy, education and other fields.