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Bellarmine University creates region’s first School of Environmental Studies

Feb 14, 2013

Bellarmine University has bolstered its focus on environmental education and sustainability by creating the region's first School of Environmental Studies. The school will produce graduates who are prepared to provide leadership in fields such as environmental engineering, education, law, public policy, conservation, international development and corporate sustainability, in addition to research careers.

The new school incorporates Bellarmine's current undergraduate majors and minors in environmental studies and environmental science, as well as the Center for Regional Environmental Studies and the Bellarmine Farm. The school plans to add graduate programs, additional undergraduate majors, new faculty members and new facilities, and is expected to double its number of students over the next three years.

Dr. Robert Kingsolver, dean and founding director of the School of Environmental Studies, on the Bellarmine Farm.
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The school's first dean is Dr. Robert Kingsolver, who currently oversees Bellarmine's environmental programs. Kingsolver was formerly dean of Bellarmine College, home of the university's arts and sciences programs.

Dr. Joseph J. McGowan , Bellarmine University’s president, says that elevating the university’s environmental programs into their own school -– alongside its college of arts and sciences, and schools of business, education, nursing and health sciences, communication, and continuing and professional studies -- demonstrates the university’s belief that environmental issues will continue to rise to the forefront in the state and nation.

Vision 2020
“A commitment to environmental sustainability is rooted in our mission statement and our values as a Catholic institution,” said McGowan. “I applaud our Board of Trustees for approving this new school, consistent with our Vision 2020 initiative. This school will offer new and innovative programs of study, supported by internships and research opportunities that will create new career paths for students interested in solving the world’s environmental challenges.”

Creation of a School of Environmental Studies is one of the growth opportunities identified in Vision 2020, a plan adopted by the university's Board of Trustees in 2005 that sets a broad vision for new schools, new majors, new buildings and new ways to serve Louisville and Kentucky. Vision 2020 calls for Bellarmine to become the premier independent Catholic university in the South, and thereby the leading private university in the commonwealth and region.

"All the members of our environmental team at Bellarmine are both delighted and challenged by this opportunity," said Kingsolver. "We look forward to recruiting talented faculty and students to apply their talents to solving environmental problems so that our region can achieve sustainable prosperity in the 21st century."

Building a Sustainable Campus and Community
The new school will work with other academic departments at Bellarmine to promote the interdisciplinary study of environmental issues, will promote sustainability initiatives on Bellarmine's campus, and will work with partners in Louisville and the surrounding region to provide leadership on environmental issues.

“As individuals and communities are becoming more aware of the importance of sustainable practices and the differences they can make, having programs such as Bellarmine’s new School of Environmental Studies is a magnificent addition for Louisville,” said Maria Koetter, director of Louisville Metro Government's Office of Sustainability. “Keeping abreast of the newest science, standards and practices will help make Louisville an even greener city and will boost students with a whole new set of skills.”

The school will also operate the Bellarmine Farm, established on campus in 2009 as a facility for teaching sustainable horticulture, including demonstration gardens, volunteer training and outreach projects, and opportunities for undergraduate research.

The new School of Environmental Studies currently has 23 students pursuing degrees, with the first graduates expected in Spring 2014.

“I'm so proud I get to be a pioneer for the school, and my peers and I are so excited about our school becoming a driving force in the region for environmental science and studies,” said Jena Patterson, a junior environmental studies major from Paris, Ky. “I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how the program grows and shapes environmental development at Bellarmine and beyond.”