NAU announces new school for ‘green’ curriculum

Students interested in pursuing an environmental career at Northern Arizona University will find an integrated and streamlined approach in the university’s new School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability.

The new school brings together the Department of Geology with the Center for Sustainable Environments to combine educational programs and outreach in environmental sciences, environmental studies and geology, and graduate programs in environmental sciences and policy and geology.

“In order to successfully achieve environmental sustainability we must understand how the Earth responds to perturbations. This requires an understanding of Earth sciences. In order to model the geological future of our planet we need to be cognizant of what the human race is doing, both positively and negatively, to impact our planet,” said Paul W. Jagodzinski, dean of NAU’s College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences, which is the college for the new school. “The problems that current students will face in their professional careers will require an understanding of more than one traditional discipline.”

He said the formation of the new school provides NAU students with the opportunity to learn at the interface of previously separate disciplines so that they can have a positive impact on the future of our planet.

“This new alignment will bring together a number of environment-focused programs and faculty and will position the university to build on its strengths in sustainability,” said Karen Pugliesi, vice provost for Academic Affairs.

NAU’s vision for the new school is for it to be the premier school for research, outreach and education in Earth sciences and environmental sustainability.

“We are hoping this new name helps us promote our strength in understanding and contributing to solve environmental issues such as climate change,” said Abe Springer, director of the new school. “Our programs are organized to ground students in how the Earth and environmental systems operate, but also provides them the experience and knowledge of how management and policy works so students can translate that science to appropriate decision-making processes.”

A hallmark of NAU’s sustainability studies is that numerous opportunities are available for students to participate in hands-on and field-based internships or research experiences, which are required for environmental science and environmental studies majors.

“We’ve had a strong sustainability curriculum long before it was popular,” Springer said. “Because of our location and strong reputation, we are positioned uniquely to facilitate project work between students and federal agencies that have land management responsibilities, such as the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.”

For information about the school, contact Abe Springer at (928) 523-7198 or e-mail