Building a Sustainable Future

We all know about climate change and its effects on our planet. UB’s new Department of Environment and Sustainability was created to find solutions, and together with other disciplines, they’re leading the charge for a more sustainable and safer planet. Find out more.

2020 was a disastrous year in more ways than one. In addition to a global pandemic that’s caused millions of deaths worldwide, a series of unprecedented natural disasters firmly positioned climate change at the center of our daily lives.

The world watched in horror as wildfires raged through Australia and the American West Coast, then in shock as hurricane after hurricane battered the U.S. Gulf Coast, with so many named storms the Greek alphabet was used for just the second time in history. Polar bears wandering into remote Russian villages in search of food highlighted a grim new chapter in the fight against climate change, and what is yet to come.

We all know the problem; we have for decades. Now isn’t the time for questions, it’s the time for solutions. The University at Buffalo’s Department of Environment and Sustainability was created to do just that, and together with other disciplines, they’re leading the charge for a more sustainable and safer planet.

Real-life problems demand real-life experience

Climate change is no longer just a theoretical discussion. We’re far beyond that. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that time is of the essence, and to combat real-life problems we need real-life solutions.

As College of Arts and Sciences Dean Robin G. Schulze observes, the university’s traditional approach to solving problems has been to think and operate by discipline, rather than by letting the problem determine which disciplines need to be at the table to solve them. Recognizing the pitfalls in this approach, she championed problem-based education. Under her leadership, a new kind of faculty, called “innovation professors,” are actively focused on creating experiential learning opportunities, allowing students to participate in a new world of applied learning where they can translate classroom knowledge into practical experience. As she observes, “This is a response to where students are in the 21st century. They look at education as a means to an end. They look at education as an idea of, ‘How am I going to apply this to solve problems?’.”

By wedding problem-based education with skills and subject-matter expertise across departments, students can solve problems in real-time. They don’t need to wait until graduation, nor do they want to.

Sustainability News from around UB

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