The University Record, November 19, 2001

SNRE, LS&A create joint degree program in environment

By Judy Steeh
News and Information Services

At their November meeting, the Regents approved the creation of a new joint undergraduate degree from LS&A and the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). The new concentration, to be called the Program in the Environment, will begin with the fall semester, 2002. Students will earn either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts degree in the environment, depending on their specialization within the concentration. SNRE’s graduate programs will continue without change.

The faculties of both schools have approved the new concentration and the concept of a joint degree, which will be awarded by LS&A and SNRE in combination, with the names of both schools on the diploma. In their proposal to the Regents, LS&A Dean Shirley Neuman and SNRE Dean Rosina Bierbaum stressed the uniqueness of the program and the novel form of collaboration that it represents.

“Solving the complex environmental problems of today requires experience beyond the traditional natural resources area, and we see this as an opportunity to broaden the scope of our programs and the range of people we can reach,” Bierbaum said. “The demand for a broad-based degree in the environment is growing, and the U-M has stepped up to offer that degree. Students will be able to draw on SNRE’s depth as a leader in environment and natural resource education and LS&A’s breadth as an outstanding liberal arts institution. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Dean Neuman called the new program “an exciting interdisciplinary collaboration. Many LS&A students are interested in environmental studies and will benefit from this program, which draws on the rich vein of faculty expertise in environmental science and policy across LS&A and in SNRE. Given that LS&A has some wonderful field resources at the Biological Station in northern Michigan and at its geological field camp in Wyoming, it is especially gratifying to have been able to work with SNRE to develop a program that will allow students to use these facilities in field courses and internships.”

Among the architects of the program were Barry Rabe, former interim dean of SNRE, and John Knott, professor of English in LS&A. “This partnership will be an historic first for the U-M, the first time LS&A and a professional school have collaborated in such a far-reaching way, and it will further underscore the multidisciplinary nature of environmental and natural resource issues,” Rabe said.

“The new joint program, combining the resources of SNRE and LS&A, will open up exciting new possibilities for students interested in the environment. I’m delighted to be a part of this trailblazing venture,” Knott added.

Neither expects his involvement to end soon. Knott will direct the Program in the Environment through December 2002; Rabe will become director upon return from his sabbatical in January 2003.

One unique aspect of the new program will be the requirement that each student complete a field course or internship. In addition to offering expanded opportunities for such off-campus experiences, the program also will stress interdisciplinary approaches to environmental problem solving.

Undergraduate students currently enrolled in SNRE will receive traditional SNRE bachelor of science degrees or have the option of applying to the new program. Those entering in the fall of 2002 will be enrolled in LS&A, with the option to elect a concentration in the Program in the Environment. The first degrees from the new combined program will be conferred in 2004.

The program will be housed in the Dana Building, home of SNRE, and most of its activities will be based there. “We expect that the Program in the Environment will preserve the sense of community valued by SNRE undergraduates while offering a more varied, diverse program of study,” Bierbaum said.