SESES at Northern Arizona University 3/14

On Friday, we made our first stop at Northern Arizona University and met with Paul Umhoefer, Director of the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability (SESES), and Rod Parnell, Professor in the SESES and President-Elect of NCSE’s Council of Environmental Deans and Directors. Mr. Parnell and Mr. Umhoefer shared valuable insight about the history of SESES and the struggles and successes they faced in the development of a new program within a larger university. Although SESES was a school (we are looking to introduce a program) and Northern Arizona University is a much larger than Dickinson, there are parallels between the two. This is because the combination of earth sciences and environmental sustainability was unconventional at the time of inception, just as the combination of sustainability and entrepreneurship is rather unconventional at small liberal arts colleges.

The two faculty members also discussed how they would like to see environmental studies and business majors at the university collaborate at a closer level. They actually have something called the Sustainable Economic Initiative in which professors across all departments must work to infuse values of sustainability into their curriculums.

Mr. Parnell and Mr. Umhoefer conveyed to us the power that students and faculty members can have at academics institutions when they join forces. Academic culture is important for faculty and students, and administrators recognize that they are the largest stakeholders in that sense.