It’s true that we cover a good number of wind power stories from South Dakota. But the University of South Dakota (USD) is looking beyond those big turbines turning on the horizon to a future featuring a broad-spectrum mix of renewable energy industries for the state, and an accompanying rise in the green job market. That’s what it has in mind with its new bachelor’s degree program that will focus on hydroelectric power, geothermal energy technologies, biofuels and “green” construction practices – as well as wind energy.
The university announced that beginning in fall 2012, it will offer a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability. The programs are designed to train students in job skills in demand across the country and – strategically – those identified as crucial to the future of South Dakota by the governor’s Office of Economic Development. The university said it believes students majoring in sustainability will have the opportunity to pursue careers in both the private sector and government, including the areas of sustainable practices, renewable energy, community planning, non-governmental organizations focused on sustainable development and education.
To graduate from the new program, students must complete 36 credit hours, with 18 in the required common core and 18 to be selected as electives from courses available in the selected specialization. In addition to the training in administrative aspects of sustainability, this will give graduates a background in more than one area of renewable energy, in contrast to existing certification programs (increasingly available through community colleges) that offer courses only in one area of specialization.
The program works in consort with established sustainability initiatives at USD, including the Missouri River Institute and the University of South Dakota Department of Biology’s specialization in conservation and biodiversity.