New Earth sustainability certificate teaches literacies key to its future

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new online undergraduate certificate in Earth sustainability offered by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences through Penn State World Campus aims to provide people from many backgrounds with information to make environmentally sustainable decisions.

“The literacies that we’re teaching are central to the future of the earth,” said geosciences Professor Timothy Bralower, the lead faculty member for the program.

Development of the 12-credit certificate was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation as part of a multi-institution grant to increase geoscience literacy.

“Citizens need to be aware of the issues facing the earth.”

-- Timothy Bralower, geosciences professor and lead faculty member for the undergraduate certificate in Earth sustainability

The four courses required to obtain the certificate are: Earth in the Future: Predicting Climate Change and Its Impacts over the Next Century; Climate, Energy and Our Future; Coastal Processes, Hazards, and Society; and Water: Science and Society.

Students will learn to work with large data sets about climate change, water and food supplies, natural hazards and then conduct lab activities — for example predicting how large a storm surge will arrive at a certain location following a tsunami. “The idea is to get students thinking and doing,” Bralower said. “This is the future of geoscience education.”

Bralower said he hopes to see interest in the program from students in many fields — including business, law, medicine, education, the humanities and journalism. “Citizens need to be aware of the issues facing the earth,” he said.

Karen Pollack, assistant vice provost for undergraduate online and blended programs at Penn State, said the addition of the Earth sustainability certificate will round out Penn State’s portfolio and enhance programming in an area that is one of the University’s strategic planning priorities.

“This certificate will provide our learners with the knowledge they need to make environmentally sustainable decisions in their careers and in their daily lives," she said.

More information about the program is available on the Penn State World Campus website.

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Last Updated January 26, 2016