PROVIDENCE – Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies will introduce new leadership and a revised curriculum next year, the university announced late last week.
Dov Sax, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Kurt Teichert, senior lecturer in CES, will begin July 1 as the center’s new director and associate director, respectively.
The curricular changes, which were created by a curriculum review committee of faculty members, students and staff, expand the core of the environmental studies and environmental science concentrations to include four courses across disciplines.
They also establish four new tracks from which concentrators will choose: air, climate and energy; conservation science and policy; land, water and food security; and sustainability in development.
“The core now is really to make sure that the whole cohort of students going through the program has a similar shared language and basic body of knowledge,” Sax said in prepared remarks.
But some changes attracted opposition from students in the concentration, who voiced strong concerns at an open forum in March, the Brown Daily Herald reported at the time. Students were particularly worried about the lack of a food and health track, which they said was a significant omission for many students interested in sustainable agriculture. The review committee changed its original “land and coast” track to include “food security” in response.
Many students also aired concerns about the new requirement of an introductory economics course and the downgrading of the introductory environmental studies course to be an elective rather than a requirement.
In the release, Sax said he hoped to bolster the center’s opportunities for students to participate in “engaged scholarship,” or connections with the community, which the review committee also recommended in its final report released in April. The proposed engaged scholarship program would entail students taking several activism-related classes and then completing a capstone that tied their coursework to engaging with identifiable community needs.