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New 36-credit master’s degree program gives a panoramic view of the environment

Florida Atlantic University has become even more ecologically friendly with new master’s degree program environmental education.

In the works since 2005, the program is offered through the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education, in collaboration with the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center.

It is “is FAU's first university-wide program that combines two or more academic fields of study,” coordinator Carol Meltzer said.

Programs of study were chosen based on internet analysis of existing programs in environmentally related fields, meticulous examination of the FAU Catalog and feedback from professionals in the field, Meltzer said.

“The new master's degree program provides a source to increase the supply of environmentally knowledgeable elementary and secondary teachers, sustainability professionals and center administrators through an interdisciplinary approach,” Meltzer said.

The program, which launched in the fall, has some 35 students.

Collaborating with the new degree program is Glenn Thomas, College of Education’s assistant dean of K-12 Schools and Programs. Thomas serves as the executive director of the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, which provides on-site learning.

“Here is a practical, everyday, 20-hour-a-week experience in which we are working with students in a completely natural, green habitat. It is fun to hear about it in the classroom, but it is another thing to live it for a two-year experience,” Thomas said.

The Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, situated in Greenacres, is completely environmentally friendly.

“We have cisterns, native planting, two classrooms, wetlands, and miles of trail. Pine Jog will give you that nice picture of a built environment and how you can create green sustainability in a built environment,” Thomas said.

The environmental center building is owned by FAU, but the school is operated by School District of Palm Beach County.

“It’s a very cool university-district collaboration and neither has done something like this before,” Thomas said.

The construction of buildings until now often separated their users from the environment. Pine Jog makes structures part of the environment.

"You use sunlight, save your rainwater, open windows. It is kind of a fundamental, philosophical shift from the past 40 years or so when we tried to kind of protect ourselves from the environment,” Thomas said.

Those interested in the degree program can contact Carol Meltzer at meltzer@fau.edu, or visit the College of Education’s website at www.coe.fau.edu or Pine Jog's at www.pinejog.org for more information, including the curriculum.




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