Green — as in environmentally friendly — is the buzzword of the moment, from green construction to green clothing to green cleaning supplies to green energy and everything in between.
Now St. Petersburg College is jumping on the green bandwagon by offering a fall course in sustainability. Sustainability is defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
The concept of sustainability is so recent that Chris Nichol, the earth science professor who developed the new class, had never heard the word when he was in school. And, he said, the course is designed to train students "for jobs that haven't been created yet."
The course, Sustainability Systems, Design and Development, may be the first step toward the creation of a curriculum in sustainability. The course is designed to provide a general overview of the topic from all angles.
And there are many angles to the subject. The concept sprouted from the environmental movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, it has expanded in scope and has been embraced by corporations across the globe. Corporate sustainability is based on the goal of achieving current profits while ensuring future generations can also profit.
As such, corporate sustainability initiatives cover a wide range of concerns, from the environmental impact of corporations and their products, to the treatment of employees, to the way the immediate community is affected by the company's activities. The crux is that corporations have a duty to be socially responsible.
The SPC course, which will be taught online and in a classroom at the Seminole campus, will cover those issues as well as others from local, national and global perspectives, Nichol said. It will also examine the social, environmental and economic impact of sustainability.
Online students will have the option of attending the class during the scheduled time or of catching up with it later. Nichol said he would prefer that online students log on during class time so they will be able to participate in discussions, but if they cannot, they will still get something out of the course.
This is not the first time SPC's Seminole campus has been on the cutting edge of professional trends. The campus began offering a computer gaming track in 2005 after campus provost Jim Olliver noticed kids playing computer games in the library. The sight of the rows of kids competing against each other clicked a light bulb that was given more juice later when students began asking for information on creating games.
A study of the computer gaming industry revealed that it was the fastest growing segment of the entertainment industry with about 110,000 people working worldwide. A career track was born.
Similarly, Olliver was open to the suggestion that the college look into sustainability as a course because it's an area where new types of jobs are being created every day. And the interest has grown since Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, was released.
Doubters need look no further than Monster.com, where typing in the word "sustainability" results in 752 job openings with such titles as manager, sustainability programs; director of sustainability; buildings sustainability leader; and sustainability communications and outreach coordinator.