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Green College Lacks Green Programs

Donald P. Shiley Hall is a LEED Platinum building at the University of Portland.

Donald P. Shiley Hall is a LEED Platinum building at the University of Portland. Photo courtesy of Maddy Lindgren.

The University of Portland (UP) boasts it’s increasingly “green” campus but lacks a diverse and prominent environmental curriculum for students.

Home to four Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings (Donald P. Shiley Hall, Fields and Schoenfeldt Halls, Swindells Hall, and Bauccio Commons) the university has been ranked as one of America’s top environmentally friendly colleges.

Despite the school’s focus on sustainability, UP only offers two degrees under the environmental studies program.

Junior Caitlin Allawatt is an environmental science major who believes that the university should focus on expanding the program.

“They only offer a few classes for my major, which is disappointing because the school is so focused and proud of being so green,” said Allawatt.

In addition to the handful of courses offered, the variety has also become a problem. Maria Sipos, a sophomore environmental ethics and policy major stated that the types of courses are often broad and do not cover the specifics within the field.

“There really isn’t a fully developed program with in depth courses. It would be cool to have some classes where we could do some hands on experiments. I’ve heard of some other schools doing that,” said Sipos.

UP is located in one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the United States, so the opportunities for students are almost endless.  Snagging a job in the environmental field would not be a difficult task in Oregon.

So why, surrounded by these opportunities to further the environmental studies program is UP not taking any action?

John Shurts, an adjunct professor believes that while the concept of being environmentally conscious has become more widespread, the idea of majoring or developing a career in the field is a bit too new still.

“In the past ten years caring for the environment has become much more than just a silly idea. While many colleges have solid degree programs, the number of graduates and professionals in the field who are capable of teaching is few. We just need to give it more time before we see anything extensive,” said Shurts.

The real question is, how much is enough time? How long will students have to wait to see the changes they want to happen?

While students become more eager to see changes, the success of the current program must not be overlooked.

Numerous students over the years have been admitted to various prestigious graduate schools to further their study of the environment. Multiple students have also been granted positions in Scotland to work for the University of St. Andrews environmental research discovery program

“Students will continue to be dissatisfied with the program until their concerns are met, but even then new students will have new concerns that need to be taken into account,” said Shurts.


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