Manhattan College Launches Environmental Science Major

Manhattan College is getting a little greener this semester thanks to the launch of a new environmental science major.

This fall, MC will begin offering both Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in environmental science. Recently hired professor Yelda Balkir will serve as the program director for the new major.

“Out of the six Lasallian universities and colleges in the United States,” Balkir said, “Manhattan College was the only one that did not have an environmental science major.”

In addition to helping the school keep up with its Lasallian counterparts, adopting the major should prove beneficial to graduates as a career choice.

“In the future, the graduates with the major will be some of the most in demand and most likely to succeed,” Balkir said.

This positive outlook is backed by firm economic data. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.”

The bureau attributes this growth to the anticipated impacts of a rapidly increasing global population and a greater interest in mitigating human environmental damages.

With the topics of climate change, global warming, extreme weather, pollution and energy frequently dominating both popular and political discussion, the need for knowledgeable professionals with the capability to deal with these issues should come as no surprise. Job opportunities for environmental scientists are expected to grow in private industry, the public sector and research capacities.

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported.

There is still some flexibility with the program about what specific classes environmental science students will need to learn how to tackle these serious issues. However, several students have already enrolled in the class titled Introduction to Environmental Science that is being taught by Balkir this fall.

“We plan to run the course every semester until we have enough students for the major,” Balkir said.

Balkir also hopes to introduce several research projects that will allow interested students to get involved as soon as possible with hands-on work in the field. One of her next steps for the program will also entail a partnership with the college’s Center for Urban Resilience and Environmental Sustainability.

“The whole thing is to make students learn the critical thinking and problem solving skills needed to solve serious environment-related issues,” Balkir said.