Environmental Studies Program Prepares Students for the Future

by Kelly Cwik & Megan LaCreta, Asst. A&E Editor & Staff Writer

Manhattan College offers a unique experience in its en- vironmental studies program. Part of the school of liberal arts, the program uses an interdisciplinary approach to provide students with a well-rounded education regarding environ- mental issues.

Professor Dart Westphal is the director of environmental studies at MC, described the program’s mission.

“Environmental Studies in liberal arts is about advocacy and policy,” Westphal said. “So, how does the environmental movement make change happen, in terms of government or in terms of marketing or in terms of any of the ways we convince people to be more environmentally sustainable.”

Westphal explained that students in the program take a wide variety of classes. The liberal arts curriculum ranges from environmentally-focused politics, religion and literature classes, and also requires credits in environmental economics and science.

Dillon Kadish is a senior environmental studies major and geography minor. Kadish expressed how important the interdisciplinary aspect of the program is.

“It’s incredible to know that our program can span the business, engineering, science, liberal arts, and education schools,” Kadish wrote. “I believe the future of academia and professionalism lies in our ability to find and strengthen intersections, and the environmental studies department does just that.”

Kadish’s future goals involve influencing policy makers to affect lasting climate sustainability. He is one of many students in the program who aspire to make real change happen. Another student, senior environmental studies and political science major Petros Leriadis, who is from Athens, Greece, wrote about his own career goals in the field.

“My career aspiration in the environmental studies department is to potentially work in the European Union or the United Nations on behalf of Greece,” Leriadis wrote. “I would like for my country to become even more environmentally friendly and sustainable in order to guarantee a safe future for the next generations.”

Leriadis and Kadish’s goals align with the focus of the environmental studies program at MC. Westphal explained the importance of having the program in order to create future leaders to make everlasting change.

“The way we use the environment as humans is going to change radically over the next fifteen, thirty years,” Westphal said. “And there need to be people that understand the broad parameters of that change, because every vocation, every job that anyone has is going to have to consider the drastic changes and how we handle our environments so we have to get our students prepared and have our students then prepare others for how will this change is going to take place.”

To harness these interests and prepare students for their careers, the program connects individuals with outside organizations, such as the Bronx River Alliance.

Kadish noted how the program has benefited him by exposing him to different viewpoints. The program has also allowed him to gain experiences in the fields of work he is passionate about.

“The program gives me perspective. It teaches me how the world works, and it teaches me multiple ways to look at the world around me,” Kadish wrote. “This helps me relate to different sectors and different employers in a unique way. Already, I have worked in academic research, in sustainability/resilience planning for a medium-sized city, and led the policy division of a New York City Council campaign focused on climate change. Without the program, I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that.”

Similar to Kadish, the program has allowed Leriadis to expand on his abilities and understand the effects individuals have on the environment.

“The most enjoyable aspect of being part of the environmental studies program is the ability to observe the world and its history through a different lens,” Leriadis wrote. “Understanding that ever y single human action has specific environmental effects, is the beginning of truly comprehending our world and its issues. Only then can we find proper solu- tions.”

There are numerous ways to get involved with the environmental studies program and with other organizations focused on environmental topics. The program offers a minor which requires two science and three humanities courses.

Leriadis summed up the importance of having such a program at MC and beyond.

“I believe that the environmental studies program is very vital for Manhattan College since our future will be directly defined and shaped by climate change,” Leriadis worte. “We must educate the next generations about these matters.”