Pace is Saving the Planet
John Cronin, Pace senior fellow for Environmental Policy, believes saving the planet is a moral imperative. "The environmental movement hasn't been successful with daily values," says Cronin. "The civil rights movement never lost sight of the fact that it was inherently a moral issue, that it was not only an unjust treatment of someone on a bus, but also how future generations were going to be treated. That doesn't mean that people have to be badgered, just that they have to have it brought into their daily lives." And that's exactly what the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, the University's first interdisciplinary center of excellence, intends to do.
Guided by a University-wide Executive Committee, the Academy is led by a powerhouse team including Michelle Land, JD '02, the academy's director, Nicholas A. Robinson, JD, Pace's first University-wide professor, and Cronin. Through collaboration with scholars and experts across the University and around the nation, the Academy has already established itself as an environmental leader in higher education.
Robinson, who helped establish Pace Law School and found its highly ranked environmental law program, works with the Academy on climate change and global affairs.
"By combining the expertise across disciplines from the different faculties, we get more than the sum of our parts," Robinson says. "We start to find connections between different subsets of environmental studies, and this enhances our ability to teach the topics within the world of environmental studies and to focus on areas that need further research."
The Academy began its work in spring 2009 by spearheading the 4th Annual Student Summit of the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities, which attracted students from more than two-dozen institutions to learn about careers in sustainability. The Academy also laid the groundwork for a University-wide mentor program, providing students interested in environmental affairs with professional guidance from Pace faculty and external experts.
In fall 2009, the Academy cohosted a high-profile Water Resources Conference to examine the management of New York's water and advocate for a comprehensive state water policy. It also initiated an interdisciplinary curriculum called "River Semester" that will offer students a firsthand opportunity to study the Hudson River region and is designing a graduate Sustainability Certificate program, which will draw upon the unique strengths of Pace's schools and college.
Although the Academy's new programming is just getting underway, its foresight and innovation have already helped it attract other visionaries, including Andrew C. Revkin, the New York Times science reporter, as its senior fellow for Environmental Understanding.