The NYT has a piece worth reading on the rise in urban- and infrastructure-focused sustainability programs in universities.
Like other students in Colorado’s multidisciplinary program, Meghan Bernard is working with a city — in her case, Broomfield, northwest of Denver — as she pursues her master’s in engineering. Much of the work has involved crunching numbers to come up with a baseline greenhouse-gas inventory for Broomfield — the climate-related costs of transportation, shelter, food and other aspects of urban life. But now she will be working with residents to develop an action plan for improving the city’s carbon footprint.
“I don’t see myself as an engineer or a policy person,” Ms. Bernard says. “I enjoy the hard numbers, but the engagement part is important for me as well.
If you're a student or potential student thinking about studying worldchanging topics, you might also consider checking out Sarah Kuck's 2009 articles on education and sustainability Majors Making a Difference.
Universities are also greening from the inside out, partially as a result of student pressure. There are something like 1200 students in the Sustainability Club at MIT and 900 students in the Energy Club. About two years ago, it was clear that student attention was making the administration walk more of their talk.
Last year, I had a conversation with a professor from NE Conservatory of Music who was working on making it a green campus. Even the music schools want to be sustainable.
I wonder what Ian McHarg would say.