Sustainability Grows in Our Curriculum

Sustainability is an FIT passion: it drives many of our institutional practices and decisions; it is taught throughout the curriculum; it has been embraced as an ethos by the entire community, and it is part of our new mission statement–which of course is as it should be. Now, I am happy to say, we have a new minor, one in Sustainability and Ethics. But then, where else would the study of sustainability–and its vital connection to ethics–be more fitting than at FIT?

We are, after all, a college that prepares students to create, produce and market the consumer goods that make up so much of our abundant lifestyle. Our students are the ones who will be developing textiles…selecting dyes and sourcing materials . They are the future decision-makers on supply-chain issues… on factory safety…labor-management relations…and on a whole spectrum of knotty global business issues that will inevitably challenge their corporate or personal principles.

The minor draws on the enthusiasm, expertise and critical thinking of faculty throughout the college and was shepherded by Art History Professor Anna Blume. As a student, I would find the course offerings–17 in all– so enticing, I’m not sure I would know where to start. Ecology and Environmental Problems? Corporate Social Responsibility? Maybe Sustainability in Fashion Merchandising or Art and Ethics… Historic Preservation or Environmental Economics and Policy. All of them open up fascinating avenues of inquiry–and taken as a minor, will provide students the knowledge base, depth of understanding, and critical tools they will need as they confront real working world problems.

Our students–who have been rallying around sustainability issues for years–have been craving something like this. No matter what their major, this concentration of courses will add meaning and value to all of their studies. And as an added bonus, the minor will go on their transcripts–and tip off prospective employers that these are issues they know and care about.

Another of the beauties of this minor–from my perspective as president–is that it is interdisciplinary. In fact, it is our first interdisciplinary minor that stretches across schools (Art & Design, Business & Technology and Liberal Arts) and adds strong support to the goals of our newly revised strategic plan. It doesn’t surprise me to learn that students are already signing up. Everyone seems to be excited about it. Indeed, I think sustainability is now so ingrained into the lifeblood of FIT that by creating this minor, we have found another way to build upon our sense of community.