Amanda Pantoja California 0

GE for Ecoliteracy

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The undersigned support the proposal to ensure that all UCSB undergraduate students graduate having taken at least one course related to the environment by way of a new general education (GE) requirement. Establishing this GE will underscore UCSB’s commitment to providing instruction that is pertinent to addressing pressing societal needs and ensuring that UC students can approach whatever career they pursue with an understanding of the relationship between humans and the environment. If approved, the requirement will be a “special subjects” general education requirement, which would mean that a student could have one class count as the environmental general education requirement, as well as one or more other GE requirements, such as their history or writing requirements. In 2013-2014, 92% of graduating students, who starting as freshman already took at least one course that would fit this description and these courses currently exist in 56% of departments At UCSB.

In response to student demand and several university-wide commitments, we propose to establish a new GE Special Subject Area requirement focusing on the relationship between human societies and the environment. This generation of students will be living in a world where global environmental changes, both natural and anthropocentric (i.e. human-caused), will challenge the ability of the Earth to sustain human populations. According to the more than 1,300 scientists that contributed to the 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment:

“…Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of the Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”

Campuses that address the climate challenge by reducing global warming emissions and by integrating sustainability into their curriculum will better serve their students and meet their social mandate to help create a thriving, ethical and civil society. These colleges and universities will be providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to address the critical, systemic challenges faced by the world in this new century and enable them to benefit from the economic opportunities that will arise as a result of solutions they develop.

Therefore, we must provide as part of our students’ general education an introduction to environmental and sustainability issues as these will indisputably shape their futures. This will be especially important for those students who are least likely to take a course in the environment or sustainability without such a requirement.

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