Georgia Board of Regents Chancellor Hank Huckaby said Georgia Perimeter College’s (GPC) new academic program is the only one of its kind and something for colleges around the country to emulate.
Huckaby said GPC’s new Southeastern Institute for Sustainability is the first program in Georgia’s 35-college system to be recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the only one at the community college level.
“This is an opportunity to plow some ground that will not only be a benefit for this college but the whole state. All the environmental issues—particularly that of sustainability—are increasing in prominence and importance and the folks here at Georgia Perimeter have the right to be excited and proud of the curriculum established here,” Huckaby said.
GPC President Anthony Tricoli said the institute’s curriculum would not be self-contained but integrated across all disciplines and offered at all of the college’s five locations. Joanne Chu, director of the institute, said another important aspect of the program is community partnerships.
“We have English professors right now who are working on a community food project where they’re going to be putting in community food gardens on all the five campuses. The art professors will be having their students creating pieces of art surrounding the garden,” Chu said.
At a recent unveiling of the new program, Regional Administrator for the EPA’s Southeastern Region Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming and Tricoli signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the college and the EPA.
“If you think about it our goals are not too different. We all want a global society that thrives environmentally, economically and educationally,” Keyes Fleming said.
Keyes Fleming said the EPA has established similar partnerships with other colleges and universities throughout the Southeast.
“In the last three years we have developed a consortium of schools involved in sustainability and presently have 21 MOUs—this is our 22nd,” Keyes Fleming said.
Additionally, Keyes Fleming said the MOU will allow the college and EPA to partner together and convene forums on issues of environmental sustainability and justice, develop research involving sustainability and work with the community.
“There are some great things happening today that will position this institution to be the incubator for well-qualified graduates that are interested in environmental careers,” Keyes Fleming said. “Right here in our home-town we will be setting the standard and creating a model for all institutions across the country to learn from.”