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Catawba College Offers Two New Academic Majors This Fall

April 27, 2007

Category: Academics, Business & Economics, Environmental Science, Teacher Education

Catawba College will offer two new academic majors this fall, both targeting students with an interest in environmental issues. Students can opt to pursue an interdisciplinary major in Sustainable Business and Community Development or a major in Environmental Education. The faculty approved both majors this spring.

Sustainable Business and Community Development   [View Major]  
This new major was created for students who are interested in both business and the environment and allows the collaboration of faculty and resources in two separate areas, the Center for the Environment and the Ketner School of Business.

"With our rapidly changing world, we are witnessing a change in the business community," says Dr. John Wear, director of Catawba College's Center for the Environment and associate professor of biology and environmental science. "Companies are taking a greater interest in integrating environmental thinking into the way they operate. This approach is different from the traditional regulatory environmental work. It recognizes that employing environmentally sound practices makes good business sense."

Both the Center for the Environment and the Ketner School of Business have historically brought a large measure of vitality to Catawba College. "This gives us an opportunity to blend the two in a unique way," Wear says.

Pam Thompson, chair of the Ketner School of Business, is pleased that the Ketner School can now prepare its students to work in this new business environment. "More and more companies are making shifts in their philosophy to focus on the triple bottom line – profits, people and the planet," she says.

Companies like Duke Energy and Alcoa are now hiring sustainability directors and coordinators. Other businesses like Interface have transformed their companies in ways that enhance their profits and help the environment at the same time.

"This new major will give our students crucial information and skills that they will need to have a competitive edge in the job market and to guide businesses and communities in ways that will bring economic prosperity and a sustainable future," Thompson says.

Environmental Education     [View Major]  
Students who earn a degree in environmental education and fulfill certain requirements will have the opportunity to be certified to teach in state and county nature centers as well as national centers operated by services like U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

"We have offered a certification program through the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Division of Environmental Education for many years," says Wear. "We felt that the strength of this program warranted degree status, and the major was approved this spring by faculty and ultimately by the Board of Trustees."

Environmental education majors may broaden their teaching opportunities by pursuing additional studies leading to a minor in secondary education and completing student teaching. This will license them to teach science in North Carolina, either at the middle school or high school level. Because Catawba's Teacher Education Department has received national accreditation and has forged reciprocity agreements, graduates with secondary education minors should be able to teach anywhere in the United States, according to Dr. James Stringfield, chair of the Teacher Education Department.

"This further enhances the degree," Wear says. "The students will benefit greatly from this collaboration with the outstanding faculty in our Teacher Education Department."

Stringfield says that "one of the exciting things about this major is that we will be able to better utilize the exceptional facilities and resources of the Center for the Environment. This will create a unique niche that will help set us apart from other programs.

"We have an exceptional science program at Catawba College," Stringfield says. "This new major is a great way to package the best of both worlds."

Students who major in environmental education and minor in secondary education will have the opportunity to apply for generous scholarships through the newly created Shirley Peeler Ritchie Academy for Teaching. Fifteen Martha Kirkland West Teaching Scholarships will be available this fall.

"This is the strongest teacher education scholarship program in the state," Stringfield says. "It demonstrates the commitment of this administration toward improvement of teaching not only in North Carolina but across the country."

In addition to the two new majors, Catawba also offers programs in more than 40 fields of study and professional preparation. For more information visit, or contact or call 1-800-CATAWBA.

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