University of Maine System trustees approved two new degree programs on Friday, both keyed to the growing sustainability movement, as part of an ongoing overhaul of academic offerings to boost enrollment and trim costs.
Starting this fall, the University of Maine in Orono will offer a bachelor of arts degree in Human Dimensions of Climate Change, while the University of Maine at Farmington will offer a bachelor of arts in Outdoor Recreation Business Administration.
The climate change degree will be offered through UMaine’s Department of Anthropology, but draw on resources in several other departments and the school’s Climate Change Institute research center.
No additional resources are needed to create either degree, campus officials said.
The new degree programs are part of an effort to constantly evaluate degree programs and academic offerings. In recent years, there has been increasing pressure on campus officials to end programs that are not as popular with students or lose money, while adding new programs that are in high demand and profitable.
Incoming Orono campus President Sue Hunter told the trustees, who met in Bangor, that faculty from the anthropology, ecology, economics, geography and other departments will all participate in the climate change degree program.
“It really takes advantage of the faculty,” Hunter said. Reviewers “predict that the strong reputation in this broad area will be an attractor for students. This B.A. program is unique in the country and will attract new in-state and out-of-state students.”
According to the Princeton Review, more than 600 colleges and universities around the country offer degrees in environmental sustainability. Among schools in Maine, the University of Maine at Machias offers a minor in sustainability management, Unity College focuses all of its degree programs around the environment, and College of the Atlantic on Mount Desert Island focuses on human ecology.
A degree in climate change could lead to work in the growing green job sector, such as renewable energy jobs.
According to federal labor statistics, the number of “green jobs” is increasing and as of 2011, the most recent data available, 3.4 million people were in jobs that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
Trustee Karl Turner said he “heartily endorsed” the climate change degree.
“This is a program that is playing into a very serious world problem,” he said. “I suspect there will be strong demand.”
The Farmington degree also draws on existing campus resources and replaces a similar concentration in outdoor studies. Graduates could use the degree in the tourism industry, such as managing a ski resort or running a business that caters to tourists.
“This is certainly in the heart of the Maine economy,” said trustee Greg Johnson. “Tourism creates one of five revenue dollars in the state.”
UMF Provost Daniel Gunn said the college expects the degree to draw more students, boosting enrollment and revenue. “This program is really pioneering,” he said.