Appalachian’s sustainable development program increases by 57 percent

Anne Buie

The sustainable development program has grown 57 percent since 2010, with enrollment at 261 declared majors now compared to 150 in 2010, said Sandra Lubarsky, director of sustainable development.

The number of sustainable development minors has also increased significantly, but is not counted with sustainable development majors, Lubarsky said.

This growth comes from an increased understanding of the importance of being sustainable, Lubarsky said.

“The fact that [the faculty] is really dedicated to the program also helps,” Lubarsky said. “Also the faculty across campus have been very helpful.”

The support of the administration has also made the program successful, she said.

Christof Den Biggelaar, associate professor of sustainability has worked at the university since 2000 and has continually seen growth within his classroom.

“For the first few years, I saw between 14 and 22 students in my classes,” Biggelaar said. “Now, we have around 250 students in the sustainable development program and there’s between 70 and 75 students in my classes.”

Greater consciences, even in elementary school students, is the reason sustainability has grown in the past few years, Biggelaar said.

Anne Fanatico, assistant professor of sustainable development, has worked at Appalachian for two years.

Students wanting to make a difference is one of the reasons she thinks sustainable development majors have increased, Fanatico said.

“I think students are aware that consumers aren’t necessarily in touch with where their food is coming from,” Fanatico said. “But that’s changing and I really think students want to be involved in that.”

The largest concentration is sustainable agriculture with 78 declared majors as of Aug. 14, Lubarsky said.

Sustainable development offers four programs including sustainable agriculture, community, regional and global development and environmental studies as well as one Bachelor of Arts in sustainable development.


Story: CHELSEY FISHER, Senior News Reporter