Tips to Greening Your Education
There are many ways to enhance your green education at the UA. Find information below on crafting your degree to more closely suit your environment and sustainability interests, focusing on a discipline through your studies, getting involved in applicable initiatives both on and off campus, and looking ahead to your career.
Crafting your Degree
Personalized Majors and Minors
So you’ve browsed the Green Degree Guide but can’t find a degree path that matches your academic interests. Now what? Certain colleges and degrees allow you to personalize an interdisciplinary program through which you can pick classes based on your interests. The first step is to research majors that interest you. Try out UA's Degree Search to see the multitude of available options. Next, meet with advisors to discuss customizing programs based on your future career goals. They will help you find suitable classes to fulfill your aspirations and complete your declared degree. You can also visit the Green Course Guide to find courses that you might be able to incorporate into your studies that are focused on the environment and sustainability. Some customizable degree options are as follows:
- Information, Science, Technology and Arts
- Interdisciplinary General or Global Studies
- Thematic Minor
Make Your Major Work for You – Substitute Classes
Let’s say you have identified and like your major, but you would like to have more of a focus on the environment and sustainability. Use a valuable resource: your advisor. There are two types of courses within majors: core and suggested. Core courses are requirements to take if you want to graduate with a degree in a certain discipline. However, you can work with your advisor to substitute the suggested courses within your major to classes that better align with your interests.
Elective and focus area courses for which you are provided with a large list of class options are the most easily substituted. Remember that the course you substitute needs to have similar learning objectives and a similar course level to your program's original suggested course. For example, you cannot substitute a 300 level course with a 100 level course. Your advisor will let you know if the substitution you want is a reasonable and will help you enroll. Visit the Green Course Guide to review courses that may interest you, and then talk to your advisor to see if substituting courses is a possibility.
Focusing your Discipline
- Make Gen Eds Work For You
General Education course requirements (Gen Eds) offer you an opportunity to explore disciplines that you would not be exposed to otherwise. Take advantage of them because they can be a lot of fun! Explore the Green Course Guide to find Gen Eds that interest you, and can help you learn about the environment and sustainability in different contexts.
- Work with Your Professors
Each semester professors give out syllabi detailing the course's specific path and assignments. If you are passionate about a certain subject, professors have the power to help you explore more about that subject by being flexible with their assignments. For example, if you are given a paper topic that does not interest you, you can propose to the professor a different topic for your paper that is related to the class and also related to the environment and sustainability. At the UA you have the ability to create the education you want, and professors are excited to see students who are ready to learn and show initiative. Some professors might not allow you to do this, especially in larger lower division classes (100-200 level), but it does not hurt to ask.
If you are an Honors student, you can use Honors courses to your advantage by working closely with your professor to learn more about a certain subject. Honors students typically have to do extra research or write extra papers for a class to count towards Honors credit. Why not use this opportunity to write about something you are excited about? You can work with your professor to make your focus on the environment and sustainability, so you get more out of the course. Additionally, if you are a freshman and you have an idea for a research project you can work on with a professor, check out the Honors First Year Project. This will give you great experience while expanding your knowledge about environment and sustainability topics in the first year of your undergraduate career.
- Independent Studies, Internships and Research
Did you know you can receive class credit for doing research or working with an organization that interests you? Through an Independent Study class, you can work with a professor on a project of your choosing. This can be developing an independent research project or assisting them with research. You will have to make a plan with a professor and get it approved by your advisor. Additionally, you can make interning at an on or off campus business or non-profit that relates to your interests count as an Independent Study class. This is a great way to give yourself some freedom and hands on experience to learn a lot about a subject. Note that in order to receive credit for a course like this, you will have to complete at least 45 hours of research or interning. Some majors require you to have an independent study, internship, or research assistantship, but if your major does not, you can talk to your advisor about substituting an Independent Study class so you can pursue your interests.
- Capstone Projects/Honors Thesis
Many degree programs require a Capstone Project, which is similar to the Honors Thesis required to graduate with Honors. You can work with your advisors to either research or implement a project focused on the environment or sustainability to fulfill these requirements. You can even apply for a Mini Grant ($1,500) through the UA Green Fund to help support your research or project. This is a great opportunity to gain more experience, and to expand your resumé as you complete your undergraduate career.
Getting involved on campus or with a local organization gives you many opportunities and learning experiences that can never be obtained in a classroom. This is an opportunity to build your skills, learn what your passions are, and make lifetime connections with people that can help you build your career. Here are just a few ways you can get involved to enhance your green education. Visit the Green Engagement Guide for more information.
Looking Ahead: Careers
It is never too early to start thinking about what you want to do in the future and planning how you are going to get there. Career Services offers a Green Career Guide that can help you prepare and search for a profession related to the environment and sustainability.