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Jana Wilson
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2008

SPEA offers graduate concentration in sustainable development

Feb. 12, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Students in the Master of Public Affairs degree program at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs can now pursue an academic concentration in sustainable development.

The option is available to students in the MPA program at IU Bloomington. SPEA faculty members believe it is the first sustainable development concentration offered by a university public affairs program.

"Our highly ranked School of Public and Environmental Affairs has unique strengths because of its deep expertise in both public policy and environmental science," said Karen Hanson, the IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president. "This new graduate degree concentration will draw on those strengths and will offer outstanding opportunities for our students."

The concentration reflects a growing interest in environmental sustainability at Indiana University. In a Campus Sustainability Report completed in January, a Task Force on Campus Sustainability called for IU Bloomington to be a national leader in sustainability studies and listed the then-proposed SPEA concentration as one of several IU Bloomington programs focusing on sustainability.

"There is widespread interest in sustainable development not just on this campus, but in every community," Hanson said. "The benefits of the new SPEA MPA concentration will be both local and global."

Professor John Mikesell, director of SPEA's Master of Public Affairs program, chaired a committee of faculty and students that developed a proposal for the concentration. SPEA faculty approved the proposal last fall, and campus officials gave final approval last week.

Mikesell said the concentration will open doors for SPEA graduates to a growing sector of professional careers.

"We see a significant market for these students in government, in business and in nonprofit organizations," he said.

The SPEA proposal cites a World Commission on Environment and Development definition of sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It adds: "The logical components of a sustainable development strategy encompass environmental, economic, social and political elements."

To complete the concentration, students must take:

  • Nine credit hours of required courses in sustainable development, natural resource management and either urban economic development or economic development, globalization and entrepreneurship.
  • Three credit hours on using analytical tools, such as data analysis, benefit-cost analysis or geographic information systems.
  • Three credit hours of courses on the natural environment, such as applied ecology, fish and wildlife, or forest ecology.
  • Three credit hours in a specialization option, such as international environmental policy, environmental law or environmental economics.

The SPEA MPA program at IU Bloomington also offers concentrations in comparative and international affairs, economic development, environmental policy and natural resource management, information systems, nonprofit management, policy analysis, public financial administration, public management and local government management.

About the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs

The IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs is committed to teaching, research and service in areas such as public and nonprofit management, public policy, environmental science, criminal justice, arts administration and health administration. The school maintains continuing relationships with a large number of public agencies at all levels of government; public and private hospitals and health organizations; and nonprofit organizations and corporations in the private sector. SPEA has earned national distinction for innovative educational programs that combine administrative, social, economic, financial and environmental disciplines.