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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

ESF To Award First Online Sustainability Management Degree Saturday

Online program opens new doors for Erica Clark

An online degree program in sustainability management opened up doors Erica Clark never expected. This Saturday she'll be the first to graduate from the new ESF program.

"I've always been kind of eco-conscious and was trying to make some changes to my lifestyle," said Clark of Naples, New York. "Then I changed careers and started working for Avangrid (a leading sustainable energy company) and they offered me the opportunity to get my bachelor's degree and they would pay for it."

Clark who has a degree from Finger Lakes Community College in human services learned about ESF while taking environmental conservation courses. "I knew that it was a college that I was certainly interested in but as an adult, I couldn't just uproot my life to live in Syracuse and go to school there," she said. However, two years ago, she joined a webinar about the sustainability management program and was accepted into the program.

The new online degree program allows far-reaching student access to a quality ESF education that we are all so very proud of, said Katherine Lang, online education program coordinator, Open Academy.

Clark describes the program as "all-encompassing" - exploring the economy, the environment and blending those factors into running a business in a manner that benefits both society and the environment.

"It's a new field and different from what I expected it to be," Clark said. "It's a sector I think that is going to see a lot of growth in the coming years because consumers are looking for more social responsibility from the businesses they support and purchase from."

The Sustainability Management students share ESF's commitment and dedication to our environment, according to Lang. "Their interests and pursuits mirror many of our on-campus students. This program, however, benefits students often at different stages in their lives - some are working full-time or caring for family. This adds to the diversity of our community. Just like our on-campus students, they are pursuing their degrees to further personal and professional development, continue their education or start anew with a sustainability focus in their careers."

ESF has widened Clark's worldview. After graduation, she's starting an online master's program at the University of Edinburgh for international development with a concentration in the environment. "I'll still be looking at sustainability, but I'm going to look at it from more of a social perspective," she said.

As Clark's academic advisor, Lang has watched her progress through her classes, excelling academically while working full-time. "She has provided support and guidance to other online students and thoughtful feedback regarding this new program," said Lang. "I'm thrilled she will be the first Sustainability Management graduate and I know she will make positive contributions to a better, more sustainable world."