NCSE Research on Interdisciplinary Environmental and Sustainability Academic Programs
The Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) and the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) initiated its extensive research program on interdisciplinary environmental and sustainability (IES) higher education in 2008. The first task was completion of a census identifying all baccalaureate and graduate IES degree programs offered by universities and colleges in the U.S. The census served to define and characterize the population for ongoing research.
Two related studies completed in 2010 were the first comprehensive empirical studies that sought to identify the defining characteristics of the IES field and describe the diversity of IES programs’ administrative and curricular structures. These two studies revealed a number of important findings, summarized in the influential 2010 report, Interdisciplinary Environmental Education on the Nation’s Campuses: Elements of Field Identity and Curriculum Design. Download Report
The report outlines what kinds of IE programs exist, how many, where they are located in the country and on campuses—and elucidates elements common to the wide diversity of IE programs, including a consensus on the identity of the IES field, elements of ideal curricula, and a framework for understanding different program types.
IES programs have unparalleled opportunities to learn from the data and analyses provided by the NCSE research program and peer networks through customized academic program evaluation and assessment services, and participation in the NCSE University Affiliate Program, the CEDD, and the Council of Energy Research and Education Leaders.
The census of IES programs was updated and extended in 2012. The 2012 census identified baccalaureate and graduate academic programs with an explicit interdisciplinary approach as well as academic programs in disciplines and professional fields with formal specializations in environment and sustainability; minors and certificate programs; and centers and institutes focused on the environment and/or sustainability. A series of three reports illustrate the rapid growth in the IES field overall—especially in sustainability academic programs—and the emergence of new types of interdisciplinary energy programs.
A survey of IE and sustainability program leaders was completed in spring 2013. The survey instrument was developed with the numerous experts and included questions on degree program attributes and curriculum design, program leadership and faculty, administrative structure and resources, internal and external partnerships, and influences on programs’ success. A series of reports will be released throughout 2013 presenting the findings from the survey, case studies and relevant information from other published journal articles and reports.
Also see these recent reports: