Over the past few weeks, the University of Connecticut Office of Environmental Policy in conjunction with EcoHouse have been collecting signatures on their petition that aims to create a new general education requirement. The course will aim to educate students about environmental sustainability and literacy, in the hopes to “bridge the gap between majors that typically involve studying the environment and those that do not.” There are, of course, a mixture of reactions to the idea of adding another core requirement to the already heavy course load that students have to bear. However, this class should be thought of as being not just another way to create well-rounded students, but also as a way to help protect our endangered planet.
As many reports and personal experiences have shown, our Earth is changing. Temperatures are rising on average each year, ecosystems are dying, and international efforts to alleviate and reverse these issues are not acting fast enough. If we want to become a strong force in saving our planet, we have to start with one of the main areas that is severely lacking: environmental education. The way that we, as a whole, treat our planet is does not showcase the care and respect that we give to other aspects of our lives. While this is partially due to not caring, it is also due in large part to a lack of not knowing what is healthy for our planet as well as not understanding the consequences of our actions. Adding this course in as a general education requirement that students will have to take will greatly improve education within the UConn community regarding our environment. This could be a big step towards a greener future.
The major consideration for students in welcoming this change to the general education requirements is how it will impact them. While many fear that it will hurt them by being an overly challenging course, or that it will add extra requirements into their already packed schedules, those advocating for the course have been quick to dispel these fears. Hannah Casey, an environmental studies major and backer of the petition, wanted to assure students that “the requirement would not negatively impact students because it takes courses that already exist and make them a general education requirement.” In addition, the classes offered under this change would often double dip into other requirements, making it even less of a burden to students.
Overall, the opportunity for students to learn more about helping to preserve our environment is one that should not be passed up. The education surrounding this topic is severely lacking both in the United States and throughout the entire world. Climate change is not an issue that is going away any time soon, and the first step in solving this issue is becoming educated about it. If our university can offer us this, we would be foolish not to accept.