UConn Senate passes environmental general education requirement

Students of all majors supported the proposal last year with 1,200 student signatures, according to Benjamin Breslau, an eighth-semester ecology and evolutionary biology major. (Courtesy/Wikimedia Creative Commons)

The University of Connecticut Senate agreed to include an Environmental Literacy course as part of the general education requirements Monday evening.

The requirement was first proposed in December 2016 by Jack Clausen, a UConn natural resources and the environment professor, according to David Wagner, an ecology and evolutionary biology professor at UConn.

Wagner said the proposal was assigned to the General Education Oversight Committee for a plan for including the requirement before voting on it. After more than a year of restructuring, the Senate moved to decide on the proposal.

“We’re going to be a leader in educating our students about environmental literacy and giving them the will and the knowledge to go forward and affect change,” Wagner said.

A student’s plan of study is determined by the year they are admitted to the school, so the environmental literacy general education requirement will only affect incoming students, according to the office of the registrar website.

Students of all majors supported the proposal last year with 1,200 student signatures, according to Benjamin Breslau, an eighth-semester ecology and evolutionary biology major. In the last three months there were 700 more signatures collected, he said.

“It’s the responsibility of our university to go ahead with this [requirement] and embrace environmental literacy,” Breslau said. “It’s the best way to educate students for the future.”

Wanjiku Gatheru, a fourth-semester environmental studies major, said that taking an environmental science course at UConn helped her realize the positive change humanity could bring about for the environment.

“This is an opportunity for the university to continue to cultivate a new generation of thinkers,” Gatheru said. “Let us continue to stand at the forefront of this movement and aid our students in making our future livable and equitable.”

Senator Hedley Freake, a UConn nutritional sciences professor, said a task force will be started right away to integrate the requirement into the general education system. The Senate vote on the final implementation will happen in the beginning of the fall with the requirement beginning for the fall semester, Freake said.

“This approach will allow us to respond to the immediate needs to enhance environmental literacy while also ensuring that our actions are aligned with both the current and future general education systems,” Freake said.


Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.hampton@uconn.edu.