University of Arkansas
Education and Research:
The University of Arkansas will offer a Professional Science Masters degree in Sustainability Analysis, beginning in Fall 2010. There are now 112 PSM programs at 80 colleges and universities across the nation. The one that we propose will be the first in the field of sustainability, and one of only 3 PSM programs in the midwest. The PSM degree is designed to address the needs of BS graduates in the sciences, mathematics, or engineering who choose not to pursue a Ph.D., but need additional training and skills to compete in today’s global market place. It provides an applied degree program at UA that complements sustainability related programs across the UA campus, including those in biology, engineering, geosciences, agriculture, and business. The masters program in Sustainability Analysis complements research that is carried out by the Applied Sustainability Center and the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability.
Students in the PSM program must prepare a paper in the capstone project which is presented and defended in front of the student’s advisory committee and other students in the program. Outside visitors may be invited to attend and ask questions, at the discretion of the student’s major advisor and the student. Defense of this paper satisfy the Graduate School’s requirement of a comprehensive exam.
The curriculum covers the ecological, environmental, social and economic principles that are the bases for developing and managing sustainable industries, enterprises, communities and ecosystems, including environmental carrying capacity, biological diversity and stability, energy efficiency, intergenerational equity, life-cycle assessment, sustainable community design, and carbon footprint. An emphasis on scientific rigor and methodology distinguish the program from MBA programs that cover some of these topics.
Life cycle analysis is a central concept in sustainable development. This program provides instruction on the frameworks, principles, tools, and applications of life cycle analysis, which requires a systems analysis of environmental, economic, and social impacts of product systems. The life cycle analysis course is designed to provide knowledge and understanding that will be applied in a capstone project that is carried out in cooperation with an organization or company in the region.
Over fifty research programs on campus contribute to the development of tomorrow’s sustainable technologies, including thin film photovoltaic cell production, biodiesel and biobutynol from algae and other resources, sustainable fruit and vegetable production, life cycle costs analysis, acoustic thermal storage for solar heat, electrical grid efficiency, power inversion technologies, and other basic and applied research programs.
The University of Arkansas is a leading institution in the application of energy conservation and energy efficiency technologies. Over the past five years, UA has executed three energy savings performance contracts that total $40 million in conservation and efficiency improvements in central plant facilities and in buildings across the campus. Boilers and chillers were upgraded well before the service life of existing equipment had expired, to achieve improved efficiencies. Over half of the investment has gone into building energy conservation measures, including re-lamping, occupancy sensors, more efficient fume hoods, HVAC controls, and building envelope improvements. As a result, UA will save $2 - 3 million per year on our $12 million utility expenses. The implementation of efficiency and conservation measures is an essential prerequisite to installation of renewable energy systems that we’ll put into place as the economics of those systems becomes more attractive in the coming years.
Over 100 projects and programs are in place on the UA campus that save energy, save water, reduce waste, improve the quality of life for campus users, integrate our institution with the surrounding community, improve equity among students, faculty and staff, and educate students and the community about sustainable living. Some of the most notable among these are:
- With over 1,500 LED light fixtures installed, we think that we’ve got more LED in place than any campus in the nation.
- Razorback Transit provided 1.2 million free rides to any rider last year, which kept hundreds of thousands of cars out of campus parking spaces and away from local gas pumps.
- All waste vegetable oil from campus food courts is processed into biodiesel fuel, which powers off-road vehicles at the UA Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
- Trayless dining reduces food waste by 100,000 pounds per year, and saves 250,000 gallons of hot water.
- A Students F1rst Sustainability Competition awarded $30,000 in prizes to student teams that developed projects to save energy, reduce carbon emissions, save water, and reduce waste on campus.
- Razorback Recycling marketed 500 tons of materials to recycling markets (paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, cardboard) last year, and programs that recycle construction debris, oil and filters, scrap metals, and other materials totaled 500 tons more.
- A campus Sustainability Council, which proposes innovations to the campus administration, is led by a team of students, faculty and staff.
The UA Climate Action Plan describes how our campus will move from annual greenhouse gas emissions of 190,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent to half that level by 2021. We have targeted the year 2040 as the time by which we will be a climate neutral institution.
Administration and Finance:
The UA Sustainability Council includes representatives from the City of Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods, and its meetings are open to the public. The process of developing the UA Climate Action Plan included public input meetings on and off campus. The director of sustainability for the City of Fayetteville has coordinated a re-lamping project with UA students and local housing authorities, has developed a water conservation academy that integrates UA and community technical resources, and worked on a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for Fayetteville High School with the Sustainability Council.
Human diversity is among the top priorities for the UA administration, and there is an office of Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity that works to assure that the university is a diverse and socially just campus. Statistics related to international student enrollment and racial diversity have improved consistently over the past decade.
The Chancellor has seated the Affordability and Cost Containment Commission, which seeks to minimize tuition increases while improving the quality of education available to students. Tuition did not increase between the 08 and 09 academic years. A recently enacted State lottery is expected to provide hundreds of additional scholarships to UA students beginning next year, and a large majority of those will be provided to limited resource applicants.
Over 700 neighbors, students and staff turned out to volunteer for cleanup after an ice storm in January 2009, saving the University tens of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs. In return, UA chipped trees and branches that fell, and made the resulting mulch available to the community at no cost. Although volumes were not measured, it is estimated that about 1,000 cubic yards of hardwood mulch were given to area gardeners.