Pace University Launches Center for Excellence on the Environment

Building on years as an environmental leader in higher education, Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies is forging new ground in interdisciplinary research, policy, and collaboration.  As Pace University’s first Center for Excellence under the Office of the Provost, the new Pace Academy serves as a model for future similar centers at Pace. According to Provost Geoffrey Brackett, DPhil (Oxon.) “With Pace University’s long-standing commitment and expertise in environmental protection, Applied Environmental Studies was a natural focus for the first center.” 

The Pace Academy will continue to serve as the headquarters for the Environmental Consortium—a post it has maintained since the Consortium’s official formation in 2004.  Pace Academy has already launched several exciting new initiatives and welcomed prominent environmental figures to the University.

New York State Water Policy
On September 23, 2009, environmental leaders from government, nonprofit, higher education, business, and indigenous nations came together at Pace Law School to discuss the need for a comprehensive water policy in New York State.  (View agenda.) Collaborating with Pace Law School and the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, Pace Academy made concrete recommendations for policy and action in New York State.

Visiting Scholar
In October 2009, world-renowned environmentalist, L. Hunter Lovins, visited the Pace Academy as a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. Lecturing on Pace’s three main campuses, Lovins spoke candidly about the climate crisis, appealing to the business case for taking the issue seriously. As the founder and President of Natural Capitalism, Inc., a nonprofit organization, Lovins advocated for cooperation among citizens, communities, and companies, to be the most dynamic problem-solving force on the planet.

Community Partnerships
Pace Academy has partnered with Grassroots Environmental Education to bring their “How Green is My Town?” (HGIMT) program to Westchester County.  Working with students, HGIMT collects data and measures a town’s “greenness” to give towns valuable information and new ideas for sustainability. The program also gives students the opportunity to make a difference by learning about solving environmental problems, promoting policy solutions, and communicating with local decision makers.

Almost 100 undergraduate and graduate students at Pace have participated in the 2009-2010 academic year.  After receiving a training session by Grassroots Environmental Education and passing a certifying quiz, students scheduled interviews with municipal leaders, school superintendents, and business councils.  Students focused their questions on characteristics of a sustainable and environmentally-aware community.  Once all the interviews have been conducted, the five greenest towns will be announced in spring 2010. The HGIMT program plans to go nationwide in 2011.

Climate Change Scholarship and Understanding
Climate change is a global issue requiring perspectives from experts in a variety of fields. The Pace Academy has attracted a number of leaders in policy, advocacy, media, and more to address this critical topic.

University Professor Nicholas A. Robinson, founder of Pace’s top-ranked environmental law program, collaborates across Pace’s faculties and environmental programs, and lectures on behalf of the University. He recently co-authored Climate Change Law:  Mitigation and Adaptation (West 2009), which examines climate change law. 

Andrew Revkin, former science reporter and blogger for The New York Times, joined the staff of Pace Academy to bring his fresh perspective and expertise to higher education.  Revkin published one of the first journalistic reports on global warming 21 years ago and melds “scientific information with coverage of the politics that influence both damage and prevention.” He will provide a unique, dynamic perspective to the Academy’s programming. 

River Semester
The Hudson River is a common thread that connects people and communities.  With its long history of commerce, conflict, law, literature and art, the River offers endless opportunities for research and education. The heart of the Hudson River estuary is located only a few miles from the Pleasantville and White Plains campuses, and surrounds the New York City campus.

Pace Academy is working with faculty across University to develop and offer a River Semester for students.  The program is open to sophomore-level undergraduates and integrates science and technology; law and policy; history, arts, and philosophy; and finance and economics—all of which will be assimilated in a capstone course. The first cohort of 15 to 20 students will enroll in fall 2010.

Animal Protection
Looking ahead, Pace Academy will address issues such as animal conservation, animal law, and ethics.  Interdisciplinary courses and student clinics that engage faculty, students, and communities will help bring issues associated with wild and domestic animals to the forefront.  

An Era of Collaboration
Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies is well-equipped to help address the challenges we face at the intersection of the human-nature relationship. Through its new programming and areas of research, the Academy looks forward to working collaboratively with Consortium institutions and the unique expertise they each bring to bear on these issues.

Center Staff 
Michelle D. Land, director of the Environmental Consortium, was appointed director of the new Pace Academy. She is joined by John Cronin, senior fellow in Environmental Affairs (and director of the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries); Nicholas Robinson, University professor on the Environment; Donna Kowal, and program coordinator. The Academy welcomed Andrew C. Revkin as its senior fellow for Environmental Understanding in early 2010.

For 103 years Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.