My name is Dean Herrick and I am from Boylston Massachusetts. I am an environmental and resource economics major with a dual major in sustainability and a minor in business administration. I enjoy playing the piano and guitar in my free time along with hanging out with my friends and family on the weekends. I am passionate about protecting and preserving the planet and I am aiming to help create a sustainable environment throughout the world.
SUST 401 & 501 Reflection
After taking SUST 401 and 501 I feel as though I have gained a greater knowledge toward not only what I am passionate about, but some concepts that I would have never come across if I had not found the sustainability dual major. In SUST 401 I was introduced to the frameworks of what sustainability is. Starting with the foundation of the three pillars of sustainability, the environmental, social, and economic parts that make up different areas within sustainability. The environmental pillar started out with what is environmental ethics and environmental justice. I really enjoyed learning about environmental ethics and how we we need to appreciate all aspects that humans, animals, plants, and the overall environment has to offer. We need to look at these things on an equal scale to some extent. Most of us are surrounded by people who look at all races and genders as equal, although we are still struggling as a world to have these same morals. When it comes to animals we all have different views about cruelty, raising livestock and slaughtering, but I believe we have to look at the natural environment and respect it with some rules and regulations so we don't destroy every environment and biosphere we have left. As humans, we are the dominant ones and have the ability to change the entire look and future of the world. Conservation, animal rights and forest/plant salvation has to be in best interest of everyone from now on. These ideas were brought up in the 1970’s but really haven't been taken into consideration until recent years. Sometimes we don't realize the changes and innovations that society has created and we overlook the natural resources and land that it took to get us to where we are today.
Our 401 class then started learning about the concept of social sustainability. When I think of the words “social sustainability,” I think of a more unified world. Just the concept of sustainability has been thrown around the past few years and I think it's time to start acting instead of just talking. Social sustainability to me is a world where everyone is on the same page as to what humans can do to the earth and our atmosphere. It's not taking our environment for granted and doing whatever we please with it. We have been here long enough to see and understand that we do have serious impacts on how the world will change overtime. We need to realize that our everyday lives need to change for the betterment of future generations. We don't get to choose when or where we live and grow up, but we do know that people will still be here long after our lifespan for years and years after us. We don’t want to be the generation that people look back and and say, “what were they thinking.” Everyone should know and acknowledge that we are altering the lifespan of our earth and putting the human race in a path to extinction. With social sustainability coming into play I feel as though we can stop this by implementing policy throughout the world. Regulations on everyday things we do, driving cars, using too much energy, and wasting valuable raw materials and resources. If everyone had limits to these things, then people would stop and think a little harder. It turns out we really do have a limit to our natural resources, but we can’t physically see it so we don’t consider the effects that will happen in the near future. Social sustainability will get everyone to start thinking about other options and ideas that could better our environment. I learned that it might be hard to change our actions and can hurt the business world financially, and economically, but it's better to deal with the set backs then to deal with a dying planets and everything that lives on it.
The economic pillar in sustainability taught me ways in which we can measure economic well being and what it means to put a price on the impacts we are causing. I’ve learned that measuring economic and social welfare includes the costs of environmental damage, pollution, crime, international debt, and income disparity, along with volunteer work and uncounted household services. People don't look at the index of sustainable economic welfare as much as they would look at something like GDP, which measures the value of all goods and service purchased in an area per person per year. GDP has been continually been growing, but if you look at things like the ISEW, I’ve learned the progress has actually declined since the late 1970’s. GDP focuses more on the financial aspect of things while ISEW takes into account things that will affect everything within our atmosphere.
These concepts were not the only thing I learned in 401, but were the big takeaways for me. We went on a variety of different field trips that all revolved around some sort of a sustainable framework. Going to the co-generation power plant, the stormwater drainage systems at West Edge, and the aquaponics greenhouses all gave me insight on different types of sustainable developments or technologies. I could go on to discuss all of the topics and destinations that my 401 class had to offer, but instead I highly encourage you to take the class or learn more about some of the things I have just discussed. SUST 401 opened my eyes to what the field of sustainability has to offer and really encouraged me to declare the SDM.
SUST 501 had some similarities to 401 because we continued to be introduced to sustainability projects and technology or science that was being used to tackle real world problems. The big difference I found between the two classes was that in 501 we not only learned about all these new strategies and solutions to fixing negative environmental damages, but we were taught how big projects were conducted. Our class saw the effects of implementing a solution and how that solution was organized and put into action. It taught me that we are trying to tackle wicked problems that have multiple solutions and outcomes. The issues can’t simply be fixed overnight and can not be solved with just a few people working on the problem. It takes years to draft up solutions and it takes a collaborative effort from all types of disciplines. I was given enough of a foundation to know how to approach the major issues the world is facing and I now feel as though I can take the knowledge from both 401 and 501 and put it to use in my capstone project. I’ve really enjoyed taking both classes and now that I have all of that information, I won’t be overwhelmed with my project on sustainability tours at UNH. I have a solid team of dedicated and passionate peers that I look forward to working with.
My Sustainability Electives
One of the first sustainability electives I chose to take was NR 444 Does Extinction Matter? This course was taught by Jennifer Purrenhage and because of her passion for animals and the environment, it made me actually interested and excited for class. The course looks into the negative effects that human development has on ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity in those areas. As a class we would have to consider the economic, ecological, and ethical options and opinions that we created over the semester to answer the question of, “Does extinction matter?” This course was also based around a book that we had to read called, “The Sixth Extinction.” This book was written in the perspective of a journalist who would travel to exotic parts of the world and meet up with researchers who were studying endangered species. We were to read and come up with discussion questions that we would present throughout the semester. Having a class that was really discussion based made me see so many of the different perspectives that there are and it opened my eyes not only to the big picture issues, but also some of the small. This course goes over some of the issues that need to be tackled in the immediate future and having a sustainability major can give me the credibility to try and find a job where I can help solve some of the issues that we have discussed in that class.
NR 602 Natural Resources and Environmental Policy was another course I decided to take because I have always been interested in all types of policy. I have thought about going into some form of policy, whether it would be for environment, public, or health/educational policy. This course went over the american environmental policy and history. It taught me how environmental policy came about and what the american government had to do in order to put new forms of policies or laws into place. I was introduced to topics like the EPA and the excessive car emission problems that the motor industry faced. I was able to choose a topic and write my own policy briefing. I had lab every week where we would go over current environmental issues that were happening all around the world and then spend time discussing and writing our own policy briefings. This course contributes to my sustainability major because the kinds of policy I was writing and studying about all had to do with helping the environment. I purposely chose this course because maybe someday I could work for the government or for some sort of public policy job where I was able to write some of the rules, laws, and regulations that will help the betterment of the environment. I feel like this would be a pretty impactful course if I do go on to write policy. I would be able to shape the future of either some cities or towns, and maybe even the entire US if I decide to work for the government.
TOUR 767 Social Impact Assessment (SIA) was my capstone last semester that covered my environmental and resource economics major, but was also an elective for the dual sustainability major. This course provides a multidisciplinary perspective on some of the issues, problems, and methods that a social impact assessment can cover. A social impact assessment is a theoretical approach that assesses diverse events, such as changes in the environment, the economy, or technology. These kinds of assessments are mandatory in most all of the US and Canada and during federal and state projects due to the EPA. This course taught me about the different types of social impact assessments and how and why they were created. After learning how they were conducted, I was able to choose a topic or place of my own where I would create my own SIA. I really liked how all the students were able to pick their own topics because we had a number of different types of majors in the class, so being able to pick your own topic allowed you to cater your project towards your own major. I am an environmental and resource economics major with a dual major in sustainability. I saw that this course related to real life environmental, social, and economic development strategies. There are many challenging and threatening issues that human development or sprawling is causing in the world today, and this class teaches you some of the tools that can help tackle these wicked problems that society is facing. When I enter the workforce, I want to be able to make a difference and find the answers to some of these issues. Learning the key concepts in completing a social impact assessment gives me the able to bring these skills to a future career. I wouldn't mind working for something like an environmental consultancy group or as a community planner. Having a job like this requires employees to analyze the impacts that humans will cause in the present and into the future. You can be the deciding factor that approves or disapproves a new development or development strategy. This is where my sustainability major can overlap and come into play. I am all for social and economic development, but I believe it has to be done in a sustainable manner that protects the environment for future generations.
Sustainability Electives Continued
NR 784 Sustainable Living - Global Perspectives: This course caught my attention just based off the title of the class. Over the past few years I have created my own definition of what I thought “sustainable living” meant, but soon realized what it could mean for others around the world. This course was heavily discussion and project based, which allowed me to take my background in sustainability and environmental economics to the classroom. We were assigned readings and had a class textbook that consisted of numerous short stories with various types of environmental and social situations that presented different perspectives. Attendance is required alongside class participation. You can not simply get by with just showing up to class, the professor was always engaged and directed the class discussion topics. The course went over global scale issues that could not be completely answered in a simple response, and it wasn’t always the goal to answer the wicked problems that were presented. It was more of an opinion based class and how you felt about the topics and how you could potentially go about answering or solving the issues at hand. It was hard to ever be “wrong” in this course because as long as you gave reason to something that you perceived, the professor would see your perspective and acknowledge that. This was something that I really enjoyed because I was the only one in the class that was an economics major with the dual major in sustainability. The knowledge I have acquired in the course goes further into global issues such as population growth, economic globalization and development, cultural values, and social equity. The course raised awareness and alternatives towards those issues and how some current practices are not sustainable to humanity and are intruding on the earth's ecosystems. We had discussed interrelated problems where things like society and the economy had overlapped and how that can affect the actions of individuals or the actions of larger companies or corporations.
One example that we had discussed was about a company that knew of a large location in Africa that had no access to power, and their only source of lighting was through kerosine lanterns. A solar company came in with the idea of financing their electricity and lighting systems. This would be done by signing the financing contract that would be paid back over time, but the company would charge them a monthly fee that would be equal to their kerosine costs for that month. After they had paid off their small solar array, they would now be able to save their money that would have been used to buy kerosine. Granted the solar arrays would not last forever but they had about a 10 year lifespan and the array would typically be paid back after a few years. This situation was based around economic, social, and environmental factors. To put this situation in the most basic form, the area or “society” that was affected were the communities that were given this financing option. The economic factor came into play because the communities would not have been able to buy alternative lighting or power because they simply did not have the money to buy one without a company coming in to offer them a financing option for the solar array. Lastly, the environmental aspect had to do with the atmosphere and air. The burning of kerosine caused toxic chemicals to enter into the air that they were breathing, which was unhealthy and ultimately bad for the surrounding areas. It would continue to affect the environment because the kerosine would have to be extracted from the earth's natural resources. Their are other factors that this situation had going on but for the sake of time I just wanted to give a brief overview of what the class had to do over the course of the semester. Overall, NR 784 Sustainable Living - Global Perspectives would consist of reading about global situations that were happening or have happened in the past, and then reflecting on the topic in an open class discussion.
I feel as though this course tried to teach you about the huge issues that the earth and society are faced with. I was able to take the skills and knowledge I had learned in SUST 401 and 501, along with the other electives I have taken for the major, and apply them to the class discussions. Aside from the class readings and discussions I had to do a research project on a sustainability aspect that was based outside the US. I chose to focus on Canada were they have similar technologies to America and wrote about a wastewater treatment facility that was developed in the US. I had previously learned about this type of technology in another class and decided to show how US sustainability efforts can travel across borders. We have talked about different kinds of companies and technologies that can benefit other areas of the world within the sustainability required courses, and I thought that this class had some similarities to what we had learned and discussed in both SUST 401 and 501.
Environmental and Resource Economics; Dual Major in Sustainability
I am currently a senior at the University of New Hampshire studying environmental and natural resource economics(EREC) with the dual major in sustainability(SUST). I was not always an EREC and SUST student and only came across the major because of my advisor. I was going to strictly study business administration, but after freshman year I realized that that was not entirely for me. I wanted to go into more of a biological science, but changing my major to that as a sophomore would have resulted in an extra year for my studies. My advisor gave me the option of taking EREC because it had more things related to the natural environment, and that's simply something I am a lot more interested in. He further introduced me to the SUST dual major because they somewhat overlap and the discovery courses I had already taken had fulfilled some of the courses that could be used towards completing the dual major requirements. After my advisor gave me some insight on the two majors, I thought that getting a bachelor of science degree would be great for me and the interests I have.
Environmental and resource economics uses economic theories that I have learned over the years to study and research problems or issues that can affect water, land, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and wildlife, and even local communities or cities. These sort of problems or issues are similar to what I have learned about in the SUST dual major. We do not always talk about the exact solution to figuring out the problems, but instead we learn about how we could potentially go about tackling those issues. I have taken interest in both community economics and public/environmental policy as a result of studying EREC.
WIth those two topics in mind, I have taken courses in community planning where we learned advanced concepts and tools that allowed me to effectively give UNH Cooperative Extension some research that my class did on Dover, Newmarket, and Durham. I focused on Dover and how the cities planning board could use our research to potentially bring in more people from outside the city. I looked into land use, capital investments in infrastructure, and the types of people or demographics that already lived in the area. This sort of analysis goes hand in hand with my dual sustainability major. I had to organize a group where we divided and delegated tasks to everyone, put together the criteria we were going to be focusing on, and execute the research by looking online and physically going to the city to finalize and research the rest of the information that was needed in order for my group and I to present to Cooperative Extension.
I had used the skills I had learned from the sustainability classes to help complete the research and organize group information to complete our project. SUST 501 was very similar to this type of work. In 501 we learned all about collaboration and working together with different disciplines in order to answer complex problems or issues. SUST 401 had introduced me to what sustainability actually was and how humans and our consumer based habitats are affecting the environment and the species that occupy certain areas of the world. The types of things that I have and will continue to study and learn about will always be similar to the things that I study and research about for my SUST dual major. Both of my majors are based around the problems that society or “the human race” have created and the skills I have learned in both majors will help better my chances of finding the answers to those wicked problems.
Environmental and Resouce Economics; Sustainability Career Path
I am currently an environmental and resource economics major with a dual major in sustainability and a minor in business administration. Originally, I was only an environmental and resource economics major and I thought it would be a great idea to pair the dual sustainability major with my primary major because they overlap in so many different ways. I could be potentially work for the government or a municipality were I would like to write the rules, laws, regulations, policies, plans, projects, and programs that may help reduce the impacts that development can cause. I could use my economics background to do an assessment on a proposed action or project that would provide a scope of work and the hard number and dollar value to implementing a new project, but then using my dual sustainability major I could propose how the projects could be developed in a sustainable manner. This could be something as simple as recycling materials or using recycled materials, but it could also be as large as choosing a sustainable technology or solution that would continue to work for years on end, but also eliminate the impacts that other non-sustainable solutions could have caused.
If I were to work in this field I would enjoy having the ability to decide how large scale development would be put in place. I have a passion for innovative technologies, infrastructures and economic development strategies that are cost effective, realistic, and implemented in a sustainable manner. Sometimes this sort of work is very tedious and time consuming, but you can not compare the time spent on a project or policy versus the earth's lifespan because I believe the environment and the health of ecosystems are priceless. I am not entirely sure what my job title would be if I was to do this for my career, but it could also be for a consultancy company that does social impact assessments or environmental impact assessments. With policy changing as time goes on and society moves towards sustainability practices, I would love to be at the forefront of driving continuous change that I would initiate with my co-workers, and other businesses or economic development firms.
Understanding what drives the economy is a key concept for development, but being able to do so with sustainability initiatives in mind would be beneficial to the environment and leave me with a sense of satisfaction knowing that the best possible solution was pursued and implemented. Working for a company like this could help the well-being of the people who live around the proposed project areas. If there are any opportunities that allow for increased economic development at the same time as creating new technologies or practices, I believe you should capitalize on situations or projects that are the least impactful and can sustain themselves. Working as a consultant or for the government or a municipality I would take into account the businesses involved in the area, and I could help assess what new types of development strategies are less harmful to the surrounding environments along with creating a platform for other communities that are looking to increase the economic status of their communities.
Although I still do not know what I will be doing after I graduate, I would like to do what I have described above. If that ends up happening, I could take the skills and knowledge I have learned in my sustainability classes and bring them to my workplace. Working on large scale development or sustainability projects would require talking to and collaborating with multiple different firm or organizations. Getting the projects implemented and inplace would require a multidisciplinary approach that would have different disciplines working together to get the projects finished. I am not entirely sure how those projects are organized and completed, but with the case studies I have done for my businesses classes and the articles I have read in my sustainability classes, I feel as though I have a decent understanding of how to get a project underway.
Sustainability Dual Major Reflection
My experience in the sustainability dual major and working as a team on our SUST 750 capstone has been an overall learning experience and an enjoyable one nonetheless. Working with my team on developing a Sustainability Tour for the UNH campus was not an easy task and required the skills that we have gained throughout the duration of our time in the dual major while still incorporating outside knowledge that we had learned in our college experience. We were given the opportunity to pick a topic that we wanted to work on the most. I believe our team all had the UNH Sustainability Tour project as our first choice, which allowed us all to be fully enveloped in starting and finishing all aspects of the tour. This project started off with a foundational framework that gave us an idea of the types of information we should focus on along with last years finalized project to use as a reference.
In order to complete the project it all boiled down to effective communicate between group members and our mentor that we reported to on a weekly basis. Professor Levesque oversaw the work we were doing and relayed what needed to be done or changed before each submission. The communication aspect of the project lead to group collaboration. We all had to effectively delegate tasks and receive feedback on what we thought was appropriate for submission. We were ultimately coming up with a solution to display the universities sustainable attributes. We had to look into what makes UNH a platinum rated campus in terms of sustainability.
There were really only two ways that we could get the information to write and develop the tour, search for relevant information listed online, and physically reaching out to representatives that represented a specific area or stop on the tour. This showed a transdisciplinary approach to our work. All of the group members came from different majors and we would contact different representatives who also studied different disciplines. Reaching out to multiple areas of the university can be considered part of the UNH community and we were able to get a story out of why they were doing what they did and got there personal feedback on how they saw impacts on campus. We were able to type up a variety of tour stop descriptions and decided how we would want to format the tour. During our formation of the tour we also had to decide how we wanted to rank the importance of all the stops and put a prioritization system in place. Once the deadline for a submission was due, we would wait to get our grades and see what needed to be reworked for our final Sustainability Tour project. This was a constant cycle of rework but resulted in an overall better and complete project that will be presented at this years Undergraduate Research Conference.
Looking back on our SUST 750 capstone and the sustainability dual major, I would want to make sure that incoming sustainability students really take the time to find out how they want to cater their main major with the dual SUST major. Do not take classes that look or sound easier than other options, but instead search for the ones that will benefit you in your career after college. In my four years of college here at UNH I really made sure to do that with all of my electives. It is already working in my favor and have current outstanding job offers on the table. I will be graduating with two major and a minor because I was always thinking of the courses that would overlap with my main major. I would say it was a lot more work than I could have done, and I honestly could have graduated a semester or two earlier if I decided I really only wanted to focus on one major, but would not have learned half as much information that I did with adding more courses to my college experience. I encourage you to look into the SUST dual major because it is a fun and exciting topic that is emerging in the workforce. I had a great time learning and studying with my peers who are now my friends, and will continue to keep in touch with over the coming years.