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Institute of Environmental Sustainability Goes From Institute to School

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixWith environmental issues growing more prominent in today's society, the Institute of Environmental Sustainability got promoted to a school.

With environmental issues becoming more prominent as the years go on, Loyola announced the Institute of Environmental Sustainability is set to be promoted to the School of Environmental Sustainability this year, and its budget will nearly double in size.

The main goals of the promotion are to develop new academic programming, increase faculty and formulate new research, according to founding Dean Nancy Tuchman. The main difference is in the research the school will do and its new academic programs.

Tuchman said the school will leave a much bigger imprint on research than the institute did. 

“The main driver is that we are in a climate crisis and the university is trying to focus its new investments around the main social vexing problems of the world today,” Tuchman said. “We wanted the university to see that the environmental issues are trumping all other issues because without addressing this issue first it affects us inhabiting earth.”

It’s been an 18-year process to get the institution promoted to a school, Tuchman said. 

From 2002 when the institute was created to now, the outreach, size, research and budget has grown significantly, according to Tuchman.

“The new School of Environmental Sustainability demonstrates the university’s latest commitment to the environment by making an investment to double our faculty and staff over the next 5 years, increasing new academic programs and new collaborative research programs,” Tuchman said. “We have built six majors and four bachelor’s degrees and now have 450 students.”

Tuchman said the school has been working on building bridges with other schools within Loyola so it can collaborate on research and create majors and minors that have to do with environmental sustainability within different schools. The school will also create new lines of research for students to participate in that aren’t just related to basic sciences, Tuchman said.

“We are able to build new research and programming for our students,” Tuchman said. “Students can participate in sustainable energy research, research with pollution in the air and water and food, and also really looking at our economic and government situations.”

The school will also be partnering with the Stritch School of Medicine, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, and the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health. This will allow students to do research and projects that have community outreach components and will also invite students to join in on the projects and join people’s research teams, according to Tuchman.

“Pairing up with different schools drives students who aren’t interested in basic science but more regenerative economy,” Tuchman said. “There will be new majors and minors that students will be able to join as well as collaborative research teams. We want to get as many students who want to be the solution to environmental problems to help us with fighting against biodiversity.”

In addition to pairing with different schools and creating different majors, the school is also introducing a dual degree program. This allows students to complete a master’s degree within the school in one year as opposed to two. As seniors, students will take four classes that count toward their undergraduate and their graduate degrees which is something unique to the school. 

“With the institute and the school, we have decreased our environmental footprint by 50%,” Tuchman said. “We are also approved to make the campus carbon neutral by 2025 and are consistently ranked as being a green school with a green campus.”

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