“What’s your major?” You’ll ask the chipper student sketching the web of cracks in the South Street Seaport pavement on a balmy winter day in 2009. “New York City!” She’ll reply, beaming and shifting her well-designed, 100% recycled tote bag to the other shoulder. Thanks to new programs in environmental studies announced today by The New School and Parsons The New School for Design, undergraduates will soon be able to embark upon interdisciplinary study in urban ecosystems and sustainable design, with the help of the urban ecosystem to end all urban ecosystems—New York City. Think of it as urban policy and design thinking teaming up to solve environmental problems unique to cities.
“The urban ecosystem and sustainability may be the most important areas of environmental study in this century,” says Joseph Westphal, university provost and director of The New School’s Tishman Environment and Design Center, which will administer the program. “We need to prepare the next generation of leaders who will help shape a sustainable world for future generations.” The program will accept its first class of students in the fall of 2009, and they’ll be able to choose from bachelor of arts (concentrations in urban ecosystems or public policy) or bachelor of science (sustainable design or urban ecosystem design) flavors. Both degree programs include fieldwork, internships, and collaborative final projects. New York City may never be the same.