Media Contact:Karla Schuster
202D Hofstra Hall
Date: Apr 12, 2011
Hofstra appoints Director of Sustainability Studies, plans multi-disciplinary degree program
Dr. Robert Brinkmann to deliver Earth Week keynote address on suburban sustainability
Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y. – Hofstra University has appointed Dr. Robert Brinkmann as its first Director of Sustainability Studies, who will draw from the university’s strengths in global studies, geography and suburban studies to develop a multi-disciplinary degree program examining social, ecological and environmental resource management.
Brinkmann, currently a professor of geography at the University of South Florida in Tampa, will deliver the keynote address for Hofstra's Earth Week celebrations outlining his vision of sustainability – “Gaseous, Green and Gated: Sustainability in Suburbia” -- on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. The lecture begins at 2:55 p.m. in Plaza Room West, Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center, North Campus. All Earth Week event, sponsored by the Center for Civic Engagement, are free and open to the public.
Dr. Brinkmann said he hopes to build a program that focuses on the unique challenges to creating sustainable suburbs. “Surrounding our campus, we have a laboratory, America’s first suburb,” Dr. Brinkmann said, noting that sustainability issues “such as energy, water, land-use planning … are much tougher in the suburbs” because government is decentralized, and jurisdiction is often shared by jumble of municipal entities. “The context of the suburbs is one that has largely been left behind so far in sustainability studies.”
Former chairman of USF’s Department of Geography, Dr. Brinkmann led a variety of community sustainability projects during his tenure there, including a project in which he and his students worked with the city of Clearwater, Florida, to develop a greenhouse gas inventory for the city and examining building codes to evaluate how they could be revised to improve energy efficiency.
Brinkmann will join Hofstra’s faculty as a member of the Global Studies and Geography Department on Sept. 1, 2011 and begin developing undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and an undergraduate minor in Sustainability Studies. The University plans to launch its undergraduate sustainability degree and minor programs in Fall 2012.
“I have no doubt that Sustainability Studies will attract new students to Hofstra,” said Dr. Grant Saff, chairman of the Global Studies and Geography Department.
Hofstra’s Sustainability Studies program will leverage the resources of its Global Studies and Geography Department, the highly regarded National Center for Suburban Studies, and new programs in Urban Ecology to create a distinctive approach to this emerging field of study, said Dr. Herman Berliner, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.
“Hofstra is well-positioned to become a national leader in Sustainability Studies,” Dr. Berliner said, “while continuing our commitment to addressing those local issues that are vital to the region’s future.”
Although details of the new program take shape over the next year, Brinkmann envisions offering two tracks for both undergraduate and graduate students – one with an emphasis on social sciences and the other focusing more on the natural sciences. In addition, he wants the program to provide support for students who are aspiring ‘green’ entrepreneurs.
“There’s huge growth in green jobs all over the country and the world but my goal is not just to produce students who can work for companies and institutions dealing with sustainability issues, “ Dr. Brinkmann said, “but to produce students who would be entrepreneurs and transform our culture through their own innovations.”
The Sustainability Studies initiative was made possible in part by a gift from Robert Catell, former chairman of National Grid USA. “I can’t think of a better investment than teaching a new generation how to build the next economy in a way that protects our natural and human resources,” Catell said.
A companion sustainability research program is already underway with the National Center for Suburban Studies® at Hofstra University (NCSS), including plans to host an academic conference.
“Long Island and the rest of the nation’s suburbs – where the majority of people now live, are the centers of dynamic change,” said Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the NCSS. “Many of these suburbs are encountering serious urban-like problems beyond our experience and current t resources to deal with, so sustainability isn’t just a buzz word, it’s a watchword for survival.”
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from about 140 undergraduate and more than 150 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business; engineering; communication; education, health and human services; and honors studies, as well as a School of Law and the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine.