Long is a member of the first class graduating from UF with the Bachelor of Science in Sustainability and the Built Environment from the College of Design, Construction and Planning.
The program gives students an important grounding in environmental issues and ideas as they relate to designing and constructing buildings.
Long says what the program teaches is invaluable.
"I started off in architecture, but I realized that we really need to focus on making infrastructure more environmentally sensitive," she says. "Instead of making new things, I wanted to focus on improving what we already have."
Because of the program’s unique structure, Long only will need another year of classes before she can receive her master’s degree in urban and regional planning.
The program includes a capstone course, or final project, which asks students to tackle a problem in the field. Long looked into sustainable energy, but other topics included design of a single family home, how to produce food in a sustainable way and reconstructing New Orleans.
Another unique program feature gives students the choice to participate in either a field experience or a practicum course. Long’s practicum involved working with the UF’s Solar Decathlon Team, a team of faculty and students designing and building an 800-square-foot sustainable home for the Solar Decathlon Europe competition
Christopher Silver, dean of the College of Design, Construction and Planning, says the program provides an outlet for students to build upon their more traditional majors in relationship to the larger society.
"We are trying to find ways for students to be more interdisciplinary because that’s what is happening in the real world," Silver says. "From this program, you can go in many different directions. I could envision these students going on to graduate work in a variety of professional fields."
Peggy Carr, associate dean for undergraduate studies, agrees.
"We think this provides an important grounding in issues and ideas essential in society today and in the future," Carr says. "People now recognize that we can no longer waste resources, and the built environment disciplines captured by our college are huge consumers of those resources. These students have been trained to consider the full impact of those decisions."
Long is an example of this awareness.
"The tools and knowledge that are gained through the program are not just relevant to certain sections of society," Long says. "Sustainability is crucial in all walks of life and has aspects that everyone can relate to. Perhaps the greatest impact that graduates of this program can have is to educate others on the importance on sustainability and the small things that everyone can do to help make a difference in the world."
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Contact:Peggy Carr, email@example.com, 352-392-4836, ext. 308