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Leading Environmental Educators to Meet at Bethune-Cookman University


February 25, 2009

Leading Environmental Educators to Meet at Bethune-Cookman University
First of Two Conferences This Year on Environmental Issues to be Held Locally

On March 1st, a group of leading academicians in the field of environmental studies will meet at Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) to discuss ways to strengthen interdisciplinary environmental programs at higher education institutions across the nation.  The group is being organized by the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association (IEA), an organization formed in 1994 with the goal of bringing together experts from all the varied disciplines related to environmental studies to enhance understanding of environmental issues through cross-discipline discussions. 

Dr. Michael Reiter, associate professor of environmental science at B-CU, is the immediate past president of the IEA and currently serves as chair of the IEA Advisory Board. 

The field of environmental studies and environmental science is, by definition, interdisciplinary – encompassing elements from the sciences (biology, chemistry, ecology, geology), humanities (philosophy, ethics), and social sciences (economics, geography, sociology, law) as well as policy analysis and other fields of study.   As a result, environmental programs at colleges and universities vary widely in their curricula, course requirements and areas of focus.

The IEA working group meeting at Bethune-Cookman University will be discussing whether or not interdisciplinary environmental studies programs should meet a standardized set of criteria related to program design and explore the potential for developing an accreditation or certification process.

“Today, an ‘environmental program’ at a college or university could mean almost anything,” noted Dr. Reiter.  “We are hoping that providing more uniform guidance on curricula and program design will both strengthen the academic standards and the reputation of this important field of study.”

Attendees at the two-day conference will include representatives from the IEA, the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, the North American Association for Environmental Education, and several universities and colleges prominent in environmental disciplines.

The roundtable discussion is the first of two IEA events planned for B-CU / Daytona Beach this year under the leadership of Dr. Michael Reiter.  In July, the organization will hold its 15th International Interdisciplinary Conference on the Environment at The Shores Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach, Florida. 

The conference will include a range of events including keynote speakers, small seminar-type sessions, poster roundtable thematic discussions, workshops and panels. Past conferences have drawn participants from more than 34 countries.  Keynote speakers have included Ed Struzik, noted writer, photographer and expert on Arctic issues; Dr. Susan Baker, NOAA; Dr. William Steiner, dean, College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management University of Hawaii-Hilo; Dr. Richard Brooks, Vermont School of Law; and Dr. Aaron Mills, chief scientist, biological sciences office, Kennedy Space Center.

For more information about the Interdisciplinary Environmental Association, go to www.ieaonline.org.

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About Bethune-Cookman University

Founded in 1904 by Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. B-CU offers baccalaureate degrees in 37 majors through six academic schools – Arts & Humanities; Business; Education; Nursing; Science, Engineering and Mathematics; and Social Sciences – and maintains intercollegiate athletic programs and instrumental and choral groups that have achieved national recognition. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of more than 3,400.

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