USF Patel College opens enrollment for new M.S. in Global Sustainability

The University of South Florida's Patel College of Global Sustainability celebrated Earth Day with the major announcement of a Masters of Science (M.S.) program in Global Sustainability, set to launch this fall. Its curriculum includes five concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Food Sustainability and Security, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Transportation, and Water Sustainability. Class options will include a traditional on-campus format or a fully online format, as well as hybrid offerings. 

The new M.S. track places a more STEM-centric emphasis on many of the offerings in the college's preexisting Master of Arts in Global Sustainability, says Patel College Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Joseph Dorsey. He explains in the program proposal, which he co-penned with fellow Patel College leadership:

"In recent years, we have tracked the job offerings and professional careers of many of our alumni. PCGS graduates have achieved a high level of success in various sectors of the economy -- particularly institutions of higher education, local governments, non-profit organizations, and consulting firms -- but without an M.S. degree option, our students are limited in the job market. The addition of the M.S degree will widen the scope of career directions and provide more employment opportunities in technical areas and more competitive science-focused positions." 

Planting seeds for next-gen planet protectors to branch out in sustainable STEM 

Patel College was established in 2009 to foster sustainable urban development and environmentally harmonious policymaking in a rapidly changing global climate. It is the newest degree-granting college at USF, and among the fastest-growing. 

PCGS Academic Program Director, Randall Pape, says roughly 15 USF students were enrolled in sustainability programs at the college's inception in 2010. Today, approximately 200 students matriculate through Masters and graduate certificate programs, annually, at Patel College.

Dorsey and Pape have been affiliated with Patel College since its inception. Dorsey holds a B.A. in Human Ecology and with a focus on food security from Howard University and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Pape holds a B.S. in Information Technologies from FSU and received his Masters of Business Administration from USF. Although their backgrounds differ, Dorsey and Pape share a strategic interest in filling what they agree is a critical need for more scientific research-focused course offerings in the Global Sustainability field.

"An M.A. program appeals to a certain group of students, but it doesn't always get a lot of science-oriented people -- and, of course, sustainability is deeply rooted in science. … We realized as an M.A. program with students doing research: many of those students had no background -- no foundation -- for it," Dorsey says. 

Prior to receiving the green light for the M.S. program, Dorsey and Pape implemented a Research Methods course that prepares students from diverse academic backgrounds to integrate into STEM research.

"We get students with A-to-Z bachelor's degrees -- and many of those degrees don't require a thesis or scientific research paper, so these students come here with eyes wide open. We've spent hundreds of hours figuring out what's best to make them successful -- not just in our programs, but beyond," Pape says.

The new M.S. program builds upon Patel College's Research Methods coursework and Academic Capstone Experience (ACE) components to prepare graduates for STEM-centric career paths that fall under the broad and evolving sustainable-practices umbrella. Possible career paths with an M.S. in Global Sustainability include renewable energy, food resources, sustainable transportation planning, and water management.

Like the existing M.A. program, the M.S. in Global Sustainability will have a strong collaborative component with Tampa Bay-area local, Florida regional, national and global partners. 

"The City of Tampa has been our bread and butter, but we also have projects with the City of Dunedin and Tarpon Springs, and in Manatee and Sarasota Counties and others -- many of which lead to internships and jobs for our students. We've also worked with international leaders regarding quite a few initiatives …  we do so many things on a local grassroots level, and up to and including large entities like NASA," Pape notes

"What's very clear is that sustainability isn't just one sector, and it isn't just local issues. It's a global impact, and there are so many different areas to consider -- which is why our concentrations are so diverse. With a Master of Science, the goal looking forward is: what can you do with this once you're done here? This will open a lot of doors," he adds.

To learn more about the Master of Science program at USF Patel College of Global Sustainability, visit the official program page.
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Jessi Smith (she/they) is a freelance writer who is passionate about sustainability, community building, and the power of the arts and transformative storytelling. A fourth-generation Floridian, Jessi received her B.A. in Art History and English from Florida International University and began reporting for 83 Degrees in 2009. When she isn't writing, Jessi enjoys taking her deaf rescue dog on outdoors adventures, unearthing treasures in backroads antiques and thrift shops, D.I.Y. upcycling projects, and Florida-friendly gardening.