Hear from Two Students Why They Chose to Study Sustainability at Ohio State

Aug. 29, 2012

The Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability (EEDS) major at Ohio State kicked off its first semester last week with over 20 students officially enrolled in one of Ohio State’s newest undergraduate majors. The EEDS major is a multi-disciplinary degree program that focuses on the human, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. This cutting-edge major provides the core knowledge and skills students need to launch a career in sustainability in the private, public or non-profit sectors. The goal of the EEDS major is to provide students with rigorous coursework and training in sustainability to prepare them for the career path they choose.  EEDS gives students that have a passion and a purpose the tools they seek to become agents of change. Students in the program can choose to specialize in one of four areas: sustainability and business, environmental economics and policy analysis, community development, or international development. EEDS is a joint major between the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) and the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE) in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.  Additional partners include the Fisher College of Business; Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering; City and Regional Planning; International Studies; Center for Resilience; John Glenn School of Public Affairs; and the President’s and Provost’s Council on Sustainability.

Ohio State student David Perzynski, who is in his final year of studies and is majoring in Environmental Policy and Management (with Honors) through SENR with a Political Science and Environmental Economics minor, serves as an EEDS mentor having taken many of the courses offered in the EEDS program during the course of his studies at Ohio State. Perzynski, who is from Toledo, Ohio, first discovered an interest in sustainability while attending an environment conference in Washington D.C. While in Washington, Perzynski learned that the country needs a generation of proactive, driven individuals to advocate for the sustainable revolution of this century. From this point, he felt called to devote his time to becoming a sustainability leader.  This desire to be an agent of change led him to choose a sustainability focus at Ohio State. In particular, Perzynski became interested in business-focused sustainability as he appreciates how swiftly business moves to adapt to change, often serving as cultural change leaders.

Perzynski chose to study at Ohio State because of the university’s vast resources. Perzynski notes that the launching of the EEDS major is a reminder to him why he chose OSU: “Few schools are big enough that they can devote resources towards new fledgling subjects such as sustainability… few other schools would have given me such an opportunity to basically make my own major. By the time everything was said and done, I studied the environmental aspect of political science, economics, law, engineering, architecture, geology, psychology and business. All of these subjects interweave dynamically to form the skill set one needs to know in order for one to truly grasp sustainability.” A key feature of the EEDS major is its multi-disciplinary approach to sustainability, which aims to equip the next generation of leaders with the tools to bring about sustainable change.

Perzynski also values the sustainability linkages to the outside world that Ohio State offers. For example, the sustainability industry guest speakers who have been brought into the classroom to engage with students have been invaluable to Perzynski’s career development and education. Specifically, through his coursework in “Introduction to Sustainability in Business: Concepts & Issues” taught by Program Director for EEDS and Fisher College lecturer, Neil Drobny, Perzynski was connected with contacts at Honda of America Mfg., which led Perzynski to acquire an internship with the company during the summer of 2012. While at Honda, Perzynski interned in the company’s Sustainable Supply Chain Co-op, where he worked with the team to collect and analyze greenhouse gas forms and raw data on supply chain production processes submitted by Honda’s suppliers. The team analyzed this data with the goal of enabling the Sustainable Supply Chain Co-op to use this analysis to work with their suppliers to help make their production chain more sustainable. The work of this team greatly affects Honda’s carbon footprint as Honda is devoted to greatly reducing its total life-cycle carbon impact on the world. Perzynski gained a wealth of skills during his summer internship and he was impacted by Honda’s sustainable focus, noting, “Honda of America manufacturing goes beyond the ‘search for the profit margin’. Honda is a smart company. It knows that sustainability will help save money. However, Honda is sustainable because it truly values the betterment of our environment, its relationship with its customers, and its relationship with its suppliers. Sustainability is truly a win-win deal for all involved!” 

Fellow Ohio State student Alexandra Kueller, who just began her junior year at Ohio State, also focuses on sustainability in her coursework. Kueller, who is from Crystal Lake, Illinois, has always been interested in the environment and has taken a number of courses at Ohio State focused on the science of, and policy options related to, sustainability. Earlier in her studies she found these options too narrow and wanted more of a broad focus on sustainability that incorporated multiple dimensions of the field, which led her to the EEDS program. Kueller notes that in her studies she enjoys dealing with the data and figures, she likes obtaining information with the goal of sharing sustainable themes with people – Kueller notes that she “loves the facts and statistics, which inspire change to make things better.”

To Kueller, the EEDS program is important as it offers her the flexibility to not only take courses at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, but also at the Fisher College of Business, in addition to many other options. Kueller notes that by utilizing all of these departments, Ohio State has enabled her to enroll in a modern major that focuses on her interests in sustainability. She noted that Ohio State has an advantage in the field of training the sustainable leaders of tomorrow: “there aren’t a lot of sustainability programs out there and sustainability is becoming more and more needed in the workforce – to have this program sets Ohio State apart from other universities and colleges”.

To learn more about the EEDS program, including information on how to enroll or to speak to a program representative, please visit the EEDS website.

Images: Ohio State student David Perzynski (center) at Honda during the summer of 2012 (top). EEDS student Alexandra Kueller, who just began her junior year, focuses on sustainability in her coursework (bottom). 

August 29, 2012