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Faculty Senate approves honors program in environmental science, policy
STANFORD -- The Faculty Senate has approved a proposed interdisciplinary honors program in Environmental Science, Technology and Policy sponsored by the Institute for International Studies.
The interschool faculty committee that recommended the program is headed by President Emeritus Donald Kennedy, a professor of biology who holds a joint appointment at the institute.
The new program will focus on scientific, technological and policy-related aspects of international environmental issues, such as biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions, toxic wastes, deforestation, degradation of productive agricultural lands, transboundary water pollution and population growth.
Students will combine a year-long research seminar series with field study, if relevant, and complete the program with an honors thesis that reflects innovative research.
The honors program will be open to students from any major, including the recently approved Earth Systems program, civil engineering Professor David Freyberg, chairman of the Committee on Undergraduate Studies, said in presenting the proposal. Earth Systems is an undergraduate major without its own honors program, Freyberg said, responding to a question of how that differed from the program under consideration.
The honors program has full funding support from the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Foundation, which is providing $1.5 million in endowment and $100,000 in expendable funds annually for five years.
During their Jan. 7 deliberation, senators seemed enthusiastic about the program's content, but several worried aloud about the administrative structure and reporting relationships.
Political science Professor David Abernethy said he thought the Institute for International Studies existed to stimulate faculty research. Now that it is moving into teaching, what are the boundaries? he asked.
Institute director Walter Falcon said his unit is one of the larger institutes on campus, with a budget as large as a school and joint faculty appointments with schools.
"It makes no sense to put together five different programs" on the subject, he said. "This is exactly what IIS was set up for."
Professor David Kennedy, chair of history, also questioned the administrative structure. Would the institute replace the salary of a professor on sabbatical leave? he asked.
His irritation barely concealed, Falcon responded that if the position is critical to the program, the institute could make up the salary. "We're putting in resources and we stand behind" the program, he said.
Although the institute is the program sponsor, the program's power is in the certification process of the interschool faculty committee, Falcon said. Associate Dean Al Camarillo of Humanities and Sciences will be the program's cognizant dean.
Falcon said the institute also is providing the program's coordinator, Rosamond Naylor, who is a research associate and lecturer in economics.
This has "become a bit of a turf issue," Falcon said. "I would have thought the group would be delighted that IIS is willing to put its money and resources into that particular area."
David Kennedy responded that he was a great fan of the program, but that "some people are worried that IIS will become a de facto school."
Political science Professor Steven Krasner said he didn't think it was possible to have uniform administrative rules. The program "looks attractive," and problems can be dealt with if they crop up, he said.
A particular appeal is that the honors program provides a means for involving undergraduates in research, Krasner said. That is not the case with the Center for International Security and Arms Control, where undergraduates have a difficult time gaining intellectual access, he said.
Mechanical engineering Professor John Eaton expressed concern that professors from law, business, education and medicine were not involved. Falcon responded that there are plans to include faculty from the professional schools in the future.
In addition to Donald Kennedy, institute faculty teaching in the program include Stephen Schneider, who is also professor of biology, and Lawrence Goulder, also professor of economics.
Members of the interschool faculty committee overseeing the program are, in addition to the three faculty teachers: William Durham, anthropology and human biology; Jeffrey Koseff, civil engineering; Donald Lowe, geology; Paul Roberts, civil engineering; Jonathan Roughgarden, biology and geophysics; and James Sweeney, engineering-economic systems.
A survey of faculty conducted by the program organizers produced more than 50 names of individuals, from all Stanford schools except Education, whose work touches on some aspect of environmental science, policy and technology. More than 25 were contacted last summer, and all expressed interest in eventually participating in the honors seminars, according to documents submitted in support of the proposal.
The senate's unanimous approval was made retroactive to September 1992 to allow a small number of interested seniors the opportunity to earn honors this year.
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