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March 28, 2003 - Aquinas College has established Michigan's first undergraduate degree program in Sustainable Business, a program that may well be the first of its kind in the nation. While the principles of sustainable business -- balancing economic growth with responsible environmental practices -- have been around for more than a dozen years, a formal undergraduate program that integrates science, business and environmental studies has been non-existent, except for a select few graduate programs.

The business and science departments of Aquinas collaborated to develop the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Business degree. The new major, which will be offered for the first time this fall, is a blend of twenty courses, fifteen currently being offered plus six new courses. New classes are Industrial Ecology, Sustainable Energy Systems, Environmental Business Management, Environmental Regulatory Compliance, Environmental Economics and Policy, and an internship.

"I don't know of another undergraduate program that addresses the principles of sustainable business the way that we're doing this," said Matthew Tueth, Ph.D., coordinator of the new program. Graduate degree programs offered by the University of Michigan, Cornell University, and Yale University appear to be the only comparable programs in the nation, according to Tueth.

With the counsel and support of Trustee Dr. Luis Tomatis and Trustee Emeritus Peter Wege, Aquinas College Provost and Dean of Faculty C. Edward Balog, Ph.D., developed the concept for the new degree last summer. He met with community leaders; perspective program donors; representatives from companies including Dow Chemical, General Motors, and Steelcase; and faculty from the College's schools of business and science. Aquinas received a $25,000 donation to help with start-up costs. And serious discussions regarding scholarships are already taking place.

"It grows directly out of our mission to provide a liberal arts education with a global perspective dedicated to the common good," Balog said. "This degree represents our strong academic programs in business and environmental science in a newly integrated curriculum and will serve as a model of undergraduate education whose graduates will pursue both economic growth and responsible environmental policies."

Industry representatives have already expressed interest in hiring graduates of the program. "We expect graduates of the program to obtain jobs much like those they would have sought prior to the new degree," said Balog. "But with their sustainable business background they should be more attractive to employers, especially small to medium sized companies [that] do not have the capacity to train their employees in the area of sustainability."

Graduates of the program will be familiar with the principles of sustainable business and able to
help their employers not only be environmentally conscious, but also profitable, according to Tueth. "What's going to get [future graduates] hired is their ability to raise the bottom line for these companies," he predicted. "They will not be experts in the field, but they will have an awareness of the problems, will have been introduced to a different perspective in production, and will bring some practical experience from their internships," Balog said. "They should know what questions to ask and where to go for the answers and technical expertise to solve problems. The focus will be on preventing environmental problems rather than finding ways to clean them up so that they are beneficial to the company, address social concerns, and enhance environmental quality."

"This is a cutting-edge kind of program," said Tueth. "I think it fits with the goals of this College and will give Aquinas an opportunity to build stronger connections with the businesses of West Michigan and beyond."

For more information on the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Business, visit the Aquinas College Web or contact the Admissions Office at 616-732-4460.

Consistently ranked one of the top liberal arts colleges in the Midwest by U.S. News and World Report, Aquinas College offers an approach to learning and living that teaches students unlimited ways of seeing the world. Founded in 1886 by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, the College's Dominican tradition of working, service and lifelong learning remains alive today in a diverse student body. Students from more than 20 states and 12 foreign countries are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. Within six months of graduation, nearly all graduates are in full-time jobs, enrolled in professional schools of law, medicine, or dentistry, or in a master or doctoral program.