‘Silent Spring’ inspires partnership

Virginia Wesleyan University has forged a new partnership for students who wish to apply for priority admission to either a Masters of Sustainability (MSUS) or a Masters of Food Study (MAFS) program. The graduate programs take place at the Falk School of Sustainability and Environment at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. These programs are some of the first of their kind in the United States.

VWU students with a cumulative 3.3 GPA and over 110 undergraduate credit hours qualify for the MSUS program. Additionally, those with at least a 3.0 and 110 credit hours qualify for the MAFS program. 

Both VWU and CU have been working together since their introduction through involvement in the Climate Leadership Network. The Climate Leadership Network is a resource that provides networking and engagement opportunities for member colleges. 

VWU also previously made an agreement with Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. This partnership allowed VWU students to attend Duke for a Masters of Forestry (MF) or a Master of Environmental Management (MEM) degree after three years of undergraduate study. 

Senior Ben Counsel, who majors in Earth and Environmental Science (EES), hadn’t heard of the new program yet, but was delighted to find out that it was being implemented. 

“I think this is a great opportunity to foster a bond between our two programs, working to build a pathway for EES students into graduate programs,” said Counsel. “I’ve heard of students who had challenges with finding suitable graduate programs in our field and I’m glad to see the options that are available grow.” 

According to the Chatham University website, the new programs are “a wellspring for leadership and education to overcome current and future sustainability challenges.”

The programs were inspired by CU alumna and nature writer, Rachel Carson. Carson is most notable for her published work “Silent Spring” which raised awareness about the harms of pesticides and led to a grassroots movement that was foundational for the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Senior EES major Emily Smith believes in the mission behind the partnership between VWU and CU. 

“I would say that sustainability improves the quality of life locally, regionally and globally,” said Smith. “It helps protect our ecosystems and preserve natural resources for future generations. Having a Masters in Sustainability would help create leaders in the environmental world who can make a stand in protecting the longevity of our earth and all of its inhabitants, fostering the relationship between humans and the land.” 

Going forward, VWU students will have priority access to the type of graduate education that has the capacity to produce leaders in environmental sustainability. 

In addition, Virginia Wesleyan is continuing to maintain other partnerships with institutions to provide as many students the opportunity to participate in accelerated and priority graduate programs. Some of these partnerships include Boston University, Appalachian School of Law, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia and more. 

For more resources regarding VWU’s accelerated degrees and preferred admissions programs, visit https://www.vwu.edu/academics/accelerated-degrees/.

By Katie Yeager