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Green @ Messiah

Sustainability Studies


Messiah College student Amy WardThe sustainability studies major, new in 2010, is a bachelor of arts degree which means it is less science focused and more present in the humanities and social sciences. Messiah College is one of only four faith-based institutions offering this type of degree.


Students can select from among three focus areas: community and urban development, public policy, and sustainable agriculture.


Students Amy Ward `13 and Ian Gallo `14 talk about why they chose the sustainability studies major.


Why did you choose to major in Sustainability Studies?
Amy: I began my education at Messiah College as a mathematics major with the expectation of keeping future academic endeavors and concentrations wide open. When Messiah added the Sustainability Studies major in May 2010, I began researching career possibilities, courses, professors and faith application. It was a fit! The professors have astounded me with their diverse and wide knowledge base, an invaluable asset to any educational endeavor and an inspiration to their students. If I did not attend Messiah College, I question if I would have chosen an 'eco-friendly' major. However, as a Christian institution the underlying current for why we study sustainability and implement it flows from our role as stewards of God's creation. The emphasis on stewardship has inspired me to care for and study God's Creation—the earth, it's organisms and communities of people he has placed in it.


Messiah College student Ian Gallo

Ian: I started at Messiah with an undeclared major. My first-year seminar was entitled "In Pursuit of Green," and we discussed, among other things, the impact of American global consumerism on the environment and how we are supposed to respond once we learn how detrimental this lifestyle is on creation and our neighbor. After learning what I did in this class and watching the documentary "Food Inc.," I decided that changing the way I eat was one of the best ways I could best change the problems I saw. Furthermore I realized that eating well was not enough and that I wanted to grow and produce something better than what the industrial food market has to offer. Messiah provided me with the opportunities to learn about and critically discuss these issues that eventually inspired me to find my calling as a farmer.


What do you discern as pressing issues of our time and how does the pursuit of sustainability studies equip you to envision a different reality?
Amy: For me, globalization—the process of increasing international influence and interconnectedness—defines our time. With friends across the globe one click away and economic dependency on foreign establishments on the rise, there has never been a day when our international neighbors have been closer. Yet in a world so closely intertwined, resource distribution between countries is heavily unbalanced. Consider our lifestyle in America; now compare it to rural villages in Latin America, communities in Sub-Sahara Africa, or the slums of India. Our resource consumption plows over most other countries in the world. My vision is a world in which each child of God in every country has access to basic needs- especially clean water, a balanced diet, and appropriate shelter and technology for their culture and climate. Messiah's Sustainable Studies major and concentrations have the ability to equip and inspire graduates to change the world. The pursuit of a degree in Sustainable Studies will hopefully equip me with a worldwide sense of belonging, a holistic way of thinking—including multiple perspectives—taking into account the ecologic, economic, social, faith and cultural impacts, and a devotion to caring for God's creation. 


Ian: The most concerning issue of our time is the way we as a country produce food. Our sad excuse for food is incredibly nutrient poor, full of hormones, antibiotics and pesticide residues, and is in very few cases actually beneficial for us to consume. Our modern farming practices, conventional and organic, are totally reliant on fossil fuels. Even more pressing are the issues of soil loss and compaction, loss of biodiversity, water pollution, and the danger of monocultures. This is what I'm learning in the sustainable agriculture major. Whether it is the background of ecology, biology, theology and ethics that I'm getting in the classroom, or the practical farm experience in the Grantham Community Garden, or at one of the many great farms in southcentral Pennsylvania, I have limitless opportunities to learn how to accomplish what I want.