The 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 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?
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?
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.