In support of Environmental Fellows

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In recent semesters, DePauw's Programs of Distinction have faced criticism and scrutiny. The campus community challenged each to prove its accessibility, relevance and impact. The just-created Environmental Fellows Program of Distinction tackles these challenges head-on and is an exciting new academic program that makes sense for administrators, faculty and students alike.

PODs have been called exclusive in the past, but faculty and administrators responded not by cutting the programs or even scaling them back. Instead, they added a fellows program that diversifies the academic and professional opportunities PODs offer. Once the program gets started, more students will benefit from the academic structure, internship opportunities and peer communities other PODs have already created on campus.

That structure can better channel the thriving student sustainability movement on campus. Several individuals in the administration and student body have proven themselves as effective leaders and coordinators. But PODs' dedicated faculty and standard curriculum can only help. Students will likely stay more engaged and proactive in class-related environmentalism if it counts toward a fellows graduation requirement. And the program might create more time in students' schedules to coordinate campus events and campaigns.

Environmental Fellows could also help pass down institutional knowledge from seniors to underclassmen. Seniors hold a body of knowledge not easily shared after four years spent dealing with administrators, navigating bureaucracy, and convincing their fellow students to join initiatives. But this fellows program could make regular channels for inter-class transitions.

As environmentalism becomes an institutional priority at DePauw, this school will need to bolster recruitment efforts for environmentally passionate high school seniors. Students looking for a non-geoscience environmental studies major might look past DePauw. But Environmental Fellows will offer a pre-professional program of sorts and a named presence on campus that should help retain future campus environmental leaders who might have slipped through our hands.

Overall, the Environmental Fellows program is a productive response to a burgeoning institutional priority and has the potential to grow for years to come.